Category Archives: Outside the Classroom

Barron credits staff for his and NMMI Athletic Department success

NMMI Athletic Director COL Jose Barron


NMMI Sports Press

Bronco volleyball’s Kim Trauboth dives for a ball against Victoria College on Oct. 14, 2017.

By his own statement, New Mexico Military Institute’s current athletic director, Colonel Jose Barron, is lucky to have the people working for him who do.

His staff is composed of many long-time veterans. Jan Olesinski is a previous Polish Olympian who has coached multiple sports at NMMI for over 30 years. Sean Schooley has 27 years of experience at NMMI, and now leads the department’s development efforts. Women’s volleyball coach Shelby Forchtner began her NMMI career at the same year as Barron, and this season, led the Lady Broncos to a third-place finish at the NJCAA D1 National Championships. Her husband, Joe, is in his 12th season at NMMI and his 8th season as head coach of one of the largest athletic groups on campus, the Bronco football team. Andy Robertson is the men’s head golf coach. His term at NMMI includes 20 years of service, coaching everything from girls’ basketball to wrestling.

“This place really is a place of extended family,” explained Barron. “Not just in the athletics department, but also around the school. We take ownership of our roles and responsibilities and think of it not as just a job, but as serving our cadets, they are the reason we are here. I feel like in this department we’ve got the right people in the right positions and that we’re clicking on all cylinders. My job is often just to facilitate: providing general guidance, consulting with and advising the professionals we’ve already got on staff who are doing the work.”

Former Bronco and current Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu stiff arms a TJC defender in a home game in 2016.

Barron first became familiar with NMMI when he was working at the Sprint Sports Rehabilitation Clinic, after having served as an athletic trainer in professional baseball.

He attended New Mexico State University and graduated with a B.S. in Athletic Training Education. He worked at an out-patient clinic in Las Cruces as an NMSU student and for a few months following his graduation in 2001, then accepted a job offer to serve as an athletic trainer in the Houston Astros organization.

In 2003, Lefty Stecklein, NMMI’s athletic director at the time, contacted him.

“I had lived in Roswell, moved to Albuquerque, then moved back to Roswell,” explained Barron. “Lefty Stecklein called me, saying he was in need of a full-time athletic trainer at NMMI. I still remember the interview process vividly. It was a big group, with several head coaches on the interviewing committee. Fortunately, I knew some of them due to my prior work with NMMI. But I remember stumbling on one of the questions. Colonel Stecklein wanted someone who would remain in the position for several years, to ensure stability. I told him that I just did not see myself staying here for more than a few years. At the time, I figured I’d go back to professional baseball.”

He avows he has said “never” more than once in relation to his job.  He felt he would never stay in Roswell for more than two or three years – this semester, he received his 15-year NMMI service pin.  He thought he would never be an administrator – as NMMI’s current athletic director, he now leads one of the largest mission elements on campus.

The Cahoon Armory building is the headquarters for the NMMI Athletic Department. The building is the next scheduled for a complete renovation, with construction beginning as early as this summer.

Barron’s continued stay at “Old Post” has been marked with a move up the organizational ladder, from head athletic trainer to athletic director, due to his organizational and leadership abilities. He’s also got a great business savvy, gleaned from his time spent managing and directing private companies. He served as assistant athletic director for both Dwight Burns and Reggie Franklin before being tapped to be the athletic department head, and was named the ‘Rookie Athletic Director of the Year’ in 2015 by the New Mexico Activities Association.

“We learn many things from every person we work for and with,” stated Barron. “Coach Burns encouraged me to consider becoming athletic director, and Reggie Franklin made sure I finished up my graduate degree that I had started several years earlier.”

That grad degree is a Master’s in Human Performance and Sports with a concentration in Sports Administration from New Mexico Highlands University in 2013.

One example of Barron’s leadership came early in his NMMI career and involved his vision for creating a truly top-notch Sports Medicine program at NMMI.

