In just 20 months, Larry Chavez developed a reputation as a fixer of problems.
That reputation helped lead Santa Fe Public Schools’ athletic director to a promotion that doesn’t necessarily take him out of his preferred field, though it leads to an opening of his old position.
Chavez, 42, was promoted to assistant superintendent of athletics/activities and school support in June, meaning that he will continue to oversee athletics and activities for the school district and also be a site supervisor for several of the district’s schools. Chavez declined to mention which schools he will supervise because the list has yet to be finalized, but he said he is looking forward to his new position.
“What I want to do is help make the school district successful,” Chavez said. “So, I’ll be taking on more responsibilities and I will do my very best to provide some stability and do what I can to foster a great environment.”
Chavez took over as athletic director for the district in October 2017 with the goal of providing stability and leadership within the athletic programs at Santa Fe High and Capital. If anything, Chavez has done a lot of “little things” that might not get noticed by many, but are appreciated by coaches and administrators. Over the spring, the football press boxes at Santa Fe High and Capital received new windows and Ivan Head Stadium was repainted.
Last year, the school district installed lights and a scoreboard on the soccer field at Santa Fe High and began the process of moving Capital’s softball field right next to the baseball field. Both will have turf installed by the end of the year. The finishing touches are underway on a new complex of tennis courts at Santa Fe High. It will be ready for use in the spring.
Santa Fe High ended a 35-game losing streak in football in the fall, while in March, the boys basketball program reached the Class 5A championship game for the first time in 41 years. Meanwhile, Capital made a solid transition to 5A after spending the past 19 years a level below the highest classification in the state, as boys soccer and softball challenged for a spot in the state tournament and the boys basketball team reached the postseason for the 17th consecutive season.
Capital head football coach Bill Moon said he was happy for Chavez’s promotion, but added that his replacement has big shoes to fill.
“The athletic director is a tough job to understand, and I’ve worked for more horrible ones than good ones,” Moon said. “Larry is one of the good ones. You’re always afraid of losing a guy like Larry.”
Chavez’s background certainly helped. Born in Las Vegas, N.M., Chavez ran cross-country and played basketball at Santa Rosa, where his dad, Larry Chavez Sr., coached in the mid-1990s.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s in special education from New Mexico Highlands University, Chavez became a cross-country and track coach at Rio Rancho High School in 2007 and led the girls team to a 5A cross-country title in 2009.
Prior to becoming athletic director, Chavez was the director of education with the New Mexico Department of Health and the principal of the Sequoyah Adolescent Treatment Center in Albuquerque.
Zack Cole, Santa Fe High’s head boys basketball coach, said Chavez’s background as an athlete, coach and administrator helped him understand the intricacies of operating an athletic program and it helps him be an advocate for them.
“He is very supportive when it comes to need,” Cole said. “He’s always worried about our needs as far as a program. At the end of every school year, he’s always asking us, ‘Please give me your needs list.’ Both years we gave him a list, and he was able to fulfill it.”
As for Chavez’s replacement in his soon-to-be-former post, he said the position remains open for applications, and he hopes to have a hire before the season begins. Chavez said if a qualified candidate does not emerge before then, he would continue as district AD to start the school year.
“We’re not trying to put a time frame on it,” Chavez said. “We want to make sure we have a great pool of applicants to pull from. We want to have enough individuals who are qualified and want to be here at Santa Fe Public Schools.”
Capital coaches openings: Chavez said he is in the process of hiring a head girls soccer coach at Capital, and should have an official announcement in the coming days. The previous coach, Miguel Burgos, resigned after leading the Lady Jaguars to a 5-13 record in 2018. Capital is still in the process of hiring a head softball coach after Sig Rivera resigned in May, and Chavez expects to have a hire by the fall.