GOODYEAR – Basketball is in the Amundsen family’s blood, and it has taken the trio to Millennium High School, where they are fighting for the chance to play in the 5A state championships.
Daughter Mia is going for her fourth state championship with the girls basketball team, and son J.T. hopes he and his father, Ty, who coaches the boys basketball team, can win their first state title together.
The boys team went 23-2 in the regular season and posted a 12-0 record in divisional play. The girls team also went undefeated in the 5A Desert West conference with a 12-0 record and sports a 16-8 record overall.
Both teams are starting their playoff pushes this week. The girls play Tuesday at home against Boulder Creek High School, and the boys tip off Wednesday at home against Sandra Day O’Connor High School.
For the Amundsens, basketball is about more than on-the-court success. It has bonded them as a family and helped them grow closer.
“Their relationship is really good,” Ty said of Mia and J.T. “They both care for each other and what they’re doing for their teams.”
It wasn’t always like that, his kids say. When they were younger, they would fight and argue, but neither has time for that anymore.
“He’s OK,” Mia said laughing while looking over at her younger brother. “I like to mess around with him, because he thinks he’s too cool to be around me now.”
J.T. said their relationship is nothing out of the ordinary. “We’re just normal brother and sister,” he said.
Most siblings haven’t helped lead their teams to undefeated conference seasons.
Mia, a senior guard, averaged 8.1 points, 1.6 steals and 1.9 rebounds per game this season, according to MaxPreps, but winning three back-to-back-to-back state championships at Millennium remains her greatest accomplishment, she said.
Along the way, she has also received college offers and challenged the assumptions attached to those who play for family members.
“Being a coach’s kid, there’s a lot of controversy,” Mia said. “Winning those state championships was proving my point. I don’t get nothing handed to me.”
J.T., a sophomore guard, agreed that having a father as a coach comes with stereotypes. Many people questioned his starting role, but he blocked it out and moved on, he said.
“It’s been different having to be a coach’s son,” J.T. said. “But he’s been my coach my whole life, so really nothing has changed, just more so what other people think of me (but) nothing has changed between me and him.”
Ty has coached J.T. since first grade and also coached Mia until she was 16
“Both of my kids play like coaches, son and daughter,” Ty said. “Strength number one for both is basketball IQ. They both don’t have a ton of turnovers and they both play really hard. They have heart and passion for the game.”
A passion that came from their dad, both kids said.
“It’s all he talks about and all he does,” J.T. said, laughing.
He then mentioned some of his early basketball memories, including going to games when his dad coached at Estrella Foothills High School, where he won three Arizona high school state titles.
Mia agreed and said her dad has coached basketball for as long as she can remember.
“He brought it to the family,” Mia said. “He really got me into it and seeing him winning all these titles, I just continued to pursue it.”
Ty is also sensitive to the perception of coaching a child and acknowledges with J.T., “I feel like I try to be a little harder on him. It’s easy to say he plays because he’s a dad kid, which is nothing further from the truth in my mind. Since he’s been with us, we’ve won 20 games this year. We’re 38 and 10 with him.”
Ty just hopes his children’s time at Millennium is defined by more than just basketball.
“At the end of four years leaving high school, I want them to say, ‘That was the best four years of my life.’”