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Goddard track coach thanks seniors

File Photo Dominic Chavez out enjoying life during a break from therapy after an unfortunate injury last summer during football practice. Chavez is also a member of the Goddard track team.

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As preseason training commenced and the Goddard track and field team loaded the bus for our first meet in Carlsbad, I was excited knowing we had a good team and we were ready to go down there and get the season started on a positive note. For the boys, we had speed, jumpers, throwers and distance runners that were going to be the strength of the team.

The girls were few in numbers but mighty in talent, with more on the way after a week off from basketball. The bus was loaded and running so I took attendance and went over goals and expectations. Then I got a phone call — despite sunny skies in Roswell, the sky had opened up in Carlsbad and they canceled the meet. It was a tremendous letdown for the kids as they had worked extremely hard and were excited to compete.

So, we unloaded the bus, went back to class, and I started planning how we would regroup and get ready for the next week. Track is a high-intensity training sport so it would be a challenge to build the kids back up mentally to keep grinding hard every day after having a meet canceled while on the bus about to leave the parking lot.

As expected, the kids responded with the best week of practice up to that point in the season. We were ready to go to Artesia. It was the night before the Artesia meet and we had all the equipment loaded in my truck, double-check uniforms, made dinner reservations for 60 kids. Then I got another phone call — the governor had implemented a no-travel ban, which effectively canceled the Artesia meet. Everybody knows the rest of the story after that.

As heartbreaking as it is for the kids losing their spring, I want them to focus on two things. First of all, to cherish and honor their past experiences with family, friends, school and sports. It’s not just experiencing these things that shape us as human beings, it’s how we value them. I want the kids to look back and not focus on what they lost, but to appreciate the countless blessings and experiences, both big and small, and pay it forward to the world by living it.

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Lastly, I want the kids to use this situation as fuel to ignite their competitive spirit that made them successful athletes and let it guide them as they venture out into the world with no fear. Your competitiveness and winning mentality that served you well as an athlete will be a tremendous asset for you as you strive to reach your goals in all walks of life and set the foundation for the future of our great nation. Own that, take pride in it — and love it.

The seniors I had are a phenomenal group of young men. I will forever value their contributions to track and field, football and Goddard High School. They represent what being a Goddard Rocket is all about and I look forward to following their future endeavors and successes. Here are some brief highlights:

Hunter Beene

Hunter was a great thrower in field, competing in the shotput and discus. He was a state qualifier in the discus last year and was primed to compete for a state championship this year. There is a great tradition of throwing in the Beene family and I’m grateful to have been a part of it. Hunter is also an outstanding football player and will be playing at Eastern New Mexico in the fall. He will major in criminal justice.

Dominic Chavez

I don’t think there was an event that Dominic didn’t do. For his junior season, he did everything from the 800-meter to the 300-meter hurdles and competed hard, showing his great athleticism and mental toughness. As a track coach, it’s often hard to get kids to do multiple events, but Dominic was willing to do it all. He plans to attend either Texas Tech or NMSU and major in kinesiology, and then graduate work in physical therapy.

Austin Eldridge

Austin competed in the javelin and high jump. He was primed to be one of the best javelin throwers in the state this year and has the ability to throw in college if he chooses to. He was a good mentor to the young javelin throwers and helped them with drills and fundamentals. He could assemble any piece of track equipment in seconds. He is going to attend Texas Tech and major in mechanical engineering.

Joseph Madrid

Joseph not only ran the toughest event in all of sports, the 400-meter dash, he absolutely loved it. He was on pace to be one of the best 400-meter runners in the state this year. You have to be an elite competitor to run that race and that’s Joseph Madrid. Joseph and his friend Dominic Chavez were always the first two kids in the entire program to arrive at practice every single day, and right after an intense football offseason workout. They never complained for one second during their track workout. He will be attending Eastern New Mexico and majoring in occupational therapy.

Jake Smith

Jake is a “Throw-bro” for life and competed in the shotput and discus. He would have been one of the best discus throwers in the state this season and also was a great mentor to the young throwers. Jake also was outstanding in football and will be playing at Oklahoma Baptist next season and majoring in health and human performance with an emphasis in physical therapy.

Connor Villalpando

Connor was a sprinter and thrower competing in the shotput and sprints/relays. His sunglasses were the coolest in program history. He would have been a key runner on relays this year that would have competed for a state championship. He was also an outstanding football player and will be playing at UTEP next season and majoring in business.