Bronco football players ‘Pay It Forward’

Members of the Bronco football team help out by leading several of the games and contests at Valley View Elementary School’s annual Fall Festival.

NMMI Sports Press

The Bronco football team has four parts to its mission statement: To use every available resource to help the students succeed and excel academically; to become a better man; to win a championship; and to earn a scholarship to a four-year school.

No. 1 is a daily part of life here at NMMI, which was ranked by CNN Money as the second best junior college in the country, based on a 89% success rating for enrolled college students.

No. 3 is always being worked towards, with three bowl game appearances in the last 9 years; the most recent a 32-16 victory over Arizona Western College in the 2013 El Toro Bowl.

No. 4 is accomplished by a large percentage of Institute athletes each season, with over 100 talented Bronco football stars signing in past four years, including standout Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu.

And the second part of that mission statement has been just as much a priority for sixth-year head Bronco football coach Joe Forchtner.

“That part of becoming a better man, I think a lot of that is being able to go and serve other people, especially those who are less fortunate than us,” Forchtner said. “Sometimes I don’t think people in general, especially young people, understand how good they’ve got it. It’s always kind of a, ‘Oh, woe is me. I’ve got to be at a military school and do this.’ You don’t have it bad. You have it great. I think it’s definitely good for us to go out and do some work to help out the people and programs in our community.”

So as part of that, coach Forchtner has made time – always a critical and scarce resource at the Old Post – for several community service projects.

About five or six years ago, the Broncos began going to elementary and middle schools around Roswell to help with the fall festivals. Wearing their jerseys, they go into the classrooms to meet the students and help with cake walks, and other fun – and often silly – games. “It’s great for the kids. It’s great for our guys, too, to actually go out and serve others,” said Forchtner.

And in the schools — which this year included Valley View Elementary and Berrendo Middle School — Forchtner said, the football players are thought of as heroes.

“They’re bigger than any human these kids have ever seen,” he laughed. “They’re wearing a college football jersey and those kids look up to them. So it’s cool for our guys to be in that role where they know somebody is looking up to them and they have to act accordingly. They should be acting like that all the time, but it’s never more at the forefront of their minds than when they’re around a bunch of little kids.”

This fall, Forchtner added a second community project to the mix.

With the reopening of a men’s homeless shelter in Roswell, the coach has several different groups of players helping out wherever and whenever needed at the shelter.

“Having a social responsibility, to me that’s just so huge,” he said. “I think that’s something that often gets lost in our society. It’s always, me, me, me, me, me, but everybody’s got a social responsibility to the people around them. If we start working for each other, then all of a sudden, just bit by bit, the world gets better. Not to get too preachy or anything like that, but it’s part of our job, I think.”

Coach Forchtner is hoping that teaching such a ‘Pay It Forward’ type attitude will instill life-long values and provide lasting benefits to community, his players, and the Bronco football program.

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