Laura McGeary & Courtney Brown: 2015 Student-Athletes of the Year


The Tucson Citizen had profiled the city’s finest high school student-athletes from 1957 through 2008. While other local publications have flirted with an “Athlete of the Week” section every now and then, the tradition of recognizing only the very best continued on the pages of the site until two years ago..

In all, some 62 student-athletes received this honor and the tradition will continue on the pages of the site.

This year, 19 candidates were nominated by their coaches, athletic directors and parents based on academics, athletics, leadership, service to their school and an essay on who influenced them most.

No other publication has taken up the difficult task of celebrating what is right about our schools and our athletes beyond the playing field. Although all of the names listed below were superior athletes in their chosen sport, they were also excellent students in the classroom and excellent role models in our community. It is important to recognize those who can do all three with success.

The difficult task of selecting the winner was placed in the hands of three high school teachers. The applications were trimmed to four and then the winners were selected from that group.

The two winners were Flowing Wells seniors Laura McGeary and Courtney Brown. McGeary played basketball and Brown played softball. Brown will play at Pima next year and McGeary at Wellesley College.

Other Flowing Wells recipients include:
1959 Edward Brown Flowing Wells
1964 Pat McAndrew Flowing Wells
1989 Robert Moen Flowing Wells
2007 Tara Erdmann Flowing Wells

Here are their essays:

Laura McGeary (Andy Morales/

Laura McGeary (Andy Morales/

A popular mantra when it comes to athletic improvement is that there are many who can tell you how to be the best, but in the end dreams can only manifest through your time, discipline, and passion. Conversely, my success would not have been possible without excellent coaches who encourage me and offer me opportunities to grow.

My love—basketball—did not come easily to me by any means. As a freshman, I was clumsy and unknowledgeable. My nickname? “Twig.” As a beginner who wasn’t built to be an ultra-quick learner, I was put on the less competitive teams throughout middle school. I was on the team that was never expected to win. I, however, craved to be a winner.

My story of one coach—a person who has offered continued inspiration for my life—goes back to middle school basketball try-outs. He caught me at a particularly unconfident moment…
He boomed, “Who wants to model to the others how to do this drill?”

A group of girls (who had made matching glittery t-shirts) beat me to volunteering while I tricked myself into thinking I would have failed anyhow.

“Thanks for volunteering girls, you don’t have to do the drill. I just wanted to see who really wants to play on my team.” When he said that, I immediately realized I was still not good enough to play on his esteemed team. I did not make the cut.

It was at times like these that I thought something was wrong with me. I was predisposed to be awful at something I loved dearly. However, toward the end of that season, I listened to the same coach. He encouraged me, saying, “I know you can make the freshman team next year.”

Through it all, I refused to lack perseverance, and I never gave up on my dream. I spent the next four years perfecting skills that others seemed to pick up in no time. I slowly climbed from freshman to junior varsity and finally to the varsity team. Summers and off-seasons were spent working on new challenges, and it’s no surprise that the squeaky “Lady Cab” gym floor is more familiar to me than any other popular summertime destination.

The final year of my Flowing Wells basketball journey, I finally had the opportunity to play under the very coach that had cut me in middle school. He had moved to a varsity assistant coaching position. I was excited to listen to his wisdom—while showing him how diligently I had worked over the years. It was the best feeling to lead this team.

Looking back, I see that there are multiple coaches dear to my heart and imperative to my improvement. However, I do not doubt that this specific coach was vital to catalyzing my story. I learned from him that even in the face of adversity, I can do what I set my mind to. I observed his caring soul paired with his intensity and demand on the court. He made me even more proud of myself, and he pushed me to do what I originally thought I couldn’t.

Late in my high school career, my dream to play basketball expanded to the next level. I picked my college based on excellent academic offerings, but I sought out the chance to keep playing as well. Basketball never really stops, and I am currently preparing to head off to Wellesley College in Boston to play NCAA basketball.

Laura McGeary

Courtney Brown (Andy Morales/

Courtney Brown (Andy Morales/

From the time I was born to now, a proud Flowing Wells High School graduate, many people have come into my life. Whenever I think about who has does everything in their power to influence me in life, I think about my amazing father. My father has always been there for me no matter what, even if I am being a completely irresponsible teenager. My father is one of those people who will always put others in front of himself. If we go to a party or some other event my family will be one of the last people there so we can help those people clean up. The little things he does for others and myself show me that no matter who or what happens you have to put others in front of yourself and think about their needs. My father not only influences me in everyday life but also in sports.

