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Gila Ridge names new football coach

Jessica SlaughterGila Ridge High School has named Jessica Slaughter as its head varsity football coach.

Slaughter, who has been an assistant with the Gila Ridge program for the past four seasons, becomes just the third female varsity football coach in the history of Arizona, according the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), and the first ever in Yuma Union High School District.

"Jessica has consistently demonstrated skills in not only leading Gila Ridge students, but developing student-athletes as leaders," GRHS Principal Shawn Wehrer said. "She has head coaching experience with track and field, and has been a part of the football program here for the past four seasons. The combination of her knowledge, leadership skills, and growth mindset make her an ideal fit to continue building upon the success of our program."

Over the past three seasons, the Hawks have amassed a 22-6 record, including an 11-2 record in 2019 when they advanced to the 4A Conference state semifinals. Last season, with Slaughter serving as the defensive line coach, Gila Ridge went 5-0, winning the YUHSD “City Championship” in a season truncated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am incredibly honored to have this opportunity to lead the Gila Ridge High School football program,” said Slaughter. “As an alumni of Gila Ridge, I have always wanted to see its programs succeed and I look forward to being a part of that continued success. As a program, my coaches and I will build and guide student-athletes who relentlessly pursue victory on the field and in the classroom. I've been fortunate to work with the coaching staff for the past four years. Their expertise and dedication to the program is second to none. We will continue to build strong relationships with our athletes and help to push them to pursue their goals on and off the field. I am excited for the future of Gila Ridge football and look forward to a great season.”

Slaughter is the seventh varsity football coach since the school began varsity sports in 2008. In that time, they have put together seven seasons with a winning record and advanced to the postseason three times.

According to AIA, Amy Arnold, who served as Athletic Director and football coach at Arete Prep in Gilbert from 2010-2015, was the first female varsity football coach in the state’s history.

Jessica Slaughter on sideline

Eric Patten