A community touched: Many thanks to New Times and to writer Paul Rubin for taking the time to recognize possibly the most important feat of triumph that some of these kids may ever experience — a single football win in some 67 attempts.
Regardless of the turnout of the remaining games of the season, you guys have granted them more than their Warhol-allotted 15 minutes of fame. What you've done for every one of these struggling young men goes far beyond the wrought-iron and chain-link confines that have become an unfortunate necessity for their own security.
New Times feedback
Your acknowledgment has touched their parents, their guardians, and their extended families, but — beyond that — it has reached even the local merchants and the general community. And in so doing, it has given us a small piece of encouragement and hope in seeing some good come of this intentionally neglected area.
Carl Hayden High and its football Falcons have significance. In spite of their surroundings, Rubin's pen and ink have helped carry them to the point of recognizing that they are important. As a member of the class of 1970, thanks again for noticing our community.
R.M. Pena, Phoenix
Once and always a Falcon: Thanks for a great story on the Carl Hayden football team. Many times, extracurricular activities such as sports are the reasons students are motivated to stay in school.
My family is especially proud of our son, Assistant Coach Paul Ferrero, for supporting the students he teaches in the Isaac District to continue to be successful at the high school level.
I grew up in Phoenix and am an alumnus of the Carl Hayden class of 1971. I have never forgotten to thank my parents and the teachers who helped me make the right choices in life. Thank you again for acknowledging the spirit of success through hard work that is being fostered by the Carl Hayden Community School Football Program.
"Once a Falcon, always a Falcon."
Paul J. Ferrero, Phoenix
The situations we live in: Thank you for this article. My little brother attends Carl Hayden, and I regret to say that I'm a dropout from 2001. But I moved on to make a better person of myself.
It never really struck us about the situations we live in — until reading the boldly stated words in your article.
It's great to know that everyone can see that we are not ignorant and can achieve what anyone else can, even if we have to work three times harder than everyone else just to make it happen.
Jose Martinez, Phoenix
No matter what: I think the point of the story was that Carl Hayden even has a team, and that the students try their hardest, no matter what. I have no idea if the Hayden coach is a good or bad one, but he sounds like a decent enough guy, and I loved what the players had to say. Great, great story.
Bob Diaz, Peoria
Proud of these young men: This story spoke to me on many levels. I am proud of what these young men are doing and of how they are supportive of each other. The circumstances of the entire CHHS community spoke to me through this story, and I have passed it along to someone far away who is poised to come to the community and make a difference.
H. Douglas, Tempe
Thanks for the good news: It's so great to see this positive article about the students of Carl Hayden High School, and thanks for that.
Our class of '79 just had its 30th high school reunion at Oaxaca Restaurant on October 10, and it was a fabulous turnout.
Thanks to Vivian and David Escobar (alumni), along with the Reunion Committee, for the new "Freddy the Falcon" mascot for the school.
Ralph Duarte, Phoenix
Life lessons learned: I coached football at Mountain Pointe High School with Karl Kiefer for 10 years. The way you put this piece together was priceless.
I feel for the kids. They say it's not about winning or losing in high school sports, but everyone wants to be successful at what they do. When these young men are battling adversity later on in life, they can look back on this season and say, "If we survived that, we can survive anything."
Thanks so much for a very impressive job.
David Klecka, via the Internet
Winning isn't everything: The Carl Hayden team is truly an inspiration. Winning isn't what it's all about, and they prove it.
Jack Clancy, via the Internet
Wishing them the best: Honestly, I don't know how parents like Niki Varlotta and her husband have gone on with their lives after having to sic the police on their son to save him. Nobody in his or her right mind can fault them for doing it, but this has got to be one of the hardest things ever for a parent.
I wish the Varlottas the best, and I hope Alex can somehow be helped enough to come out of this and not be forced to spend the rest of his life institutionalized.
Virginia Vargas, Phoenix
Success stories are rare here: I made the choice to stay poor — even though I had an opportunity to better my life — because, otherwise, my son's story would be Alex's. In a lot of ways, our story is Alex's story. Arizona has no options other than poverty care for children's mental health.
Our family is a success story, but that is rare here. I hope the family stays strong and connected.
Reader feels the Varlottas' pain: This family sacrificed so much to get their son the help he needs. As caregiver to a disabled spouse I know the pain and guilt of making hard choices, but sometimes your loved one needs more than you can give, and not just financially.
It's a shame that Arizona falls so far behind in education, healthcare, and care for the mentally ill. Peace be with the family, and may Alex continue to thrive.
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Alex is no better than an anchor baby?: As much as I feel for the Varlotta family, and I'm glad to see that things have been improving for their son, I can't get over the fact that they moved to Arizona to be closer to "family" and, since then, have consumed $250,000-plus in tax dollars.
Does anybody else have a problem with that? If you have a problem with "anchor babies" [the term racists use for the children of illegal immigrants] you should have a problem with this case also.
An apology for AZ's antiquated laws: Amy Silverman, thank you so much for sharing this story. And thanks to Niki and Greg for being willing to share this story, as well.
I can only apologize to folks in this situation for the antiquated laws of Arizona. If I had the money, Remarkable Ranch would become reality.