Patricia Chavez believes you have to learn how to follow before you can lead.
After happily serving in a supporting role for most of her coaching career, she’s now ready to take the reins and call all the shots herself.
On Friday, she was promoted to head coach of the Santa Fe Indian School girls basketball program.
She has worked in various positions, namely as the girls basketball head coach at Bernalillo in the early 1990s and as the head volleyball and track coach at Questa.
She also spent 16 years teaching and coaching as an assistant in Rio Rancho, then the last three as a middle school and varsity basketball assistant at SFIS.
She takes over a Lady Braves program that carried a 13-game winning streak into the Class 4A state quarterfinals last season before losing to Moriarty in The Pit.
SFIS finished 25-5 and was undefeated in District 5-4A.
Under previous head coach Christie Abeyta, the team won 61 games the past three years.
“I’m ready to be on an island by myself,” Chavez said Friday. “At the end of the day, I’m ready for this. I’ve spent a lot of time as an assistant and learning the ropes.”
Abeyta resigned in the spring to pursue a graduate degree in hopes of landing an administrative position. SFIS athletic director Eric Brock said he had a pool of 15 candidates.
“You have coaches that stand back during games or practices, the kind you basically consider a wallflower,” he said.
“Then you have coaches that jump in there and just exude knowledge, energy and passion. … Patricia has that, ” Brock added.
A 1981 graduate of Gallup High School, she was an all-district player who was part of the first Lady Bengals teams to make a deep run in the state tournament during the dominant years of Don Flanagan’s legendary Eldorado teams.
Chavez spent a few years as a volunteer assistant at her alma mater, but during her college years, she started as a basketball player at Western New Mexico, then went on to a softball career at Northern Arizona.
“Basketball’s pretty hot up here in Northern New Mexico, and it’s even hotter here at Santa Fe Indian School,” Brock said. “It takes a special person to handle that, and I think she can.”
“This is definitely a high-profile job,” Chavez said.
“I know what the responsibility is and I’ve been here long enough to know I can do it. I’ve learned enough to know I can lead this team.”