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. 

New Mexico Olympic History: The 1950’s, Alamogordo High Schools First State Track & Field Title & New Mexico’s First Native Born Olympian Marvel

The 1950’s and Alamogordo’s First State Track & Field Title in New Mexico History

Photo on Blog and in original article posted to 2nd Life Media’s Alamogordo Town News courtesy of Coach Bob Sepulveda The Early Days Book Series and Archives. To see more photos of sports from the 50’s, 60s and 70s, visit 2ndlifemedia.com

The 1951/52 Track & Field Season was very historic for Southern New Mexico and for Alamogordo, with a state medal win from some very distinctive athletes.

The results of the State Competition winners include…

  • Bobby Lee, 1st Place, 100 Yard Dash, 9.8
    • Bobby Lee, 1st Place,220 Yard Dash, 21.21.6
    • Bobby Lee, 1st Place, Long Jump, 21’-01.375
    • Norman Kinder, 1st Place, Pole Vault, 10’-10.50”
    • Benny Garcia, 1st Place. Javelin, 193’-01.325

The Alamogordo Tigers Track and Field Team of 1951/52 smashed the competition at the state finals of that year.

They took and won the state competition with 48.5 points. Albuquerque High, the 1951 State Champion scored 21.5 points less for a 2nd place finish of 27 points.

  • Lee in addition to setting 2 state records personally scored 24 ¾ points. He broke the state records in the 100-yard dash by .2 seconds and the 220 by .8 seconds better than the record.
    • Lee was also 3rd Place in Shot Put
  • Benny Garcia shattered the state record in Javelin 11’ 3 ⅛” of 5 state records; the Tigers broke 3 of them.
  • Norman Kinder Placed 1st in Pole Vault with 10’-10.50”
  • Ed McAlpine, 2nd Place. in the state competition in Javelin behind Garcia.
  • Bobby Fritz, 3rd Place, Broad Jump
  • In the sprints in addition to the 1st Place wins of Bobby Lee, Oliver Lee, 4th Place 180 Low Hurdles.
  • The 880 Yard Relay Team consisting of Henderson, Fritz, O Lee and Bobby Lee placed with a 3rd place medal.
  •  Benny Garcia shattered the state record in Javelin 11’ 3 ⅛” of 5 state records; the Tigers broke 3 of them.
  • Norman Kinder, 1st Place, Pole Vault, 10’-10.50”

Coach Rolla Buck was incredibly pleased that year with his team having won both the state football title and the state track and field title. He said his boys; “overperformed and beat his expectations.”

 Coach Buck viewed Bobby Lee as “the best high school overall athlete the state of New Mexico had ever seen” to that point.

He also said that Garcia was the best Javelin player ever to come out of New Mexico’s high school system.

Two incredibly special athletes and their legacy is an honor to Alamogordo from that seasons track and field team of the early 1950s. Both athletes go down into the sports history of the United States, New Mexico and certainly of the Alamogordo community for their achievements.

Bobby Lee, after the amazing team results at Ysleta, (7 first place finishes out of 10 competitions) and winning the District Meet several athletes went to Albuquerque and competed at University Stadium in the State Competition. It was here that Bobby Lee set the state record on the 100 Yard Dash with a 9.8 which stood for 20 years and of course this strong team won Alamogordo’s first State Track and Field State Title.  

Bobby Lee also won the 220 Yard Dash and the Long Jump garnering enough points by himself to win the track meet for Alamogordo High School beating favored Highland High School which placed second.

In 1951 there was no class system in competitions, so all size schools and teams competed.

Bobby Lee kept his competitive spirit going as an adult and became a recognized political cartoonist and eventual New Mexico State Senator.

Coach Bob Sepulveda Alamogordo High Schools winningest Track and Field Coach in its 108 year history of the program  said of Bobby Lee; “Bobby Lee remained a strong supporter and advocate for the Alamogordo High School Track & Field Program as an adult. He attended many of the state meets. Bobby would come by and visit my student athletes in the 70’s and the 80’s for support of our team. He was a true leader on the field and as an adult for decades beyond.”

                                Also, of note from the 1951 competition was the amazing Javelin Talents of Benny Garcia with a distance of 193’-01.325.

The next year of 1952 brought Alamogordo High School Track & Field back to the winner’s circle with Benny Garcia winning for the second consecutive year in the Javelin competition.

  • Javelin Benny Garcia medalled with 186’-03.50”

Benny Garcia was an excellent Football kicker. He was on the B team. After some injuries and with the objection of his father concerned about him being injured, he became the primary starting kicker. Albert Romero sprained his ankle and Benny became the primary kicker after that. He had a reputation for making it between the goal posts when it mattered most.

Coach Buck saw Garcia’s talents and made concessions to ensure he was able to take part in the school athletic programs.

Benny would walk or run 6 miles home in the dark after practice to La Luz.

 At the request of Coach Rolla Buck, Superintendent Barnie arranged the use of a driver education vehicle for Benny to use so that he could take part in Sports.

The extra effort paid off for the High School and was life changing for Benny.

His real notoriety came from the Javelin throwing. He set the state record that stood from 1951 to 1966. That record got the attention of the Arizona State University Track and Field Coach that awarded him a full ride scholarship.

He is the only graduate of Alamogordo to make it to the Olympics taking part in the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. He was the first native-born New Mexico athlete to ever compete in the Olympics.

His name is displayed at the Tigers Hall of Fame, Arizona State Hall of Fame, Drake Relays Hall of Fame, and US Navy Hall of Fame.

At the 1956 Olympics he finished 8th place, disappointing Garcia but making his hometown exceptionally proud.

Garcia went on to live a phenomenally successful life as a high achieving Tiger Alumni and a respected businessman in Arizona.  He died in 2015.

Special Note on Alamogordo New Mexico:

Alamogordo High School and the region of Southern New Mexico has a rich history in sports and academic achievement. In the 1950’s and 60’s Alamogordo High School ranked in the top 10 High Schools for athletic and academic achievement in the United States. The region has a rich history in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is home to the International Space Hall of Fame and is the testing ground for the latest in drone and military technology via Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Testing Grounds.

