AlamogordoTownNews.com Debra Scott Alamogordo’s First Black Girls Coach & First Girls State Title Winner

AlamogordoTownNews.com Celebrates Black History Months with its series, “The Spirts of Delaware Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico”. This article is the story of Alamogordo High Schools first black female coach and its very first state title in Girls Interscholastic Sports…

Many residents of Alamogordo, who have been in the community since the late 60’s, recognize the Scott name, for their visible community leadership within the Black community of the 60s, 70s and 80s. All the family was involved in various aspects of community and the educational community at large.

Ms. Scott’s father, a former military officer, was a pioneer at Alamogordo high school as a strict but compassionate guidance counselor. Her sister was respected and recognized for her many achievements including exceptionalism with the National Forensic League Speech and Debate Oratory events.

Debra Scott came up in the educational system during a period when women’s athletics were not funded by the schools and the only outlet for competition for girls was via the GAA (Girls Athletics Association.) In those days most girls’ athletics was not funded as part of the traditional school funding, The girls and their coaches had to do fundraising to fund the sports activities they participated in. Events held were limited in the sports offerings for girls.

As an example, Coach Bob Sepulveda re-created the White Sands Relays which in the 1950’s Coach Rolla Buck founded.

The first revamped White Sands Relay Race was in 1970 and was only for men. The second White Sands Relay was hosted in 1972. The second annual meet was opened to girls in 3 events, thanks to the encouragement of Coach Marilyn Sepulveda, to open it up to the girls. The second meet was opened to girls for 3 events and expanded drastically in subsequent years post GAA under Title 9.

GAA or meets under the Girls Athletic Association did not have the same prestige of interscholastic of the modern times of today but the competitors that did compete were fierce and created record times that would stand against any today.

Debbie Scott as a student athlete at Alamogordo High was one of those record holders and girls with significant promise in her athletic, and academic abilities under the mentorship of Coach Marilyn Sepulveda and others.

Coach Scott told the Alamogordo News in a May 15th, 1974, article that; “she began running in the 4th Grade and has not stopped since. She claimed when Grayland Walsh tried to kiss her on the playground she learned to run and one year later was beating the boys in the 100-yard dash.”

Note: she was such a great runner that Coach’s Bob Sepulveda who coached the boys track team and Coach Marilyn Sepulveda who coached the girls’ teams agreed to allow her to train with the boys when running.

When researching the book; Coach Bob Sepulveda, The Early Days published by 2nd Life Media the author tells of many of the “boys of that time praised Debbie Scott.” Several boys said, “she used to embarrass them by how fast she was compared to them.” They said they’d get back to the locker room and they would get a ribbing about Debbie “whooping them, not only in speed but also in form.”

She often came in 1st in Elementary School relays and for the many years to follow in high school and college. She was a natural winner and had the discipline and passion for excellence.

She earned her 1st of 4 Presidential Physical fitness patches in the 6th grade and continued a tradition of winning thereafter.

Her parents enrolled her in dance lessons for 13 years and in piano lessons for 9 years. She continued learning dance for years after and teaching dancercise classes in the high school later in her career. Those students in reflecting, remembered this many years later, the Jane Fonda style dancercise classes conducted by Ms. Scott were unique, innovative and “great fun under Coach Debbie’s leadership.” Coach Bob Sepulveda said that “Debbie’s dancercise classes and his weight classes were the most popular offerings ever offered by the PE department” at least that is during his 30 plus year tenure at Alamogordo High School.

It takes a lot of time to be good at something and you have to be willing to sacrifice your social life for something you feel you’ll get just as much satisfaction out of”, she was quoted as saying to the Alamogordo News. Coach Scott believed the good outweighs the bad in athletics.

It allowed her to travel the country, meet many great people and gain accolades and confidence that she was able to pass to her students years later based upon her performance of excellence.

In 1973 in college, she went to the AAU nationals and was selected to the women’s All American Track Team. She held the state record for college level women in the 220-yard dash at 24.5 for several years and was rated 4th best in the nation in long jump in 1974.

An All-America team is a hypothetical American sports team composed of outstanding student players. These players are broadly considered by media and other relevant commentators as the best positional players in a particular sport, for a specific season.

Debbie Scott was the first female athlete to graduate from Alamogordo High School to gain that status as an “All American Track and Field Athlete.”

The designation of “All American” is administered by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association. The selection rules are that the top eight finishers in each individual event, as well as American competitors who finish outside the top eight in their event but are among the top eight of the American finishers in an event, earn All-America designation. She qualified for her excellence in two events: the long jump and the 220-yard dash.

Her advice to other female athletes was, “If you have got talent or are just interested in sports, you should take advantage of the opportunities for women everywhere you can.”