“When I took the job as head athletic trainer, we were, back then, a department of one,” laughed Barron. “Over the course of several years, we were able to incorporate another full-time position, greatly expand and improve the sports medicine facilities, and develop an education curriculum where cadets could earn college credit towards degrees in athletic training. The department was also able to implement the first corps physical training program, and refine the academic offerings in HPER classes (Health Physical Education and Recreation).

Part of that facilities expansion was a 2006 remodel of the basement area in the Godfrey Athletic Center, turning it from mostly unused space into a state-of-the-art athletic training center, complete with office space for Barron and his new full-time assistant.

As athletic director, he was also intricately involved in the 2014 reconstruction of NMMI’s 12 tennis courts, along with several upgrades to the NMMI Ballpark in 2016, including synthetic turf for the infield, a suspension netting system to replace the old chain-link backstop, and locker rooms for both coaches and umpires.

Current projects include a complete renovation of the Cahoon Armory building. Cahoon is the headquarters for the NMMI athletic department, housing the main gymnasium, a weight room, and most of the offices and locker rooms facilities. Initial steps in the remodeling effort have already begun. Construction is expected to begin this summer and could continue for well over a year.

“I definitely didn’t do this by myself,” explained Barron of the projects. “This was the work of many, many people, all pulling in the same direction for a desired result, all to help improve the services for our cadet population.”

Barron feels his most important skill in his position is his talent as a multi-tasker.  As a joint four-year high school and two-year junior college, the NMMI Athletic Department oversees 24 sanctioned sport teams: eight at the junior college level and 16 at the high school level. As such, Barron has to organize his thinking in a way that allows him to track the myriad activities and teams on campus and how they utilize the limited time and facilities available to them.

He considers himself fortunate to have Randy Montoya handling the NMAA compliance on the high school side and Shelby Fortchner handling the same job on the junior college side.

He is also proud of the support programs NMMI has continued to develop during his term, such the Athletic Training and Sports Medicine Program and the Strength & Conditioning program. The S&C program now also has two full-time certified coaches. In addition to training NMMI’s athletes, S&C also implements the physical training program for the entire corps of cadets, with the high school Corps PT recently winning a national fitness award from the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States.

NMMI also boasts a Sports Information program, headed by Geoff Gunn, who’s been at NMMI for 10 years. Their mission is to get the word out about NMMI Athletics, using a wide variety of mediums and media outlets.

On the personal side, Barron is most always jovial and pleasant, ready to open his office and his heart as needed.  He trusts his people implicitly.  He makes himself available at all hours of the day, for both the good and the bad news.  When a game is going, Barron is there, no matter the sport.

In additional to giving thanks to his departmental staff, Barron also wanted to express his gratitude in having been given the chance to serve as athletic director. “I am very grateful that General Grizzle gave me the opportunity to lead this department. I also appreciate the confidence he shows by setting the direction and allowing our department to execute the mission.”

“It’s all about our cadets,” finished and reiterated Barron. “We are entrusted to running this school as best we can, doing the most with our available resources.  We owe them our best, from the newest of the RATs [Recruits At Training] to the regimental commander, all while honoring the legacy of the alumni that came before them.”

“I believe that NMMI has done a lot for me and I aspire give back just as much. I hope to build upon the foundations that my predecessors have laid, and set the NMMI Athletic Department on a path towards continued success.”

NMMI high school Corps PT Program takes third in national AMSCUS Fitness Challenge

NMMI’s five finalists for the 2018 AMSCUS Fitness Challenge are pictured along with Strength & Conditioning coaches Daniel Ford (top left) and Tyrell Curtis (top right), and Athletic Director Jose Barron (top center). Second row: cadet Maximo Robles and cadet Marcelo Cantu. Bottom row: cadet Gavin Yates, cadet Mark Pralat, and cadet Peyton Hightower.


NMMI Sports Press

Roswell residents are used to seeing NMMI cadets running through the streets of the town as part of their regular physical fitness programs – often known as ‘Corps PT’.

