By Karen Boehler
The annual Bronco volleyball camp, designed for players from second grade through high school, kicked off Tuesday for four days of learning and fun.
“They get three days of camp, kind of everybody doing the exact same thing, then on Friday, there’s like a little specialty day, that’s kind of broken down into their own preference,” said Bronco coach Shelby Forchtner, who, along with assistant Pam Grano, high school assistant Katie Dollahan and former Goddard standout Tara Sweet, runs the camp.
The day is broken into two sessions, with the younger athletes— grade two through seven — working out in the morning both at the Cahoon Armory and Godfrey Athletic Center.
“There’s a lot of kids who’ve been involved in the Yucca Center,” Schooley said. “There’s a lot of kids who haven’t really played volleyball before, but they have an interest in playing. Then obviously, there’s a few middle school kids who are in with that group. Then the older group, eighth grade through 12th grade, and it seems like we have a pretty wide representation.”
The older players, who come from Roswell, Goddard and Gateway high schools, take over in the afternoon and despite not getting the word out quite as much as she would have liked, Schooley said, “This has been one of our bigger turnouts.”
This year’s camp also features two high-profile coaches.
Marilyn McCready is a former Pan American and Olympic player who’s coached four DI colleges to 10 national championships and is a member of the American Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame. She moved to Roswell a year ago with her husband, and has been helping out with area teams since her arrival.
Victoria Metzger is a junior board member of the USA Volleyball North Texas region and the former Sul Ross State University coach, who volunteered because of this year’s large turnout.
“They’ve been helping out a lot,” Forchtner said.
Metzger was impressed with the talent she saw from the young athletes.
“Excellent talent. A lot of competition,” she said. “Good attitudes. Respect, sportsmanship already in bred. So we’ve already got that going. So it’s good to work off a good platform and foundation.”
And Metzger was equally impressed with Forchtner and the Bronco team she took to national last November.
“She’s an awesome coach, and we’re trying to support her and recruit players for her.”
The camp continues through Friday, and Forchtner hopes that as word gets out, the camp will only continue to grow in future years.
By Karen Boehler
A trio of Bronco volleyball players are headed to the next level, both for education and athletics.
Veronika Baric, Lea Boras and Cristal Quinonez will each play at a four-year college, with Baric headed to DII Texas A&M in Commerce, Texas, and both Boras and Quinonez to Peru State College, an NAIA school in Peru, Nebraska, about an hour outside Omaha.
“We went on a visit and I really liked it, and all the girls and the coaches, too,” Baric said of her choice. “And out of all the visits that I had, and all the schools, that was the one I really liked.”
Baric will play for the Lions while studying physical education.
Quinonez said the Bobcats gave her the best offer, and has a good program in her major, criminal justice. Boras, who’ll study physical education with an eye on becoming a coach, hasn’t visited the school yet, but both Quinonez and Baric did, and “they told me all about the school and they liked it and we have the same view of things we like so I think I will like it, too. …
“I’ve been talking with this coach for a long time now, and I just decided that’s the school that I like and I want to go.”
Baric, an outside hitter, and Quinonez, right side hitter, signed on the same day, and Bronco coach Shelby Forchtner had nothing but praise for her big hitters.
“Having one as an All-American (Baric, second team) and one as an all conference player, you know that’s going to be difficult to replace that leadership on the floor,” Forchtner said. “And just statistically, able to put up numbers. They obviously carried us into the national tournament and helped us win games at the national tournament, so I hope that’s something they’re proud of, because they’re both able to say that. I really think that if they continue the same work ethic they’ve had here, at NMMI, they should be able to do the same thing at the schools they’re both attending.”
Both Baric and Boras, who’ll move to outside hitter at her new school, came to the Institute from Croatia, while it was a shorter trip for Quinonez, who graduated from Gadsden High School in New Mexico. But all three had similar feelings about their alma mater.
“I improved with playing a lot since I came, and conditioning and lifting and all that,” Baric said. “I never had that before I came here. That’s something that’s really, really high with me right now.”
“I made a lot of friends,” Quinonez said. “I met a lot of different people from a lot of different places. Two good coaches, coach Pam and coach Shelby. Good teachers, that actually became more than my teachers. They actually helped me out. like with personal stuff. Advice that I needed.”
