Prep Notes: Sandia Prep’s Smith wins national award; Cibola hires coaches – Albuquerque Journal

Prep Notes: Sandia Prep’s Smith wins national award; Cibola hires coaches

Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith’s résumé already was glittering.

The longtime Sandia Prep boys soccer coach has led the Sundevils to a dozen state championships in his glorious career, and five other times they reached the state final.

But last week, Smith received a national kudo.

On Friday, Smith, 57 and about to start his 24th season at the Albuquerque private school next week, was named the 2020-21 national boys soccer coach of the year by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association, or NHSACA.

He received the honor at the NHSACA convention in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“At first, it was disbelief,” Smith said. “And then excitement. As I was walking up there, I was thinking, ‘This is pretty cool.’ ”

Smith was eligible to receive the national award as both New Mexico’s coach of the year and also as one of the eight NHSACA region coaches of the year.

The NHSACA award recognizes coaching longevity, won/loss records and service to high school sports.

Smith led Sandia Prep to the Class 1A-3A state title last April. Twice, the Sundevils under Smith have won at least four consecutive blue trophies: from 2001-06, and then again from 2010-13.

He is a seven-time New Mexico coach of the year, and himself played collegiately at the University of New Mexico. He later had a professional career that spanned a decade.

Only once before in his career with Sandia Prep had he been eligible for the national award, and that was in 2005.

The nominations for this award were originally announced last year, but the NHSACA convention had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is at the top, of course,” Smith said Monday. “I kind of look at this as a culmination of all the teams and players I’ve had over the years. … Every team I’ve coached has been a part of this.”

Smith is nearing 400 career wins at Sandia Prep. The 2021 fall season begins later this month.

Earlier this year, Rio Rancho High’s longtime baseball coach, Ron Murphy, was recognized as the national coach of the year for 2019-20 by the National Federation of State High School Associations, or NFHS.

NHSACA, CON’T.: As part of last week’s convention, two New Mexico prep sports icons were inducted into that organization’s National Hall of Fame.

One of them is Buddy Robertson, the former (and longtime) athletic director for Albuquerque Public Schools, where he worked from 1977-2002.

The other is David Lynn, who as a head football coach won state championships with Eunice, Hagerman and Texico.

STATE RECOGNITION: The New Mexico High School Coaches Association recently announced its individual sport coaches of the year for 2021:

  • Boys Basketball: Kevin Zwiers, Rehoboth Christian
  • Boys Cross Country: Matt Preslar, Cloudcroft
  • Boys Soccer: Reyes Marquez, Lovington
  • Boys Wrestling: John Mason, Farmington
  • Football: Jeff Dalton, Farmington
  • Girls Basketball: Todd McBroom, Gallup
  • Girls Cross Country: Tim Host, Academy for Technology and the Classics (Santa Fe)
  • Girls Soccer: Misty Long, Carlsbad
  • Girls Wrestling: Nate Sellers, Miyamura
  • Swimming and Diving: Dave Barney, Albuquerque Academy
  • Spirit: Stephanie Davy, West Mesa
  • Volleyball: Rory Arisumi, Cloudcroft
  • Softball: Angel Castillo, Cleveland
  • Baseball: Leroy Gonzalez, Robertson
  • Tennis: Amy Badger, Albuquerque Academy
  • Golf: Victor Rotunno, Hobbs
  • Boys Track and Field: Joey Fernandez, St. Michael’s
  • Girls Track and Field: Jason Atkinson, Alamogordo

BASEBALL SIGNINGS: It has been many years, West Mesa High baseball coach Marc Hilton estimated, since the Mustangs had anyone who has signed a national letter of intent for college.

But West Mesa does have a pair of players who signed their LOIs earlier this summer.

Brian Ledezma, an all-state utility player this year, signed with Lamar (Colorado) Community College. Xavier Larson signed with San Diego City Community College.

CHANGE AT CIBOLA: The Cougars have hired three new head coaches.

Patrick Tapia is the school’s new boys soccer coach, Robert Puentes is the new baseball coach and Kelly Lucero is the new wrestling coach.


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