Physical fitness is one of the three pillars of the Institute’s mission: To educate train, and prepare young men and women to be leaders capable of critical thinking and sound analysis, leaders who possess uncompromising character, and leaders able to meet challenging physical demands.

For cadets not participating in one of NMMI’s 24 sports programs, it can be one of the more challenging pillars to teach and develop.

But the corps PT program garnered some national accolades last February, when the high school won third place in the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States (AMSCUS) first-ever Fitness Challenge.

“NMMI won this award on the merits of the outstanding physical performance of a group of high school students,” said athletic director Jose Barron.

“This was the first time our cadets have participated in this event,” said school president/superintendent Major General Jerry Grizzle.  “And for us to take third place, it shows the overall physical fitness of the corps, particularly at the high school division, and each year we hope to get better.”

Two of NMMI’s cadet finalists were awarded during a quick recognition ceremony prior to a supper at the Bates Mess Hall. Left to right: Strength & Conditioning coach Dan Ford, cadet finalist Maximo Robles, President/Superintendent MG Jerry Grizzle, cadet finalist Marcelo Cantu, Athletic Director Jose Barron.

NMMI competed against about 35 military high schools across the nation. Ten cadets competed in a rigorous three-event challenge: two minutes of push ups; two minutes of sit ups; and a 1.5 mile run, all under the standards mandated by the Coast Guard.

“We test according to the Army standards, typically, and the Coast Guard test is quite different and something that they’re not very used to,” Barron said. “So the fact that our high school students were able to make the adjustment with really no additional training – except for what they received from our overall strength program – shows that we have a high level of fitness in that population.”

The ten NMMI high school cadets who competed were: senior Marcelo Cantu, Coahuila, Mexico; Mark Pralat, Alexandria, Va.; Maximo Robles, Sonora, Mexico; Martin Ahumada, Sinaloa, Mexico; juniors Peyton Hightower, Alamogordo; Gavin Yates, Weatherford, Texas; Felix Adhemur, Sinaloa, Mexico; Alex Lee, Albuquerque; Eliana Ward, Albuquerque; and freshman Luke Anders, Corrales.

The scores from all ten were calculated with the top five scores averaged for NMMI’s final rating.

“It’s an honor for us to place, particularly when we have so many military high schools out there that compete for this,” Barron said. “To be among the most elite, I think validates what we’re doing and it’s a testament to the dedication of our cadets and of our coaches.”

Robles, who was one of the top five finishers and hopes to get an ROTC scholarship for college, said the test was hard but that he used mind over matter to finish.

“I just go after it,” he said. “I try not to associate myself with the pain, but I have to say I’m grateful for all the teachers I’ve had and all the trainers who supported me all the way through.”

Cantu, another top five finisher, played soccer for the Colts in the fall and will head back to Mexico when he’s done at the Institute.

“It’s all about discipline and never giving up, when you think you can’t keep going,” he said. “It’s about discipline and motivation and also exercise and practice. They say ‘practice makes perfect,’ so that’s what I think it was.”

The award also says a lot about NMMI strength and conditioning instructors Daniel Ford and Tyrell Curtis, who set up the training program the cadets participate in three times a week.

“I think that those two do an outstanding job training large groups of cadets,” Barron said. “It is also important to note that the people who train all our varsity athletes, they’re the same ones who are out there in the corps physical fitness program, developing and improving it to help our cadets, even those who are not in athletics.”

“It was pretty cool to see the high school was in the top three, and a lot of credit goes to not just us, but to all of our cadet PT coaches,” Ford said. ‘We have five different things going on at 3:45 p.m. I can only be one place. Coach Curtis can only be one place. We have a lot of PT coaches who help run the program.”

Those coaches include Joseph Strickler and Gavin Yates, who help with the training which varies each day to include push ups, pull ups, a modified row, runinng and ab exercises.

“On a weekly basis we’ll change the stresses we put on them, in terms of rest times, work times and what kind of effort we’re looking for,” Ford said.

