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Fri, July 10

Mingus Union shuts down summer sports practices
Move comes after Cottonwood COVID-9 spike, governor’s encouragement to stay home

Mingus Union High School football players participate in a workout earlier this month. Mingus Union Athletic Director Yancey Devore said Friday that all of the school’s summer practices and workouts have been canceled. VVN file/Vyto Starinskas

Mingus Union High School football players participate in a workout earlier this month. Mingus Union Athletic Director Yancey Devore said Friday that all of the school’s summer practices and workouts have been canceled. VVN file/Vyto Starinskas

COTTONWOOD - Mingus Union High School Athletic Director Yancey Devore said Friday that all of the school’s summer practices and workouts have been canceled until further notice.

Between Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s emphasis this week on staying home to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and a recent spike of diagnoses in the Cottonwood area, Devore said he and Mingus Union administrators have decided all workouts, on or off campus, have been suspended indefinitely.

Camp Verde High School football Coach Rick Walsworth and Athletic Director Dan Wall both said Friday no changes are planned for the school’s summer workout schedule. Devore said he spoke with Wall on Friday morning and while many coaches and administrators are involved in the discussion, the Mingus Union decision is based on what’s best for the Cottonwood area.

“Between the governor’s encouragement for Arizonans to stay home and what’s happening locally, our policy is for the best interest of the community to be more important than our need for our teams to be competitive,” Devore said. “The trajectory is not favorable to us wanting to beat down our own path.”

Thursday, Ducey held a press conference in which he expressed some of his most grave concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic the public has heard from him so far. He said the pandemic has taken a more serious turn.

“We expect that our numbers will be worse next week and the week following, in terms of cases and hospitalizations,” Ducey said.

Friday morning, Arizona Department of Health Services statistics showed 3,428 new COVID-19 cases, with 45 newly reported deaths and the state’s positive-test ratio climbing to 9.1%. More than 69.7% of the state’s total COVID-19 cases have been documented in June.

Yavapai County Community Health Services’ Friday morning report shows 46 new cases in the past 24 hours with Cottonwood emerging as the newest hot zone in the county with 32 new cases in the past two days.

Devore said it would take near-perfect social distancing and sanitizing to run safe practices at a school the size of Mingus Union and the stakes are simply too high.

“It’s not business as usual,” Devore said. “Teenagers naturally gravitate toward each other, and we can’t have kids taking illness with them when they visit with their grandma and their grandpa. This is about more than us; this is about Clarkdale and Jerome and the rest of the state.”

Devore said the campus will be closed, though student-athletes are strongly encouraged to find ways to maintain strength and conditioning on their own.

“Closed campus doesn’t mean coaches can meet with teams down at Riverfront Park,” Devore said. “It means no team meetups at all.”

Devore said much of what happens later this summer will be determined by the Arizona Interscholastic Association and whether regular school classes begin on time in August.

“We’ll manage it as we go,” Devore said. “Teenagers are resilient. I’m confident that whenever we can get back together, the kids will bounce back, get in shape quickly and be ready to compete.”

Staff writer Bill Helm contributed to this story.

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