The roster for Mountain Pointe is filled with players of all ages, ethnicities, belief systems and locales.
They hail from places such as Maricopa, the other side of South Mountain, Wyoming, Tucson, Tempe and, of course, Ahwatukee.
At least until they come through the doors of what used to be the Physical Education lecture hall and then all of the labels and zip codes meld into the Pride.
Mountain Pointe’s locker room has become a special place since the doors opened toward the end of last season when they left the old gym lockers across from the coaches’ offices to their very own four walls of solitude.
“It’s kind of their sanctuary,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “They can get relief from stress of the day and stuff like algebra. They are in there with their friends and it is almost like going to their living room.
“It’s more than just a locker room. It’s a true team room. It’s a place where they can go and relax.”
The players have come to love it and someone like Jalen Brown, who has been on the varsity since he was a freshman, can appreciate the new digs more than most.
“The changing of the locker room mirrors the change in the program as well,” said Brown, who hopes to end his career with the school’s first state title on Saturday. “The program has improved a lot and I can notice a huge difference. The players really care about the game and a winning a championship.”
It used to be the click clack that reverberated around the stale concrete walls was the sound of cleats on the cement floors, but it has been replaced by clicking of domino tiles, brought in by reserve linemen Ledell Bunton, hours before practice or a game.
Others sleep in their comfortable padded and personalized chairs, listen to music, hang out with their buddies, talk football and girls and just about anything else, within in reason of course, they want.
“Our school has a lot of open enrollment guys who can’t necessarily go home after school when we have practice at 5,” senior defensive end Charlie Trevino said. “We hang out, play dominoes or whatever else and it brings us closer to together.
“I think it is a really big deal. It makes us family oriented and helps us on the field. I spend more time with these guys than I do with my family. When I see them on the field, I’m like ‘That’s my guy and I am playing for him and not just me.’ ”
It’s also where team meetings are held, video is shown, the program’s accomplishments are hung on the walls and messages from coaches are delivered.
But more than anything else it has become a second home to the players where the Pride can live and breathe as a team.
“Everyone loves each other, there are no cliques or hazing,” Brown said. “Of course, there is bickering and fighting like brothers do, but there’s never been a huge fight or anything. It’s our place and we take care of it and everyone who is in there.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.