For Rio Grande High School, this is a school year with a little bit of renovation and a healthy dose of reinvention.
Not only do the Ravens have a snazzy new logo, but their new gymnasium is under construction and will open later this year. And, for the first time in the school’s 62-year history, Rio Grande is going to start honoring some of its most important sports figures.
Rio Grande Sports Hall of Fame is the working title for the venture, and the Ravens expect to induct their first eight members sometime in May.
“This Hall of Fame is something that this community needs right now,” said Leslie Jackson, Rio Grande’s activities director.
Rio Grande’s five-person selection committee will choose nominees from what it describes as its four cornerstones: athletes, coaches, teams and notable contributors (individuals or families).
In future years, the school plans to announce its Hall of Fame class during its homecoming football game, and to formally induct them during the opening weekend of the basketball season. The plan is to induct at least one recipient in each category every year — except for this year, when two from each category will be selected.
Members will be recognized with a photo and bio in the new gym for one year, and their names will forever be affixed to a plaque, and to the school’s legacy.
As for that new gym, it is being erected where the old gym used to stand. It will feature two seating levels on both sides; the old gym had just one level on the visitors’ side. Gym capacity is expected to be 2,200, or 600 more than the old gym.
Assuming there is a basketball season for Albuquerque Public Schools this spring, the Ravens’ boys and girls will spend the entirety of the season on the road as the gym is not scheduled to be completed until summer. The Hall of Fame members’ accomplishments will be featured prominently throughout the gym.
“The kids and parents and the community will get to walk into a brand new gym, and get to idolize the heroes they had when they were young,” Rio Grande athletic director Pete Pino said.
Deadline for nominations for Rio Grande’s first Hall of Fame class is Friday. Nomination forms can be found at www.riogranderavens.aps.edu, or with Pino or Jackson’s office at school.
WHO HAS ONE AND WHO DOESN’T?: Rio Grande is the latest high school in APS to create a Hall of Fame entity.
The Sandia Athletic Hall of Fame was the most recent one in APS, in 2019. Prior to that, it was 2016 with the La Cueva High School Hall of Fame.
Albuquerque High and Highland, the city’s two oldest public high schools, have had such elite clubs for decades — the Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame at AHS, and the Wall of Honor at Highland.
Eldorado began its Athletics Hall of Fame in 1975, AD Roy Sanchez said, adding that it was stopped about 1994. But last year, the Eagles started it up again, announcing a large batch of new inductees.
Cibola’s Athletics Hall of Fame was begun in 2007.
West Mesa, Del Norte and Manzano as yet do not have a Hall of Fame. Del Norte AD Tom Herndon said he was hoping to get one off the ground before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic but had to put that plan on hiatus. Manzano AD Matt Espinosa said his school has talked about creating one as well.
Oddly enough, Valley does not apparently have a sports-themed Hall of Fame, either, despite it being the third-oldest of the city’s high schools, behind only AHS and Highland. But Vikings AD Mike Huston said he’d like to get one going before the end of this calendar year.
Volcano Vista and Atrisco Heritage Academy haven’t been open long enough — just over a decade for all grades — to realistically start compiling a Hall of Fame roster.