While a student at Alamogordo High she competed in the last year GAA existed. She won multiple awards and medals placing often in the 100-yard dash, long jump, and other events. She ran often as an independent woman with the Duke City Dashers Running Club and set records in the Mile Relay and the 220.

Debbie Scott ran on a relay team with Alamogordo alumni Carolyn Patterson and Julia Fultz ranking 2nd at a Northern Colorado Invitational while attending New Mexico State University. New Mexico State University had 4 alumni of Alamogordo Girls Track & Field Team that competed: Debbie Scott, Carolyn Patterson, Julie Fultz, and Vicki Murray.

Upon graduation from college Debbie Scott was hired by the Alamogordo school system to teach and to coach. She would ultimately lead Alamogordo girls’ teams in Volleyball and in assisting Coach Marilyn Sepulveda in Track & Field to great success.

The early 70s was a transitional year for Alamogordo Girls Sports and for Debbie Scott who as an Alumni and then re-joined Alamogordo High School, but now as a teacher and a coach.

The passage of Title IX, the 1972 Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Act, expanded high school athletic opportunities to include girls, revolutionizing mass sports participation in the United States. Organized sports have long been an integral part of the American high school experience for boys. However, the same has not been historically true for girls. Indeed, girls only began playing sports in large numbers after the passage of legislation mandating gender equity in schools.

The first regulation stipulating the procedures for the implementation of Title IX were not released until June 1975. Some schools began interpreting and implementing Title IX prior to June of 1975.

Alamogordo High was one such school system that progressively moved forward with implementation prior to the full Federal rules rollout. From the 1950’s through the late 1970’s Alamogordo High School was considered “a progressive front runner in leading social change and a model for school systems across the country.”

Teacher and Coach Debbie Scott was named Head Volleyball Coach the 2nd year after girls’ interscholastic volleyball was introduced at Alamogordo High School.

She was the first African American Woman to lead a sports program in Alamogordo High School since organized sports began in 1912.

But that would not be her only first.

Under Coach Debbie Scott the Alamogordo Girls Volleyball team that she coached was the first of any girls’ sports team to achieve the status of winning a state title. Under her leadership the first state title in girls’ athletics for Alamogordo High School was achieved….

Marylin Sepulveda as track and field coach was the first to bring state trophies home placing 2nd place several times prior but it was Debbie Scott that broke the glass ceiling and brought home the 1st Red Trophy or 1st Place State Title in Girls Sports to Alamogordo…

Alamogordo Girls Volleyball team wins the State 1979/80 School Year

Alamogordo Girls Volleyball team wins the state competition in Santa Fe” read the local sports headlines.

Girls Volleyball Coach Debbie Scott was incredibly pleased that her girls who placed 2nd in the district meet then showed what they had, and came through, to win the state competition with a 1st Place showing a week later in the class AAAA girl’s tournament.

The tournament was deep, in steep competition, as their first round they drew state champion Santa Fe and were expected to lose. The Santa Fe Coach had said in a television interview the day prior that, “we will sail easily through the opening round against Alamogordo.”

With Debbie Scott coaching and rallying the girls forward,” the Alamogordo Tiger Girls roared and knocked Santa Fe right out of the action.

The final round they competed against Albuquerque Eldorado for the championship. The Tiger girls took the first game by a narrow margin of 15 to 11.

The 2nd game was even closer 16 to 14 but they won it and walked away with the state title.

Coach Debbie Scott was thrilled to receive the NM State Title Trophy at a hastily called assembly of the school and her girls that Monday morning. Many of the volleyball girls went on to play girls basketball the same year.

The girls that competed that very special weekend under the direction of Coach Debbie Scott had no way of knowing then that they were shattering glass ceilings, breaking the barriers of race and gender that once existed with the simple act of a volley across a net in Santa Fe.

A record of firsts places Debbie Scott into the books of Alamogordo History.

Coach and Educator Debbie Scott would continue at Alamogordo for several more years in leading the Volleyball team to victories and assisting with Marilyn Sepulveda as the assistant track and field coach for the Tiger girls and eventually also lead them with Mrs. Sepulveda to State title history.

Debbie Scott was and remains a pioneer of black history but more importantly a leader, an example and a pioneer in gender equality and the overall history of Alamogordo.

Ms. Scott now an educator, in another state, remains a recognized leader, an accomplished athlete and a name embedded into the annual’s fabric of Alamogordo history for eternity.

Black history is our history and the history that includes all of us!

This is one of the many tales of Alamogordo Sports History and Alamogordo Black History from our AlamogordoTownNews.com Series – “The Spirts of Delaware Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico”.

