The precedent was set with Desert Vista’s first athletic Hall of Fame class one year ago.
Talented. Respected. Accomplished.
The five inductees in 2012 set the tone for the school and its sports programs in the late 1990s and helped form what being part of the Thunder is truly about.
The 2013 class is a prime example of what came to follow.
This year’s inductees — Jason St. Clair (football, baseball), Amanda Lyon (cross country) and Nicole McAndrew (swimming) — took those attributes and continued to represent the Desert Vista ideal.
“There were some amazing athletes in those early years,” St. Clair said. “For a new school to compete for state titles from the start was unheard of, but they did it. Everyone wanted to keep that standard going.”
St. Clair did just that as he played both at the varsity level as a freshman in both football and baseball. While he went on to be drafted in baseball, the fact that he helped the Thunder varsity in football, the very first year he ever played the game, might be more impressive.
“Dan Hinds was my receivers coach and he taught me everything,” St. Clair said. “I was fast and had good hands, but he really helped me. Coach (Jim) Rattay taught me discipline and respect for the game, and that carried over to baseball.”
On the diamond, St. Clair was just fine on his own. He played shortstop and had a game-tying double in the 2001 state title game in an eventual win. He helped the Thunder to three straight title games as they won in 1999 and 2001.
“Playing for coach (Stan) Luketich prepared me for the pro game,” he said. “I didn’t know it at the time, and I didn’t understand what he was trying to get out of us, but worked every day to be a better team.
“I was part of three teams that made the state championship game. That speaks volumes about what he did for us.”
The 31-year-old went on to play seven years in the minor leagues after the Tampa Bay Rays drafted him in the 10th round.
St. Clair, who is a sports agent and lives in Ahwatukee, leveled at High-A after injuries, including Tommy John, kept him from fulfilling his potential.
St. Clair, who has been married to Cristina for your years and they have a month-old infant, Gianna, remembers the Desert Vista days fondly and added most of his closest friends are from the baseball team.
“I was fortunate to go to a school like DV,” he said. “There was so much chemistry and so much you could learn and take away from your four years.”
Lyon, 30, was also part of the early success as the school soon opened its doors.
“Desert Vista was a new and growing school when I went there, and it felt like we were starting to make a name for ourselves in terms of academic and athletic excellence,” said Lyon, who is a registered at UC San Diego Medical Center. “It was exciting because we were paving our own way and setting the traditions for future classes.”
She finished second at the 5A state cross country meet in 2000 and was on the Thunder’s state title teams of 1998 and 2000 before competing at Arizona State.
Lyon, who is getting married next weekend, also won two state titles as part of the 4x800 relay teams for the Thunder.
“I came to high school barely able to run 10 minutes and with very little confidence in my ability; but with the encouragement and guidance of coach (Erin) Scroggins and coach (Chris) Hanson, I was motivated to just keep pushing myself to improve,” she said. “It was all about baby steps and setting small goals. My parents supported me in every way in high school — they were my biggest cheerleaders and my biggest fans.”
McAndrew, 24, won three individual state titles in the pool and finished second three other times at the state meet. Her best events were in the 200 and 500 freestyles before moving onto Princeton.
“This honor is very cool,” she said. “I’ve lost touched with the school over the years and this will be a great chance to reconnect with a lot of good people.”
McAndrew, who lives in Lawrenceville, N.J., and works as a scientist for Johnson and Johnson, said the work she put in the pool helped her be able to handle her time at Princeton and the professional world.
“I learned how to be disciplined and what time management is about early on,” said McAndrew, who also same for Sun Devil Aquatics. “Sports are very important in developing so many skills you need later in life.”
Some of her best memories from her time at Desert Vista was the bus rides to and from meets.
“It was just chit-chatting and hanging out,” said McAndrew, whose mother, Dr. Francoise Dastous, still teaches at DV. “During the school day you couldn’t talk in class, but those bus rides to and from is where you really made friends.”
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