Notah Begay and a coach he once played for, Mike Brown, headline the first-ever Hall of Fame athletics class at Albuquerque Academy.
Begay and Brown are joined by: Joe Armijo, the Academy athletic director from 1969-97; Micaela Esquivel from the Class of 2002 who played soccer, basketball and track and field; and Ellen Hart Peña, a versatile three-sport athlete who graduated in 1976.
The first class will be formally inducted next fall.
Begay was a multiple state champion golfer for the Chargers, and he excelled at basketball and soccer as well.
But golf was his true calling. He won a pair of individual state titles at the Academy, in 1989 and 1990. He went on to play collegiately at Stanford, where he was a teammate of Tiger Woods, and later won four events on the PGA Tour. He currently is a regular analyst for Golf Channel.
Begay also played guard on the first two of Academy’s six straight state basketball championships, in 1989 and 1990.
“I think it was needed for there to be an Albuquerque Academy Hall of Fame,” Begay said. “I’m honored to be in the Albuquerque Academy Hall of Fame inaugural class. I’m happy to be going in with my basketball coach Mike Brown and Micaela Esquivel, whose father was my Spanish teacher.”
Brown was the coach for the entirety of that magnificent, six-season championship run, which has never been surpassed on the boys’ side. But it didn’t really end there; Academy reached nine straight title games, losing in the final in 1995, 1996 and 1997. The Chargers were also state runners-up under Brown in 2001 and 2008.
His legacy endures; many of his assistant coaches at the Academy later became head coaches — and several are still head coaches — in the metro area. He coached the Chargers for 26 years (1984-2010).
“It’s an honor to be selected to the inaugural Hall of Fame class at Albuquerque Academy,” Brown said. “The school has had many outstanding athletes and coaches over the years, and I am proud to be a part of it. I especially want to thank my family for their support and the sacrifices they have made during my 36 years of teaching and coaching.”
Esquivel was an All-American during her soccer-playing days with the Chargers, plus a two-time New Mexico state player of the year. She later played collegiately at Santa Clara. She led the Chargers to state soccer crowns in 2000 and 2001. She was a three-time all-district basketball player, and won three individual state track titles.
Armijo spent over three decades at Academy as the private school became one of the most accomplished athletic programs in New Mexico, and he also helped to spearhead the addition of girls sports. The school’s annual boys and girls basketball tournament is named after him.
He also is a former teacher and coach at Academy, and was inducted into the New Mexico Activities Association Hall of Fame in 1997.
Hart participated in field hockey, basketball and track and field.