NMMI Sports Press
Football teams from 15 New Mexico communities stretching all the way from Farmington to Hobbs came to NMMI Friday to compete in the long-running Bronco football 7-on-7 tournament.
Divided into three divisions with smaller schools playing their peers as well as big school JV and C teams, there were 27 total squads vying for titles in each of the three classes. And despite the heat, there were some hotly contested games, with several even going into overtime.
In the end, Farmington took the big school division title with a win over Hobbs; Hobbs JV topped Artesia JV in the second division; and Roswell’s “C” team triumphed over Artesia “C” in the small-school class.
Farmington coach Jeff Dalton took a team that’s been competing throughout the summer.
“They did awesome,” he said. “We’ve been to a few 7-on-7 tournaments and kind of had our ups and downs. It’s a long, hot day. We’re not used to this heat in southern New Mexico, but our kids fought through a lot of adversity. In the elimination round, we beat two teams that beat us this morning, so the kids really responded well and came back from some adversity.”
The Hobbs JV team was seeing action for the first time this year.
“I thought that the effort all day was just amazing,” said coach Greg Jackson. “It’s a great event with some great competition, so for us to rise to that level, right off the bus first time to take the field together is really, really special, and I”m really super proud they’re my kids.”
And Roswell High “C” team coach Dane Keyser said his group had to battle for the victory.
“It was a really close game in the first half,” he said. “It was 6-6 at half, then we ended up winning by 15. We saw some really good things, and, of course, some things we still need to work on with our younger kids. But it was a pretty successful event for those kids, especially.”
But while the victories are sweet, the tournament gives coaches an early look at their fall squads.
“It’s nice to have a win, but this 7-on-7 is a whole lot different from 11-man, full-pad football,” Kyser said. “But you get to work on some defensive techniques with your backs and your receivers and things like that. You do get some good things out of it and we saw some really positive things today.”
“These (tournaments) help in a lot of ways or we wouldn’t be here,” Dalton said. “We’re here to try to come together as a team and to give reps. The more games you win in these the more reps you get, so it’s going to help us in the season. We’re still learning how to be competitive and how to fight on a hot day.”
“It gives us a chance kind of to gauge where we’re at,” Jackson agreed. “So, to see that and come out on top today and to do the things we did gives us a good jumping off point going into the actual season.”
And Bronco assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Drew Thatcher, who runs the camp, saw plusses for NMMI as well as the visiting teams.
“It’s good for the community,” he said. “It gets 600-700 kids on campus. They get to see our facilities. Meet some of our coaches and kind of be familiar with our program. It’s great for the programs because they’re getting out here to compete; it get their kids ready. They’re starting to get fired up for the season, so it’s beneficial for both sides.”
And if you’re getting anxious for the full-contact game, the Broncos kick off their season Aug. 27 at home vs. Air Force Prep.
NMMI Sports Press
Most college athletes dream of moving on to the professional level after their college careers.
Very few get that chance.
But former Bronco baseball player Joe Galindo is one of those few. In June, he was the 384th overall pick of the San Diego Padres, going in the 13th round of the 2016 MLB First Year Player Draft, and is now in Peoria, Ariz., in the rookie league.
“It was a blessing, because it was something I always wanted to achieve, to get to pro baseball,” the El Paso native said. “But now there’s a new goal, and that’s get to the major leagues. It’s like starting from T-ball. You’ve got to work your way up. I’ve got to work my way all the way back up there to achieve another goal and make the actual dream come true.”
“It was exciting to see that he got picked up,” said Bronco baseball coach Chris Cook. “Couldn’t have happened to a better kid. Who knows? They sky’s the limit for a kid like that. He’s still learning how to pitch. He still doesn’t have very many innings under his belt.”
“To say that I am proud of Joe Galindo’s accomplishments is certainly an understatement,” agreed NMMI athletic director Jose Barron. “I think that Joe has demonstrated what a lot of hard work and dedication can do for an individual. I’m very proud of the fact that Joe was a part of our program here for two years.”
That 13th round pick could have been even higher — Cook thought he might have gone in the fifth or sixth round — but in an unfortunate accident two games from the end of the NMSU season — in a WAC tournament game vs. Sacramento State — Galindo broke his hand.
So the fact that the Padres still signed him — with a $100,000 bonus and two more years of school paid for — says a lot about the National League organization, both Galindo and Cook agree.
“Thats the good thing about the Padres organization,” the rookie said. “They had trust in me. They saw me as a person.”
“I think he’s in the right spot,” Cook said. “Right now, with the way the big leagues is, a lot of guys are throwing mid 90s and that’s what they’re looking for. Hopefully he can sustain that. He just needs time to develop.”
“There were several teams that were interested,” Galindo added. “I guess (the Padres) were a team that really enjoyed my presence on the mound and had complete trust in me. I fully respect that.”
Galindo’s injury meant he could only lift and work out in ways that wouldn’t hurt his hand when he first arrived in Peoria, but the cast is expected to be off now and he said he’ll rehab and hopefully pitch before the end of the Arizona League season.
