Category Archives: Athletics
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.”
NMMI Sports Press
Coach William O’Connell, who’s been both a cadet, player and coach at the Institute, is headed to England for an opportunity he said he couldn’t turn down.
The young coach was accepted at the University of Nottingham, where he’ll earn his master’s in communication and entrepreneurship while playing tennis for the school.
“That’s something I want to continue and then to tie that in with my master’s degree is two things off my bucket list,” he said.
He said playing for NMMI and Presbyterian College in South Carolina, where he got his bachelor’s and served as an assistant coach, isn’t a problem at his new school.
“Prior NCAA playing time dies not affect you in any way,” he said. “They actually welcome it to help their sports teams.”
Before reporting to Nottingham in September, O’Connell with once again play on the Pacific Oceania Davis Cup team, something he hopes his continued college competition will let him do in the future as well.
But while he’s excited about that future, he’s also sad about leaving the Broncos, and especially Adam Noureldin, a sophomore who took second in the nation in his flight just a week ago.
“Adam is a very special player and I’d love to have him next year and have a part in sending him on to a four-year program,” the coach said. “Our recruiting class is very strong for next year, so it’s sad not to be a part of that, but I also feel I’ve been given an opportunity I can’t pass up.”
Adam is equally disappointed.
“I was very sad to hear about that, because he understands what us young people go through,” he said. “He knows what’s going on with the team and even us, if we’ve got a problem or question, he’ll understand and we can talk to him, even about our problems in the corps. We’re always able to talk to him because we know he’s going to be there for us.”
Athletic director Jose Barron agreed he’ll be missed.
“It’s kind of a bitter-sweet moment for me,” he said. “I am extremely proud of William and his accomplishments thus far. He continues to play competitive tennis and will continue to do so in England. How can we not be proud of that from an alumnus?”
O’Connell has been busy recruiting, and has already signed “four super-talented Africans” to surround Noureldin, with another player close to signing and several walk-ons expected to boost Bronco tennis. He hopes he’s made a difference in the program.
“I definitely wanted to leave it better than I found it, and that was a tough thing to do, because the coach before me left a good starting point, but I hope I’ve added to the program in some way,” he said.
Barron said he has.
“The fact that he has taken this program to the next level, I can’t help but think that coach (Gene) Hardman is smiling down upon this moment because he has brought men’s tennis back to the forefront, back to where Gene had it at one point in his career, and has set the bar high for the next coach that is going to come in.”
And just who that next coach will be is still a question mark, but O’Connell said Barron has asked for his advice.
“Jose has asked for input on my replacement, and I also want to make sure my dad (women’s coach Dan O’Connell) is happy with who he’ll be working with next year,” he said. ”So I’ll be involved in the process. I hope the next person will be high caliber.”
Barron knows he’ll be hard to replace.
“I can’t say enough good things about William. I only hope that someday, when his career comes full circle, that maybe he’ll find his way back home to the Institute.”
With the way the outgoing coach feels about the Institute, that could happen some day.
“I loved running the program,” O’Connell said. “The athletic department, the staff and faculty all played a part in having two successful years. I felt like I was part of the family at NMMI and that’s special and thanks to everybody who played a part in me having two special years in my life.”
Seven Colts earned spots on this year’s 4-4A All-District baseball team, with two of those players making the 2016 South All-Star squad.
Four Colts were selected for first team All-District honors: senior Eli Aguilar at pitcher; senior Francisco Galvez at outfielder; junior Jake Guerrero at catcher; and junior Michel Hinojos at designated hitter.
“We’re just proud that we had four kids who played hard,” said head Colt coach Charlie Ward. “They represented us well in district. They deserve the opportunity to be All-District for 4-4A.”
Three more Colts made the roster as honorable mentions: senior Danny Jaramillo at outfielder; and sophomores Frank Marchi and Francisco Rivera – both as infielders.
“Those three,” said coach Ward of his honorable mention selections, “really played well when we needed them.”
The two seniors, Galvez and Aguilar, were tapped to play in the annual A-AAAA North/South All-Star game, held this year at Rio Rancho High School June 10-11.
“Francisco (Galvez) told me yesterday that he’s committed and will be back to represent NMMI and play for the South All-Stars,” said coach Ward. “As for Eli (Aguilar), he made it as an alternate, and we’re hoping that he’ll get a chance to play as well.
“With all the adversity we have to go through at the beginning of the year, these kids didn’t feel sorry for themselves” added Ward. “They played hard, gave us an opportunity to compete and we ended up making the playoffs. I was very proud of that.”
NMMI Sports Press
PLANO, Texas — Bronco tennis player Noureldin Adam didn’t get the top finish he was looking for at the NJCAA national tennis tourney Friday, but his second place in Flight 2 singles still was the best for any NMMI netter in several decades.
Adam fell 6-2, 6-1 to the No. 1 seed, Nicholas Rouanet of ASA Miami — the team that led the standing through four days of competition — and while second place wasn’t what anyone really wanted, coach William O’Connell had nothing but praise for the freshman.
“Ultimately we played a very, very good player, who actually lost in the finals of Flight 1 last year,” the coach said. “He was just very stingy. Extremely good defense. Moved super well and I guess his defense was too good for our offense and as the match progressed we started to second-guess our shot selection. His defense put a lot of pressure on us, and unfortunately we couldn’t execute as well as we would have liked. But Adam played extremely well.”
Adam himself — who finished well above his No. 5 seeding — sounded happy with the results.
“I feel proud that I got to this level, to the finals, because this is my first time to play at nationals,” he said. “I was kind of nervous. There were a lot of good players. I didn’t imagine myself getting this far. So I’m so proud and happy.”
O’Connell said those nerves didn’t show at all.
“His composure again: there was no nervousness; no ‘I’m happy with second, I’m ready to settle.’ He was in it to win it. Unfortunately we came up against a better player who played extremely well today and hat’s off to him.”
Adam will be the only returner to the Bronco squad next year, and that includes O’Connell, who’s heading to England to earn his masters while also playing the sport he grew up with.
That makes the final day of 2016 NMMI tennis bittersweet, but he knows the team will be solid even without him.
“Very tough (decision), especially with how it looks like we’re going to be surrounding Adam with awesome players,” O’Connell said. “Next year is definitely going to be a big year for NMMI tennis and sad that I won’t be a part of it, but Adam’s shown he can go out and play with the nation’s best players and beat all but one. He’s a trailblazer. He’s paved the way, and regardless of whether I’m here next year, he knows what he needs to do to get back to this place or get back to the finals. And I’m sure he will lead the team and let them know what they need to do as well, to make sure they’re ready for nationals.”
Adam is equally sad, giving the coach praise for helping him throughout the season.
“I thank coach O’Connell for everything, because he’s one of the biggest reasons I made it this far. He pulled for the program the whole semester long. He handled our motivation; the physical side; everything was just awesome and I thank him so much for this.”
NJCAA Men’s Tennis Nationals
Flight 2, championship — Nicholas Rouanet, ASA Miami, def. Noureldin Adam, 6-2, 6-1.