Today, Alamogordo is also the home to New Mexico State University, Alamogordo and is recognized for its pistachio farms, proximity to White Sands National Park and the Lincoln National Forest. As an oddity, Alamogordo is home to the largest Pistachio Sculpture in the World at the McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch just outside Alamogordo.

For photos and more visit https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/n/27497/1950s-alamogordo-high-schools-first-state-track-field-title-new-mexicos

For the complete sports history of the founding of interscholastic sports to its impact on a small town check out Coach Bob Sepulveda The Early Days 1912 to 1976 on Amazon and fine independent book sellers such as Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue Alamogord, New Mexico and fine independent book sellers nationwide. Coach Bob Sepulveda The Golden Years 1977 to 1995 coming soon.

History- The 1920’s The Rise of High School Athletics Associations, the founding of the New Mexico Athletics Association & Alamogordo’s 1st State Winners -Author Chris Edwards

This article and podcast continues our series with excerpts and research from our book series on the history of New Mexico High School Athletics centered around Alamogordo High School from 1912 forward. The book series began with book 1 –Bob Sepulveda: The Early Days focuses us on a history lesson of the founding of interscholastic athletics and carries us to 1976.  Soon to be released Bob Sepulveda The Golden Years book 2 goes into the years 1977 forward to more modern times.

This book series along with complimentary articles, blog posts and pod casts are a historical review reflecting a tapestry of stories and emotions, of the political and social tensions and policies of the times, the medals that were won and stories behind some of those medals. A few stories can be uncomfortable in the outcome while others are inspiring.

Today’s excerpts follows the founding of high school activities associations and some of the politics around that founding.

Interscholastic Sports at the High School level via organized physical education programs did not begin in the US until around 1903 but had roots dating to the 1880s. Organized sports began with economically challenged or lower-class children competing under non-parental adult supervision, while their upper- class counterparts participated in non- competitive activities like dancing and music lessons, often in their homes. Children’s tournaments, especially athletic ones, came first to economically challenged children, most often immigrants living in large urban areas or the larger US cities.

Massachusetts was the first state to make schooling compulsory in 1852. It was not until 1917 that the final state of the union at the time, Mississippi, passed a similar law.

While on the east coast the focus was on social progress, education and organized school sports programs; the wild west was playing catch up. New cities like Alamogordo, New Mexico founded 1898 were creating new opportunities for Americans and America’s youth. January 6, 1912, New Mexico was admitted into the United States union as the 47th state. With that our history of interscholastic High School Athletics Track & Field in Alamogordo soon begins. New Mexico, even while a territory, took a progressive view to public education and made public education compulsory in urban areas in 1891. It became compulsory everywhere by the time New Mexico became a state in 1912.

With the institution of mandatory schooling in New Mexico and in most states, children and families experienced a profound shift in the structure of their daily lives, especially in the social organization of their time. This change in social view resulted in thinking about how to challenge a child and occupy his day especially in urban areas.

The answer lay partly in competitive sports leagues, which started to evolve to hold the interest of children. Urban reformers were particularly preoccupied with poor low skilled economically and socially challenged immigrants who, because of overcrowding in tenements or inner cities, were often on the streets. Initial organization efforts focused on the establishment of city parks and playgrounds. Powerful, organized playground movements developed in New York City and Boston. But because adults did not trust boys, especially immigrant boys, to play unsupervised without significant issues, attention soon shifted to organized sports. Sports were important in teaching immigrants and those economically challenged and from rural areas; the “American values of cooperation, hard work, and respect for authority.”

According to historian Robert Halpern, “progressive reformers thought athletic activities could prepare children especially boys for the new industrial society that was emerging, which would require them to be physical laborers.” There was a distinct business interest in organized youth sports early on, to ensure a robust and healthy workforce for an economy changing from, rural based to urban based, in the decades to follow.

Organized youth groups backed by the influence of business interests took on the responsibility of providing children with sports activities. In 1903, New York City’s Public-School Athletic League for Boys was established by Luther Gulick, and formal contests between children, organized by adults, emerged to keep the boys coming back to school. Formal competition ensured the boys’ continued participation since they wanted to defend their school team’s record and honor. The purpose per the PSLA was to encourage a healthy, strong body and mind through competitive exercises.

The PSAL initially conducted “class athletics” in grades five through eight at specific times each year, not interschool competition as it is known today. Class athletics included seasonal track and field events. PSAL’s also emphasized swimming, popular sports of the times (baseball, football, basketball), and several minor games.

Concurrent with the activities on the east coast; the first recorded games involving High School, school sponsored teams in the Dallas Texas area occurred in 1900. St. Matthew’s grammar school of Dallas played the Wall School of Honey Grove, found in Fannin County just south of the Texas-Oklahoma border, on Oct. 12, 1900, as a prelude to the intercollegiate level Texas-Vanderbilt game the same day. Honey Grove won 5-0. The event was a milestone in Texas history: the first recorded interscholastic football game between two high-school teams.

The Wall school was founded in 1898 by Simon Venable Wall, who moved to Honey Grove from Franklin, Tenn. Accounts of the school’s history noted its football team frequently played two games a day and that it was not uncommon for the team to catch a train on weekends and play in area towns. Austin College, in nearby Sherman, was a frequent opponent for the Wall boys.

Until the formation of interscholastic programs and games such as the one in Dallas Texas, most American boys had played football in the haphazard way of boys the world over: ambling onto fields and into alleys for pickup games or challenging other loosely affiliated groups of students to a match. Cheating was rampant, and games looked more like brawls than organized contests.

By 1910, 17 other cities across the United States had formed their own competitive athletic leagues modeled after New York City’s PSAL. Physical education reformers in the high schools followed the colleges in taking over sports programs with the catchphrase “Athletics are educational.” Their reform was tied to the overall reform in American education and overall reform in American society during the Progressive Era.