Author Chris Edwards – SourcesCoach Bob Sepulveda: The Early Days, Publisher 2nd Life Media, New Mexico Athletic Association, Diaries of Marilyn Sepulveda, Alamogordo Town News, New Mexico Coaches Association Archives

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AlamogordoTownNews.com: 100 Years AGO, in Alamogordo Sports History – Coach L R “Peanuts” Robins picks principle and ethics over a State Title.

The Founding of the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA)

In 1921 The New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA) was formed as a nonprofit organization that regulates interscholastic programs for junior and senior high schools in New Mexico. It became the official host and record keeper for the statewide sports championship games each year thereafter and collaborated with the University of New Mexico to continue to host events. keeping and leading interscholastic events within New Mexico today.

NMAA was organized in 1921 by John Milne, James Bickley, F. H. Lynn, and J.D. Shinkle as the New Mexico High School Athletic Association.

Alamogordo High School joined the association in 1921 and proceeded to send athletes to its events.

The 1920’s has been called the Golden Age of American Sports. It also has been called the Age of the Spectator.

The United States had a strong economy for most of that decade with extensive growth on the west coast with the formation of New Mexico and new cities and school systems. Organized sports were at a pinnacle many workers had more leisure time. New and bigger stadiums and gymnasiums were built, interest and pride in local High School and College Teams became America’s pastime.

The introduction of radio made it easier for fans to keep up with their favorite teams. Radio and local newspapers increased their coverage of sports building local community support of their hometown teams. High School interscholastic sports gained significant traction and community pride via local media.

Alamogordo High School had a very limited sports program in 1922 but the Boys Basketball team was a bright spot for the citizens of Alamogordo that provided much community pride.

The citizens of Alamogordo had significant pride in their Boys Basketball Team that season of 1922 under Coach & Professor L. R. “Peanuts” Robins. Coach Robin’s was a disciplined athlete that took education seriously. The coach expected his boys to perform well academically and athletically. Citizenship and good stewardship of their reputation and that of the Alamogordo High School was a paramount lesson he intended to instill upon his student athletes.

The 1922/23 season was a strong one for the the Alamogordo Tiger Boys which were picked to win the district tournament and carry that victory forward to the state championships hosted by the NMAA in Albuquerque.

According to the Alamogordo News at the time, “Close performance of the teams that were to participate in the high school tournament for the basketball teams of the southern district of New Mexico, agreed that Alamogordo would give a good account of its team at the tournament. And winning the tournament it was conceded that the Alamogordo high schools’ boys would mix it up pretty strong at the state contest in Albuquerque. The Alamogordo boys had already won from the Albuquerque team, winner of the central tournament. But Alamogordo did not win the Las Cruces district tournament.”

Alamogordo did not win the Las Cruces district tournament.

The why of the matter was very nicely told in the El Paso Times by Gene Fromme.

“Why Alamogordo Withdrew…

Alamogordo High School’s failure to enter the district basketball tournament for the state title for the 1922/23 school year had everyone wondering.

Every fan in the southwest knew Alamogordo High packed probably the classiest crew of cage performers in the entire state. Their slashing victory over the strong Albuquerque High School boosted them to a lofty standing and a championship for the team seemed almost assured.

Coach “Peanuts” Robins had molded a masterful quintet from the rawest kind of material. All of his backers had expressed their willingness to bet their boots Alamogordo would march off with the state title.

Then came the time for them to show their basket of wares and they failed to make an appearance.

Here is the mystery unreeled by one the shrewdest and fairest athletic followers, who is more than merely interested in the welfare of the Alamogordo High school basketball team:

It takes downright courage for a successful young athletic coach who has toiled night and day with his team to refuse to enter a tournament he would most probably have won, for sheer sake of principle. And that is exactly what Coach “Peanuts” Robbins of Alamogordo High did. This is the kind of coaching that places athletics on a plane worthwhile.

Without entering into a full discussion of the cause of the young coach’s commendable action, suffice it to say a small number only of the boys on the team who, after riding over the rough bumps of the Alamo trails, took of the cars and said they wished to take a ride around town. They feel victims to the smooth El Paso-Las Cruces Road, and before they knew it they were doing things not consistent with the best athletic conditions. 

While this kind of a lark is not a legal crime, it showed poor judgement on the part of the boys, and certainly could not be tolerated by the coach. 

Upon the boys’ return from their adventure the Alamogordo, Coach Robins promptly removed them from the team.

This naturally incapacitated the club for such as contest as was before them, and in which, considering all former “dope” they no doubt would have won. With crushed hearts the other boys who had remained true to their teachings and colors, along with their comrades, who would willingly have given anything to undo the wrong which they had done, moved our for the long night ride to their home. Thus, Alamogordo went unheralded for the season.”