“it helped me in everything,” Boras said. “I worked really hard with both of the coaches and all my teammates both last year and this year. It was hard but I worked on my skills, like I was working on my blocking and my hitting, and I think I improved myself during those two years.”
And all three agreed that the academic rigor of NMMI helped them with time management, laughing that some got better at it than others.
But while there was laughter on signing day, there were sentiment and tears, too, especially when it came to the friendships made.
“I thank coach Pam (Grano) and coach Shelby for giving me the opportunity to play here, and if it wasn’t for them, i wouldn’t have the opportunity to go somewhere else to play,” Quinonez said. “Thanks to my teammates. They were always there for me, too. Thank you to coach Franklin, too. He was a supporter too and was there to help us out in everything we needed to.”
“From my perspective, it’s been a really good two years with these girls,” Grano said with a catch in her voice. “I’m going to miss them and I’m proud of what they’ve done while they’re here and the growth that they’ve made, I hope that they do continue to do that and I hope that they enjoy their time in college and get the most out of it and just keep growing as people and players and I wish them luck.”
“I want to thank both of my coaches who gave me a chance to come here, especially coach Pam,” Boras said,choking back tears. “Especially to her, because she really helped me a lot. She spent every single day with me in the gym, working with me individually, both of those two years, and i’m really thankful for that because I know it helped me. And I’m thankful to my teammates for being there for me when I had my hard days. I really thank everybody.”
ALBUQUERQUE — It was just not to be Thursday, as NMMI’s shortage of pitching, a lack of effort by some senior Colts and a simply too-strong opponent sent the Institute down to a 9-2 loss vs. Cobre in the semi-final game of the AA state baseball tournament at St. Pius X high school.
District 4AA foe Dexter will play in the championship, after edging upstart Lordsburg 6-5 in the day’s opener, but for NMMI, the season is over.
“You’ve got to give them credit,” Institute coach Charlie Ward said of the Indians. “I wish them well. I wish the Dexter Demons well, too. That’s our district. It’s going to be a great matchup. Dexter was scrappy in the battle for district, but Cobre is a sound ball club and they just did their job.”
That they did, holding the Colts scoreless until the seventh inning, and despite allowing five hits and four walks, found ways to get out of possible scoring situations.
Cobre put the first run on the board in the opening stanza, scoring on a walk, stolen base, ground out and double, but Institute starter Ben Morgan didn’t allow the runner at second to score, forcing the final batter to ground out.
The Indians put a runner on in both the second and third, but both were picked off.
In the first and second, it was good throws from Mogan to Haden Maloney at first that got the out. In the third, the throw was late, but the runner was caught in a rundown and out at third.
The top of the fourth was when the tide turned in Cobre’s direction.
After two walks, Morgan was out and Blade Allen in in relief. The leadoff batter was forced on a fielder’s choice then a single loaded the bases. Allen got the next batter to strike out — drawing big cheers from the crowd of NMMI faithful — and it looked like he would get out of the inning. He gave up a run-scoring single, then had the No. 9 batter down 0-2.
“We gave up that one big inning: bases loaded; one strike away from getting out of the inning 1-0. 0-2 count. Took too much near the plate. Guy makes a big hit, the rest is history,” Ward said.
That big hit brought two more runs home, and by the time Allen struck out the leadoff batter, it was 5-0 Cobre.
The Colts loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth and had two runners on in the fifth, but couldn’t bring anyone across.
Eighth grader Gavin Maloney kept the Indians from scoring in the fifth, but two hits and an error in the sixth made it 9-0 Cobre.
Sophomore Mateo Fierro got out of the seventh unscathed despite a hit and two errors, then, in the bottom of the stanza with only three out remaining or the season would end, the Colt bats finally put something together.
Morgan walked, Fierro reached on an error and Galvez loaded the bases with a single. A big double by Caleb Saiz scored two, but when Haley grounded out for the first out, Galvez tried for home and was tagged out, giving NMMI two outs instead of one. Zaragoza then walked which brought Allen to the plate.
But Allen, who, Ward said, “had the worst two games I’ve even seen in a career,” struck out looking for the seventh time in the two games, ending the NMMI season.