The establishment of leagues and state associations by educators in the years after 1900 bringing about institutional control over interscholastic sports was neither seamless nor uniform across the nation nor the western region of the US to include Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

In most areas of the country, educator-sponsored high school leagues were formed in most big cities and in many rural areas, usually two ways, from whole cloth or by taking over existing student-run or joint student-faculty-run leagues. In many areas, especially rural areas like most of Texas and New Mexico there were few leagues, and only gradually did league formation spread nationwide.

Settlement houses and ethnic clubs soon followed suit. The number of these boys’ clubs grew rapidly through the 1920s, working in parallel with school leagues.

In 1914 the first organized events for school children were held and 2040 boys competed for the City Championships Track and Field held at Madison Square Gardens. Events at this event included standing long jump, chinning the bar, running sprints, disc throwing, relays and hurdles. (Today competing at Madison Square Garden in Track & Field is considered hallowed grounds by many a Track & Field athlete.) By 1915 177 school systems around the country had formed competitive leagues.

By 1916, the United States was starting to educate its children for more years than most other countries, even while admitting a surge of immigrants. The ruling elite feared that all this schooling would make Anglo-Saxon boys soft and weak, in contrast to their brawny, newly immigrated peers. Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. warned that cities were being overrun with “stiff-jointed, soft-muscled, paste-complexioned youth.”

Sports, the thinking went, would both protect boys’ masculinity and distract them from vices like gambling and prostitution. “Muscular Christianity,” fashionable during the Victorian era, prescribed sports as a sort of moral vaccine against the tumult of rapid economic growth. “In life, as in a football game,” Theodore Roosevelt wrote in an essay on “The American Boy” in 1900, “the principle to follow is: Hit the line hard; don’t foul and don’t shirk, but hit the line hard!”

Athletics succeeded in entertaining not just students, but entire communities and local school teams became a sense of pride. As athletic fields became the cultural centers of towns across America, educators became coaches and parents became boosters. Organized sports allowed small towns to compete against large cities in Track & Field, Football and Basketball putting small town schools on the map so to speak with large reputations of athletic excellence.

As the organized school sports programs evolved so did organized fee-based clubs which were more exclusive and not for the poor. Fee-based groups, such as the YMCA, began, but usually only middle-class kids could afford to take part. National pay-to-play organizations, such as Pop Warner Football came into being in 1929.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association had appeared by this time, as a means of reforming the increasingly brutal sport of college football. As the NCAA appeared it began collaboration efforts and recruiting efforts from High Schools for its track & field, football and basketball programs around the country. This partnership ultimately led to scholarship programs and further engrained organized high school sports into the American Experience.

In New Mexico and specifically Alamogordo, following the lead of the nationwide reform of governance in interscholastic sports with the imposition of adult-sponsored leagues and state associations students acquiesced to the new faculty control and passively accepted the new order of things. In many areas, however, educators faced persistent student resistance, stiffened by rebellious high school

Greek-letter societies and continued abuses in the decade leading up to World War I. In Chicago student resistance to control and reform was especially acute.

New Mexico, towns such as Alamogordo and the western states; less resistance existed, as the school systems were newer institutions and did not have the history or mindset of those on the east coast. Progressive politics towards education and athletics prevailed without institutional histories, politics and interests fighting for dominance.

Alamogordo High School began an organized sports program in 1912 for Caucasian boys offering PE, Track & Field and Basketball and Football.

In 1913, the authorities of the University of New Mexico believing that one of the great needs of the High Schools of the state was an opportunity to meet, at least once a year in athletic and other contests, organized the University of New Mexico Track Athletic Association. A track meet was held in the spring of that year at Albuquerque, and two high schools, Santa Fe and Albuquerque contested for the banner.

Although the beginning was small, a great deal of interest from across the state was aroused. Seven state high schools competed in the next meet when the Spalding Trophy was awarded for the first time for the winning High School Track & Field Team. After that, the number of competing schools grew.

At the time of the meeting of the Educational Association of Albuquerque in November 1915, the New Mexico High School Athletic Association was formed, and the 1916 meet was held under the joint auspices of this association and the University of New Mexico. Alamogordo was represented at that 1916 meet. A new feature of that event was a basketball tournament which was added, and the meet was the most successful of the series to date.

The yearly function was a big deal toward the standardization and unification of consistent athletic standards around the state, and in bringing high schools into a closer and more cordial relationship though they were athletic competitors.

Because of the success of that meet at the annual meeting of the New Mexico Athletic Association in Santa Fe, November 29th, 1916 an agreement was made whereby the athletic and oratorical associations would merge and become united under one set of officers or board of directors as the New Mexico High School Athlete & Lyceum Association.

Alamogordo High School won its first state medals in 1916/17 School Year and they were in Track and Field via the High Jump and the Triple Jump.

This first state competition was held by the New Mexico High School Athletic and Lyceum Association.

This first New Mexico Interscholastic Competition for which Alamogordo took part consisted of three areas of competition…

  • The Basketball Tournament – (Boys Only)
  • The Track and Field Meet and included: (Boys Only)
  • Running 100 Yard Run
  • Putting 12 Pound Shot
  • Half Mile Run
  • Pole Vault
  • 120 Yards Hurdle
  • Running High Jump
  • 440 Yards Run
  • Running Broad Jump
  • 220 Yard Hurdle
  • Running Hop, Step &Jump
  • 220 Yards Run
  • 1 Mile Run
  • 1 Mile Relay Run between 4 men ¼ mile each
  • The Oratorical & Declamatory Contest (Boys Oratorical, Girl Declamatory)

The very first state medal winner in 1917 for an athlete from Alamogordo High School was named Wohlenberg who scored a 5 foot 7.75 inches and New Mexico State Medalist in High Jump.

Also, in 1916/17 Alamogordo High School won the Triple Jump with an athlete named Saulsberry winning the state at 40 feet 5 inchesThese two state interscholastic medal wins were the first state medal wins in statewide competition for Alamogordo High School.

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. It is the organization that continues the tradition of record 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. In 1953 it began adding non-athletic activities and changed its name to New Mexico High School Activities Association. It continued to broaden its coverage and in 1961 changed its name to the present New Mexico Activities Association. The Hall of Pride and Honor was opened in 1992.

The NMAA continues into this century and has adapted along the way.