Other accounts of the events around the district tournament report that Coach L R Robinson had every intention of entering the boys into the competition and believed strongly that they could carry the banner for a state title. According to the coach, “ the Alamogordo Boys took the trip entirely too lightly. The boys broke training and went joy riding.”

The public was confused. From the viewpoint of the chances of Alamogordo gaining basketball fame in the state tournament, the incident from some was considered deplorable. But from the angle of what sport in the schools stands for, cleanliness and training of the body and mind, the development of discipline and sportsmanship. Coach Robbins was eminently correct.

Coach “Peanuts” Robin’s goes down in New Mexico High School sports history and Alamogordo Sports History as the coach that placed principle and discipline over the accolades of winning a state championship.

The question of course is what kind of pressure did the coach face upon his return without a district or state title in hand?

Mr. Robins had the full support of the faculty and of the directors or school board of Alamogordo. He well deserved it. According to a statement from a school administrator at the time; “Coach R L “Peanuts” Robins proved himself a thorough sportsman and a man fit to be given the direction of young athletes.”

One wonders. if that same level of ethics and stamina exists within the coaching staff and administration to take on the public scrutiny of such a decision today. Would the same decision be made by the coach to pull the team in our modern times of today? Thoughts to ponder from lessons of the history of the Alamogordo Sports Program dating back over 120 years.

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Coach Bob Sepulveda & Coach Gary Hveem the Golden Years Book 2 Release Party & Art Showing September 4th, 2021 6 pm to 8 pm

5 Time State & 19 Time District Champion, Coach Bob Sepulveda & Coach Gary Hveem the Golden Years Book 2 Release Party & Art Show

September 4, 6 pm to 8 pm Roadrunner Emporium Fine Art Gallery

928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico 88310

Alamogordo New Mexico: 2nd Life Media Company Inc. today announces the pre-release on Amazon.com with a book signing and art show at Roadrunner Emporium, Alamogordo, Saturday September 4th 6 pm to 8 pm.  

The reception and book launch at Roadrunner Emporium Fine Art, Antiques and More will also showcase the works of southern New Mexico artists Delia Lopez Holloway, Marty Torres, the sculptured tree trunk artwork creations of Artist Rene Sepulveda and over 45 partners displaying their artistic creations to the public. This open house from 6 to 8 will feature live music, light appetizers and is a meet the local artists events.

About the Book Series:

Book 2 is of the 4 part series of books on Coaches Robert & Marilyn Sepulveda and the influence of Coach Gary Hveem on the Alamogordo High School Athletics program.

Book one titled Coach Robert (Bob) Louis Sepulveda: The Early Years released last year to critical acclaim.

Co-written by authors; Chris Edwards & Rene Sepulveda, book one of the series begins with the Alamogordo, New Mexico athletic program of 1916 progressing through today. The focus is on the track & field and its paths that crossed into interscholastic football and cross country. The series is a comprehensive history that tells the stories of the many personalities from 1916 to 1996 that influenced New Mexico and national interscholastic, collegiate, and pro sports including the NFL; in Track and Field, Cross Country, High School Football and beyond.

The book series takes on issues of the launch of national interscholastic sports standards, school sports integration, Girl’s Title IX implementation, the politics of high school football athletics and more.

The series contains the records of 100s of young athletes, rich in dialog and interviews with athletes, coaches, and more. The series factoids highlight successes and failures of some great athletes & coaches, plus history lessons related to athletics. The central characters in the book are Coaches, Bob and Marilyn Sepulveda, paired with a variety of characters that played a role in the program success of the Alamogordo, New Mexico Track and Field, Cross Country & Football programs over 9 decades.

Coach Bob Sepulveda, New Mexico Coach of the Year for boy’s track; 1982, 1991 and 1996. Received the NHSACA Region 8 Coach of the Year in 1982, 1991 and 1996, Section 6 Coach of the Year in 1991 and 1996. Along with his wife Marilyn, both, received the New Mexico High School Coaches Association Level IV Coaching Milestone ring in 1989. He and his wife Marilyn were inducted into the Alamogordo Tiger Hall of Fame in 1988.

            “Coach Bob Sepulveda is just a good, hard-working coach and a good responsible person who cared about the kids in his charge. That for anyone who’s paying attention, is all the message that’s necessary”, per a Commentary in the Albuquerque Journal by Rick Wright  titled Message There for Those who Watch, Listen,Friday May 13, 1994

About the Artists & Roadrunner Emporium

Roadrunner Emporium showcases the works of southern New Mexico artists Delia Lopez Holloway, Marty Torres, the sculptured tree trunk artwork creations of Artist Rene Sepulveda and over 45 partners displaying their artistic creations from painting and sculptures to embroidery, needlepoint, hand woven designs, Native American arts and more. This event is open to the public showcasing local Southern New Mexico artistic talent.

