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Flo Valdez retires from coaching

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Former Roswell coach, Flo Valdez and current Franklin High School coach won her tournament game at the Coyote Den Tuesday, 23-25, 22-25, 25-16, 25-22 and 15-13. (Submitted Photo)

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Flo Valdez had to be thinking about it for some time. She is not one of those people that do things on the spur of the moment — except for the time she retired from Roswell, because she was mad at her principal and took a job at Franklin High School in El Paso, Texas.

Flo Valdez holds the tournament trophy her team, Franklin High School won Tuesday night at Coyote Den. Valdez is retiring at the end of the year. (Submitted Photo)

She had originally intended to stay there five years to supplement her retirement and ended up staying 23 years. All of that almost came to an end on Tuesday night at the Coyote Den. Her team had to fight back from two games down against Midland Lee and pulled out a major miracle to win in five sets, (23-25, 22-25, 25-16, 25-22, 15-13) to keep Valdez on her journey to winning her first Texas state title.

“The one thing I didn’t want to happen tonight,” Valdez said, “is for my coaching career to end the same place where it started at Roswell High School in 1974.”

Valdez came to Roswell to win the bi-district championship, which means that her 1-6A district had to play their 2-6A district on a neutral site to see who moves on to the area round. In Texas, the playoffs have to be played at a neutral site and it has to be an equal distance from both teams — it was 200 miles from both teams’ home court.

“It was a great, great match,” Valdez said. “It was a battle all of the way through. I’m so proud of my kids for being able to come back after being down two sets.”

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Valdez has won 1,097 games, including her time in New Mexico and Texas. She will retire at the end of this season. “It has been a great run,” Valdez said. “I know that I’m going to miss it, but I’ve been in it for a long, long time. I just need to step away from the game and watch it more. It is very bittersweet. I love coming back to Roswell, it is my home alma mater. I have a lot of great, great memories and that will always be dear to me. Britt Cooper, the athletic director, was the basketball coach when I was the volleyball coach there.”

She remembers that when she went to RHS, she went there as a basketball coach, but in order to get the basketball position, she had to take the volleyball job as well. Valdez fell in love with coaching volleyball so much that she stuck with it.

“I owe a lot to Roswell High and to volleyball,” Valdez said.

Valdez does not know if she will move back here but considers Roswell home. She is trying to get through the season and knows that every game her team plays, it could be her last on the bench, but she doesn’t want the focus to be on her or about her, but more about the team she currently has.

“It would be a great way to go out to win it all,” Valdez said. “I wish it would happen. It would be a great way to go out.”

Valdez is coaching and teaching all the way to the end, and after 52 years, she doesn’t want the season to end. She doesn’t want to think about all of the memories that will flood her when she is at home by herself — the rivalries with Pam Allen or the state championships won at Roswell.

No, Valdez doesn’t want the games to stop, she doesn’t want to think about the impact that Ralph Tasker made on her life and the lessons he taught her to make kids accountable for their own actions. Valdez doesn’t want to have to think about some of her favorite athletes of all-time such as Veronica Trujillo, Shelly Williams, Erica Bryan, Lisa Moore, Tahnie Richards, Jessica Toya, Adeline Boulden or Rhonda Farley, to name a few.

Valdez doesn’t want to think about her favorite victory as a coach that had nothing to do with basketball or volleyball, but track as she won the state meet with seven girls. They won the meet by one-and-a-half points over Clovis. In a matter of game(s), reality will set in that she will no longer blow the whistle and instruct young kids, but she will always know she made a difference in countless women’s lives and with that she can retire knowing she made a difference and her players mattered to her.

For Valdez, it is hard to say goodbye to her first love of teaching and coaching kids. When asked about how she would like to be remembered, after a pause, she replied: “I hope that I impacted kids’ lives and made a difference in their lives. I hope that somewhere on that volleyball court, they learned something that is going to help them in their lives and help them learn some life lessons. I hope I helped them get through some tough things and helped make their lives a little bit easier along the way.”

Valdez’s team is (34-11) and will take on Arlington-Martin out of the Arlington area in Texas, at 5:30 p.m. in Odessa, Texas, on Friday.