RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Thanks mostly to success and good sportsmanship on the playing fields, Cleveland High School has been awarded the New Mexico Activities Association’s prestigious Director’s Cup for the fourth time in the last five years.
The Subway Directors Cup is awarded annually to the top NMAA member schools in each classification based upon success in activities, athletics and sportsmanship. The actual “cup” will be presented at the annual athletic directors banquet in late September.
Rio Rancho Public Schools Athletic Director Larry Chavez always has his eyes on that prize: “The Director’s Cup is the icing on the cake,” he said. “It shows we have a solid athletic program.”
Later last Monday, Chavez reported to the district’s school board that participation in athletics has increased at both high schools, and that CHS and Rio Rancho High School — placing third in the Director’s Cup race — combined to win seven state championships, 13 district championships and six Metro titles. Incredibly, no coach or Rio Rancho student-athlete was ejected from a contest during the entire 2018-19 school year.
Cleveland (2,680), La Cueva (2,340) and Rio Rancho (1,500) finished 1-2-3 in the points race.
“(RRHS) Principal Sherri Carver told me, ‘I would like to be a player in the Director’s Cup,'” Chavez told the board. “This is the first time since Cleveland opened up that both were in the top 10.”
Points are awarded in each category based on the following criteria:
ATHLETICS: Points are awarded for participation/success in a total of 21 sports programs. These are boys cross country, girls cross country, football, boys soccer, girls soccer, volleyball, boys basketball, girls basketball, cheer, dance, boys swimming & diving, girls swimming & diving, wrestling, baseball, boys golf, girls golf, softball, boys tennis, girls tennis, boys track & field and girls track & field.
Here’s the points breakdown: 20 points for participation in each program; 60 points for each district championship; 80 points for each appearance in the state semifinals or third/fourth-place finish; 100 points for each state runner-up finish and 120 points for each state championship. (Points are given for regular-season district titles and district tournament titles in basketball and volleyball, with a maximum of 60 points per program in this category.)
Of the Storm’s season total of 2,680 points, 480 points came from the school’s state championships in boys cross country, boys soccer, boys track & field and girls golf; another 300 points came from Storm runner-up finishes in football, wrestling and baseball.
ACTIVITIES: Points are awarded for participation in 13 activity programs and for participation/success in 11 activity programs. (Points for participation include the activities of speech & debate, DECA, Educators Rising, student council, etc.)
The activities point distribution is: 20 points for participation in each program; 80 points for each appearance in the state semifinals or third/fourth-place finish; 100 points for each state runner-up finish and 120 points for each state championship.
COMPETE WITH CLASS/SPORTSMANSHIP: Schools with coach ejections in two or more sports seasons are ineligible for Director’s Cup recognition. Each player and coach ejection will result in a deduction of 100 points from a school’s total. If a player is ejected twice during the same school year, this will be looked at similarly to a “coach ejection” and will count toward one sports season (applied to the season where the second ejection occurred). In soccer, only the following red-card fouls will count as a 100-point deduction and also be applied toward a student-athlete’s ejection total: violent conduct; taunting; serious foul play; spitting at an opponent, teammate or game official; using insulting, offensive or abusive language or gesture; and violent/malicious conduct.
THE PROCESS: There is not an application process for Director’s Cup awards. The NMAA tabulates points after the conclusion of each sports season and posts the information on its website, with member schools encouraged to double-check point totals and inform the NMAA staff of potential errors. Schools will still be recognized during the following year’s fall leadership conference luncheon in October.
RECENT HISTORY: Going back in time, the Director’s Cup seemingly comes down to Cleveland vs. La Cueva.
Now in its 13th year of existence, La Cueva has claimed the cup seven times, and the Storm have four cups; Eldorado (2011-12) and Rio Rancho (2006-07) have one apiece. Since CHS opened in 2009-10, La Cueva holds a 5-4 edge over Cleveland.
Truth be told, Cleveland’s primary rival is Rio Rancho High School, but in recent years, a lot of state championships — or moving on to a state championship game — have come down to the Bears vs. the Storm.
Go back to Dec. 1, 2018: The Bears whipped the Storm 33-14 in the Class 6A championship football game at Lightning Bolt Stadium. In the 2017 season, La Cueva beat the Storm 37-34 in overtime in a 6A semifinal.
In November 2017, La Cueva edged the Storm 2-1 — also in OT — for the girls 6A state soccer championship.
In the state basketball tournament, the Storm knocked the Bears out in the first round of the 2015-16 season again in the first round of the ’16-17 season.
In baseball, the Storm eliminated the two-time state champion Bears 3-1 in a state quarterfinal game last month at Santa Ana Star Field, although La Cueva beat the Storm 4-1 in a state semifinal game, also at Isotopes Park, in May 2018 and whipped the Storm 10-4 in the 2018 championship game.
The Bears-Storm postseason goes back even further: The Storm beat the Bears in a quarterfinal game in 2016, and in 2013, the Bears eliminated the Storm in the first round.
And in the 2013 state girls track & field meet, only a disqualification in the final race of the day, the 4×400 relay, kept Cleveland High School from finishing in first place.
Their DQ left the Bears holding the blue trophy; Eldorado finished second and the Storm were relegated to taking home the green trophy.
“That girls’ track loss still stings,” Chavez noted, six years later.