“I’ll be able to throw a couple of innings before rookie ball ends, and everything will plan out they way they want it to go,” he said.
“Coming out of high school, there wasn’t much attention given to me,” he said. “Then coach Cook and coach (Rowdy) Hardy saw me. If it wasn’t for the coaching staff at NMMI, giving me an opportunity to play at that level, I wouldn’t be where I am. It definitely helped me make that transition. It made me a good person and the school itself was great.”
And, as an El Pasoan, he thanked Barron as well.
Definitely the coaching staff is what I really appreciated and the athletic director, Jose Barron, him being a former El Pasoan, he was someone I could go talk to a lot of the time, too. He was a great person.”
“It is a little extra special for me when you add in the fact I’m an NMSU alum and Joe is a fellow El Paso native,” Barron said. “I commend Joe for his accomplishment and I’m extremely proud of the role NMMI and our coaches have had in the development of this young man’s extraordinary talent.”
Galindo was drafted as a pitcher, but he didn’t start out that way. In fact, while Cook pitched him occasionally, most of the time with NMMI he was known for his hitting prowess.
“That was a guy who touched 92 or 93 maybe once, as a freshman on the mound, then as a sophomore he hit in the four-hole every day, so I didn’t pitch him as much,” Cook said.
When New Mexico State signed him, he was picked primarily as a pitcher, but was also looked at as hitter.
“Then when he got in there, he just kept working and he got into their pitching routine and pitching more consistently and throwing more consistently,” Cook said. “By the middle of the spring, he was consistently pitching in the mid 90s and was touching 97-98 miles an hour with his fastball. He has an impressive spring there in a tough place to pitch. His numbers were as good as anybody’s ever had at New Mexico State.”
“I was hitting and pitching in the fall, and come the spring season, I was just really focusing on pitching,” the 21-year-old said. “Wasn’t getting many at bats, but I was completely fine. I accepted my role, and that was the way I was going to help the team win. I helped the team win here and it was a great season.”
His record at NMSU is impressive.
As a junior reliever, Galindo was ranked second in the Western Athletic Conference in games finished (19), fourth in saves (eight) and fifth in games pitched in relief (26). Most of those relief appearances came in conference play, where he finished tied for the team lead with teammate Tyler Erwin with 16, second in team saves (7) and second in games finished (13).
A second team All-WAC selection by the league’s 10 head coaches, Galindo finished the season with a 2.48 ERA and a 3-1 record in 29.0 innings pitched out of the bullpen. Additionally, he racked up 47 strikeouts, with opponents hitting just .187 against him.
So there’s no doubt why Galindo was picked, and as the only Bronco baseball player to be drafted in recent memory — Tony Phillips played for eight MLB teams from 1982 to 1999, but played basketball, not baseball, at NMMI — Galindo could be a shining star in the pantheon of NMMI athletes.
Cooks thinks he has what it takes to make it all the way.
“I think he’s got a chance,” he said “He’s got the stuff and the physical size. I think he’s got the makings to have a chance. We’ll see.”
NMMI Sports Press
Two of last season’s top local high school golfers have decided to play next year for the New Mexico Military Institute Bronco men’s golf team: Caleb Morton from Artesia High School, and Goddard High’s Deric Loving.
Both players qualified and competed at the 2016 NMAA State Championships for Class 5A, where Morton placed 4th and Loving finished tied for 19th.
“I knew about these kids from reading about them in the newspaper, and from talking to their coaches, whom I know well,” said new Bronco head coach Andy Robertson. “They are the best in the local area, and we want local kids – I think it’s beneficial to the Institute.”
Both Morton and Loving gave credit to their fathers for helping them pick up and learn the game of golf, and also their high school coaches for further honing their skills.
“My dad, Richard, taught me to play and I played every day, every summer, when I was younger,” said Morton. “It became a habit, and coach Kirkwood’s been helping, too, for six or seven years now”.
“My dad got me into golf and I also joined the First Tee program when I was younger, when Tom Bell was the coach,” said Loving, adding that Goddard coach Billy Carlyle has also helped improve his game.
When asked what their favorite part of the game was, both were quick to reply “The driver.” But while hitting John Daly-like shots off the tee is definitely fun, both players recognized the importance of the short game, and thought of this as being one the best parts of their game.
“It depends on the day,” said Morton. “Sometimes it’s the short game, sometimes it’s the tee shots.”
Loving responded with but one sure word for the best part of his game: “Wedges”.
Coach Robertson knows his two incoming freshmen will need the long game, the short game, and everything in-between to compete in the always-tough Western Junior College Athletic Conference.
“This is the best junior college golf conference in the nation. Probably five out of nine years, the national champion comes out of this conference,” said the coach. “If you can play in this conference, you’re going to make my job easier, which is to get you on to the next college program, to get your education paid for.”
Caleb and Deric seem to have a good grasp of how just tough next season’s competition will be and are looking forward to the new challenges, both in the classroom and on the course.
“Going to NMMI sets a good foundation for the future,” replied Morton. “I hope to get better every day, work harder, stay at it and never settle.”
