Rodriguez is retiring as Cibola High boys basketball coach - Albuquerque Journal

Rodriguez is retiring as Cibola High boys basketball coach

Ray Rodriguez questions an official’s call during a 2016 game between his Cibola team and Cleveland. Rodriguez said Saturday he is retiring as Cougars boys basketball coach. (Greg Sorber/Journal)

Ray Rodriguez was a boys basketball coach for three-and-a-half decades.

The 2021-22 season is his last.

Rodriguez, 62, has retired, the Journal learned on Saturday. For the last 24 seasons, he has been coaching the Cibola Cougars.

“I’ve just been thinking about it for some time,” he said. “And you know, I just came to the conclusion that it was time.”

Rodriguez will remain on as Cibola’s athletic director. Before he arrived at Cibola, he was Highland High’s head coach for seven seasons, and he coached in suburban Seattle for four years before returning to New Mexico to take over at Cibola.

“There were some guys in the past that said to me, ‘You’ll know when it’s time,’ ” Rodriguez said. “I get it.”

Rodriguez retires with really only one hole on his lengthy and impressive resume: he never quite got over the hump in the state tournament.

Twice Rodriguez coached Highland into the Class 4A state championship game, in 1992 and 1993. The Hornets lost to Alamogordo and Albuquerque High. He also had several outstanding teams at Cibola; one of them, in 2004, reached the Class 5A final, where the Cougars lost a tight defensive battle to Eldorado.

With Rodriguez’s retirement, Eagles coach Roy Sanchez becomes the dean among the Albuquerque Public Schools boys varsity coaches.

“Ray is very humble, but has been a great basketball coach for 2 High Schools, test of time tells that. Happy for him, he’s a great friend!” Sanchez said in a Twitter tribute to Rodriguez on Saturday.

Highland coach Justin Woody also weighed in on Twitter.

“Incredible Coach and even better person. So thankful for the time I spent on his staff at Cibola. I am blessed to have him as a friend and mentor,” Woody wrote.

Rodriguez said the pandemic got him thinking about retirement.

“It just gave people a chance to reflect,” he said. “Coaches don’t usually have that time. For me, that’s what it was, a realization.”

Rodriguez said he wasn’t sure what role, if any, he would play in choosing his successor. Cibola also is in the process of looking for a new head football coach.

“It’s a good time for me to get out and a good time for a new coach to come in,” he said.

Ray Rodriguez is shown on July 24, 1998, around the time he was hired to coach the Cibola boys. (Dean Hanson/Journal)
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