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Millennium hires new boys hoops coach
Submitted by Casey Pritchard on Wed, 04/19/2017 - 12:00am
Former Estrella Foothills coach Ty Amundsen returns to West Valley
A familiar coaching face is coming back to the West Valley. Ty Amundsen, who led Estrella Foothills to three consecutive 3A state boys basketball titles, was hired to be the Millennium boys basketball coach next season.
“I’m excited because I get to come back home and be on the west side,” Amundsen said. “That’s where we first moved to, the west side, and to be two minutes away from Millennium High School and 6A basketball, I’m excited to be there.”
Amundsen coached the last five years at St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix, but said traveling back and forth to downtown Phoenix from Goodyear every day was starting to wear on him.
“Although I really enjoyed my five years here, I’m excited to move on and be part of Millennium, be closer to home and start to build that program.”
Building a top-notch program is exactly what Millennium Athletic Director Remigio Gordillo was looking for when deciding to hire Amundsen.
“I’m elated to get a coach the level of Ty,” Gordillo said. “He’s a phenomenal coach, his success speaks for itself. I think when you talk about the top coaches in the state, Ty is one of the first ones that will come up. Everywhere he’s gone, whether it’s California, Estrella Foothills, St. Mary’s, he’s been successful. It was important to us to find a proven, successful coach in building a program, and I think if you look at the track record, that’s what he’s done. A lot of coaches can win with a team, but we’re not interested in winning with a team, we’re interested in building a program.”
St. Mary’s was Amundsen’s fourth coaching stop, following two schools in California and then Estrella. He’s coached 22 years in total. He won titles from 2008 to 2010 while at Estrella, all coming with star guard Corey Hawkins. Under Amundsen, Hawkins scored 3,154 points, breaking the state’s all-time career scoring record that was previously held by Mike Bibby.
Amundsen compiled a 74-66 record in four seasons at St. Mary’s, going from eight wins his first year to double-digit victories every season after that. The Knights made the final eight in Division I in both 2015 and 2016. Going to his fifth school, Amundsen is ready for the challenge that comes with starting over.
“Each time you go to a new school, you’re excited to kind of get things started, get things going,” Amundsen said. “Every year I’ve started as a coach, I’ve always made it a point to go see Division I coaches and watch their practices, go to clinics and continue professional growth every year.
“Since my time at St. Mary’s, I’ve learned you got to kind of just roll with it. We started off in Division I, ended up in 4A. We started off with just local tournaments, and by the end, we were playing national tournaments. I really enjoyed the five years here; we’ve had some really good players, some really good athletes. That’s the biggest thing I’m going to miss leaving St. Mary’s is the relationship I had with those kids and the development we’ve had with those kids.”
Amundsen has already met with the players and parents at Millennium, he said.
“Everybody is excited for the change and for us to come in as a staff and get Millennium back on top,” Amundsen said. “It’s going to take work, and people are going to have to be patient. When a new coach comes in, you have to install a new system and a new culture, and our focus will be 100 percent on that, getting the kids to be held accountable for everything that they do, to make sure these kids are focused and ready to work hard. We’re going to work hard for them, and we expect them to work hard for us. Our presence, being there, it’s going to get these guys excited for a top-notch coaching staff we’re bringing in, and we’ll move forward from there, but it’s going to take time to develop that.”
Amundsen is taking two of his St. Mary’s coaches with him to Millennium. Dale Castro will be the varsity assistant, and Reggie Moore is going to be the JV coach. Uche Nsonwu, who played professionally for 12 years, will also be on the staff, and Amundsen is looking for one additional coach, he said.
Amundsen said he plans on having the Millennium athletes train 10 months out of the year, starting with strength training, conditioning and an off-season program.
“In the short term, toward the middle of April, we’ll start doing open gyms to get the kids out and see them play,” Amundsen said. “In May, we’ll start our full summer program. I have five tournaments planned starting at the end of May and going into June. I like to take them out of town, so we’ll go to the classic in Los Angeles. At the end of June, we’ll end the summer program, let kids play club in July, and we’ll get back at it once school starts again in August.”
Millennium’s last coach, Brian Fisk, was let go after a 9-17 season.
“Coach Fisk did an amazing job for us, he’s a great asset to our campus, we appreciate everything he’s done and wish him well in his future coaching endeavors,” Gordillo said.
The position was open for two weeks and had approximately 40 applicants, Gordillo said. With the hiring of Amundsen, Gordillo couldn’t be happier about the school’s basketball programs.
“We believe with the hiring of Ty, between him and [girls basketball] coach [Cory] Rojeck, I believe hands down, we have the best coaching combo in the state when you’re talking boys and girls head basketball coaches,” Gordillo said.
Amundsen said he was grateful to Gordillo and Agua Fria Union High School District Human Resources Director Phillip Nowlin for giving him the opportunity at Millennium.
“I’m super excited to be part of Millennium,” Amundsen said. “Even when I was coaching at Estrella Foothills, I always thought Millennium, on the west side, could be a powerhouse depending on who they bring in as a coach and how they welcomed the kids. So, I’m really excited for the opportunity to be there and work with the kids, and I’m really anxious to get my hands on them to start working with them on some skill development and working on team stuff. It’s the best move for me and my family.”
Casey Pritchard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CaseyonSports.
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