When my father was a child, he could not play very many sports because he had to work around the house. My father has taught me that you have to work for what you want. If I want to be the best softball player on my team I have to work for it. I have to do more than everyone else and push myself more, this is where my father’s little acronyms help out . My father always says “1-1-3”, he means try your hardest go above and beyond a hundred and ten percent. His little sayings and acronyms have helped me so much whether I was getting bullying in softball, or just having a bad day playing softball; it has always inspired me to play my hardest.

My father attends everything he can, I understand if he cannot come because of work or coaching my brothers baseball team but he tries. It always motivates me when my family can come because I know they are there to watch me and will cheer me on no matter how I do. My father will cheer me but he will give it to me straight forward on how I did. If I had a bad day he will tell me that I am just getting in my head too much and to just play. I do get in my head too much so him saying that tells me that I need to calm down, stop thinking and just play. My father’s ability to look on the bright side of my bad day helps me be a better person. My father’s look on life is not one everyone has, but should have.

My family and I are believers of Jesus Christ, so we believe that Jesus died and rose again on the cross to save us from our sins. Our faith shapes our outlook on life so that is why my father’s look at life is one all should have. My father and I believe that we are only in this world for so long so we cannot get upset, or frustrated over little things like a broken shoe or a bad day. God is in control of everything in every single second of the day so we cannot get mad over the little things that happen. If God’s plan is for me to play well that day in softball then it is God’s plan for me. My Dad trusts God in everything in his life and that influences me to be a better Christian woman.

My father inspires, influences, encourages, and teaches me every day. I do not know where I would be without him. I would most definitely not be playing softball at the level I am today or even going to play at a college level next semester. I am thankful for all he does and will do in the future. I can proudly say that out of all the people I have ever met and know my Father has influenced me the most.

Courtney Brown

1957 D.L. Secrist Jr. Tucson High
1958 Donald Parsons Catalina
1959 Edward Brown Flowing Wells
1960 Terry DeJonghe Salpointe
1961 Robert Svob Catalina
1962 Ray Kosanke Tucson High
1963 Michael Aboud Tucson High
1964 Pat McAndrew Flowing Wells
1965 Charles Begley Sunnyside
1966 Eric Evett Catalina
1967 Ron Curry Tucson High
1968 Jeff Lovin Palo Verde
1969 Bruce Pawlowski Salpointe
1970 Dave Henry Sahuaro
1971 Tom Hagen Salpointe
1972 Bill Baechler Palo Verde
1973 Francisco Gomez Pueblo
1974 Richard Rucker Canyon del Oro
1975 Guillermo Robles Sunnyside
1976 Karen Christensen Rincon
1977 Michael Wing Rincon
1978 Craig Barker Amphitheater
1979 Ralph Gay Sunnyside
1980 Kristine Bush Sabino
1981 Lisa Kay Baker Sahuaro
1982 Vickie Patton Marana
1983 Martin Tetreault Sahuaro
1984 Molly Reiling Salpointe
1985 Timothy Roggeman Salpointe
1986 Jon Volpe Amphitheater
1987 Luis A. Padilla Pueblo
1988 Nicole Stern Catalina
1989 Robert Moen Flowing Wells
1990 Grace O’Neill Salpointe
1991 Angel Phillips Rincon
1992 Zenen Salazar Sunnyside
1993 Michelle Vielledent Sahuaro
1994 Julie Reitan Sahuaro and Brady Bennon Sabino
1995 Kelly Yablonski University High
1996 Joe Aguirre Palo Verde
1997 Andy Viner University High
1998 Scott Beck Canyon del Oro
1999 Glenn Schatz University High
2000 Nicole Voelkel University High
2001 Ai-ris Yonekura Catalina Foothills
2002 Philo Sanchez Sunnyside
2003 Tim Ashcraft Sahuaro
2004 Joe Kay Tucson High
2005 Tiffany Hosten Tucson High and Echo Fallon Catalina Foothills
2006 Michael Smith Sunnyside
2007 Tara Erdmann Flowing Wells
2008 James Eichberger Catalina

2009 Sun Park Cienega
2010 Christine Clark Tucson High
2011 LeeAndra Smith Palo Verde
2012 Rachel Ward Pusch Ridge and Robin Landrith Ironwood Ridge
2013 Mally McGarity Marana and Asha Esprit University High

2014 Amanda Nicholas Sahuaro
2015 Laura McGeary Flowing Wells and Courtney Brown Flowing Wells

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Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here, on and on the pages of the Vail Voice and the Tanque Verde Voice. Contact Andy Morales at

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