This year the NMAA has been a strong advocate for student athletes and ensuring safety precautions are in place to again allow student athletes to compete in the post Covid-19 environment leading the way with adaptive processes, modified schedules and still hosting district and state level competitions.

Additionally the NMAA is providing student athletes and those involved in extracurricular activities the opportunities for scholarships and the level of attention necessary to garner opportunities for the students it serves in preparation for entry to the college and university environments.

Future articles and podcasts will carry the reader and listener further into the history, discuss the racial tensions and solutions that evolved in the 50s and beyond and the the launch of Title IX and girls interscholastic sports. All along the way we will highlight stories of some of the athletes and coaches that were of interest to the history books of interscholastic sports in Alamogordo, New Mexico and across the USA.

To learn more or to see photos online from the 50’s, 60s, 70s, 80’s and beyond of the Alamogordo High School athletics programs visit

https://2ndlifemedia.com/coach-bob-sepulveda-books

1917 First Interscholastic State Meets in New Mexico Program 2nd Life Media Alamogordo Town News Courtesy Coach Bob Sepulveda Book Series1917 First Interscholastic State Meets in New Mexico Program 2nd Life Media Alamogordo Town News Courtesy Coach Bob Sepulveda Book Series1917 First Interscholastic State Meets in New Mexico Records 2nd Life Media Alamogordo Town News Courtesy Coach Bob Sepulveda Book Series1917 First Interscholastic State Meets in New Mexico Program 2nd Life Media Alamogordo Town News Courtesy Coach Bob Sepulveda Book Series1917 First Interscholastic State Meets in New Mexico Program 2nd Life Media Alamogordo Town News Courtesy Coach Bob Sepulveda Book Series1917 First Interscholastic State Meets in New Mexico Records 2nd Life Media Alamogordo Town News Courtesy Coach Bob Sepulveda Book Series1917 First Interscholastic State Meets in New Mexico Program 2nd Life Media Alamogordo Town News Courtesy Coach Bob Sepulveda Book SeriesPreviousNext

STAY CONNECTED! SUBSCRIBE TO FREE EMAIL UPDATES FROM 2ND LIFE MEDIA ALAMOGORDO

SIGN UP!

https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/n/27158/history-1920s-rise-high-school-athletics-associations-founding-new-mexico

History and A Spotlight on Women’s Entrepreneurship – New Mexico Leads the Nation-Author & Positivity Coach Chris Edwards

A spotlight on women’s entrepreneurship and the changes in business over the last several decades nationally, in New Mexico and in Alamogordo.

Per Wendy Diamond who is CEO and Founder of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization“Today, women account for 85 percent of consumer purchases and control $20 trillion in global spending. At the same time, they perform 66 percent of the world’s work (both paid and unpaid) yet only earn 10 percent of the world’s income. In the U.S., there are approximately 10 M woman-owned businesses, generating $1.3T in revenue and employing 7.8 M people. This number is expected to increase by 90 percent in the next five years, with 500,000 new businesses being created each year in the U.S. alone. At the same time, 1 in 3 women in America lives in poverty and of the 1.3M people living in severe poverty globally, 70 percent are women and girls.

Women in developed and developing nations alike are becoming increasingly active participants in local and global economies at a rapid rate. Today, in the United States, 38% of new businesses are founded by women, but only between 2-6% of them receive VC funding. One recent survey of 350 woman-owned tech startups revealed that 80% of founders used their own savings to launch their businesses. At the same time, an increase of women in leadership positions from zero to just 30% is associated with a 15% increase in profitability. Women are the world’s most responsible borrowers, paying back microloans worldwide today at a 97% rate of return. 90% of the money they earn is used to educate their children and to provide for their families.”

Terry Powell ofForbes Coaches Council reports, “In 1972, women-owned businesses represented just 4.6% of all businesses, but today, that number has skyrocketed to 42%, according to a 2019 American Express report.”

With the world of Covid-19 small businesses and female owned businesses took a huge hit. However research is showing female owned businesses are bouncing back and were quicker to adapt to the changes in the market.

Today more than 11.6 million businesses are owned by American women. That’s according to the National Association of Women Business Owners. Those firms employ almost 9 million people and, generate around $1.7 trillion in sales.

In 2019, 1,817 new women-owned businesses were created every day in America. While we don’t yet know how many women-owned businesses were formed during the Covid-19 pandemic yet, it seems likely that the numbers continued to increase. Some evidence suggests that far more startups were created than usual; applications for employer identification numbers, a sign that new people are starting companies, also increased.

Women are increasingly turning to franchises as a way to start a business. It has become commonplace for women to be interested in buying a franchise. Women own or co-own about 265,000 franchises, which is about 35% of all U.S. franchises. That’s about a 24% rise from ten years ago.

Female Entrepreneurship and empowerment is not just limited to business in New Mexico it began in government and led to leadership in business.

In New Mexico, women have broken glass ceilings throughout history. Women have served in elected office since before statehood: The first Hispanic female legislators in the United States served in New Mexico’s territorial legislature in 1895. Soledad Chávez Chacón was elected secretary of state in 1922 and was the first woman to serve as acting governor in the United States. Following statehood in 1912, Fedelina Gallegos and Porfirria Hidalgo Saiz, who both served in the New Mexico Legislature from 1931 to 1932, were the first Hispanic women state legislators in the United States.

New Mexican women continue to be history makers and influencers. According to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, two of the three women of color who have been elected governor are from New Mexico, including our current governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham. U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., is one of two Native women to ever be elected to Congress and is now the first Native American to be named to the Cabinet Post as the Secretary of the Department of the Interior.

There have been recent leaps in women’s representation in the Legislature — 35 percent of the state legislators are women and nearly 50 percent of the New Mexico House members are women.

New Mexican women have held commanding roles in other sectors, too. New Mexico ranks first in the nation for female-owned businesses, with nearly 52 percent of New Mexico businesses owned or co-owned by women, in comparison to the national rate of 42 percent.

Within Alamogordo in 1997 only 29.1% of the businesses registered were female owned, more recently that number of female owned verses male owned or public companies has elevated to 41.4%. Still lagging the state average and more inline with the national average. The number shows progress but also shows the city, county and state can do better in partnering and fostering growth and support of female entrepreneurship.

