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Gonzalez signs with New Mexico Junior College

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Roswell’s Alex Gonzalez signed her letter of intent to continue her education and play volleyball at New Mexico Junior College in the fall. Front row, from left: Rebecca Gonzalez, mom; Alex Gonzalez and Alexander Gonzalez, dad. Back row, from left: Bella Gonzalez, sister; NMJC head coach Alex Lehocky; NMJC assistant coach Holli Reyna and Roswell head coach Heather Baca. (David Rocha Photo)

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Timing is everything in life. That’s what first-year coach, Alex Lehocky of New Mexico Junior College Thunderbirds likes about Roswell’s Alex Gonzalez, one of its first recruits in its newly created volleyball program.

Lehocky likes the competitive nature that Gonzalez plays with. What the Lady Thunderbirds hope is that Gonzalez brings that fiery side to the team, and her intensity will translate into a winning environment for the first-year program.

“I have always wanted to go there,” Gonzalez said. “I wanted to go there a couple of years back, but they didn’t have a volleyball program there. I found out they had one this year and I thought it was a perfect place for me because it was the first place I wanted to go. When I found out they (NMJC) had a new volleyball program, I felt like it would be a good fit for me to go there.”

Gonzalez has worked hard since her freshman year to work on her kill shot. One of the things she worked on was her vertical between her junior and senior year. She has trained her quad muscles, worked on her jumping using the Veritmax machine.

“I was in the gym every single day,” Gonzalez said. “I was squatting, and I worked on my timing and I also did a lot of vertical exercises. I did a lot of reps over and over again.”

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Roswell’s Alex Gonzalez goes in for a kill shot against Hobbs last October at the Coyote Den. (Shawn Naranjo File Photo)

Once Gonzalez goes after the ball and gets her timing right and squares her body, she is nearly impossible to stop. Other teams had trouble stopping her as she was voted all-district this season and made second team all-district as a junior. She also helped lead the Lady Coyotes to the district title in the reclassification of District 4-5A this year.

“My second favorite memory was winning district this year,” Gonzalez said. “It felt good to go out with a win and win district my senior year. It was our goal for the season as a team and we got it done. We had a tough schedule and it was really hard for us, but having a hard schedule really helped us when it came to district play.”

Roswell coach Heather Baca feels like Gonzalez improved the most in her freshman year. Coach Baca brought her up to junior varsity in her freshman year because she felt like she had a lot of potential. Baca was impressed with Gonzalez’s fast arm speed and every time she went for a kill shot, Gonzalez would hit the back wall in the gym.

Baca attributed that to Gonzalez having a heavy hand and being strong. Baca felt she needed to work on her vertical to help her control hitting the wall.

“We were fortunate to get those Vertimax machines in,” Baca said. “Her effort in the weight room has definitely made the difference for her. She was a solid player for us her junior year, as well. In her senior year, she had to take on the role of our leading outside go-to player and did a good job of that this year.”

According to her dad, Alexander, he feels like she has always stood out against all competition going back to elementary school and at Yucca Recreation Center.

“This is almost as much as a dream come true for me,” Dad, Alexander said. “You could see since elementary school and Yucca, you could see that she was bar none the best on the court. Whether it was basketball, volleyball, anything, track — she was always head over heels ahead of everybody. She continued in middle school — in two years, they only dropped one set. I went to the gym knowing they were going to win. It’s been a great ride and I’m very grateful that it is still going to continue.”

Another deciding factor for Gonzalez to play at New Mexico Junior College is it’s within driving distance. With another sister at New Mexico State University — it is big that everybody will be close.

Roswell coach Baca had talked to Coach Lehocky a few times about Gonzalez. Lehocky was watching film of Roswell play when she received an email from Gonzalez telling her she would be interested in coming here to play for Lehocky. Lehocky told Gonzalez she was watching the film of Roswell that day that Gonzalez had emailed her. She liked her athleticism and knowledge of the game.

“She’s extremely athletic on the court,” Lehocky said. “She (Gonzalez) understands the game well. Being a first-year program I just need mature athletes to come in, and that’s what made me want her is how mature she is on the court and off the court.”

NMJC has five recruits and they have offered other athletes as well. NMJC would like to wrap up their roster by mid-March. NMJC will look for Gonzalez to play outside.

“As much as I would love ready-made players,” Lehocky said, “I know that’s not what we’re going to get at this level. Offensively, she (Gonzalez) understands the game, she knows that she’s not 6-foot-3 and can hit over a blocker, she understands the game and we’re really happy to have her on our team.”

Gonzalez’s mother, Rebecca Gonzalez, feels like her signing to play at NMJC is a big deal. It is a goal the family has been working toward since Alex Gonzalez has been in middle school.

“It is always our end goal,” Baca said, “to send as many kids to college as we (Roswell) can. I’m super excited to see her play at the next level.”

One of Gonzalez’s favorite wins in her school career was when they beat Goddard, in five sets at the Coyote Den.

“Winning means a lot to you,” Alex Gonzalez said, “but losing teaches you things. It teaches you to be humble and that you can’t do it all on your own, that you really need to count on your teammates and to trust them.”

Alex Gonzalez has a fresh new team and starts with her future squarely in front of her. She has a chance to be the team leader and build upon her athletic and academic career. She will be a part of the first team in NMJC history with a chance to make records and help her team win.

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