“Every day involves some sort of pushup, some sort of situp and an attempt to run,” Curtis said. “The run is the hardest part, and in the test that they took the run was by far the hardest part of the test.”

Every student who’s not on an in-season athletic team, the prep program, or ROTC is required to participate in the corps PT program.

The junior college also competed in the contest. They didn’t fare quite as well as the high school, failing to place in the top 3. But there was a reason for that, Barron said.

“They go up against both four-year and two-year institutions,” he said. “Obviously, our goal is to get up there whether it’s two-year or four-year institutions, but the reality is that the training is a little bit different.”

And all three top finishers in the college contest — Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets; the Citadel; and Norwich University — are four-year schools.

But Barron is sure the Broncos will do better next time.

“I think our college students did very well, they just didn’t place this time,” he said. “I’ll put that challenge to coach Ford and coach Curtis: those two men are very professional and very deliberate in how they set up the program, having taken the program from others in the past and having tweaked the program to the place where it is now.”

And win or lose, Barron was pleased with how the cadets did.

“Testament to our cadets,” he said. “We put in front of them something they had never done. They met the challenge and received accolades for doing so well. I’m proud of those cadets. This is just one small part of what is done to help teach life-long physical fitness, health and wellness. The cadets who take this program seriously gain tremendous benefits from it. Those benefits include not only tangible awards like this, but in many intangibiles that will come to them in the years beyond NMMI.”

NMMI hires second Olympic athlete to help coach

Nathan Schrimsher carries his father’s flag after he finishes his final race in the modern pentathlon at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Tim Hipps US Army/IMCOM.

NMMI Sports Press

For more than 30 years, NMMI has had an Olympic athlete on staff.

Nathan Schrimsher smiles for a picture at the opening ceremonies. Photo by Greg Rosenbaum, USA Pentathlon (USAP)Team Leader.

Cross country, swimming and track coach Jan Olesinski (1980, Moscow; 1984, Los Angeles, modern pentathlon) has been helping Institute athletes hone their skills for more than three decades. Now coach ‘O’ will get some assistance from another Olympian, Nathan Schrimsher (Rio, 2016, pentathlon), one of his former pupils.

Schrimsher’s history at NMMI goes back a long way, all because of Jan Olesinski. He and his brother Lucas were home-schooled on their ranch west of Roswell, and their parents were looking for some extracurricular activities for them to engage in. They found the Caprock swim team, coached by Jan Olesinski. Shortly after joining the community team, the pair were convinced to join Olesinski’s pentathlon program.

“They tried some of the events; the parents were kind of excited and the father was involved with us, so it made it easier for them to stick with it,” Olesinski said.

For the pair of brothers and Olesinski’s daughter, Anna, there was one goal from the very beginning: the Youth Olympics. “When we started this I told them, ‘Guys, this is our goal. In 2010 we are going to the youth Olympics’”

Nathan Schrimsher celebrates after a fencing victory over an opponent in the 2016 Olympic Games. Photo by Tim Hipps US Army/IMCOM.

The trio worked their way up through world championship events, eventually earning spots at the Singapore Youth Olympics, where Schrimsher finished 13th individually and Anna fourth.

“We started step-by-step,” coach Olesinski said. “And after 2010 we came back and I said, ‘Guys, I am done. I can’t help you anymore. Because youth is different. The real Olympics is a lot tougher. You can train here, but if you want to be an athlete you have to move to Colorado.’”

And that’s exactly what Schrimsher did.

In 2013, he joined the Army’s World Class Athlete program in Colorado Springs, where his job was strictly to train for his sport, a grueling five-event challenge that includes swimming, fencing riding, running and shooting.

“That definitely was the starting point to the next level. Our sole job was to train in our respective sports with the goal to go to the Olympics and win medals. Quite a few hours a day for quite a few years and lots of miles.” Schrimsher said.

In 2015, that hard work and training paid off: he qualified for the Rio Olympics with a third-place finish at the Pan Am Games in Toronto – the only American to qualify in the sport. His brother, Lucas, just missed qualifying. “It was almost a Schrimsher brother duo,” said Nathan.

