Joe Barajas (left) pictured with his son Mike and former Arizona Cardinal Givens Price in 2017.
When a group of parents took over a youth basketball program that the Town of Miami was going to close, according to Joe Barajas, they never thought “it would go so far so fast.” In 2011 they started the process of getting non-profit status and in 2013, they launched their first under 12 basketball seasons.
Since then the Copper Cities Youth Sports (CCYS) has absorbed several youth sports programs in need of support from a 501(c)3 organization. They range from basketball, softball and baseball to the Piranhas swim team, the Wad Squad trap shooters, and the pre-T younger than T-Ball team that the local Little League didn’t want to sponsor.
There is some type of sport going on throughout the year, which keeps the board busy managing over 150 volunteers serving over 900 kids directly and another 700 indirectly through CCYS’s gifts to school district facilities. From the beginning, CCYS has attracted players from Superior, Kearney, Hayden, San Carlos and even Fort Thomas in addition to Globe-Miami.
In his role as basketball coach at High Desert, Barajas has noted that kids who have gone through CCYS programs seem to “be standouts not just in sports but in life. A little more prepared.”
CCYS gets money from the United Fund and support of various kinds from other partners in the community. The Globe and Miami School Districts have allowed CCYS to use their junior high gyms without charge, although CCYS pays for the lights. In return, the sports organization paid for refinishing Miami’s Jr. High gym floor and gave them better backboards for basketball. They have helped High Desert Middle School by purchasing extra baskets that could be folded down for practice session. Barajas, who coaches basketball at High Desert, expressed personal gratitude for that gift.
CCYS charges for the opportunity to play but Barajas believes that the cost may be the lowest in the state and has not increased much since the program began. This is due, he says, to the fact that CCYS is careful about how it spends money, and because it gets money from the Globe-Miami United Fund.
According to Barajas, there is only one paid employee in the program, the swim coach who must have CPR and lifesaving certifications. The eight board members include Barajas, Vice President Frank Brice, Secretary, Lexie Nosie, and board members Rose Dalmolin, A.J. Nosie, photographer, John Petty, Sam Gonzales and Marcos Bronco.
CCYS has thrived in the six years since it started, but to remain sustainable, new and younger volunteers are needed according to Barajas. He encourages parents to volunteer by e-mailing CCYS at [email protected] or by contacting any of the board members.