Loving agreed that NMMI was a “great start”. “Play in these bigger tournaments against players with lots of talent helps prepare us for better competition.”
With the signing of Morton and Loving, the Bronco men’s golf roster sits currently at seven members, with two more possible additions.
“Having these kids, along with the five that are coming back, along with a couple more – one from Socorro and one from Korea – is going to make our team very competitive,” said coach Robertson. With nine players on the team, it’s going to take hard work to make that starting five and get to go on the trips for the tournaments.”
NMMI Sports Press
The Cahoon Armory has been filled with volleyball players of all ages this week, working out at the New Mexico Military Institute volleyball camp.
Run by Bronco assistant coach Michael Stara with help from sophomore middle Aleksandra Bilic, the campers — from kindergarten through high school — have been learning or honing their skills.
Those skills range from those players just beginning and learning about the game of volleyball, to those who have seen playing time at the high school level.
The youngest players — kindergarten through fourth grade — saw their time on the floor Saturday and Sunday. That was followed by an intermediate camp for players through eighth grade, with the high school advanced camp wrapping up Friday.
The high school athletes came not only from Roswell — Roswell, Goddard and Gateway Christian high schools — but from Artesia and Portales as well. The goal of the experienced players is to prepare themselves for the upcoming season.
“We’re just kind of refining their skills,” Stara said. “Mostly the higher-level high school kids have a pretty good idea of the game, but they’re trying to get their game a little bit more perfected, and so we kind of do that. And with the younger kids we teach them from square one. So fundamentals and then we just go from there.”
Several players from Goddard — which made it to the state 5A quarterfinals in 2015 — were at the camp, prepping for the upcoming season.
“I think it’s a lot of good instruction to get your body back in the movements that you’re used to doing,” said Rocket junior Allie French. “I also play other sports, and I play on a travel team, and it’s been a couple of months or so since we’ve been back in the movement, so it’s really nice to have a lot of practice.”
“Last year I was a setter for Goddard, and I really didn’t get to hit much,” said senior Leah Weathers. “I’ve been hitting more here, which is good practice for me. It’s taught me a lot of good instruction that I also get at Goddard, too. It’s like refreshing your memory.”
The Rocket players have a bit of an advantage at the camp, since what they learn will be very similar to what their coach, former Bronco Kristi Hager, will be teaching at school.
“Our coach went to school here and played for (head Bronco coach) Shelby Forchtner, so we do a lot of the exact same drills,” French said.
No matter what their ages, the campers work on improving their fundamentals in a series of drills, then get then a chance to have fun with a 6-on-6 competition.
The Bronco baseball team had a breakout season this year, culminating in a trip to the Region V playoffs and a first-round victory there over the No. 3-ranked team in the nation.
Those facts, plus posting some huge offensive numbers along with some timely pitching, have resulted in one All-Region and several All-Conference team selections for this year’s Institute squad.
“We were able to get three guys on the all-conference team this year: Alex Howard on the infield, Justin Felix at catcher and Carlos Ortiz at pitcher,” said head coach Chris Cook. “We had four guys make the honorable mention all-conference team, Chris Suarez as a pitcher and infielder, Marion McLean and Winston Welch in the outfield, and Pancho Mariscal in the infield.
“The offensive numbers held up against everybody else in the league,” explained Cook, “and we were able to get Justin Felix placed on the all-region team, which was a first in my four years here.”
Speaking of those offensive numbers, those six batters for the Broncos combined to hit a for a .347 average, with 99 doubles, 23 triples and an astonishing 61 home runs, all in the course of just 59 games.
On the defensive side, pitcher Carlos Ortiz was the lone all-conference selection. Ortiz broke the school’s record for wins in a single season, posting nine regular-season victories, and added a 10th vs. McLennan in the first round of regionals.
“Ortiz’s ERA wasn’t the best in the league,” said Cook, “but his win totals were in the top three, and his strikeouts were in the top 10, so he was deservingly awarded that all-conference spot.”
Cook was definitely happy with the expanded list of Broncos on this year’s all-conference team.
“No complaints on my end. It was just nice to get some guys recognized and they definitely deserved it. We’ve had a max of one in the previous three years that I’ve been here — Caleb Mitchell my first year and Jeremy Mortensen my second year — and then zero last year. That’s a pretty big jump, but we also made a pretty big jump, especially conference wins-wise. And offensively,” Cook added, “It’s a pretty big difference when you hit almost two and half times your home run total.”
According to Cook, the success of this year’s team, and the postseason awards that followed, were a direct result of the players’ hard work and dedication.
“It comes down to players and having kids that play hard and do things the right way. We were very fortunate with the group that we brought in the last couple of years that have built to this position — it wasn’t something that just happened overnight,” Cook said. “A lot of these guys were here as freshmen. They developed, they learned the system, they played together and they became a team. That’s not something that’s easy to duplicate.”
Coach finished by saying just how proud he was of this year’s team and its players.
“They’re going to move on to bigger and better things, and I hope that what they learned here helps prepare them for the next step — that’s all we can hope for.”