Nathan Schrimsher and Jan Olesiński heading to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games. Photo by Greg Rosenbaum, USA Pentathlon (USAP)Team Leader.

After celebrating at home for a few days, he went back to Colorado for a final year of training.

The Roswell native didn’t come home with a medal from Rio, but placed 11th overall, only 29 points behind the gold medal winner. Russia’s Alexander Lesun had the top score of 1479, compared to Schrimsher’s 1450 – that’s just how close the completion was.

“Anybody who was competing in the Olympics, out of the 36 athletes, all of us could possibly have been the Olympic champion – because the nerves, just the atmosphere switches it up. It was close all the way through.” he said.

The 2016 Olympic pentathlon began with fencing, Schrimsher’s favorite of the five events. “It’s the only sport in the pentathlon where you are one-on-one against your opponent. Otherwise, it’s against yourself and the clock,” said Schrimsher.

Nathan did extremely well in fencings’ ‘mano a mano’ format, placing tenth overall with a score of 220.

His best event, however, was swimming. His time of 2:00.82 in the 200m freestyle earned him sixth place and another 262 points.

In the riding portion of the competition, Schrimsher drew what he termed “a difficult horse to ride.” After being penalized for three knockdowns in the 15-jump format – which lowered his score from a perfect 300 to 282 – he finished 18th in the event.

Sgt. Nathan Schrimsher of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program swims the 200-meter freestyle in 2:00.87 to earn 338 Modern Pentathlon points during the swimming portion of the men’s Modern Pentatlon on Aug. 20, 2016 at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Schrimsher was seventh-fastest in the swim. Photo by Tim Hipps US Army/IMCOM.

“The pentathlon is based off of what a 19th century cavalry soldier would be required to do in the line of duty. One of those is the ability to ride a horse you’ve never met. We only get a 20-minute warm-up before the show-jumping event. You have to make it work. Your life is on the line, so to speak.”

The last portion of the modern pentathlon is a combination of running and shooting. The competing athletes must complete four 800 meter runs, each run prefaced by hitting five targets from 10 meters away with a laser pistol. No penalty is assessed for missing a target, but it must be hit all five times (or 50 seconds has passed) before the athlete is allowed to start their 800m run.

“My shooting was exceptional, and that helped me stay in almost the top 10,” said Schrimsher. “Running is my least favorite part of the pentathlon or at least the most difficult for me. If my shooting had been sub-par, I might have slipped out of the top 20.”

“I left everything I could on that last lap. It was a difficult course, twisty, but I ran as hard as I could and when I crossed the line I was done and happy with where I finished.

“It was one of my best competitions, so having done it there at the Olympics, there was a lot of emotion, thankfulness, especially of finishing what I started.”

Nathan Schrimsher participates in the Equestrian portion of the modern pentathlon in the 2016 Olympic games. Photo by Tim Hipps US Army/IMCOM.

And he said two keys that were invaluable in him getting to the top echelon of his sport were Olesinski and the Army.

“Without Jan I would have never made it to where I got,” he said. “And if I’d never had the Army, I never would have gotten where I was as well. You can’t take credit for just yourself doing this. There’s so many people and things along the way that get you to where you’re going – it wasn’t just me.”

So when the NMMI coach asked him to come back to NMMI and help out, he couldn’t say no.

“NMMI is where it all started,” Schrimsher said. “I definitely think there’s all sorts of reasons, but that’s one of them. Giving back. Seeing it full circle. That’s just as important. Everyone hangs up their shoes one day, so there’s got to be something to keep on going.”

The young athlete came in at the end of the winter sports season and helped as an assistant coach for Olesinski, and this spring he’ll be working with the Colt and Lady Colt sprinters on the track team. He’s also helping with the corps physical training program and with the pentathlon program.

“All these sports are something that I was involved with in some degree as an athlete myself, and getting to work under Jan and his tutelage is really cool,” he said. “The next generation’s coming – the shoe’s gotta be replaced – and I get to help show and teach them.”

