Ask any Brawley native who has the best high school athletic program in the Imperial Valley and they will boastfully respond, “Brawley Union High School.” In fact, most informed Valley sports fans would also agree with such an assertion. However, this belief is based solely on personal opinion and perception. The question is, does this widely-held belief stand up when applied to statistical analysis?
When establishing statistical criteria, the winning of league championships would be the most definitive measuring stick. Athletic talent must be developed and cultivated to produce a winning sports program. A high school must have an outstanding coaching staff, excellent athletic facilities and an extremely supportive administration if athletes are to excel at their respective sports and lay claim to league championships.
Statistical data was collected from a five-year period, tracking league championships won by Valley high schools in all nineteen sports programs offered. A sample size was used to rule out any anomaly, such as an exceptionally athletic class, to definitively establish the best, local high school athletic program. In other words, no complaining from the losers!
Also, for competitive and comparable purposes, the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams which participate in two separate leagues were combined with overall records between the participants to determine a league champion.
Coming out on top with the most league championships over the last five years was Brawley Union High School with 44 championship titles. Rounding out the top five was Central in second place with 21.
Third place was tied between Southwest and Calexico with 16 apiece and Imperial came in fifth place, collecting a total of four championship banners.
When comparing the data, Brawley had over double the amount of titles than its closest competitor — Central — over the span of the study. In fact, this past school year, Brawley took home ten out of the possible nineteen league championships possible. That’s an impressive 53 percent ratio.
So now we know why Brawley Union High School has the reputation of having the best sports program in the Valley — they actually do! But the question that begs to be asked is, “Why?”
First and foremost, the school district in question is extremely supportive of its athletic programs. You cannot find a single Brawley coach who will criticize the support they receive from the district office.
Brawley Union is also the only high school in the Valley that employs a full-time, on-campus athletic director. Billy Brewer was recognized as the 2012 CIF-San Diego Section Athletic Director of the Year, and deservedly so. Any coach from Brawley I have ever dealt with has nothing but positive things to say about Brewer’s ability and his impact.
Also significant in Brawley’s dominance is Brewer’s ability to hire some of the best coaches in the Valley. Most impressive is the experience many of their coaches bring to their respective sports.
D’Ann Luckey has been coaching the Wildcat swim team for the last sixteen years and during that time, has won a staggering 15 girls’ and 10 boys’ league championships, including co-championships.
Pedro Carranza has won seven league championships during his thirteen-year reign as head baseball coach.
The school’s highly-touted wrestling program has been led by Tony Leon for the last twelve years and has brought home a league title every year of his tenure.
Phil Finnell has been coaching volleyball for thirteen seasons and only just this year had his streak of twelve consecutive league championships come to an end.
Now, with statistical data on their side, Brawley sports fans can now truly back their claim that Brawley Union High School has the best athletic program in the Imperial Valley.