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Stars come out against bullying

New Mexico Stars second-year player Josh Floyd, right, provides encouragement for Puesta del Sol Elementary students during an anti-bullying program at the school’s pavilion Thursday afternoon. (Rio Rancho Observer—GARY HERRON  photo)
New Mexico Stars second-year player Josh Floyd, right, provides encouragement for Puesta del Sol Elementary students during an anti-bullying program at the school’s pavilion Thursday afternoon. (Rio Rancho Observer—GARY HERRON photo)
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The New Mexico Stars took their show on the road again last week, only that venue was a lot closer than the team’s Lone Star Football League games in San Angelo or Abilene, Texas cities where they’ve played so far, or to Laredo and Amarillo, on the docket for future weeks.

No, this road trip took them to Puesta del Sol Elementary, where they performed skits on anti-bullying, slapped hands and signed autographs with almost every one, or so it seemed, of the 700 students on the Southern Boulevard campus.

Before the program began, PdS Principal Bryan Garcia told the students seated in the pavilion it was time to “focus on the values of kindness, working together as a team — and a real focus on anti-bullying. … We’re a family.”

Speaking of family, Stars head coach Chris Williams’s wife, Tosha, is a first-year teacher at the school and the couple has a daughter who attends PdS.

Chris Williams told the students his team will be involved in the community and that, to loud cheers, “Puesta del Sol is going to be our school. Give us a call, and we’ll be here.”

Behind Williams stood a half-dozen or so players, wearing jerseys and, given their size, probably intimidating to the little kids.

Not to worry, the second-year head coach said. “These are the nicest guys.

“We could be bullies — we’re the biggest guys in the room.”

One by one, Williams introduced the players, one of which, Josh Floyd, entered from the rear of the crowd and seemed to slap hands with every kid in his path. (If that’s not a way to win fans, what is?)

Students were asked to raise their hands if they’d ever been bullied, and then asked to raise their hands if they’d ever seen someone else bullied. More hands went up than was expected, to be sure.

Calling for volunteers to come up on stage, small huddles were formed, with the kids chanting “Bullying’s not cool,” “Stop being mean” and “Bullying is bad.”

The message was repeated by Williams as he took the microphone for the final time: “Be kind and nice to people, (because) there’s always someone stronger and badder than you.”

Naturally, the kids were again reminded that the Stars would be playing their first home game two nights later at Santa Ana Star Center, and then it was time for more fun — getting autographs from the players, some of whom signed hands.

Local businessman Tony Otero, celebrating his birthday Thursday, wasn’t there but had sponsored the event. Every PdS student got a coupon for a free ice-cream cone at his Dairy Queen on Southern Boulevard.

“I fed the team for two weeks,” Otero said, always supportive of sports in the community and also the president of the Rio Rancho Sports Advisory Council.

“We’re kid-oriented,” he said of Otero Dairy Queen. “We wanted to do what we could to help the kids.”

And if it got just one youngster to think about what he/she had heard that afternoon, and then decide not to torment or bully another kid, it was a good thing.

So, too, would be more paying fans at the Star Center for New Mexico Stars games this season. They’ll be appearing at more schools before the school year ends, and having a good time doing it, too.

The New Mexico Stars took their show on the road again last week, only that venue was a lot closer than the team’s Lone Star Football League games in San Angelo or Abilene, Texas cities where they’ve played so far, or to Laredo and Amarillo, on the docket for future weeks.

No, this road trip took them to Puesta del Sol Elementary, where they performed skits on anti-bullying, slapped hands and signed autographs with almost every one, or so it seemed, of the 700 students on the Southern Boulevard campus.

Before the program began, PdS Principal Bryan Garcia told the students seated in the pavilion it was time to “focus on the values of kindness, working together as a team — and a real focus on anti-bullying. … We’re a family.”

Speaking of family, Stars head coach Chris Williams’s wife, Tosha, is a first-year teacher at the school and the couple has a daughter who attends PdS.

Chris Williams told the students his team will be involved in the community and that, to loud cheers, “Puesta del Sol is going to be our school. Give us a call, and we’ll be here.”

Behind Williams stood a half-dozen or so players, wearing jerseys and, given their size, probably intimidating to the little kids.

Not to worry, the second-year head coach said. “These are the nicest guys.

“We could be bullies — we’re the biggest guys in the room.”

One by one, Williams introduced the players, one of which, Josh Floyd, entered from the rear of the crowd and seemed to slap hands with every kid in his path. (If that’s not a way to win fans, what is?)

Students were asked to raise their hands if they’d ever been bullied, and then asked to raise their hands if they’d ever seen someone else bullied. More hands went up than was expected, to be sure.

Calling for volunteers to come up on stage, small huddles were formed, with the kids chanting “Bullying’s not cool,” “Stop being mean” and “Bullying is bad.”

The message was repeated by Williams as he took the microphone for the final time: “Be kind and nice to people, (because) there’s always someone stronger and badder than you.”

Naturally, the kids were again reminded that the Stars would be playing their first home game two nights later at Santa Ana Star Center, and then it was time for more fun — getting autographs from the players, some of whom signed hands.

Local businessman Tony Otero, celebrating his birthday Thursday, wasn’t there but had sponsored the event. Every PdS student got a coupon for a free ice-cream cone at his Dairy Queen on Southern Boulevard.

“I fed the team for two weeks,” Otero said, always supportive of sports in the community and also the president of the Rio Rancho Sports Advisory Council.

“We’re kid-oriented,” he said of Otero Dairy Queen. “We wanted to do what we could to help the kids.”

And if it got just one youngster to think about what he/she had heard that afternoon, and then decide not to torment or bully another kid, it was a good thing.

So, too, would be more paying fans at the Star Center for New Mexico Stars games this season. They’ll be appearing at more schools before the school year ends, and having a good time doing it, too.

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