This open house from 6 to 8 will feature live music, light appetizers and is a meet the local artists event Roadrunner Emporium Fine Art, Antiques & More, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo New Mexico. Open daily 10 am to 7 pm. Closed Sundays.

Young School Board Leaders with fresh ideas, making a difference, challenging the status quo…

In the 1960’s, Alamogordo High School ranked in the top 10 in the nation and attracted teachers from around the nation. According to US News and World Report School rankings the school now ranks #40 in New Mexico High Schools and 6754 in national rankings.  In school districts around the nation with problems, youth are stepping into leadership roles within school boards, with fresh ideas and insights and making a difference in challenging the status quo and making change.

Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” That is the mantra of Anthony X. Vigil the 19-year-old elected school board president of Mesa Vista Consolidated School District in New Mexico. This quote seems to be a similar mantra for several other young people from a diverse spectrum of cultures who are grabbing ahold of American Democracy, and not only participating, but seeking elected office and winning at the level of school board.

There are those in life that complain about the political system and the world around us, and then there are those that do something about it. Age does not determine one’s ability to have a positive impact and to make a difference in the world. One’s ability to go after a goal, and get it done, is what determines success, no matter age or experience.

Photo of Anthony X. Vigil Swearing in to School Board Mesa Vista Consolidated School District in New Mexico. (Photo Courtesy of Mesa Vista Consolidated School District, Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media)

Anthony X. Vigil was a graduate of Mesa Vista High School in 2019, he was elected to the Mesa Vista Consolidated Schools’ Board of Education on November 5, 2019. Anthony ran for the school board to give the students, who are his contemporaries, a voice. He knows that since students are directly impacted by district shortfalls, they may be able to offer valuable outside-the-box solutions. At age 19 he would be one of the youngest elected school board leaders in the nation, and one of the youngest in the nation at age 19 to be named as the school board president.

Anthony X. Vigil appears to be one of several young student activists, turned candidate being elected as representatives of their school system. There is a trend toward student activism and entering politics at a young age. The school board appears to be an excellent entry point for these young citizens to enter the profession of politics.

A trend toward diversity and youth…

Photo of Kelly Gonez (Photo Courtesy Los Angeles Unified School District Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media)

In 2020 the nation’s second largest school system in the US, the Los Angeles Consolidated School system, elected its youngest school board president ever at age 32. Kelly Gonez became the youngest-ever female president of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. Gonez, 32, was also the first of the millennial generation and one of only four women of color and one of three Latinas to lead the board that sets policy for the nation’s second-largest school district, which serves a student population that is currently 80% Latino or Black, according to LAUSD officials. Kelly Gonez, 32, is the only parent on the school board with young children, and she grew up in an immigrant family in the district she now represents, encompassing much of the East San Fernando Valley.

But the trend is showing an interest of those even younger getting involved and making a difference

Photo of Bushra Amiwala, the youngest elected Muslim official in the United States. (Courtesy Busha Amiwala twitter Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media)

Meet Bushra Amiwala, she is the youngest elected Muslim officeholder in the United States. Amiwala’s age and status as the youngest elected Muslim official and the only one wearing a hijab in the state of Illinois have brought her fame not normally associated with being elected to a school board. Among the diverse membership of the Skokie School District Board of Education, Bushra Amiwala stands out. She is also a former student in the school district and is featured in a Hulu documentary, “Our America: Women Forward,” which began streaming this March 2021. She is up for re-election to the school board in April 2023 but openly admits she is keeping her eye on other potential offices.

Photo of Ty’Relle Stephens (Photo Courtesy of Channel 10 WJAR Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media)

Out of the ashes of the Rhode Island state takeover of the Providence Public School system, comes a fresh voice. The city’s youngest school board member ever. Meet 20-year-old Ty’Relle Stephens, one of the newest, and the youngest ever Providence School Board member, sworn it at City Hall Wednesday. Stephens started his freshman year at the Juanita Sanchez Education Complex on Thurbers Avenue in South Providence in 2015, getting the lay of the land. Stephens says the voices of the students who have gone through the failed school system are invaluable to fixing what is broken. His plate is full working full-time at Kent Hospital in patient access, and now Providence School Board member, but he is up to the challenge. When asked if he would like to advance in the profession of politics. He leaves that answer to his supporters that believe he has a strong future ahead of him.

