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Goddard baseball gets ready for milestone

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Shawn Naranjo Photo Goddard first-year coach Gilbert Alvarado makes a point to one of his players during a game at the Launch Pad.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Goddard baseball head coach Gilbert Alvarado will be celebrating an anniversary August 1st.

It won’t be his wedding anniversary, that date will mark his second year as the Rockets main mentor.

Last summer, Alvarado was living in Ruidoso and he knew the job was open after former head coach Alan Edmonson moved to Carlsbad. Before making the move east, Alvarado asked his wife if she wanted to leave the high country of Lincoln County for Roswell.

“She said, ‘go for it.,’ Alvarado said. “Goddard was my alma mater and I tried to become an assistant coach for Coach Edmonson in 2014, but it didn’t work out.”

Alvarado was on the job for the Warriors when he got a phone call.

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“I was slated to be the defensive coordinator for football at Ruidoso,” Alvarado said. “We were in the middle of two-a-days during football practice when my phone rang rang and I picked it up and 60 people stared at me and accepted the position and told them, ‘thanks for the opportunity and I’m moving on.’

Alvarado admitted it was hard to leave the kids behind in Ruidoso. He wasn’t sure how he’d be accepted at Goddard, after some meetings, he knew the right decision was made.

“I got to meet with a lot of the booster club (members) and a lot of the parents and they were welcoming,” Alvarado said. “They told me the same thing the administration told me, and that was to run the program the way I thought it should be run and not worry about what things were done last year.”

After getting to know the adults involved in the Rocket baseball program, Alvarado turned his attention to the players.

“I’ll say for the boys they were the same way,” Alvarado said. “We came in and got to know each other. We practiced over the fall and they were open to what we were doing and they were open to the philosophy and I guess this is the biggest thing.”

Alvarado liked the fundamentals of the Rockets when he arrived.

“So, catching ground balls is the same if you’re 9-years-old or 28-years-old, the mechanics of it don’t change,” Alvarado said. “The philosophy in how you want the kids to play and our philosophy going in was we want to try and win innings. We want to try and narrow our focus and the boys bought into it and so it turned it turned out to be a really great transition. It’s very smooth.”

Along with coaching baseball at Goddard and Ruidoso, Alvarado was also a graduate assistant at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. No matter where he’s coached, his philosophy has been different at all of his stops.

“Getting to know a group of kids and what their capabilities are, you try to adjust how you play the game according to what their strengths are,” Alvarado said. “We ask the simple things like run to first. Things like attitude and effort work for any team and once you get that into the kids we expect you to compete in every inning and every play and after that you kind of tailor it to what fits best and if they’re really fast with good contact, you’ve got to make sure you find ways to get them on base.”

Alvarado gave some advice to recently graduated Cameron Stevenson and senior to be Drew Price.

“We told those boys to get stronger and drive the baseball,” Alvarado said. “The guys in front of them, I tell them, ‘get on the base and move runners.’ If we needed to bunt someone over and to hit and run or slash, do it. But, by the same token if we felt confident what the boys were doing we say, ‘get your walks in.’ The boys really bought into that and we would adjust things and plan wise according to each player and play to his strengths.”

Alvarado’s first year at Goddard seemed like a similarity to his rookie year in Ruidoso.

“Baseball wasn’t the favorite sport at the time and we tried to build a program and the coach before, Billy Page had a good run too,” Alvarado said. “So, it’s not like we were totally starting from over from scratch. It’s one of those things where you’re trying to institute you’re own philosophy and the people you really have to influence are the seniors and they spent the last three years with a different coach. So we came in and pushed the boys really hard. They bought in I think in the eight years I was there we had five winning seasons.”

During his tenure in Ruidoso, Alvarado said the Warriors went to the state playoffs four times and they also won a district title, which was a first for the school.

“When I left we were on our third straight winning season,” Alvarado said. “In four out of the last five years, we had the program going into the direction we wanted it to be.”

The Rockets overall record this past season was 24-5 and in district play Goddard’s record was 10-2. Alvarado led the team to the state championship game, however they came up short losing to Farmington. Is this something to build on?

“It’s always good when the boys buy into philosophy when they see success,” Alvarado said. “It’s hard to get kids to buy in when they don’t see success and the boys saw success and they just came up one game short. That was their final goal and they won district and made it all the way to the state championship game.”