There are certain jobs, Leroy Barela said, that command one’s attention.
The Albuquerque High boys basketball coaching job is one of them, he said.
“You know, when you look around and you see as a basketball coach, you know what’s open, what’s not,” Barela said. “When you see Albuquerque High is open … I coached boys for 10 years before I started coaching girls, and it just drew my interest.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the Bulldogs demonstrated a mutual interest.
Barela, 47, became AHS’ new head man after spending the last three seasons coaching the Eldorado High School girls.
“Everything felt good. Everything felt right,” Barela said.
Barela replaces Greg Brown, who was fired following last season. The Bulldogs finished 11-16 last season, losing in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament as a No. 16 seed to Las Cruces.
AHS has not had a winning record since the 2017-18 season.
“I know there is some work to be put in, so I’m excited to be doing that. It’s still Albuquerque High,” Barela said. “When you’re a middle school athlete, even elementary school, and you start to look at the high schools around your area, that school is always gonna be intriguing to people.”
This will be Barela’s first prep head coaching job in boys basketball. Prior to Eldorado, he was a head girls coach at both Pecos (for three seasons) and Robertson (for four seasons).
Barela said he felt his interview with AHS went extremely well.
“I was just real. Who I am, where I’m from, what I’m about,” he said. “I understand the long history there, and I’m excited the things I can bring now. I’m excited to be part of that program.”
He said he will complete the school year at Eldorado, where he was hired almost exactly three years ago. The logistics of his teaching status at AHS were still being worked out, Barela said.
Eldorado athletic director Roy Sanchez said the school would post the opening within the next couple of days and begin a search for Barela’s replacement.
Whoever succeeds him inherits a team that includes one of the state’s best players – guard Bella Hines, recently offered by the University of Utah and who will be a sophomore next season for the Eagles.