Photo of Musab Ali. (Photo Courtesy of NJ.com Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media)

Mussab Ali, 23, became the youngest trustee to ever to named Board of Education President following a 5-2 vote during the board’s reorganization meeting for Jersey City, New Jersey’s Board of Education, earlier this year. He is the youngest trustee and is its new president for 2021. Ali, a law student at Harvard University, won his first year-long term on the school board in 2017 and was later re-elected to three-year term. He is the youngest person ever elected to the nine-member Jersey City school board and the youngest elected official ever in Jersey City. In 2018, Ali was accepted into a prestigious master’s degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The board’s counsel approved Ali’s request to continue serving on the board while studying in China. Ali, a 2015 graduate of McNair Academic, was one of 147 people chosen for the Schwarzman Scholars program at Tsinghua University. He studied biology and economics at Rutgers University-Newark.

And back to New Mexico, where we began this article, we have the youngest school board president in the state and quite possibly the US, Anthony X. Vigil, age 19.  At age 19 he is making an impact on his district in leading it based upon his high school experience. We reached out to Mr. Vigil and asked him about how he got his start in the political process in New Mexico and he responded, “I attended board meetings since I was in middle school and since then I knew I wanted to become a part of the board. Shortly after my first board meeting, I acknowledged my passion to make a real change in society. I always had a strong support system and am compelled to create more opportunities for the generation to follow. The year I graduated was an election year and I didn’t want to waste any time on creating a better tomorrow.”

We mentioned a few of the other young leaders referenced above and asked if he felt participation and leadership by younger adults was becoming a trend and what was the catalyst for that trend? We also asked if he considered himself liberal or conservative in his political leanings. His response, I believe there is a combination of factors leading to the up-tick in the younger generation running for elected positions. I think more and more people are realizing that age is not a barrier and young people offer outside-the-box solutions to world-wide challenges. I am thrilled to see younger people becoming involved in the democratic process. Whereas I am more liberal, I firmly believe educational growth should be a bipartisan consensus. After all, education yields innovation across all industries.”

We would happen to agree with Mr. Vigil wholeheartedly. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at the University of New Mexico. Additionally, Mr. Vigil is an intern with the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Engineering Services Division. Before joining the National Labs, he served as an intern Medical Assistant at Las Clinicas del Norte, a non-profit health center which serves the local community. In high school, he led several student organizations and was a runner for the 2015 and 2016 cross country state championship teams. In 2019, he was part of the state championship medley relay team for track and field.

Under his leadership as the president of the board of education he is championing those issues that are important to the students and partnering with leaders in the state to make that happen. As a former track and field and cross-country athlete he knows that a well-maintained track is critical to a team’s success. As such he and the board have partnered to get capital funds from the state of New Mexico to assist in getting much needed track maintenance done at his former high school. In partnership with New Mexico State Senator Leo Jaramillo, $75,000 in capital outlay funds were secured for a new track and field.

The money comes from Capital Outlay funds. School Board President Anthony Vigil says the track needs repaving, and the field needs new grass. “We will be redoing the track and making those repairs so that way it can be used to host track meets,” Vigil said. Vigil says they hope to have the work completed by the next track season.

Anthony X. Vigil, age 19 of New Mexico; Ty’Relle Stephens, age 20 of Rhode Island; Bushra Amiwala, age 22 of Illinois; Mussab Ali, 23 of New Jersey; Kelly Gonez, age 32 of California each represent true diversity and action.  Each is of a diverse generation of young, aggressive and determined individuals that respect the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, team activities and active participation in the system of civics. Each represents a diverse collection of ideas from a broad section of our country representing school districts large and small. Through their actions and their rise into political power they demonstrate as a truth, Mark Twain’s quote, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Getting started they have done indeed! We will be watching each of these youthful young adults as their careers move forward over the decades ahead. Inspired we are, in their youthful approach to stepping up, acting and owning the future by offering solutions by their personal actions today.

As we conclude, we wonder, are there any inspired youthful leaders in Southern New Mexico, and more directly in Ortero County or in Alamogordo, ready to take on the challenge and the example set by these youthful leaders? Alamogordo, who is the next generation of leaders ready to step forward today?

Salute’!

Follow Executive Coach and Author, Chris Edwards via the Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media or his Podcast, 2nd Life Media Presents.  Published books by Author Chris Edwards include Coach Bob Sepulveda: The Early Days, 2 Hours Unplugged Unplug and Reconnect, 90 Days to a Glass Half Full Lifestyle, and has published essays on criminal justice reform Removing Barriers to State Occupational Licenses to Enhance Entrepreneurial Job Growth: Out of Prison, Out of Work.

Research for the story above sourced from:

KRQE NEWS, ABC 7 News Los Angeles, Los Angele’s Unified School System, The Hudson County View, www, NJ.com, Baca, Stacey (2021-03-09). “Skokie’s Bushra Amiwala is the youngest Muslim elected official in US”. ABC7 Chicago, Wikipedia, Providence Schools, Mesa Vista Consolidated Schools, Alamogordo Public Schools, US New & World Report

History: Golf Coach Billy Aldridge, “Mr. Irrelevant” a title given to the last player picked in the NFL draft was relevant!

