As the 2014-15 school year winds down, the coaching merry-go-round is speeding up.
The past two days has seen a series of coaching changes, highlighted by the resignation of Elmer Chavez, who retired as the head girls basketball coach at Santa Fe High. Chavez, who spent six years with the program, turned the Demonettes from perhaps the worst program in the state — one that lost 41 out of 43 games from 2009-10 — into a state championship team in 2014. He leaves with a 103-67 record at the school, an impressive achievement considering the Demonettes were 1-23 in his first season.
Santa Fe High was 16-11 in 2014-15 and reached the Class AAAAAA State Tournament, losing in the first round to Las Cruces.
Meanwhile, Pojoaque Valley filled its girls basketball position when it hired Seledon Martinez to take over the program. He replaces Chris Williams, who lasted just one season and led the Elkettes to a 7-20 mark. Martinez applied for the job in 2014 when Ron Drake resigned after three years, but was passed over.
Martinez, though, is not focusing on why he wasn’t a good enough candidate last year, but was a spring later.
“I can’t speak for what they were looking for back then,” Martinez said. “I went to the all the games [this season] and I saw what we still need to do and I explained that to the committee. I’m not sure if I was the first, third or fourth choice, but that doesn’t matter. I got my chance to help these kids.”
Martinez made his mark as the co-head girls basketball coach with brother-in-law Walter Bustos at McCurdy, where the pair went 201-89 and won six district titles.
Not to be left out, Santa Fe Indian School made its hire on Friday afternoon to replace Lanse Carter after he resigned as the girls’ head coach in April after one season and a 16-13 record. Christie Abeyta, a 1992 graduate of the school and former assistant coach from 2011-13, was hired to take his place.
“I am committed to this school,” Abeyta said in a statement. “I plan to start from scratch — focus on basic skills — to build the most stable foundation possible. Success will come because there’s a lot a talent to work with. My job is to regroup, build atmosphere, and take the team as high as it can go year after year.”
Meanwhile, Chavez said he was retiring because he had reached his retirement age in the state, but was looking for a job outside of the public-school sector.
“I am trying to get other jobs at colleges and some other jobs I am looking at,” Chavez said. “I”m just waiting to see what happens.”
Chavez said he felt he stabilized the program in his time, to the point that he believes it can compete in Class AAAAAA. He can back up that assertion since the Demonettes went 3-5 in 1AAAAAA play, which was the second-best district mark to boys tennis this season, and were one of three teams in the athletic program to reach the postseason.
“When you look at the teams in 6A, a lot of their kids play just one sport,” Chavez said. “We’re a school that shares their athletes. We have kids who play volleyball or softball. We have to use those kids, and they are real athletes. They put their time to get better.”
While the job is open for applications, Chavez didn’t hesitate in lobbying for junior varsity head coach Everette Gonzales to take over the spot. It wouldn’t be Gonzales’ first foray into coaching at Santa Fe High; he was head coach in 2004-05 and the program went 2-23.
Despite that, Chavez feels Gonzales has matured as a coach since then and gave a lot of his time to help the program.
“He’s a nice guy and he really cares about the kids,” Chavez said. “When we go to camps, I say, ‘I’m going to help out these [players],’ and he would always help me [with the other players]. He’s been a really good right-hand man.”