Sgt. Nathan Schrimsher of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program finishes 11th in the men’s Modern Pentathlon event Aug. 20, 2016, at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Tim Hipps US Army/IMCOM.

What’s up next for the 25-year old is still up in the air. He’s back home helping around the family ranch, and is planning on going back to school to get a degree in communications. He likes coaching, though, and said that could be in his future as well.

“I never thought I could be a coach. Never thought that time would come,” he said. “Time keeps on rolling and I think coaching will be a good way to give back.”

As to the 2020 Olympics, that’s really not on his radar right now but Olesinski thinks Schrimsher could change his mind.

“He needs time to rest and who knows? Maybe he’ll come back in,” the coach said.

In the meantime, the NMMI cadets will get the advantage of his expertise, and he’ll pull for his brother to maybe try for Tokoyo.

“It’s an interesting time right now. We’re just kind of figuring it out. I’m kind of writing it off. I’m kind of done and ready to move on to the next step, but Lucas, we’ll see. There’s a lot of time still, and he’s young, too, so there’s plenty of chances in the future if he decides.”

And who knows? Maybe Schrimsher will find a youngster who wants to follow in his footsteps, just as he did Olesinski’s.

Nathan Schrimsher’s Olympic ring that he wears every day. Photo by Tanner Hightower-Wilson.

NMMI Announces Signing of Bill 68: Governor Martinez makes it possible for more to afford a 1st Class Education

NMMI has announced the signing of New Mexico House Bill 68 by Governor Susana Martinez.  The Luciano “Lucky” Varela opportunity scholarship is intended to increase the number of New Mexico high school students attending the New Mexico Military Institute who meet need-based requirements and who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in a military education and environment.

Major General Grizzle, President and Superintendent said, “The significance of this scholarship is the Opportunity scholarship is not a fixed value and it is in addition to other scholarship opportunities the student may be eligible for.  We see qualified students who are otherwise accepted to attend NMMI leave from our doorsteps purely on the fact they cannot afford to attend.  This scholarship, graciously supported by the New Mexico Legislature, HED Secretary and the Governor will help NMMI to allow those students of financial need to overcome their financial hurdle.”

For more about financial aid and scholarships at NMMI, visit our website.

 

Cadet campaign raises over 3K for local charity

NMMI’s Regimental Commander, cadet Katianne Flury (left), presents a check from the ‘Cadets For A Cure’ campaign to Chaves County Cancer Fund president Brittnye Lamb (center) and CCCF volunteer Misty Tarin (right).


NMMI Sports Press

During a halftime ceremony at the Bronco basketball team’s previous home game vs. Odessa on Jan. 8, the NMMI ‘Cadets For A Cure’ Campaign presented a check to the Chaves County Cancer Fund totaling $3,321.41.

The campaign is a year-long series of events and activities, organized by Institute cadets, designed to help raise both money and awareness for all types of cancer.

Last spring, the cadets held a ‘March for Cancer’. This fall, the cadets held a variety of activities during several home NMMI athletic events, including dunk tanks, pie-in-the face booths, balloon launches, and sales of t-shirts and bracelets.

The Chaves County Cancer Fund is a non-profit organization founded in 2006 to “provide caring support and financial assistance to Chaves County community members and their families as they go through cancer treatment.”

“It was a successful campaign, especially for the first year,” said head Colt football coach Randy Montoya, one of several staff liaisons helping out this year’s campaign. “Being new, I thought everything went very well,” he continued. “The cadets did a great job and we had a lot of support from the faculty, staff and our coaches. It was just a good team effort, everyone pitching in and pulling together for a great cause.”

When asked if this will become an annual activity, Montoya nodded in the affirmative. “Any time we can help out of local community, it’s a plus for both us and them,” explained the coach. “We’re going to try and make this a yearly event and have already been talking about what we can improve on for next year – things like getting more people involved – hopefully growing each and every year.”