Mountain Pointe instructor relies on personal experience to help at-risk students - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

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Mountain Pointe instructor relies on personal experience to help at-risk students

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Posted: Friday, December 6, 2013 1:32 pm

High school is a time when students are trying to decide what type of person they will become later in life.

However, guidance from their parents as well as school faculty members can assist with pointing them in the right direction towards the road to success.

Newly-appointed Mountain Pointe High School track coach Tim O’Neil knows this all too well from his early years as a teen.

During his early life, O’Neil did not have the perfect life.

While in high school, he was kicked out of his home during his freshman year, having to live with his grandparents and friends, and wasn’t the “modeled” student at Sunnyslope High School.

“In high school I was just one of those kids that didn’t have the best family background, and my grades weren’t that great,” he said.

O’Neil did have one passion: being on the track team.

His track coach, Clyde Volz, saw something special in his student athlete and decided to take an interest in O’Neil and his future.

Volz began asking O’Neil about his future plans on continuing with track in college, but during that time O’Neil had no interest in attending any college.

“No one out of my family had made it out of high school, so college was never even a thought,” O’Neil said. “He’s the one that kind of got me into raising expectations for myself. I’m super blessed to have the opportunities that I have had, and the people who took an interest in me made a huge difference. I don’t know if someone else would consider me successful or not, but I know I’m a lot more successful had I not had Clyde Volz in my life, my grandmother, and people who took an interest in me.”

Volz informed O’Neil that he could travel to different places around the country while competing in track, which began to spark his interest in the idea of applying to colleges.

After graduating college and running his own business for 15 years, O’Neil began coaching track at Brophy College Preparatory and Xavier College Preparatory schools in central Phoenix.

He was in search of a new career path, and was contacted by Bruce Kipper, Mountain Pointe’s principal, on the idea of working with at-risk students at the school and putting them on the right path.

“Emotionally that was something that I kind of could identify with because I was one of those kids. I got an opportunity here to help some kids realize some higher potential, and hopefully get them moving in the right direction,” O’Neil said.

He accepted the position at Mountain Pointe, and was also given the head coaching position for track at the school.

With it being a brand new position, O’Neil and administrators at Mountain Pointe are currently “feeling out” the role and focusing on student’s realization that they are accountable for their own actions.

“If they are goofs with five F’s I wish them the best of luck and shake their hand, but if they would like to see their grades go into a different direction then that’s what I’m here for, to help put together a plan, and start turning things around,” O’Neil said. “We should leave this place better than how we found it, so I should try and be better than what my coaches were.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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