Aqua Fria High School women’s basketball coach Sam Polvino

Aqua Fria High School women’s basketball coach Sam Polvino recently surpassed 200 career wins.

Aqua Fria High School women’s basketball coach Sam Polvino is on the verge of reaching a coaching milestone.

He recently surpassed 200 career high school coaching wins, with 112 at Dysart High School and 89 at Agua Fria, as of December 8. Valley coaches may have landed 200 wins but reaching 100 wins at two schools would be remarkable. 

Polvino has had an even-keel approach to the milestone.

“It would be nice to get 100 at both schools, but it’s not anything I set out to do,” Polvino said. “It looks like it would just happen that way if the girls work hard in practice and play focused on our games.”

Twelve-year longtime assistant coach, Raymond Cruz, admitted he and Polvino haven’t discussed the 200th win mark. 

“That’s how humble he is. He takes nothing for granted,” Cruz said. “He’s prouder of getting 100 at Aqua Fria and Dysart. I don’t think too many coaches have accomplished this, a lot of coaches have 200 but not at two different schools.”

Polvino’s biggest supporter is his wife, Traci. She echoes Cruz’s sentiment. 

“He doesn’t like to take credit but having 200 wins—he does deserve a little credit,” she said. 

Polvino is dedicated to the girls. He’s been able to teach and have his players develop over the course of their four years with him.

“One great part is watching the development and growth of the young ladies we see as incoming freshmen until they play as seniors,” Polvino said. “Knowing we have a part in their maturity and also their athletic development means a lot.” 

Cruz has seen young women develop into great players while learning how to play basketball with Polvino at the helm. 

“We develop our girls from freshman to JV to varsity,” Cruz said. “We have girls who came out their freshman and sophomore years who had no clue what a basketball was and by the time they’re seniors, they are ready to play at the next level.”

Polvino’s wife of six years has watched these young ladies hone their skills. 

“It’s a great thing to witness these young ladies come in as freshmen and struggle to shoot or dribble and then watch them progress,” she said. “They have learned and gained a love of the game to want to work hard so they can move on to the next level.”

Polvino has a simple message for his players. 

“When I started this journey, I told myself I would always make this a fun environment for the girls to be a part of,” Polvino said. “We’ve never set a magic number of wins each year, but we ask them to practice hard and the games will take care of themselves.” 

Polvino never considered coaching high school basketball until his children entered high school. He then saw a need for extra coaches.

“This was a major career change—some say midlife crisis—but I’ve never looked back and love working with the kids and parents over the 13 years I’ve been doing this,” Polvino said. “I’ve also made some really great friendship over the years and it means a lot.”

As for continuing the career, Polvino is taking it season by season. 

“My certificate is good until 2029 so you never know,” Polvino said.