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Young Las Crucens putting in the work


We’re about four months away from the annual Mayfield High School vs. Las Cruces High School football game, which always takes place in early November.

This is typically the highest profile prep sports event in Las Cruces.

However, those Trojan and Bulldawg athletes represent just a portion of the boys and girls who compete in many sports throughout the year.

Recently, I was at Oñate High School early on a Tuesday for a meeting.

Before 8 a.m., the Knight cross country runners were gathered on the lawn in front of the school for a preseason workout. Coach David Nuñez was out there, too, smiling as usual. He has been at the school for years, and helped put Oñate’s cross country and track teams on the state map. More important, he has had a positive effect on hundreds of young people’s lives throughout his career, both on the field and in his social studies classroom. In the spring, he was named the Las Cruces Public Schools’ 2019 Teacher of the Year, an award he’d be worthy of any year.

That same day, when I finished my meeting, I noticed the Knight volleyball team practicing in the gym.

As I drove out of the parking lot about 9 a.m., and the cross-country runners were running back from their course, I remembered a comment made by former LCHS football coach Jim Miller.

“We raise the state title trophy in the late fall, but champions are made in the summer,” Miller once told me.

That morning, I imagined somewhere across town, Centennial High School soccer players doing their own workout. Probably a Mayfield football player was lifting weights. A Mesilla Valley Christian Schools basketball player may have been working on a jump shot. A Mayfield

tennis player was probably out hitting some over the net. A Cruces High swimmer was likely planning a workout later. A local high school wrestler may have been on a morning run, and maybe a Centennial softball pitcher and catcher were practicing a new pitch.

Some have criticized the emphasis our society has placed on sports and, indeed, some of it goes overboard.

We’ve heard the stories of over-zealous parents threatening an umpire, or intimidating a coach because their child didn’t get enough playing time. We have to remember the coaches are mostly volunteers, and the officials get paid very little, if anything, especially in the lower age groups.

A friend of mine, a former coach, had the philosophy that, prior to eighth grade, all sports should focus on two basic things: fun and fundamentals. I couldn’t agree more.

I sometimes worry when I hear of young athletes who spend every weekend traveling to different cities to compete in multiple leagues. It’s great experience and a challenging opportunity, but I’ve also seen really talented kids burn out and give up the sport they once loved because it’s no longer fun.

On the whole, though, I believe youth sports are one of the greatest things for our children, teaching responsibility, team play, creativity and, certainly, the value of hard work and preparation.

Looks like another great high school sports year coming up in Las Cruces.