By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer
For more than a quarter century he has argued on behalf of Melrose student-athletes to be honored for their actions in and out of their participation in sports, and now, in the twilight of his career, longtime Melrose athletic director Sid Black is the one getting recognition.
Black was given the New Mexico Activities Association sportsmanship award Saturday during the state basketball tournament at the Pit in Albuquerque. The award is long overdue, according to Melrose football coach and assistant athletic director Dickie Roybal, who nominated Black for the award.
“This is something that we should have done a long time ago,” Roybal said. “The last three years we’ve had kids nominated for the sportsmanship award. This year, (we) decided it’s time to get him the award.”
Roybal tells a revealing story about his mentor, which he included in his nomination letter.
“We’ve had kids who weren’t fortunate enough to have enough money and couldn’t afford shoes,” Roybal said. “And he has always just written a check and said, ‘Buy this kid some shoes or buy this kid whatever he needs.’ And then he would say, ‘I don’t want you to tell them who it’s from, as long as they get what they need,’ and that’s the kind of person that he is.”
Black began his teaching and coaching career in 1965 in Magdalena. He arrived in Melrose in 1981, where he assumed assistant basketball coaching duties and became the Buffaloes athletic director.
There is just something that he loves about small town schools, according to the experienced educator.
“I went to school in a small school back in Illinois about the same size as Melrose,” Black said. “I just have always enjoyed being in a small-school environment.”
According to Roybal, Black is such a known and beloved personality in New Mexico high school sports, the NMAA selection committee skipped the routine background check.
“They didn’t even have to call anybody he was such an automatic choice,” Roybal said.
After nearly a half-century of teaching and coaching, Black, 67, is considering retiring at the end of this school year.
“I’ve been doing this for 42 years, so it’s time to start thinking about (retiring),” Black said.
And if Black does step down, Roybal said his leadership will be missed.
“It would be a tremendous loss,” Roybal said. “Because of all the things he does behind the scenes to help our programs, it would be a huge loss.”