Program History: "The Legacy of Chaparral Baseball"
Chaparral High School opened its doors to students in August of 1972 and played its first varsity baseball schedule the following year in Spring 1974. In that year, the school's independent status did not allow the team to compete for a regional title or qualify for post-season state tournament play; however the team finished with an 11-9 overall record.
And ever since that initial opening day, Chaparral Firebird Baseball has been a viable and competitive program in the state of Arizona. In just the second year of program existence (1975), the Firebirds won their first Regional Championship and advanced on to the AIA High School State Tournament where they were eventually eliminated by the #1 ranked team (Alhambra High School) in the semi-finals.
At the root of the program's success is legendary Coach Jerry Dawson, who took the helm in 1974 and occupied that position every spring for 37 years before retiring after the 2010 season. His emphasis on fundamentals and discipline - both on and off the field - led to his selection as "Coach of the Year" nine times and "National Coach of the Year" three times. Under Dawson's tutelage, the team experienced tremendous success, qualifying for post-season play in 33 of the 34 years it was eligible.
The program has captured 23 Regional Titles, finished in the "final four" 18 times, ended as runner-up on four occasions, and has claimed Ten State Championship Titles, tops for AZ Big Schools. At one point the Firebirds achieved an impressive stretch of 17 consecutive regional championships dating back to 1993.
The Firebirds earned their first State Title in 1994 with an impressive 9-0 victory over Tucson Sunnnyside High School. The '94 Firebirds featured 7 players who continued on to play college and/or professional baseball including Chicago White Sox starting first baseman and future hall-of-famer Paul Konerko The program boasts several past players that have been part of major league organizations, including 2005 Alumni Ike Davis, starting first baseman for the New York Mets
Taking over the reins in 2011 is Coach Sam Messina, and he wasted no time proving that "The Legacy of Chaparral Baseball" would continue under his tutelage as the Firebirds claimed the AZ 5A-II State Championship in his first year. The AIA introduced a new challenge in 2012 with the consolidation of regions into divisions, doubling the number of schools competing for the states highest title - and the Firebirds answered by repeating as the AZ 2012 Division I State Champions and were listed as the #2 high school team in the nation by MaxPreps.
Messina is no stranger to Arizona baseball. He was a player at Phoenix Cortez High School and a member of the 1986 University of Arizona College World Series Championship team. Messina has over 20 years of high school coaching experience and was in charge of the Goodyear Millennium High School's baseball program before transferring to Chaparral.
The program has produced over 160 players (60% of graduating seniors) who have gone on to play collegiate ball, 35 that played professional baseball as part of major league organizations, and 8 players that were selected by USA Baseball (governing body of Olympic baseball) to represent their country in International World Championship competition. Chaparral players have been represented in over 20 Major League Organizations and have also enjoyed success at top universities such as Arizona, Arizona State, USC, UCLA, Texas, Texas A&M, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt, Baylor, Houston, Virginia Tech, Pepperdine, Georgia Tech, Loyola Marymount, and many others.
The consistency of success is a tribute to the outstanding young men who make a commitment to a program with an emphasis on a strong work ethic and developing character and maturity as individuals and teammates. All of the young men who make up Chaparral Firebird Baseball make a commitment to set and achieve goals - and the results speak for themselves.