Many young athletes grow up with the dream of playing their favorite sport at the next level. Wednesday, two Mingus Union High School seniors came closer to achieving their dream. They are baseball players Tommy McCarty and Orlando Machado.
McCarty, who lives in Camp Verde, and Machado, who lives in Rimrock are friends. They have been playing baseball together for seven years. And they won't be far apart in college.
McCarty singed to play with Paradise Valley Community College. And Machado singed with Glendale Community College.
Head baseball coach Bob Young said he's very proud of his players.
"Absolutely," Young said. "I remember when they were freshman four years ago. As freshman, you can tell they had some athletic ability. But, they've worked awful hard at it. They devoted themselves to baseball and other sports at Mingus. They've made a lot of improvements in my weights class the last four years. They've turned into fine athletes now that they're seniors."
Over the years, Young has seen a lot of his players go onto the next level. He said when talks to a college coach about an athlete, it usually isn't about the sport.
"You have to be honest," Young said. "They can see the talent. They've watched them play in games and tournaments. So, they're not so much interested in the baseball part. They want to know, academically, character wise. So, that's most of the information is that sort of stuff."
Young said McCarty and Machado didn't talk to him much about their options.
"Not a whole lot," he said. "I gave them some advice. I guide them through stuff as need be. But, I think most of these guys know. Tommy, his brother (Shaun) went to Paradise Valley. So, I think all along that's where he wanted to go."
He added that both are great baseball players for his team.
"Tommy is very quick," Young said. "He's our shortstop. Defensively, He's really good. Offensively, he's grown. Both of them have played varsity since they were freshman. Tommy, last year had a breakout year on offense. We're counting on him being one of our team leaders."
He added Machado is the baseball player that can do it all.
"Orlando (Machado), he's the type of guy that can play everywhere," Young said. "He came up as a catcher. And he's a great catcher. He had knee surgery his sophomore year. So, he's kind of gone away from catching. I think in college, he's going to be more of a third baseman. He played third last year. He was our number two pitcher. So, he'll be our top pitcher this year. Play third, might spot catch now and then. He'll be our big power hitter this year."
Baseball isn't the only sport Machado plays at Mingus. In the fall, he played his first and only year of high school football. He is currently on the soccer team. He has also played golf and basketball during his time at Mingus.
In baseball, high school players generally singed with a college before their final high school season starts.
Young said it's never been a problem of a player not trying as hard after knowing where he will go to college.
"We've never had that," Young said. "A lot of times, our kids have signed before the season. There's so much pride. Because our program has been so strong. They all want to keep the tradition of going to state and making a run at the state championship. So, we've never had that happened."
Machado said there were several different aspects that went into his choosing of Glendale Community College.
"Their coach had a lot to say about the campus," he said. "I just felt like I fit into the program that he explained they had."
Dave Grant is the head coach of Glendale Community College baseball. But, Ed Trujillo is the associate head coach and is in charge of recruiting.
Machado added that Scottsdale Community College and some out of state colleges also expressed interest in him.
He added he thinks the academics at Glendale also interest him.
"They have a good criminal justice program," Machado said. "That's what I want to study."
Machado said he wanted to thank a lot of people.
"I just want to thank all the coaches for all they've done for me and Tommy," he said.
Like Machado, McCarty said there were a few different reasons why he choose Paradise Valley.
"I went down there a few different times to play with my travel team," he said. "I had a really good game. All of their coaches came and talked to me. I fell in love with their field. My brother went there. So, that helped a little bit."
The head coach of Paradise Valley Community College baseball is Victor Solis.
McCarty said other colleges were interested in him as well.
"I had a full-ride offer from Phoenix College," he said. "But, I decided I'd rather go to Paradise Valley."
McCarty is primarily a shortstop and he said Solis told him there will only be one other shortstop competing for the starting spot.
McCarty and Machado said they both think it will be fun playing in schools so close each other. They will also play against each other, as the two schools are in the same conference.
"We've played with each other too long already," McCarty said.
Machado said he agreed with McCarty.
"It will be fun competing against each other," Machado said.
Although they both live closer to Camp Verde High School, they said they choose Mingus because of the baseball program.
McCarty said he was impressed with the campus of Paradise Valley.
"When I went on the tour I was shown a lot of the buildings," McCarty said. "I plan on doing a business degree."
Both McCarty and Machado want to play baseball at a four year college after they play at their respective community colleges.
Machado said after his sophomore year he met former Arizona State University baseball coach Bob Winkles.
"He talked about me to the ASU coaches," Machado said. "And they said they wanted to keep up with me and see how I do."
McCarty added that California State University Northridge talked to his travel coach about him.
Solis said one of the things he likes about McCarty is his work ethic.
"I like how hard he plays," Solis said. "I like the instincts he has for the game. I like the fact that he likes to compete."
Solis added his program has known about McCarty for several years.
"His brother played for us a few years ago, so we've known about Tom for a long time," he said. "But, it wasn't until his junior year, that we really got a chance to see him and see how good he was."
Paradise Valley baseball has enjoyed success. But, Solis said his team hasn't made the playoffs the past few years.
"The past three years we've been on the outside looking in at the playoffs," he said. "In the previous three years, we went to the World Series. And we lost in the first round and the round before the World Series. So, we've had some success."
Solis added he knows academics are also important in a student-athletes' decision.
"Honestly, baseball is always the topic of conversation," he said. "And I talk about for the athletes to give them the best opportunity successful in academics. We also want to make sure that their area of interest is something that our college will provide to them as well."
Solis said that the scholarships his baseball program offers are partial. He added that he and his program are very excited to add McCarty.
It's likely that Trujillo and the rest of the Glendale program are very excited about Machado.
Trujillo said Machado should be a great fit for Glendale.
"First of all he competes very hard," Trujillo said. "He's a third baseman, catcher and right-handed pitcher. And he can hit. I recruited him because he can do all those things and help our team next year."
Trujillo added he isn't sure what position Machado will play. But said he will get time at third base, catcher and pitcher.
"I'm going to see what position he helps us at the most," Trujillo said. "Give him an opportunity to play all three positions. Whatever he fits best in the team concept, we'll roll with that."
Trujillo added that Glendale is a good program for baseball players to go on and play at the four-year level.
"Since 1979, 90 percent of our players have gone on to play at universities," he said. "So, we hang our hat on getting our kids to the next levels."
Trujillo gave this response to Machado eventually playing at a four-year university.
"Absolutely," he said.
Machado isn't the biggest athlete. The max preps Mingus football roster lists him at 5'6" and 180 pounds.
"Size does not scare me at all," Trujillo said.
He added that academics is very important at Glendale and the baseball program.
"Academics is always our top priority," he said. "So, that's a big deal."
He added he hasn't seen Machado play high school baseball. But, was very impressed with what he saw in Machado's club team.