Alamogordo is in a transitional state. There are 1000s of square feet of retail space that is vacant, yet there was a recent upgrade to White Sands National Monument to National Park Status. Now is the opportunity as the city and region comes out of a Covid-19 dark winter to bring some light, to work with women, POC and the minorities communities to expand the business community and bring about a huge economic turnaround to the city, state, region and nation.

Our congressional leaders, state, county and city government leaders must partner with the business community to nurture women into business within Alamogordo and Southern New Mexico.

The goal of the women entrepreneurship education and training should be to:
• Empower women through entrepreneurship to enable them achieve economic self –
sufficiency;
• To help women gain strong business and life management skills that will enable
them to become leaders in their work and personal lives, and become strong role
models;
• To spur the growth of locally controlled business and create new jobs within
neighborhood;
• To provide business experience;
• To promote entrepreneurship by emphasizing the importance of small business as
the creator of jobs, leading to prosperity;
• To enable to potential entrepreneurs to emerge by assisting them in evaluating
their training program;
• To encourage business start-ups by offering a comprehensive entrepreneurship their
training program;
• To develop new markets and help mobilize the capital resources needed; and
• To introduce new technology, industries and products and to create new
employment opportunities.

Entrepreneurship among women, no doubt improves the wealth of the city, state and nation in
general and of the family in particular. Women today are more willing to take up activities
that were once considered the preserve of men, and have proved that they are second to
no one with respect to contribution to the growth of the economy. November 19th is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day; today, as we begin the Spring and awaken from the Covid-19 Winter, let’s each in a position of responsibility commit to mentor, encourage, support and empower more females into business leadership and business ownership and then on November 19th reflect on the good opportunities this partnership led to and the prosperity that will soon follow.

https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/n/26999/history-and-spotlight-womens-entrepreneurship-new-mexico-leads-nation

STAY CONNECTED! SUBSCRIBE TO FREE EMAIL UPDATES FROM 2ND LIFE MEDIA ALAMOGORDO

SIGN UP!

https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/n/26999/history-and-spotlight-womens-entrepreneurship-new-mexico-leads-nation

New Mexico History- The Founding of Alamogordo and the evolution of High School Athletics 1912- 1950’s.

Alamogordo, (Alamogordo means “fat cottonwood.” Gordo = fat; alamo = poplar or cottonwood), New Mexico founded in 1898 embraced education and the idea of interscholastic sports with an open mind for one selected group.

In 1898 Alamogordo was split into two cities: Alamogordo a primarily Caucasian enclave and Chihuahua a primarily Mexican/Latin American enclave. The two were merged in 1912 and became the incorporated city of Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Alamogordo is in the Tularosa Basin of the Chihuahua Desert, it is bordered on the east by the Sacramento Mountains and to the west by Holloman Air Force Base. Alamogordo in modern times is known for its connection with the Trinity test, the first explosion of an atomic bomb.

Alamogordo was founded as a company town to support the building of the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad, a part of the transcontinental railway that was being constructed in the late 19th century.

Initially its main industry was timbering for railroad ties. The railroad founders were also eager to find a major town that would persist after the railroad was completed; they formed the Alamogordo Improvement Company to develop the area, making Alamogordo an early example of a planned community. The Alamogordo Improvement Company owned all the land, platted the streets, built the first houses and commercial buildings, donated land for a college, and placed a restrictive covenant on each deed prohibiting the manufacture, distribution, or sale of intoxicating liquor. Education was a priority and the city founders, Charles Eddy and brother, John Arthur Eddy. The brothers were both strong willed, and constantly battled over the decisions that had to be made. Ultimately, they agreed that interscholastic sports and a strong educational foundation as part of the progressive educational movement of the time would fuel the business interest they were developing.

Tourism became an important part of the local economy from the creation of White Sands National Monument in 1934.

Local businessperson Tom Charles, grandfather of the 1950’s Alamogordo High School Women’s PE Coach Margaret “Markie” Rutz, was instrumental in pushing for recognition of White Sands as a National Monument and eventual National Park.

Local Construction began on the Alamogordo Army Airfield (the present-day Holloman Air Force Base) in 1942, and the Federal government has been a strong presence in Alamogordo ever since.

Education has also been an important part of the local economy. In addition to the local school system, Alamogordo is home to the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, founded in 1903, and a branch of New Mexico State University founded in 1958.

Holloman Air Force Base, found approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) west of the city limits, is the largest employer of Alamogordo residents, and has a major effect on the local economy. According to some estimates, Holloman accounts for half of the Alamogordo economy today. The military influence has had a major impact on the diversity and quality of students and athletes that were available to take part in Alamogordo athletic programs for several generations.

According to the 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office, as of January 2008 Holloman directly employs 6,111 personnel with a gross payroll of $266 million. It indirectly creates another 2,047 jobs with a payroll of $77 million. The estimated amount spent in the community is $482 million. The influence of the military has had a historical impact on the politics around athletics and other public- school programs since the 1950’s.

An estimated 6,700 military retirees now live in the area. There are 1,383 active military and 1,641 military dependents living on base and 2,765 active military and 2,942 military dependents living off base.

A blow to the economy and to the sports programs at Alamogordo High School came when after 27 years of training at Holloman, the German Air Force left in 2019. They moved their pilot training to Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.

The region peaked in business interests and the regional brains trust in the 1960s with many industries from Levi’s to Space Contractors having offices in the city. The city and region had one of the highest concentrations of space and rocket engineers, scientists and high-tech leaders in the nation for a city its size. The result of this concentration of people helped create a large high school talent pool which aided in athletic and academic success of Alamogordo High School ranking it the 3rd best in the nation during the 1960s.

Due to the concentration of space and military contracts the city and region integrated earlier than many, as being the first in the state. Alamogordo High School set a national example in education and sports, unusual for a city its size. Public education began in Alamogordo in 1898 via a tent city. The tent was used for court on one end, with school on the other end. When court was in session there was no school to attend. During this time, Alamogordo was primarily a tent city and most of the residents were tuberculosis patients.

