By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
After leading the Portales girls basketball team to five New Mexico Class 3A state championships, and seven consecutive championship game appearances, Lady Ram head coach Brenda Gomez is stepping down after 22 years as head coach.
Gomez will be coaching girls basketball at Robinson High School in Waco, Texas.
“(I have) huge mixed emotions. I love the girls here. The Portales girls I would say are a special breed. I think they’re unique,” Gomez said. “I think back on all the kids that I’ve had that have been special. Whether we win or lose, they all put their hearts out there.”
Gomez led the Lady Rams to four state championships in a span of six years from 2001-2006. During those years, her teams were in the state championship game every year.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever met as competitive of a person as her,” PHS principal Melvin Nusser said. “She’s fiercely competitive but I don’t think over-competitive.”
Her final game as head coach of the Lady Rams was a 43-40 loss to Hope Christian in the state championship game last March.
Lady Ram Vicki Huber is heading into her senior year at PHS and says Gomez informed the team on the way back from an off-season tournament in Las Cruces earlier this month.
“It was such a shock but we knew it was coming,” Huber said. “It’s hard thinking that our senior year we’re going to be losing the best coach we ever had.”
“I’m scared, I’m so scared,” Huber continued. “I know that we have such a good program — she built it up so much that good coaches are going to apply.”
Gomez says taking the job in Waco allows her to be close to family.
“We were just looking to get closer to our daughter, she’s now in Dallas and my mom is down by South Padre so we needed to get closer to them,” Gomez said.
She’s also pleased with where she’s leaving the program.
“I really believe that there’s a good group in the future that will develop into those state championship teams,” Gomez said. “No matter who has them — I don’t think it was me at all, it was just the group of kids that we’ve had and the dedication that they’ve given to the program.”
“We love coach Gomez and she’s instilled in us so many fundamentals,” Huber said. “She’s worked with us so hard and we’re going to carry that on. The tradition will continue.”
Nusser said that the school is currently accepting applications for girls basketball coach.
“With a quality person like that, I don’t know that you can ever replace her. Her experience and what she brought to our district and Portales High School is so valuable. We’re going to miss her,” Nusser said. “I’m not worried about the quality of applicants that we’re going to get. We’re going to get several. There’ll be people coming out of the woodwork to get after this job.”