Coach of the year Moncibaez takes over Mingus X country

New Mingus head cross country coach Dave Moncibaez talks to runners during stretches on Thursday afternoon at MUHS. VVN/James Kelley

New Mingus head cross country coach Dave Moncibaez talks to runners during stretches on Thursday afternoon at MUHS. VVN/James Kelley

Mingus Union’s new head cross country coach hadn’t coached the sport before this season but recently won a state coach of the year award and is no stranger to MUHS.

The Marauders hired Dave Moncibaez to lead the squad and began official practices for the fall season last week.

“Oh, I think he’s going to do a lot of really good things for that cross country program,” Mingus athletic director Yancey DeVore said. “He’s an experienced coach, he’s also a PE teacher, so he understands a lot of that conditioning stuff and I think he’s just going to do a fantastic job. It’s nice having a head coach in there with his experience coming in and working with our kids. So I think he’ll be great for that.”

Moncibaez, who is also a PE teacher at Mingus Union, previously led the Marauders’ girls basketball program and more recently the Sedona Red Rock girls varsity basketball team, leading them to a state runner-up finish in 2017-18 and winning 2A coach of the year in the process.

Moncibaez said the kids interested him in the job after recent Mingus alum Skyler Storie couldn’t do it. Before teaching at Mingus Union, he taught at Cottonwood Middle School.

“They’re a great bunch of kids that I’ve seen and I’ve worked with at the middle school and when I found out that Skyler, due to prior obligations for school or whatever, new teacher, that she wasn’t able to do it, I talked to Yancey and I expressed my interest and did my interview,” Moncibaez said. “I’ve never coached cross country before, but I’ve coached, so I know how to motivate these kids and they’re good kids. I wanted to experience it with them and have and have a great experience this year.”

Usually head coaches need to learn all their new athletes’ names like a football coach using Sharpie on athletic tape on helmets but in this case Moncibaez knew a lot of the Marauders.

“It’s really cool, it was a transition. I was at the middle school. I was at Mingus last year and then the middle school for three years, so a lot of these athletes I’ve worked with as one of their teachers and to see them and see them grow and see them staying active and all that, it’s really important,” Moncibaez said. “What a great group of positive athletes we have for this cross country group and it keeps growing, which

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Mingus senior Nick Lodico leads his teammates during a hill workout Thursday. VVN/Dan Engler

is great.”

DeVore, who teaches government and economics at Mingus Union and coached track and field, baseball and football said coaches who are teachers make it easier for the school and have advantages that can help them lead.

“Yeah, ultimately we want teachers as coaches because it’s just a whole lot easier and they’re there with the kids and they can just have a different relationship with the kids that an outside coach wouldn’t have and the school works with that schedule,” DeVore said. “It’s nice to have teachers because they can also go out and talk to kids about running and being a part of their program and really sell it that way and get more kids involved. So that’s why I think that teacher-coach connection is so important because we’re trying to get more kids involved in our school and our athletic programs and he is a guy that will do that.”

While some Sedona-Red Rock programs are struggling, like the football team going 0-9 last year or SRRHS softball cancelling last season, the Scorpions under Moncibaez thrived.

In his first season, they achieved a national ranking and made it to the state semifinals. They went 27-7 after going 14-9 the year before.

Then in 2016-17, they went 30-2 and again earned a national ranking and a spot in the Final Four. Last season they were 27-2, losing the state title game by 6 points.

He said the key to success was dedication to team.

“That’s the thing that is really important,” Moncibaez said. “They had that consistency, that coach’s consistency that’s there offseason, during the season. Obviously you don’t do it for the pay because it’s not that much, and you definitely don’t get anything over the summer but you’re consistent with that. You have to be consistent when you build programs. It doesn’t happen overnight, you can have some tremendous athletes but to keep that consistency in programs, you gotta show it day in and day out. In basketball, you open those gyms, in cross country you’re facilitating runs and all that stuff. So it’s that level of consistency that I truly feel makes a program.”

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