In 1900, a two-story brick school was built which had six classrooms. This was named the East Building. An additional two-story brick building was then added in 1910, having eight classrooms. It became the Central Building. Alamogordo High School, a two-story brick building with 13 classrooms and a multi-use auditorium was constructed in 1910 and launched an organized athletic program around 1912.

Meanwhile in other parts of the country more developed than Alamogordo New Mexico, construction of gymnasiums in the high schools became a priority in school development and laid the foundation for the development of indoor sports, particularly basketball and Track & Field activities such as jumps and sprints. Educators by this time saw physical education as intrinsic to the development of American high school youth. Gymnasiums were originally designed for gymnastics and calisthenics instruction, but boys organized games soon took more and more time on the floor space, as educators saw that they had value in their educational mission. Although indoor baseball was played in some high school gymnasiums on the east coast, participants usually searched for larger facilities, such as armories. Eventually, most colleges and many high schools-built gymnasiums with the support and endorsement of business leaders and progressive politicians.

Back in Alamogordo, Dudley School was built in 1914 and had four classrooms. Dudley School was set up as part of a segregation plan at the time and specialized in children that did not speak English being educated in a separate school facility. Hispanics could not go north of 10th Street or into the plaza at the time. The city of Alamogordo, New Mexico with its proximity to Texas was a racially divided city.

Alamogordo High School began an organized sports program in 1912 for Caucasian boys offering PE, Track & Field and Basketball and Football.  The African American School was called the Delaware School and the school that spoke Spanish only was the Dudley School. Athletes from those schools were segregated from the white schools of the time. More on that to follow as we review the 1940’s and 50’s and the cultural shifts that were about to occur in a future story, post or broadcast.

https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/n/26952/new-mexico-history-founding-alamogordo-and-evolution-high-school-athletics

A History Lesson for Southern New Mexico – The creation of Interscholastic (Organized High School Sports) in the US and New Mexico and Alamogordo High School 1916


https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/n/26908/history-alamogordo-high-1916-and-creation-interscholastic-high-school

How did High School Sports get started in the US, Southern New Mexico and Alamogordo and when?

Interscholastic Sports at the High School level via organized physical education programs did not begin in the US until around 1903 but had roots dating to the 1880s. Organized sports began with economically challenged or lower-class children competing under non-parental adult supervision, while their upper- class counterparts participated in non- competitive activities like dancing and music lessons, often in their homes. Children’s tournaments, especially athletic ones, came first to economically challenged children, most often immigrants living in large urban areas or the larger US cities.

Massachusetts was the first state to make schooling compulsory in 1852. It was not until 1917 that the final state of the union at the time, Mississippi, passed a similar law.

While on the east coast the focus was on social progress, education and organized school sports programs; the wild west was playing catch up.

New cities like Alamogordo, New Mexico founded 1898 were creating new opportunities for Americans and America’s youth. January 6, 1912, New Mexico was admitted into the United States union as the 47th state. With that our history of interscholastic High School Athletics Track & Field in Alamogordo soon begins. New Mexico, even while a territory, took a progressive view to public education and made public education compulsory in urban areas in 1891. It became compulsory everywhere by the time New Mexico became a state in 1912.

With the institution of mandatory schooling in New Mexico and in most states, children and families experienced a profound shift in the structure of their daily lives, especially in the social organization of their time. This change in social view resulted in thinking about how to challenge a child and occupy his day especially in urban areas.

The answer lay partly in competitive sports leagues, which started to evolve to hold the interest of children. Urban reformers were particularly preoccupied with poor low skilled economically and socially challenged immigrants who, because of overcrowding in tenements or inner cities, were often on the streets. Initial organization efforts focused on the establishment of city parks and playgrounds. Powerful, organized playground movements developed in New York City and Boston. But because adults did not trust boys, especially immigrant boys, to play unsupervised without significant issues, attention soon shifted to organized sports. Sports were important in teaching immigrants and those economically challenged and from rural areas; the “American values of cooperation, hard work, and respect for authority.”

According to historian Robert Halpern, “progressive reformers thought athletic activities could prepare children especially boys for the new industrial society that was emerging, which would require them to be physical laborers.” There was a distinct business interest in organized youth sports early on, to ensure a robust and healthy workforce for an economy changing from, rural based to urban based, in the decades to follow.

Organized youth groups backed by the influence of business interests took on the responsibility of providing children with sports activities. In 1903, New York City’s Public-School Athletic League for Boys was established by Luther Gulick, and formal contests between children, organized by adults, emerged to keep the boys coming back to school. Formal competition ensured the boys’ continued participation since they wanted to defend their school team’s record and honor. The purpose per the PSLA was to encourage a healthy, strong body and mind through competitive exercises.

The PSAL initially conducted “class athletics” in grades five through eight at specific times each year, not interschool competition as it is known today. Class athletics included seasonal track and field events. PSAL’s also emphasized swimming, popular sports of the times (baseball, football, basketball), and several minor games.

Concurrent with the activities on the east coast; the first recorded games involving High School, school sponsored teams in the Dallas Texas area occurred in 1900. St. Matthew’s grammar school of Dallas played the Wall School of Honey Grove, found in Fannin County just south of the Texas-Oklahoma border, on Oct. 12, 1900, as a prelude to the intercollegiate level Texas-Vanderbilt game the same day. Honey Grove won 5-0. The event was a milestone in Texas history: the first recorded interscholastic football game between two high-school teams.

The Wall school was founded in 1898 by Simon Venable Wall, who moved to Honey Grove from Franklin, Tenn. Accounts of the school’s history noted its football team frequently played two games a day and that it was not uncommon for the team to catch a train on weekends and play in area towns. Austin College, in nearby Sherman, was a frequent opponent for the Wall boys.

Until the formation of interscholastic programs and games such as the one in Dallas Texas, most American boys had played football in the haphazard way of boys the world over: ambling onto fields and into alleys for pickup games or challenging other loosely affiliated groups of students to a match. Cheating was rampant, and games looked more like brawls than organized contests.

