Truth be told, Campo Verde football coach Max Ragsdale doesn’t really know how he wound up receiving the 2013 Semper Fi Coach Award for the state of Arizona over the weekend.
Three are obvious indicators: he’s been part of Glazier Football Clinics both here and in Las Vegas for the past seven years, and his father was a 24-year veteran in the Air Force. Or between a decade’s worth of time between Apache Junction and now Campo Verde, he estimated sending 25 kids from his football programs to military schools for football and otherwise.
But he didn’t know where the nomination came from. Or why. Fortunately, he isn’t one for speeches, because immediately upon receiving the award on Saturday at the Hilton Phoenix/East Mesa, he was supposed to jettison across the Valley as the wrestling team is trying to hold off Queen Creek for a sectional title, and send some kids to the state meet next weekend.
But since the wrestling sectional meets were postponed, he might have to pull a 2-minute speech out of thin air.
Oddly enough, Ragsdale figures had he followed his father’s footsteps into the military, he’d have missed out on coaching. After finding his path while at Mesa Community College in the early 1990s, his physical education teacher told him to go over to Arizona State. He hung around the athletic department and pestered Sun Devils coach Bruce Snyder and his staff for about a month. They gave him a graduate assistant job so he’d shut up, and a successful career commenced.
For Ragsdale (and most coaches) it’s about, as he said, “Making better husbands, better fathers and better men,” and he pointed to a fifth football scholarship recipient in what’s (for the moment) a four-person Class of 2014 group, which signed letters of intent this week to play college football.
Marquon Claiborne was a defensive back at Campo Verde who graduated in 2013, but he got into legal trouble a couple times off the field. He’s a couple weeks away from serving his punishment (probation, among other things) and with Ragsdale’s help, earned a scholarship to play at Chadron State College in Nebraska.
“That’s such a huge part of it,” he said. “It’s about better husbands, fathers, and men, and if we earn some (wins) along the way, great. I want a Marquon Claiborne to come back in 10-15 years and help kids, or coach, or be an example. It’s not all about trophies or gold balls, and it’s nice to see some of the ‘little guys’ help show there’s more to this than the scoreboard.”
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune assistant managing editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.