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The man behind the jacket

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Duane Evans introduces Rowell’s own Flo Valdez as the winner of the 2017 jacket at the Poe Corn Invitational Basketball Tournament on Dec 28. (David Rocha Photo)

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Duane Evans has seen everything there is to see in his time at Roswell Independent School District. In fact, he is the only man to be hired, fired and rehired by the RISD as athletic director in a career that has spanned more than 40 years.

Duane Evans talks about honoring coaches with a jacket for years of service to kids. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

Evans was fired by a superintendent five years into his tenure as athletic director. Evans was sent to the elementary building, where he served as a principal for 14 years.

“I’m unique in the city,” Evans said. “I’m the only man living or dead that has worked at every level, except superintendent.”

After two superintendents served the school board, the third superintendent asked him to come back.

Evans, 81, was the athletic director at Rowell public schools in the 70s. The jacket started when a popular Roswell tennis coach Stan Kubiak was getting to retire in 1976. Evans decided to take some school funds and buy him a jacket.

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“He was a great man,” Evans said.

The Poe Corn Invitational Basketball Tournament lost its sponsorship for several years before the Sunrise Optimist Club picked it up in 2010.

Evans began giving jackets out again once the tournament was picked up. The first jacket given under the Sunrise Optimist Club was to Ernie Core from Goddard. Core was a legendary tennis coach who won multiple state tournaments here. Core was from West Virginia, his claim to fame was to have held former Los Angeles Laker great, Jerry West scoreless in a high school game.

“We begin to find people who we thought were deserving,” Evans said. “I fell into the habit of trying to pick one person from Roswell one year and one from Goddard the next year.”

This year the recipient was Flo Valdez. Valdez coached at RHS from 1974-1996, she won the only state volleyball title played at Eastern New Mexico University.

“I’ve had a lot of accomplishments in my career,” Valdez said. “To receive this jacket means a lot to me to be honored by the Roswell Community.”

Evan’s criteria for picking a person to be honored is they must be involved in the lives of athletes in the community.

“They don’t have to be a world-class coach,” Evans said. “It just has to be someone who has made a difference in the lives of children.”

Some of the past winners have been: Van Witt- 2005, he won a state high school boys basketball championship in Roswell in 1953, and later became principal at Goddard.

Derry Moore- 2006, created the gymnastics and wrestling program at Roswell. Was athletic director at Dexter and NMMI for both the high school and junior college.

Ernie Core-2007, Tennis coach Goddard 15 district championships two-state titles and a National Tennis Coach of the Year.

Bill Rapp- 2008, In the New Mexico Hall of Fame for officiating high school football 53 years.

Stan Lair-2009 Track Coach Roswell, four district championships, and one state title.He coached Danny Brabham, who is now in the Baylor Hall of Fame.

Jim Waldrip-2010, the only person to have two jackets or two letters, one from Roswell and the other from Goddard. Waldrip coached baseball at Roswell and golf at Goddard.

Becky Robertson-2011 won 14-of-15 state titles for golf. Was in Sports Illustrated.

Duane Evans-2012, athletic director for Roswell on two occasions.

Leon Sims-2013, lead Goddard boys basketball to their only state title in 1988.

Judy Smyth-2014 won multiple state titles as coach fo Goddard volleyball.

In 2015 no award was given due to the cancellation of the tournament because of the winter storm Goliath.

Pam Allen-2016 coached Dexter to their first back-to-back state titles, lead Goddard to a volleyball title and won on with Capitan in 2014. Was recently inducted into the New Mexico Athletic Hall of Fame this year, and will be inducted this summer.

Flo Valdez-2017 coached Roswell to their first volleyball title and is in the New Mexico Athletic Hall of Fame.

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