By 1910, 17 other cities across the United States had formed their own competitive athletic leagues modeled after New York City’s PSAL. Physical education reformers in the high schools followed the colleges in taking over sports programs with the catchphrase “Athletics are educational.” Their reform was tied to the overall reform in American education and overall reform in American society during the Progressive Era.

The establishment of leagues and state associations by educators in the years after 1900 bringing about institutional control over interscholastic sports was neither seamless nor uniform across the nation nor the western region of the US to include Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

In most areas of the country, educator-sponsored high school leagues were formed in most big cities and in many rural areas, usually two ways, from whole cloth or by taking over existing student-run or joint student-faculty-run leagues. In many areas, especially rural areas like most of Texas and New Mexico there were few leagues, and only gradually did league formation spread nationwide.

Settlement houses and ethnic clubs soon followed suit. The number of these boys’ clubs grew rapidly through the 1920s, working in parallel with school leagues.

In 1914 the first organized events for school children were held and 2040 boys competed for the City Championships Track and Field held at Madison Square Gardens. Events at this event included standing long jump, chinning the bar, running sprints, disc throwing, relays and hurdles. (Today competing at Madison Square Garden in Track & Field is considered hallowed grounds by many a Track & Field athlete.) By 1915 177 school systems around the country had formed competitive leagues.

By 1916, the United States was starting to educate its children for more years than most other countries, even while admitting a surge of immigrants. The ruling elite feared that all this schooling would make Anglo-Saxon boys soft and weak, in contrast to their brawny, newly immigrated peers. Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. warned that cities were being overrun with “stiff-jointed, soft-muscled, paste-complexioned youth.”

Sports, the thinking went, would both protect boys’ masculinity and distract them from vices like gambling and prostitution. “Muscular Christianity,” fashionable during the Victorian era, prescribed sports as a sort of moral vaccine against the tumult of rapid economic growth. “In life, as in a football game,” Theodore Roosevelt wrote in an essay on “The American Boy” in 1900, “the principle to follow is: Hit the line hard; don’t foul and don’t shirk, but hit the line hard!”

Athletics succeeded in entertaining not just students, but entire communities and local school teams became a sense of pride. As athletic fields became the cultural centers of towns across America, educators became coaches and parents became boosters. Organized sports allowed small towns to compete against large cities in Track & Field, Football and Basketball putting small town schools on the map so to speak with large reputations of athletic excellence.

As the organized school sports programs evolved so did organized fee-based clubs which were more exclusive and not for the poor. Fee-based groups, such as the YMCA, began, but usually only middle-class kids could afford to take part. National pay-to-play organizations, such as Pop Warner Football came into being in 1929.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association had appeared by this time, as a means of reforming the increasingly brutal sport of college football. As the NCAA appeared it began collaboration efforts and recruiting efforts from High Schools for its track & field, football and basketball programs around the country. This partnership ultimately led to scholarship programs and further engrained organized high school sports into the American Experience.

In New Mexico and specifically Alamogordo, following the lead of the nationwide reform of governance in interscholastic sports with the imposition of adult-sponsored leagues and state associations students acquiesced to the new faculty control and passively accepted the new order of things. In many areas, however, educators faced persistent student resistance, stiffened by rebellious high school

Greek-letter societies and continued abuses in the decade leading up to World War I. In Chicago student resistance to control and reform was especially acute.

New Mexico, towns such as Alamogordo and the western states; less resistance existed, as the school systems were newer institutions and did not have the history or mindset of those on the east coast. Progressive politics towards education and athletics prevailed without institutional histories, politics and interests fighting for dominance.

Alamogordo, New Mexico An Early Interscholastic Sport Program Adoptee

Alamogordo High School began an organized sports program in 1912 for Caucasian boys offering PE, Track & Field and Basketball and Football.

In 1913, the authorities of the University of New Mexico believing that one of the great needs of the High Schools of the state was an opportunity to meet, at least once a year in athletic and other contests, organized the University of New Mexico Track Athletic Association. A track meet was held in the spring of that year at Albuquerque, and two high schools, Santa Fe and Albuquerque contested for the banner.

Although the beginning was small, a great deal of interest from across the state was aroused.

Alamogordo High School won its first state medals in 1916/17 School Year and they were in Track and Field via the High Jump and the Triple Jump.

Excerpt from Coach Robert Sepulveda The Early Days Book 1 – part of a 3 part book series on Alamogordo Athletics and its history. Available at Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico or on Amazon. 

More historical stories from 1916 and more early history of Alamogordo High will appear in future stores.

To keep the historical sports archives of Alamogordo alive, support local small businesses and  join us as an independent source for positive News and History from Southern New Mexico. Sign up for our Daily News Brief and our blog or advertise with us. To learn more visit

https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/n/26908/history-alamogordo-high-1916-and-creation-interscholastic-high-school

Photo is of Alamogordo High School 1917

ALAMOGORDO HIGH SCHOOL – ALAMOGORDO, NEW MEXICO In 1917, the architectural firm of Trost & Trost was awarded the contract for the Alamogordo High School. The plans called for the school to be constructed of brick and stone, 90 x 104 feet. The two-story building was to have 13 classrooms and an auditorium. The cost was estimated at $50,000.

The school was completed in 1919 and located on Tenth street (between Michigan and Indiana St.) 

In 1942, the Alamogordo Army Air Field was built 10 miles west of town. The addition of the base caused school enrollment to climb steadily over the next several years. New school buildings were being erected to keep up with the enrollment of new students. The Alamogordo Army Air Field eventually became Holloman Air Force Base and test development center for many government contracts.

In 1970, George Stith and Tom Macklin presented a petition bearing more that 200 names of residents to the Alamogordo City Commission. The petition asked that a study be made on the feasibility of refurbishing the old Alamogordo High School building on Tenth Street and putting it to use as a civic auditorium. The old Alamogordo High School was demolished sometime between 1973 to 1975.