“I’m not very happy today, but I’m proud of our team,” Ward said. “Proud of our season, 17-12. It’s a very successful season but they’re a better team. You’ve got to give them credit. We did the best we could today and just didn’t get it done.”
And, looking on the bright side, the Colts made it to state with only one stand-out pitcher. After Saiz had Tommy John surgery, Ward had to cobble together a pitching staff of star Haley and whoever else could do the job.
“We’re proud of that,” he said. “We know Caleb got hurt and was a big team leader for us. We had a lot of goals for the season, and once we lost him in the summer we had to find a way to step up.”
And by the late innings, when Gavin Maloney and Fierro went in, Ward was looking ahead.
“I gave the young bucks a chance to pitch in those last three innings, so they could understand the playoffs,” he said. “That’s our future right there, and I do the things that are best for the kids in the program. But we just did not get it done when we had the opportunities. We had that one big rally. I’m proud of the emotional effort they did, but we’ve got to move on.”
One of the season’s biggest plusses, Ward said, was the support the team drew.
“We had great fans and alumni,” he said. “We had so many exes from Texas. We had great parents from teams I’ve been a part of coming here to watch us. NMMI alumni and fans and parents are awesome. They’ll support you to the end.”
ALBUQUERQUE — At the post-game meeting following Wednesday’s state quarterfinal baseball game in Albuquerque, NMMI coach Charlie Ward was overheard giving running instructions to his players.
He probably talked to them about fielding as well, as the Colts made six defensive errors and two base-running mistakes in the match vs. Loving. Despite that, the Institute was able to pull off a 6-1 victory vs. their district foes, advancing to Thursday’s semifinal match, most likely vs. Cobre.
The reason for the win?
“Two phases of the game were outstanding today,” Ward said. “Our pitching and our hitting. I told them it was going to be a close ball game in the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals is the toughest game to play in the state tournament, just because of the neutral site. And it was harder because we knew each other.
As he has most of the season, Thomas Haley dominated on the mound. He pitched the complete game, giving up three hits and one unearned run. He only walked two and struck out 11 of the 21 batters he faced, including two of the batters in the top of the seventh.
He lost the shutout and no-hitter in the third on a walk, error and single by Falcon Joel Hernandez. But by that time, the Colts had already tallied five runs of their own.
After leaving two runners on base in the first, Jake Guerrero led off the NMMI second with a walk. A Ben Morgan bunt single put pinch runner Mateo Fierro on second then Francisco Galvez bunted to load the bases. Leadoff hitter Caleb Saiz was walked to score Fierro then Haley helped his own cause with a shot past the shortstop. Morgan and Galvez both scored, making it 3-0 Colts, but a Falcon wild throw brought in both Saiz and Haley, making it 5-0 Institute.
“Haley came through with a big hit and a big insurance run,” Ward said. “So it’s about pitching and defense, but we did two phases pretty well today.”
NMMI left runners on in the third, fourth and fifth, but Haley held Loving to only one more hit and the Colts added an extra run in the sixth when, with two outs, Daniel Zaragoza singled, Blade Allen walked and Haden Maloney singled, scoring Zaragoza. The inning could have continued but Allen tried to come home and was caught out at the plate. It was the second running mistake by NMMI in two innings, as Fierro was caught in a rundown in the fifth.
“That was just not staying focused,” Ward said. “You’ve got to be an athlete. I’m going to take a little bit of blame with Blade. I told him, ‘Turn and find the ball. Be the athlete.’ I never said, 4-4-4. I said, ‘What is he doing?’ but I take the responsibility as a coach. I need to be a better coach and make that call. I need to help him out, but you’ve got to be a better athlete around third. You’ve got to find the ball.”
The Colts will definitely need to clear up the mistakes no matter who they face in the semifinals Thursday, but Ward said there’s just something about facing Loving that brings out the worst in NMMI.
“Coach (Kenny) Pittman talked to them a while ago and said, ‘Something about us and Loving. We make our errors against Loving.’ Over there. Ours. Somehow we just make mistakes. Maybe it’s a head thing against Loving. But it’s in the books. We have a lot of respect for Loving and (coach Art) Chacon and the Loving Falcons. We’re really proud of them, too, being a part of our district. We’re just fortunate to find a win today.”
Thursday game time is set for 3 p.m. at St. Pius X high school.
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