Playing a little kid’s game is hard to get out of your system when it’s in your blood.
Former Goddard basketball player Chase Salazar finds himself in this position. Salazar still talks fondly about his Rockets’ team being ranked No.1 in the state in 2012, his senior year.
“We did really well my senior year,” Salazar said. “We hold the record for most wins in Goddard history, going 25-3.”
What Salazar remembers about his senior season was the way it ended, Goddard was ranked the No.1 team in the state tournament, but was upset by No. 8 seed Kirtland Central. Kirtland won the game, 61-59, in the quarterfinals at The Pit.
“We should have never lost that game,” Salazar said. “We went into halftime up 10 points.”
The memory of the way former Rocket coach Kevin Jones handled defeat left a favorable impression on him.
“Coach let us know it wasn’t the end of the world for us,” Salazar said. “Not only was coach Jones a good coach, but he was a good friend outside of basketball. He was there for us as far as academics and cared about us in school.”
Salazar played a year of basketball at Fort Lewis College as a walk-on, but couldn’t afford tuition and left school. Salazar has been working to save up money for school.
Salazar never lost his dream to continue his basketball career. In 2015, while playing basketball in an open gym at New Mexico Military Institute, he ran into Cedrick Wilson, who was going to school to become an agent at NMMI.
Wilson invited Salazar to try out in Mexico. One thing led to another and Salazar dominated at three tryout camps against some of the best players in Mexico and was signed by agent Armando Valdez.
Salazar was so impressive in his play that in July he was invited to Las Vegas to try out with other players throughout the country for the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional league in Mexico. The LNBP is the highest league in Mexico. After doing well there, he was invited to a training camp in Monterey, and then was drafted by the Nuevo Laredo Torros.
“Chase (Salazar) is a special player,” Jones said.” He’s a true point guard. He can score and take over games. He was a really great player for Goddard. I remember him being such a fun kid to be around, never disrespectful at all. He was a joy to be around. I believe he can make it in that league.”
Salazar leaves Friday to begin his professional basketball career. His housing is taken care of; his pay is 20,000 pesos a month, which in American money is $1,200 a month.
“I could make $100 a month, as long as I’m playing basketball,” Salazar said. “Getting paid to play basketball has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I will take basketball as far as it will take me.”
The second Salazar signs his contract, he will give up his amateur status and become a professional. Once his playing days are over with, he wants to come back to Roswell and become a personal trainer or coach.
“It is my dream to open up a fitness center and coach basketball,” Salazar said. “I want to combine fitness and basketball. I want to show kids dreams come true if you work hard.”