The title of “Mr. Irrelevant” is given annually to the last player picked in the NFL draft. 1960 brought a change in leadership of the Alamogordo football and the track and field program. The new program leader was Coach Ralph Tate. Coach Tate had a connection to the Alamogordo school system, via his college friend, Alamogordo Golf Coach Billy Aldridge. 

Photo Coach Billy Aldridge New Mexico Golf (Photo Courtesy Coach Bob Sepulveda The Early Days Book Series 2nd Life Media Alamogordo Town News)
Photo on Blog of Mr. Relevant Coach Billy Aldridge New Mexico Golf – (Coach Bob Sepulveda The Early Days Book Alamogordo Town News 2nd Life Media)

Both were alumni of Oklahoma State University, both were competitive and avid golfers; (competing in many tournaments together and against each other) and both were drafted to the NFL’s Green Bay Packers. 

Neither actually had play time in the NFL instead; Aldridge pursued his passion of Coaching Golf and Tate followed his passion into Coaching Track & Field and Football primarily Track and Field. 

For a brief time Tate coached in Alamogordo for the 1960/61 Track & Field Season, while Aldridge had a long career in Alamogordo as a recognized winning coach.

Tragedy shook the boys and coaches competing at State in 1976. Concurrent to the State Track and Field meet is also competition of other athletic events, Golf being one of them. Alamogordo had one of the winningest and most successful high school golf programs on the west coast. 

The Golf Program was under the Coaching leadership of Billy Aldridge. Aldridge and Coach Tate had a very strong bond and strong relationship in the early 1960’s. Tate moved on from Alamogordo but Aldridge built a reputation unsurpassed in Alamogordo even in more modern times. 

Coach Aldridge’s program was unique in that it was coached by him and he had exclusive control of that program. He collaborated in PE and was respected by all the other athletic coaches. He produced the 3 and only three State Golf Titles Alamogordo has ever won per the NMAA. The Tigers won the team state title in 1968, 1971 and 1972 under Coach Bill Aldridge.

Alamogordo High School has had 4 male golf champions win the state golf title 3 were under Coach Aldridge.  Under Coach Aldridge in 1966, Bruce McKenzie won the title and the title went to Brad Bryant in 1971 and 1973. Bryant attended the University of New Mexico for three years, but turned professional and qualified for the PGA Tour in 1976, a year before his scheduled graduation.

May 13, 1976 Alamogordo News Headline Page 1 Article by Rick Wright: “Team Playing for Coach, Aldridge Hit by Car on Duke City Street”

“ Alamogordo High School Golf Coach was listed in critical condition…after being struck by a car Wednesday night… Aldridge 53, was struck by a car while walking across Albuquerque’s Central Avenue… A medical center spokesman said Aldridge was in critical condition and suffered a broken back, broken ankle, broken leg, broken ribs and collapsed lung…

Aldridges 5 man golf team competing at state was badly shaken up by the event. Alamogordo’s individual leader Dan Koesters spoke for the team and said,”We are trying to win for him. He’d like for us to win for sure. We are trying to put the accident out of our minds for a few hours and win it for him.”

Per the Alamogordo News, May 14, 1976; “the Alamogordo Tigers Golf Team was 3rd after the first round and only 3 strokes behind Sandia and Santa Fe.”

Coach Bob Sepulveda was asked to step in to console the boys and fill in as the tournament coach during the final phase of the golf tournament. Coach Sepulveda said, “the boys were obviously shaken up as was I. I was there to console the team and provide support. We were all shocked and broken hearted.”

Coach Billy Aldridge did not recover and died of complications from the accident with the announcement of his death on May 16th, 1976.

Jimmy Tramel, World Sports Writer did an interview with Aldridges wife in 2006 and outlined a great highlight of his life…

1945’s ‘Mr. Irrelevant,’ a former OSU player, was relevant to many people during short life. The title of “Mr. Irrelevant” is given annually to the last player picked in the NFL draft. The label doesn’t fit Billy Joe Aldridge…

Aldridge, an Alma, Okla., native and former Oklahoma State football player, was the final player picked in the 1945 NFL Draft. He was selected in the 32nd round — 330th overall — by the Green Bay Packers. Aldridge never played a lick for the Packers, but he was relevant to many people during a life cut short 30 years ago this month.

Aldridge was a successful high school golf coach in Alamogordo, N.M., for more than two decades. He accompanied his team to Albuquerque for the state tournament in 1976 and the fatal accident occurred before the event concluded. His grief-stricken players got the worst kind of wake-up call the next morning, but teed it up nonetheless.

