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Home is where the heart is for Rob Lovato

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Roswell assistant football coach Rob Lovato is hopeful for football this season. On Monday, a revised schedule was released by NMAA and football is tentatively scheduled to begin on Feb. 1. (Submitted Photo)

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To keep his players working hard, Roswell assistant football coach Rob Lovato tells them, “We’re going to have a season.” He feels it’s been hard to motivate his defensive backs because there have been so many false starts from the New Mexico Activities Association.

On Monday, Sally Marquez, NMAA executive director, came out with a revised schedule for football starting on Feb. 1.

Workout motivation

Rob Lovato returned to Roswell High in 2019 to become an assistant football coach for the Coyotes. (Submitted Photo)

Lovato says all workouts are hard, but this motivational ploy helps to push the Coyotes through their 6 a.m. workouts. Lovato believes in getting his players ready by telling them what week they would be in if they were playing football games, such as it’s Artesia week or Goddard week.

“I tell our kids we are going to have a season,” Lovato said. “I tell the football groups I work out, ‘We’re in playoff week. We’re in week one. We’re in district championship week.’ I want them to know it’s go time, time to work hard.” 

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Lovato tries to keep the players working hard and looking forward to playing again. He believes in his heart of hearts, Roswell will play football this season. Lovato knows that if he believes hard enough, the kids will believe his passion and work hard to prepare for the season ahead, especially the senior players. 

“My senior year was so good,” Lovato said. “It breaks my heart that these kids haven’t gotten to experience the good stuff. As a coach, I fight for the kids’ success so they can see and feel what I’ve gotten to experience.”

Lovato is one of the few coaches at Roswell High that played on the 2000 Roswell state championship football team. He was a good athlete whose value to the team shined as a special team’s player. For a recap of Lovato’s 2000 championship win, see related story titled “2000 RHS championship relived.”

Coaching career

Rob Lovato played football at Roswell High in 2000, when the Coyotes won a state championship. (Submitted Photo)

After high school, Lovato went to college at New Mexico Highlands. His goal was to play baseball but ended up getting cut on the last cut. Because of that, he has a soft spot for athletes that have to work hard for everything they get, whether it is at the high school level or the college level.

Lovato took time to heal and quickly found he had a passion for kids and teaching. His mother, Janie Lovato, is a Title One Educational Associate with El Capitan Elementary School. His father, Richard Lovato was his first Little League baseball coach and that influence always stuck with him. 

“My mom was a big factor in me being a teacher,” Rob Lovato said. “She knew how I felt about athletics and helping people. She thought teaching would be a good profession for me.”

Sitting in one of his education classes in Highlands, Rob Lovato started talking to Doug Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh was coaching football at Las Vegas Robertson. Rob Lovato told him if he ever needed someone to help scout or watch film, he would do it for free. 

Cavanaugh introduced Rob Lovato to West Las Vegas coach Chad Roanhaus and was invited to practice and help out whenever he wanted. They started teaching him game plans and their system offensively and defensively. In his junior year in college, they invited him to be a volunteer coach. Rob Lovato was hired as a paid assistant receiver and linebackers’ coach with no experience.

Rob Lovato knows what it is like to win a championship as a player in Roswell (2000) and as a coach at Las Vegas Robertson (2005-06). He started his coaching career at Las Vegas Robertson as linebackers’ coach and helped them win two championships. 

“Winning a championship as a player is great,” Rob Lovato said, “it’s something I’ll never forget. I still have my ring sitting on my shelf. But when you win a championship as a coach, there is no greater joy than seeing your players celebrate and seeing the joy on their faces after they have accomplished a championship. It still brings back a lot of memories and tears to my eyes.”

Clovis

Rob Lovato was friends with Clovis football coach Cal Fullerton and Drew Hatley. They asked him if he ever thought about coaching in Clovis before baseball season started in 2017. Fullerton offered him a chance to help them with the linebackers and be part of the varsity and junior varsity. 

Being single with no kids or wife, he felt it was the perfect time to try something different. Rob Lovato accepted the job offer and left for Clovis. He eventually became the assistant baseball coach and was there for two years.    

He left Clovis because he wanted to be closer to his parents. His mom, Janie, and dad, Richard, have supported him in his entire coaching career. Rob Lovato’s parents would drive from Roswell to Clovis every Friday night, sit on the Wildcats’ sideline and wear purple, just to watch him coach and then drive back.

Coming home

“I felt like I needed to be home for my mom and dad,” Rob Lovato said.

His goal is not winning blue trophies as a coach, but to give his players confidence in themselves to be good students, people, husbands, fathers and members of the community.

Rob Lovato has no desire to be a head coach again. He feels he can impact young athletes’ lives by working closely with them. It means a lot to him to mentor athletes that have sat in the same desk he used to sit in and play on the same practice field he used to play on. Once Rob Lovato is done coaching in the next 15-20 years, he would like to become an assistant principal.

“I’m never going to hurt a kid,” he said. “I’m always going to put kids first. I want to put them in the best situation to succeed. I always want to do what is best for kids. I’m here to help them and I hope kids see my heart and dedication I put in a lot to help make them successful in life.”

During this pandemic, Rob Lovato tries to motivate student-athletes during these tough times. He leans on his personal motto: “Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” 

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