The Pima Community College athletics program announced the 2018 recipients of the annual Lawrence R. Toledo Leadership Award at Tuesday's End of the Year Celebration. Read a little of the background from freshmen Christian Maddox, Gabriel Mendoza (Desert View HS), Jacqulynn Nakai (Coconino HS) and sophomore Tyra Yanez (Sahuaro HS).
Christian Maddox (Football) – Christian Maddox came to Pima from South Carolina with no financial support and chose Pima over a hometown university because he believed in the Pima football program. He earned his spot at starting cornerback this season. He finished the fall semester with a 3.3 GPA and is majoring in Business. He wants to start a successful youth athletic program nationwide. The spring practice was a chance for him to step up and be a leader. He said, "Screaming and yelling is not part of being a leader for me, being leader is reminding your teammates that you are there for them through thick and thin." In his community service with the team, he's been a volunteer helper, security guard, a coach to kids and a salesman. All of these things said helped him "built character." He has not decided whether he will sign to a 4-year school but said when it happens, "I will be leaving Pima with a story to tell.
Gabriel Mendoza (Men's Soccer) – Gabriel Mendoza (Desert View HS) has been a part of the men's soccer team the last two years. His freshman year in 2016, he tore his ACL in the second game of the year. He spent the rest of the season in a team manager's role going to every home and away game; filling water bottles and helping his teammates better themselves as players. Gabriel was cleared to play after eight months and was named team captain for the 2017 season. In the third game of this season, he tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus. He said, "I thought, maybe this is God's way of telling me that it's time for me to give up the sport. It's hard for a 19-year-old kid to give up something that means so much to him when he knows he still has many years left." Coach Cosgrove and Coach Holguin took Gabriel under their wing and made him a coach. He was the first to practice to set-up and the last to leave putting the equipment away. His knowledge of the game grew each game as he helped his teammates with positioning and decision-making on the field. "I wanted to help my teammates become the best they could. I was willing to do whatever it takes to help…..I'm going to continue to help the players at Pima Community College and also people around me. It's what I love to do." Gabriel has a 3.19 GPA and is currently majoring in Photojournalism.
Jacqulynn Nakai (Women's Basketball) – Jacqulynn "JJ" Nakai came to Pima from Coconino High School in Flagstaff where her family still lives on the reservation some without water and electricity. She plays basketball for her family, community and culture. She put together a tremendous freshman season becoming the first Pima women's basketball player to be named WBCA Two-Year College Coaches All-American. She also earned NJCAA All-American honors and was named ACCAC Division II Player of the Year. Nakai has a 2.93 GPA and is currently majoring in Sports Medicine. She visited elementary schools during Love of Reading Week with her teammates and is usually found in the gym continuously working on her shots even when no one is around. "Coming to Pima Community College was one of the best decisions I have made. I learned I was capable of so much more than I have come to known before. For this, I would like to say I am proud to be part of Pima Community College Intercollegiate Athletic Program."
Tyra Yanez (Women's Track & Field) – Tyra Yanez (Sahuaro HS), a sophomore sprinter, has been part of the track & field team for two years and captain of the sprinters this season. After high school, she had no interest in running track but she was contacted by a Pima coach and earned her spot on the team. Tyra was raised by her grandmother, who encouraged her to go to college. She has a 3.24 GPA and her aspiration is to become a Registered Nurse and move into Nurse Management. She will be the first in her family to graduate college, "Pima is the reason why I am seeking to fulfill a higher education and getting my Associates degree because I was given many opportunities that would not have occurred without being in the Pima Athletic Intercollegiate program. I will always be forever grateful for the opportunities and education I gained from Pima."