“He would have kicked us in the a– if we didn’t play,” said former player Dan Koesters, who is now director of golf at New Mexico State University’s course. “It was definitely one of those deals. There was never a day when you weren’t going to play some golf.” Aldridge coached Alamogordo teams that won multiple state championships. By Koesters’ count, at least seven Aldridge pupils played major college golf and five were All-Americans. Brad Bryant is fourth on  the Champions Tour money list this year and younger brother Bart Bryant is on the PGA Tour.

Billy Joe Aldridge died a month shy of his 54th birthday. He lived a long time in comparison to a younger brother, Bennie, a five-year NFL veteran who died in a 1956 plane crash, and a brother who died at age 3.

Another brother, Hubert, flirted with the grim reaper while in Iwo Jima. He took a sniper’s bullet and was unable to walk after he was transported to a military base.

Billy Joe Aldridge played football at Oklahoma A&M from 1941-42. His college career was interrupted by World War II. He spent three years in the Marines and his primary wartime duty was entertaining troops via athletic feats. He boxed and suited up for a Marine football squad alongside Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, an NFL Hall of Famer who was picked 325 spots before Aldridge in the 1945 draft.

Aldridge once spotted a pretty female Marine, Bonnie Pedigo, in a dance hall. He told buddies he was going to marry that gal, and he was true to his word. Said Bonnie, “He called home and said ‘Mom, sell my 4-H calf. I’m going to get married.’ ” He had to pay a whopping tab (more than $30!) for a multiday honeymoon stay at the Statler Hotel in Washington, D.C.

After his military stint was over, Aldridge returned to his home state because he wanted to fulfill his dream of being a star runner at Oklahoma A&M. Problem was, a lad named Bob Fenimore already had that job.

Aldridge and his wife took advantage of the G.I. Bill to earn degrees and, while in Stillwater, golf became a passion. He soon was playing or practicing every day, regardless of weather.

If it rained, Aldridge would go out after the downpour stopped and hit balls until “dark-thirty,” said his widow. She recalled the time she made a hole-in-one and it was so cold that when she reached in the cup to grab her ball, she came away clutching a handful of ice. Aldridge burned a pile of leaves on the next hole so he and his wife could get warm.

Billy Aldridge wanted to coach and was determined to find a way to coach and was soon enroute to Alamogordo via teaching hitch in Carnegie. His first job was a $2,400-per-year gig in Carnegie. He and Bonnie took jobs in Idabel the next year because two incomes would allow them to be better providers for a son, Kent. Oklahoma teachers weren’t getting rich back then and Aldridge doubled his salary when he drove sight unseen to take a teaching and coaching job in Dexter, N.M. He left after one year to go to Alamogordo. “I heard they were building a golf course here and decided that since I liked golf better than any of the other sports I had been connected with, I would come here,” he once told an Alamogordo sports writer.

Aldridge coached nothing but golf at Alamogordo. Dan Koesters said Aldridge was ahead of his time as a high school coach, including the use of yardage books. Koesters said Alamogordo golfers “did things as a high school golf team that college teams didn’t do and things that I still have never seen a high school team do. We would meet at the park at 6:30 every morning and hit golf balls . . . and when we would get out of school, we would go to the course and play until dark.”

During Aldridge’s coaching career seven people came out of Alamogordo High and played Division I golf, that was really pretty amazing,” per Dan Koesters.

Koesters is in New Mexico State University’s Athletic Hall of Fame. “There is absolutely no question that my whole career hinges around a couple of people — coach Aldridge and my college golf coach, another guy I would put in that same classification. I guarantee you that Brad Bryant would say the exact same thing,” said Koesters of Aldridge.

Aldridges wife Bonnie, in an interview in 2006 acknowledged her husband’s contributions and his imperfections…

The late Billy Joe Aldridge was not perfect (no golfer is — imperfection is what makes golfers always come back for another round).” She acknowledged, “he battled the demon in the bottle.”

Bonnie found out what others thought of her husband after his death. She said “people I didn’t even know sent cards and letters.” She takes solace in the fact her husband made a difference. “I would like to think that every individual did good things for other people,” she said.

So the 1975,76 Alamogordo Tiger graduating class moved forward with tears and also great memories. The decade was a period of great change. Change did come to Alamogordo over the decades but the history and contributions of Coach Billy Aldridge are certainly relevant to this sports history of Alamogordo and of New Mexico. His impact on so many youth within New Mexico was relevant and is relevant today.

To learn more stories of the relevance of Coach Aldridge, Coach Tate, Coach Sepulveda and 100s of athletes. For more stories purchase Coach Robert Sepulveda The Early Days book series available on Amazon in 46 Countries or in the US also on Amazon and at fine independent book sellers such as Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue Alamogordo, New Mexico or your local independent book seller.