GRIC Student Receives CAA Football Award

March 3, 2023


Emma Hughes, 

Community Newsperson




Anderson Pino, District 1, a junior at Imagine Prep Coolidge high school, was presented with an award on Friday, Feb. 24, naming him to the Canyon Athletic Association (CAA) Division 1 Football All State First Team.


Pino, a running back, began playing football in junior high and rose to become captain of the high school team, leading it in the offensive category of rushing yards with 163 carries for 1,156 yards and nearly 20 touchdowns. He also received an MVP award.


Imagine Prep nominated Pino, and the athletic directors in his division for the 2022 season voted on the award.


“He scored a lot of points for us. The sky’s the limit for this young man,” said Dushawn Austin, head football coach and physical education teacher at Imagine Prep Coolidge. “He’s a determined young man that has a lot of promise in his future.” 


Pino shared credit for the honor, saying, “We had a good team. It was all about team teamwork and brotherhood.” 


He explained how being team captain helped and inspired him.


“I feel like it really built me as a person,” Pino said. “It got me through some obstacles in life that seemed to be hard to me, but I had people around me that I knew really cared, and it was a team.”


He added, “I got an award, [and] it made me feel good, but I feel like it was all the team effort. It was the whole team.”


Pino’s coach and family surprised him by presenting the award—a glass plaque—during a school assembly. 


“It really surprised me, but I liked it. It was good,” said Pino. “Having my family here meant a lot. It made me feel good having my family.” 


Michael Astalos, assistant principal of operations and athletic director for Imagine Prep Coolidge, said Pino deserves every bit of recognition. 


“He’s an honor and a privilege to have [as a student],” Astalos said. “I was fortunate enough to teach him, and he’s come so far. That’s why I signed up to be a teacher.”


He added that he’s pleased with Pino’s leadership skills, and said, “Sports has given him an outlet to become who he is.”  


While Pino receives accolades on the field, Astalos says it’s what he does off the field that he’s most proud of.


“All of those little moments where you watch him help a teammate, you watch him show a teammate a better way to do something—he’s almost that built-in coach, which is what true leaders are to me,” he said.


Pino’s family describes him as a shy but selfless person—someone who is constantly thinking of others and willing to lend a helping hand in any way. 


His mother, Terra Pino, shared that while there were times when he struggled, she felt football and sports altogether aided him in overcoming challenges and becoming a better person.


“Just to see how football helped him grow, school-wise and just as a person—it’s a good feeling to see him accomplish this,” she said. “I’m proud, very proud and happy for him. He’s worked very hard.”


Pino’s grandfather Henry Pino said he’s honored that his grandson brought the team to this point. 


“It took a lot out of him,” Henry Pino said. “It took a lot out of us, but we enjoyed every minute of it going to every one of his games. I had the opportunity to really see him grow from the seventh grade when he started playing to this point.”


Pino will continue playing football in his senior year, along with other sports like baseball and basketball.


“I have one more year until I graduate, so I’m going to play again next season,” Pino said. “I’m hoping that it’s going to be a good season. I know [we’ve] got to practice hard, and we will, but I’m excited.”

Pino thanks his team and family for all their support. “[They’ve] always been there and help me, always push me, motivated me to never give up, especially my grandmother and my grandpa,” he said. “They were always there. I appreciate that.