STAY CONNECTED! SUBSCRIBE TO FREE EMAIL UPDATE

https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news

Frenchys Cabin & Indian Wells of New Mexico 1800s

Photos of Frenchys cabin, Indian wells nearby and the 7 mile round trip hike up Dog Canyon…

One of the early settlers of the Dog Canyon area near Alamogordo and White Sands National Monument was a pioneer named Francois-Jean Rochas, known by everyone who knew him as Frenchy.

Rocha, or Frenchy, was born in France in 1843 and emigrated to New Mexico in the 1880s. Frenchy was a sort of recluse/mountain man who was very interesting, brave and a hard-working character.

French was a stubborn little Frenchman who lived like a hermit up in the wild hill country of the Sacramentos. He was perhaps the bravest man who ever lived in the Tularosa country and possibly even all of the Southwest.

He spoke broken English, was never very well-dressed, and seldom went to town. When he did, hardly anyone showed him kindness or even attempted to be friendly.

In the early 1880s, Frenchy had moved to Dog Canyon.

Advised not to move to the area Frenchy did anyhow. He packed his supplies in his old buggy and moved up through the San Augustin Pass and on across the desolate Tularosa sands toward the place in the canyon, some 65 miles west. He probably felt no anxiety or fear about what he was doing. In fact, his whole philosophy of living and dying showed that he wasn’t afraid of whatever fate had to offer.

He built mortarless stone walls to corral his livestock, portions of which snaked along the slopes at the mouth of Little Dog Canyon. Frenchy raised cattle and tended an orchard and vineyard.

The closest neighbor, Oliver Milton Lee, settled in Dog Canyon about the same time as Frenchy.

Lee was born in Buffalo Gap, near Abilene, Texas, on Nov. 8, 1865 and came to New Mexico Territory in the fall of 1884 with his half brother, Perry Altman. They were attracted to New Mexico by the open range, free land and a ready market for horses. Lee, already an established horseman and adept with the revolver, insisted on coming. He was only 18. Later, Lee brought his mother and servants and started the Dog Canyon Ranch.

Oliver and Frenchy jointly developed an irrigation system at Dog Canyon. Ditches carried the precious water to the ranch house and pastures. Ruins of the irrigation conduits still remain along the trail leading into the canyon. This was one of several irrigation systems Oliver established along the western escarpment of the Sacramento Mountains.

As competition for open range, land, and water increased during the late 1800s, violent rivalries sometimes ensued. Soon after Christmas 1884, Frenchy was found dead in his cabin at Dog Canyon. A coroner’s jury concluded it was suicide, but evidence and hearsay suggest it was murder. He was only 51 years old when he died. Some suggest Lee and Frenchy were disagreeing over the water ownership at this time. Other accounts suggest field hands did Frenchy in. No one was ever charged with the murder, and the mystery of his death has never been solved.

The Lincoln County War is an example of those violent times. Lee often became involved in these disputes and was accused by some of cattle rustling and stealing land. In 1896, A.J. Fountain, a prominent judge, local rancher and rival of Lee, was murdered along with his young son Henry in the Tularosa Valley. Sheriff Pat Garrett charged Lee with the murders. Lee evaded capture and refused to surrender, believing that he would not remain alive or receive a fair trial in Dona Anna County. This became known as the fountain murders.

No one knows for sure why Frenchy had left his father, mother, brother, two sisters and the peace of the mountains of France. However, more than likely it was his health that brought him to the arid mountains of the American Southwest, as he often talked about his “catarrh in the head” and “pains in the stomach.”

Frenchy always signed his letters as just plain “Frank.”

Frenchy’s life was not to remain so peaceful, however. His first trouble started on July 1, 1886, when he became involved in a little shoot out. He had suspected that a young man named Morrison, who had been working for him, was stealing from him. Frenchy went to La Luz in Otero County, swore out a warrant and had Morrison arrested.

In any event Morrison was soon free and on his way back to Dog Canyon. Long before daybreak he was behind a rock with his gun, waiting for Frenchy to come outside.

A trail of smoke was soon coming from Frenchy’s stove-pipe chimney as he cooked his breakfast. Later, he went outside and began his work as usual. Morrison waited until he had an opportune time then sent a slug from a Winchester into Frenchy’s body.

The Frenchman knew instantly what had happened and covered his wound with his hands, as he staggered toward his cabin. A second shot echoed among the canyon walls, the bullet hitting Frenchy in the arm, but the settler somehow made it to his hut where he crawled into his bed.

About 10 o’clock that night Morrison acted again, evidently deciding to finish his murderous task. He broke open the door and dashed inside, quickly finding his man. Frenchy, calm and steady, was ready and waiting. His gun was lined up on the intruder, and moments later, Morrison, carrying a bullet, took off for parts unknown.

Frenchy, in poor condition, eventually made it to the nearest ranch where he told his story. Soon a posse set out to get the would-be killer, and in good time he was in the Las Cruces jail.

In a short time, Frenchy’s wounds had healed and he was back on his place. With 500 head of cattle carrying his Scoop R brand, he was becoming quite prosperous. He did not put up with any nonsense. When neighboring ranchers cattle drifted up the canyon, he chased them off, and during each round up he carefully watched to see if anyone was stealing from him.

One of Frenchy’s neighbors didn’t like the squatter’s ranching methods, and told him how he felt. The Frenchman answered him in his crude English: “You are stealing my cows, if I catch you, I have you arrested!”

Frenchy knew what to expect from brave talk like that, but he was not afraid. The neighbor, a Texan, along with those who rode with him, were baffled by the coolness of the man. They rode off mumbling, “Somebody will get that fool Frenchman if he don’t look out!”

Frenchy stayed, but he began to worry about something else. He hadn’t staked out a claim on his land and he had no legal right to the place.

Frenchy ultimately died on his land. It was declared a suicide but all believe he was murdered and inquiry was inconclusive.

You can hike to see Frenchys cabin it’s a rugged 3100 elevation gain hike and is about 7 miles round trip via Oliver Lee State Park and into Federal Lands of the Lincoln National Forest:

M. Chris Edwards
Cedwards121788@icloud.com
Executive Operations Coach & Author of

1 Football Biography Track & Field Category Top 10 Bestseller

Coach Robert (Bob) Sepulveda: The Early Days

available on Amazon