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Teacher, coach picks passion over money

Submitted Photo Joe Manzanares, an assistant coach with Lions Hondo Little League, with his son, Julian, after an all-star game last summer.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

It is pitch black and dark when Joe Manzanares leaves his house. In less than 30 minutes, this Mountain View Middle School teacher and coach can hear himself breathing hard as he is running on a treadmill.

Joe’s baseball hat is turned backward with his earbuds tucked into his ears while holding his cellphone in his hand. There are droplets of sweat coming through his hoodie and perspiration running down his face as he looks straight ahead.

Joe is not sure if he is running to something or away. Maybe it is his past of an unhealthy lifestyle — years spent not working out, time working in the oil fields, where he had no control over the hours he worked, the sleep he received, or the food he ate.

“Being out of the oil fields,” Joe said, “it allows me the time to work out and eat right. Being in the oil field, you eat what you can when you can. A lot of times that is stopping at Stripes and getting a double green chile cheeseburger with bacon because you don’t know when you’re going to eat again.”

When Joe worked in the oil fields, he would go to Denny’s and eat a Lumberjack Slam because he hadn’t eaten in a day and a half. The life of an oil field worker for Joe was to eat fast food and eat where he could get the most bang for his buck.

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A lot of times, Joe would finish a job and would call into dispatch, and they would send him to another location. Often, they would tell him to go to another job and rig up. Many times, he would hope the job he was at was still pulling pipe or running casing because that meant he would get three or four hours to sleep.

“What you’re hoping,” Joe said, “is to catch a couple of hours of sleep. I was living off energy drinks. The oil industry is a rough industry personally, physically, mentally. It’s tough on your family and it’s tough on the kids. The schedules are tough and you’re never home.”

What matters to him this morning is the three miles he is logging on his favorite treadmill at Alton’s Power Block Gym. Joe loves the endorphins he gets from the runner’s high he receives while working out.

His hope is that by being diligent and working so hard to get into the best shape possible, he will continue to challenge himself and be better physically.

Joe’s grind begins at 4:30 a.m. every morning ahead of other people who have not even thought about starting their day. He knows if he does not get it early, he will become a tomorrow person; and he has lived too many tomorrows, which has become wait until Monday. If he didn’t start on Monday, it would be, I’ll start next month. No, when his alarm goes off, Joe jumps out of bed to push himself to be better than the last time he worked out the day before.

Joe believes that working in the oil fields has taken years off his life. His hope is that by working out and eating right, he may be able to get a few years of his life back.

“I know the lifestyle I have lived,” Joe said, “that it took years off my life. I know that and have accepted that. I hope that if I can get in good shape, that I can gain some years back.”

He often wonders what has taken him so long. He knows that if it was not for his brother, Drew Manzanares, he still might be a size 44 waist and weighing 298 pounds.

Drew Manzanares has always looked out for his younger brother, Joe, and when Alton’s offered a weight loss challenge, Drew asked Joe if he wanted to join in and lose weight as a team and collectively.

Before doing the challenge, Joe went to a doctor who told him he was at the point where he was considered morbidly obese. The breaking point came for him when he was driving down the road and he could feel his belly shaking.

“I had a lot of health issues,” Joe said. “I never had high blood pressure, never was borderline diabetic. I was a healthy fat guy. My ankles, knees hips and joints used to hurt. When I lost the weight, my sleep became better and my ankles and knees didn’t hurt.”

Joe made a commitment to go back to the classroom and teach. He loved the feeling of helping students believe in themselves, and he enjoyed coaching them in the sports they played.

Joe worked in the oil field for Haliburton as a wireline engineer. The lifestyle wreaked havoc with his physical health. He would be scheduled to work 14 days on and have seven days off.

The good side to working in the oil fields was the money was great, but the downside was he had little opportunities to take care of himself and work out.

Another part of working in the oil field was Joe did not like being laid off. When he was laid off, he would go back into the classroom as a teacher.

Joe earned a degree from Eastern New Mexico University, which allowed him to teach school when he was laid off. The last job he took was from Baker Hughes as a cementer making $37 an hour.

He also did oil field sales and could see the oil crash coming. As the contractions of the oil field were coming, Joe was approached to teach by a principal and assistant principal and go back to the classroom.

Joe, a former Goddard football player, played until his senior year. His father, Toby, died of renal cancer at 42 years old in 1997. After his father died, Joe decided to work and help his mother out before going to college and getting a degree from Eastern New Mexico University in 2006. Joe holds a degree in university studies with an emphasis in history and physical education.

“My father dying changed my whole world,” Joe said. “I want to be here to see my grandkids. As I approach the age he died, (42) it weighs heavily on my mind. Whatever I can do to make sure I am around, I’ll do it.”

Joe has lost 63 pounds and his waist is down to 36 inches. Joe started by doing the elliptical for 20 minutes because he was too heavy to jog. He also changed his diet and did intermittent fasting.

Since the gym closure, Joe has been working out with bands with his son, Cade Manzanares. He has been jogging at Cielo Grande running up to 4.2 miles at a time.

On the fast, he would eat between noon and 7 p.m. It took Joe a month to feel better and two months to notice his moods getting better. During the weight loss challenge, Joe lost 19 pounds in a month.

Since working out, Joe’s fitness goals have shifted. He would like to run a half-marathon. He believes as a coach, whether it be track, which he coached before the pandemic, or football and baseball, he owes it to his players to be in shape physically and practice what he preaches.

Joe also teaches middle school students in the AVID program, which is Advancement Via Individual Determination. With his passion and skills, Joe wants to continue improving himself, while at the same time, inspiring his students.

Joe weighs 235 pounds currently and would like to lose another 25 pounds to reach his goal of 210 pounds.

“At this point in my life,” Joe said. “I’m happy. I love working with kids and I love coaching. I absolutely would not go back to the oil field. I have always known that teaching and coaching are where my heart was. I had to get to the point where I had to put my passion above money.”

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.


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