By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
Longtime Albuquerque High boys basketball coach Ron Garcia told Enchantment Sports he has retired.
Garcia, 64, coached for 40 years at various levels and had been head coach of the Bulldogs since 2005.
He also retired from his teaching position at the school.
“It’s just time,” Garcia said. “I put in my paperwork on (Friday).
“I found out my wife still liked me after coaching all these years, so I said, ‘What the heck.’ I know it sounds cliche, but I want to spend much more time with my wife (Debbie), my kids (Monica, 38, Victor, 39 and Jocelyn, 36) and my eight grand kids.
“I’ve been in the business a long time.”
Garcia said the uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020-21 season being put on hold until January played a part in his decision.
“I hope he gets a chance, and is considered. He was a great player and was on the honor roll at both Albuquerque High and in college (Knox, Galesburg, Ill.),” Ron said.
“He knows the game and is a much better person than me,” he continued with a chuckle.
Someone else who is definitely interested in the job, and is the likely the leading candidate, is West Mesa girls coach and former AHS star Manny Otero.
“I’m in the process of getting my resume together,” Otero told Enchantment Sports. “I let my principal and athletic director at West Mesa know, and I called (Albuquerque High athletic director) Doug Dorame to tell him I’d be applying.
“I really love where I’m at,” said Otero, who has turned the Mustang girls into a perennial powerhouse and won a state title in 2019. “We have a great group of girls returning and an outstanding freshman class coming in. But I am definitely interested in the Albuquerque High job.”
Otero was also an assistant boys coach at West Mesa. He is the son of the late David Otero, a former West Mesa star and University of New Mexico basketball player.
Ron Garcia, who graduated from St. Mary’s High, started his coaching career as an assistant at St. Pius in 1974 and coached at St. Mary’s the next year.
He was an assistant at Albuquerque High for four years in the early-1980s, head coach at Moriarty for four years and an assistant at AHS again the mid-1990s.
The Bulldogs won state titles in 1993 and 1995 under coach Jim Hulsman with Garcia as an assistant. Garcia was very close with former AHS star Kenny Thomas.
After graduating from Albuquerque High — where he played just one season after moving to town — Thomas played four years (1995-99) for the University of New Mexico under former coach Dave Bliss. Bliss hired Garcia as an assistant for three seasons, starting in 1996.
After Bliss left for Baylor, Garcia became head boys coach at Rio Grande from 1999-2005
He had been at AHS since leaving Rio Grande in 2005.
“I’ve been really lucky in my career,” Garcia said. “I’ve worked with a lot of good guys and great players and have been lucky to be able to coach this long.”
When asked if he would ever get back into coaching, Garcia said “I’ll be 65 in January, but you never know. There might be something that comes along down the road.”
FEATURED PHOTO ABOVE STORY: (Chuck Ferris/NM Prep Basketball): Front row, left to right: Head trainer Richard Gerrells, assistant coach Ron Estrada, head coach Jim Hulsman, assistant coach Dave Romo, assistant coach coach Ron Garcia. Back row: Darrick Grandberry, Manny Otero, Daryl Agnes, Brian Bustamonte, Youel Greathouse, Brian Wiley, Jeremy Trujillo, Leo Miller, Marques Holmes, Dominic Rivas, Brian Smith, Danny Ortiz, Kenneth Douglas.
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for more than four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in state history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio and has been honored nationally for investigative reporting. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.