Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
For all of this year’s participants and coaches who went to practice and sweated through the hot sun during the summer for their sports in the fall. For all the athletes who spent endless hours perfecting a wrestling move, a jumper or a chip shot to qualify for state. Some of you wonder if you will get your chance, and if it’s worth it.
Just look at your teammates that weren’t playing last season and have come back to be integral parts of the team and dominate.
One only has to look at Goddard’s girls basketball player Eden Wiggins. Wiggins averaged 1.8 minutes a game on her state championship team a year ago. Then she went from being a role player to being a key member of her team, averaging double digits in points and becoming a valued member of the big three. What it took was a never-give-up attitude.
Look at Roswell’s Christian Sanchez and Gabe Najar — both had great senior seasons in football, making it to the state playoffs before losing to Belen. Najar is going to college on a wrestling scholarship. Goddard’s Tyler Hoover and Diego Miranda, and Roswell’s Victor Bolanos and Brandon Perez will head an impressive class going to NMMI for football.
The sports horizon looks bright with golfers Cavan Jones and eighth-grader Peyton Jones. Peyton won state this year. Look for the Dexter Demons softball team to continue to dominate, with an improving Roswell baseball team — and for Goddard baseball to make their sixth appearance in a championship game.
To our Athletes of the Week we say, thank you for your effort in pursuit of victory with honor. Now, it is time to turn the page and get ready for next season. It is up to you to prepare, to be ready to dominate and to have the will to win. If you think you can, you can. The Roswell Daily Record would like to thank you for allowing us to witness your exploits.
More than anything else today, the RDR sports department would like to thank all the and wish them Happy Mother’s Day. More often than not, at games mothers can be heard encouraging their children. With shared memories that build generation after generation, sports and teams are family.
The RDR recently reached out to two of Roswell’s most famous athlete-mothers — Nancy Lopez and Gerina Piller. Piller gave birth to a baby boy on Apr. 26.
Piller was an All-State volleyball player at Goddard High School and won the state championship in golf in 2003. She went to Texas-El Paso University where she won four tournaments her senior year. She was Conference USA individual champion in 2007, as well as Player of the Year and UTEP Female Athlete of the Year.
Piller participated in the 2016 Olympics, and made an eight-foot putt to win her match and help the U.S. come from behind and win the 2015 Solheim Cup. She took the year off to have her baby — at the time she was ranked 43rd in the world.
“Mother’s Day is very special to me,” Piller said, “because of all my Mom went through to make a better life for her and her kids. She is an example of perseverance, hard work, selflessness and dedication. My mom has taught me so much and I hope I will be half the Mom to my little boy as she was to us.”
Piller’s favorite Mother’s Day memory was when she would come home and surprise her and her family.
“I’m really looking forward to this Mother’s Day,” Piller said, as it will be my first!”
Another Goddard product has gone from the Roswell links to a Hall of Fame career. Lopez won the New Mexico Women’s Amateur at age 12 in 1969, and the U.S. Girls’ Junior in 1972 and ’74. he won the Western Junior three times and the Mexican Amateur in ’75. She played in the U.S. Women’s Open as an amateur, first in 1974 and again in 1975, where she tied for second.
As a freshman in ’76, Lopez was named All-American and Female Athlete of the Year at the University of Tulsa. That year she won the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women and was a member of the U.S. Curtis Cup.
When she turned pro she won nine tournaments, including five in a row. She won the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average, was LPGA Rookie of the Year and was named Associate Press Female athlete of the Year for a second time. She won Player of the Year again in ’88. She was named Golfer of the Decade by Golf Magazine for the years ’78-87. She was recognized on the LPGA’s 50th Anniversary in 2000 as one of the LPGA’s top-50 players and teachers. Lopez was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in ’87. These are only a few of the awards she has won during her career.
Lopez has won 48 times on the Ladies Professional Golfers Association Tour. She recently reflected on her childhood growing up in Roswell and what Mother’s Day meant to her and her mother Marina then, and now that she has three children and two grandchildren.
“My mom was a great mom,” Lopez said. “She was tough sometimes, but I’m glad she was. As we get older … we don’t get it while we’re young. I think Mother’s Day was always special because I wanted to let my mom know that she was special and I appreciated her.”
Lopez and her father, Domingo, would take Marina out to dinner and do something nice for her. She felt like she tried to be nice to her mother every day, not just on Mother’s Day. Lopez cherishes the memories of her mother after losing her when she was 19.
“I think now, being a mom, I’m a lot like my mom,” Lopez said. “I taught my daughters to respect people, to do the right things and if they promise to do something they were going to keep their word. Now that they’re mothers they get it. For me it was more like I’m not your friend, I’m your mother.”
Lopez plans to spend this Mother’s Day, which she is looking forward to, with her two grandchildren. She is also reflecting back on losing her mother at such a young age, and is saddened that her mother never got to see her make it big on the LPGA tour.
“My mother never got to see me win,” Lopez said. “But she was the driving force in who I was. She was a great mom, she took good care of my dad and I. She washed our clothes, fed us and kept our house clean. She was a true, true full-time mom. My dad wanted her to stay home and he was going to support us. So it was special because she was there when I got home from school and there when I left in the morning. She made me want to be like her as a mother.”
Lopez has seen the difference in generations and being a mom. Back when she was growing up kids and parents rarely talked or shared their feelings. Lopez hopes her children can come and talk to her about anything.
Lopez talked about the price of being famous and the demands of her golf career after having her family. She felt like it was a juggling act, with her kids traveling with her — until they went to school.
“It was a tough thing to have to deal with …” Lopez said. “I wanted to have children during my career and give them 100 percent of me, as much as I could. I felt like they got it.”
When she had her first daughter, Ashley, she had doubts about whether she could be as competitive as she was.
“I didn’t know if I would be as tough,” Lopez said. “I was able to come back. I learned after I had Erinn to juggle the different hats I wore as a mother, person and professional athlete and whatever mothers do. Mothers have that gene, they figure it out, because there is a lot of juggling going on …”
She felt like she raised her children to respect her, and taught them what her dad, Domingo, taught her: to be a good person, to make sure to have a good work ethic, which would take them far in life. And she wanted her children to be leaders and not followers and know that she was there for them.
“I told my kids that,” Lopez said, ‘I’m always here for you no matter what. Your kids have to feel like they can trust you and come to you.”
Lopez talks to her children via phone or text every day. She is not into the gifts from her children — she wants them to keep their money, but she cherishes the cards made for her by her children and grandchildren.
“I love being a grandmother,” Lopez said. “I don’t live close to them and with all of the traveling I do, I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like. I try to let them know that ‘grammy’ loves them. I haven’t been able to be around them as much as I like, but it’s going to be nice to get to know them and let them know who I am.”