MARICOPA — A Maricopa charter school is bringing in two new faces that aim to lead its athletic program to the next level.
Sequoia Pathway Academy has brought in Donnie Margerum to coach its football team, while George Courtney is taking over the reins of the varsity boys basketball team. Together, they are bringing plenty of local coaching experience, and want to bring more attention to the Pumas.
Margerum didn’t have to travel far to get his new job. Last year, he was the freshman coach and varsity assistant at Maricopa High School. He said while there, he had his eyes on Pathway and sees this position as an opportunity to grow his career while also helping Pathway take another step toward regular championship success.
It’s a program coming off a state championship three years ago and a championship final appearance last season, which they lost to South Pointe.
“I feel like we’re definitely going to be contenders,” Margerum said. “We’ll be back in that championship game with some serious intentions.”
Because it’s a smaller school than his previous stomping grounds, Margerum said he is able to be more hands-on with his approach to connect deeper with each player. He hopes to bring a sense of integrity to the program.
“I want the boys to have some accountability,” Margerum said. “I want them to approach the game the right way, and I just want them to know that they have the ability to do anything they want to do if they approach it the right way.”
Courtney has come from a further distance, but not by much. He was most recently the junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant at Casa Grande Union, which followed stops in Florence and Eloy’s Santa Cruz Valley Union. He got connected with Pathway through a friend and thought it was a good opportunity for his next step.
For the most part, he said, the kids have been showing up to practice during the summer. And it’s a good thing, too, as he is implementing a new conditioning system that a lot of the players still need to work on a lot before the season starts. But he likes the raw athleticism and the work ethic he has seen so far.
“We’re a run-and-gun team,” Courtney said. “We’re going to attack every team defensively, and it’s going to be very exciting. I’m going to put the athletes in a system that uses their strength.”
Courtney said when he got to Maricopa, he was surprised about how much basketball was being played in the community, which is an exciting thing as a basketball coach, because it shows the kids grew up around the game.
“I think there’s more basketball played here then any town I’ve ever coached at,” he said. “The kids love the game, and it comes to them naturally.”
Athletic Director Glen Hale said he is excited about the coaches that Pathway has now, and the culture they can help create at the school. He said they are still looking at joining the Arizona Interscholastic Association, and hope to assess how realistic that will be by the end of the year.
“We want to be a champion for these kids,” Hale said. “Our mission statement is to have kids of honor in our community, so when we build that, I think it’s going to change our whole culture. I think our coaches we have here are going to bring that.”