Quick Hit­ters


Hierro hopes to re­peat Zi­dane’s coach­ing suc­cess

SOCHI, Rus­sia — Fer­nando Hierro didn’t hes­i­tate when asked if he would be happy to be­come the Zine­dine Zi­dane of the na­tional team.

“Where do I sign,” said Hierro, smil­ing broadly only a few hours af­ter be­ing named Spain coach in a chaotic shuf­fle two days be­fore the team’s open­ing World Cup match. “Hope­fully.”

Hierro is tak­ing on a ma­jor coach­ing job with­out any sig­nif­i­cant pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence, just as Zi­dane did at Real Madrid. The for­mer France great went on to win three straight Cham­pi­ons League ti­tles as coach be­fore quit­ting last month.

Hierro took over as Spain coach on Wed­nes­day, shortly af­ter the na­tional soc­cer fed­er­a­tion’s shocking de­ci­sion to fire Julen Lopetegui for ac­cept­ing a job to lead Real Madrid next sea­son with­out let­ting of­fi­cials know in ad­vance.

Hierro’s first match in charge will be on Fri­day against Euro­pean cham­pion Por­tu­gal in the teams’ World Cup opener in Sochi.

“I couldn’t have said ‘no,’” Hierro said. “I wouldn’t for­give my­self.”

The 50-year-old Hierro, who was act­ing as the fed­er­a­tion’s sports di­rec­tor in Rus­sia, has loads of ex­pe­ri­ence as a player but his only head-coach­ing job was with sec­ond-di­vi­sion club Real Oviedo two sea­sons ago. He had pre­vi­ously been Carlo Ancelotti’s as­sis­tant at Real Madrid af­ter Zi­dane left the post in 2014.

“I only have one year of ex­pe­ri­ence with Oviedo and one year of ex­pe­ri­ence as an as­sis­tant coach,” Hierro said. “(But) I’ve been near a ball for 30 years.”

The for­mer de­fender spent most of his ca­reer with Madrid, in­clud­ing two sea­sons as Zi­dane’s team­mate, be­fore fin­ish­ing his play­ing days with English club Bolton in 2005. He has ex­pe­ri­ence from play­ing in four World Cups with Spain, start­ing in 1990 and end­ing in 2002. He also played at two Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships, in 1996 and 2000.

At Real Madrid, he helped the team win five Span­ish league ti­tles and three Cham­pi­ons League tro­phies, in­clud­ing as a team­mate of Zi­dane in 2002.

Hierro said coach­ing re­mained in his plans but ad­mit­ted he wasn’t ex­pect­ing it to hap­pen like this.

Padres beat Car­di­nals, lock up fifth straight se­ries win

ST. LOUIS — Eric Lauer car­ried a shutout into the sixth in­ning, Manuel Mar­got had three hits and the San Diego Padres beat the St. Louis Car­di­nals 4-2 on Wed­nes­day night to win their fifth straight se­ries.

Freddy Galvis drove in two firstin­ning runs for San Diego, which has won five of seven. The Padres hadn’t won five con­sec­u­tive se­ries since 2010.

Mar­cell Ozuna home­red for the Car­di­nals, who have lost three of four.

Lauer (3-4) gave up two runs and eight hits over 5 2/3 in­nings. He’s 3-0 when get­ting two or more runs of sup­port.

Brad Hand recorded his 21st save in 23 op­por­tu­ni­ties. He got Jedd Gy­orko to ground into a dou­ble play af­ter hit­ting Yadier Molina to start the ninth.

St. Louis starter Luke Weaver (3-6) gave up four runs and nine hits over 5 1/3 in­nings. He has just one win over his last 11 starts.

Mar­got, who sin­gled in the sec­ond and fourth, stretched the lead to 3-0 with a run-scor­ing triple in the sixth. Raffy Lopez fol­lowed with a bro­ken-bat sin­gle off re­liever Austin Gomber for a 4-0 lead.

Mar­got has hit safely in his last six games, go­ing 9 for 20. He had two hits in a 4-2 win Tues­day.

San Diego re­liever Jose Castillo struck out all four bat­ters he faced af­ter fol­low­ing Lauer.


This is part four of a se­ries where I com­pete against Yuma-area high school coaches at their sport and write about the ex­pe­ri­ence.



nter­ing his fresh­man sea­son at Kofa, As­sante Nice­wan­der ap­proached his dad, Kings boys soc­cer coach Jamie Nice­wan­der, and said he wanted to try out goal­keeper.

The el­der Nice­wan­der thought his son was a lit­tle crazy.

“I thought to my­self, ‘Wait, that ball’s mov­ing how fast at you?’” he re­calls. “‘You’re not get­ting this from me.’”

It takes a cer­tain type of ath­lete, and soc­cer player, to want to step be­tween the posts and put their body on the line to stop rocket shots.

Nei­ther Jamie Nice­wan­der nor I are that type of ath­lete.

So when we met ear­lier this week for part four of my “vs. coaches” chal­lenge — this one a best-of-three penalty kick shootouts against Nice­wan­der — I knew it might be my first chance for a vic­tory. We’d each try to stop each other’s penalty kick at­tempts, but it’d prob­a­bly come down to whichever of us shanked an at­tempt first.

“Yeah, I won’t be div­ing,” Nice­wan­der an­nounced as we ex­am­ined the hard ground on the “grass” field at Ca­ballero Park. “I’m 45 (years old), I won’t be div­ing.”

I’m 27, and wouldn’t be div­ing ei­ther.

Nice­wan­der, of course, would have the edge in the kick­ing de­part­ment. He claimed he’d be able to place the ball ex­actly where he wanted.

I have zero soc­cer back­ground — ex­cept for a few years of “Kick and Chase” two decades ago — whereas Nice­wan­der has been around the game for decades. He ad­mits he wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily the star that some of my other op­po­nents in this chal­lenge — such as Ci­bola dis­tancerun­ning coach Kris Nor­ton — were, though.

“My kids are far bet­ter than I ever was,” Nice­wan­der said. “By far.”

As­sante, now 21 and in the Air Force, was a three­year starter at goal­keeper for the Kings un­der his dad, as was Gavin — now 19 and a stu­dent at North­ern Ari­zona Univer­sity — at for­ward. And Nice­wan­der’s two youngest sons — Tier­nan, 13, and Ji­ago, 11 — both play for his club pro­gram, Spar­tans FC.

“I didn’t play year-round like they do,” Nice­wan­der said. “For me and my fam­ily, sports wasn’t any­thing that they placed im­por­tance on — hunt­ing and fish­ing was. That was the big deal. I killed my first bear when I was 12.

“Sports were like, ‘OK, you did sports, that’s fun, that’s cute.’”

A son of mil­i­tary par­ents, Nice­wan­der moved quite reg­u­larly grow­ing up. He was born in San

Buy these photos at Yu­maSun.com PHOTOS BY RANDY HOEFT/YUMA SUN

KOFA BOYS SOC­CER COACH JAMIE NICE­WAN­DER un­suc­cess­fully at­tempts to make a div­ing save against Yuma Sun sports ed­i­tor Grady Gar­rett dur­ing their penalty kick shootout Mon­day af­ter­noon at Ca­ballero Park. Gar­rett won the chal­lenge, though Nice­wan­der may...

1st PK Round: 2nd PK Round:

YUMA SUN SPORTS ED­I­TOR GRADY GAR­RETT un­suc­cess­fully at­tempts to save a shot by Kofa boys soc­cer coach Jamie Nice­wan­der dur­ing their penalty kick shootout Mon­day.

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