May 24, 2023 759 PM
MARFA — This past school year has been quite the banner-year for Marfa ISD’s Athletic Program, with more athletes advancing to state competitions than in the past 17 years, Coach Edgar Ramirez being named the Cross-Country Coach of the Year by the Texas Girls Coaches Association, and Athletic Director Linda Ojeda jumpstarting new community initiatives.
Now, looking forward to next year, the department will prioritize hosting what is believed to be Marfa’s first-ever track meet, hiring an athletic trainer, creating adult recreational sports leagues and more.
The recently-concluded 2022-2023 school year saw an unprecedented number of Shorthorns advancing to compete in state competitions, said Ojeda, including six girls cross-country qualifiers, as well as powerlifting and track qualifiers.
The Lady Horns volleyball team and girls basketball team advanced to playoff competitions, and the boys basketball team won more district games than in the past seven years, said Ojeda — all strides which were made possible by staying dedicated to training throughout the summer.
“That’s of course attributed to really the kids coming out and working really, really hard but [also] staying more committed during the offseason,” said Ojeda.
Student athletes took this week off, but will be back in the gym and on the track next week to start preparation for the 2023-2024 sports seasons.
With Coach Arturo Alferez being named as interim superintendent in the wake of Oscar Aguero’s resignation, Coach Ramirez will now serve as the head football coach and Ojeda the head basketball coach in his stead. The department will also seek a new football coach.
On the docket for the coming year is to host a junior high track meet at the new Marfa ISD track at Martin Field. Ojeda said the meet will likely be small and include tri-county teams.
She said even with the new track, Marfa’s facilities had a long way to go to achieve meet-hosting standards. The department will have a better idea as to whether it could pull off its first meet in a few months, she said. Other nearby districts use lasers and electronic recording devices to measure athlete outcomes, which Marfa may have to do without for now.
“The timeline for getting caught up with everything that everyone else has, it’s going to be a while,” said Ojeda. “That does not mean that we cannot host a meet, it’s just gonna be a more old school type of meet with regard to measuring, timing and things of that nature.”
In total, around $60,000 to $80,000 worth of equipment is required to get the track fully up and running, half of which the district has already purchased over the past year.
“I also don’t want to bleed out the budget trying to do this because we have so much other stuff that we can take care of within the school not even associated with athletics,” Ojeda acknowledged.
Updates to the field house, which contains the boys locker room and the weight room, are also in the works this summer. Ojeda said the need for a meeting room — which visiting track teams would utilize along with Shorthorn teams — was being addressed as well.
The question as to whether the district will be able to afford a contracted, part-, or full-time athletic trainer is also up in the air, but the position is very much needed, said Ojeda. As it stands, students received only occasional therapy from Sul Ross and Alpine ISD trainers.
This past year, Ojeda initiated a number of programs including the Little Spikers, training for incoming Lady Horns volleyball team members, a Moms versus Players recreational softball game, as well as an honorary initiative called “The Great Comeback” that salutes significant sports teams of old, planned to continue annually during Marfa Lights weekend.
Ojeda said she aims to encourage more buy-in from the community, opening up school facilities for public use when possible, and organizing adult recreational sports for the Marfa community like rag ball, volleyball and basketball leagues.
With a promising incoming boys senior class, Ojeda was hopeful both football and basketball teams would win big this coming year, and that up and coming girls underclassmen would step up to fill the shoes of the talented graduating senior girls class.
As many seniors fly the nest and go off to college, some to relatively large universities, Ojeda said the perseverance they showed on the court and on the field bodes well for their futures. At the end of the day, promoting the district’s athletics is akin to training students how to handle life’s many challenges, she said.
“Really, what these guys need to know is, hey, if you’re really trying to be something, if you want to achieve something, it’s going to take work and sacrifice,” said Ojeda.
Often the role of “coach” is somewhat parental, said Ojeda, requiring support, enforcement of consequences, and more, but it was rewarding for her and fellow coaches to be able to play a part in the vital character development of the next generation.
“Athletics in Marfa, for me, we have a special opportunity to really support kids, watch them grow,” said Ojeda. “You see the potential and you want to take care of them.”