Home / Sports News / Matt Martinez still having a ball, already with a state 6A football championship, as the beat goes on for the long-time Pojoaque Valley athletic director who has now settled into the same role at Rio Rancho Sue Cleveland High School

Matt Martinez still having a ball, already with a state 6A football championship, as the beat goes on for the long-time Pojoaque Valley athletic director who has now settled into the same role at Rio Rancho Sue Cleveland High School

By Arnie Leshin 
Arnie Leshin

It’s tough to keep up with Matt Martinez, not the Matt Martinez who is presently athletic director up at Pojoaque Valley High School, but the Matt Martinez who is currently athletic director down at Rio Rancho Cleveland, that is after he announced his retirement in the same lengthy role at Pojoaque.

I believe I first ran into him around 2001 when I left South Florida behind and rolled into New Mexico for the first time. He was the AD at Pojoaque. He had also been its girl’s head basketball coach, and in a 3-year span of 1986, 1987, and 1988, he had a remarkable run of 88 wins and only three losses, reached the state 3A final three-straight years, and won it once when his girls went undefeated in 28 starts in 1988, and capped it by turning back Kirkland Central, 67-65, after it had already won state a dozen times.
The other two finals could have gone either way, with Martinez’ Elkettes going 24-2 in ’86 and losing in the final, 61-55, to, yes, unbeaten KC and in ’87 going 26-1 and losing to Moriarty, 53-47, in the final. It was the first time the program had gotten this far, and the first time it would win state. It then won back-to-back times under Lanse Carter in 2008 and 09. but Martinez had paved the way there.
He didn’t brag about this, just informed me after I noted the banners hung high at the Pojoaque gymnasium, a well laid-out facility that included a balcony. I then learned that Martinez had also filled in when the boy’s varsity was without a head coach, and that, too, was something he just mentioned. Oh, and he got in a few words about driving the school bus, taking teams to their events, and attending every athletic director meetings.
And it was perhaps 20 years or so later that he figured he had done enough, wanted to settle into retirement, and when he informed me, I asked him if he had any plans upon retiring. Maybe getting in some fishing he answered, and finding other things to do.
Great, that sounded just great. I told him to keep in touch. This was maybe 2017 and the school was seeking a new athletic director as Matt was finding other things to do. So it choose Matt Martinez, the “other Matt Martinez” who had coached and did the public address announcing at Capital High. He also officiated basketball games, and he also owned the same given name and family name as did the one who resigned and probably left his name on his desk and door, maybe even his business cards, but I never checked it out.
Meanwhile, a rumor was going around that the “retired” Matt Martinez had applied for the AD vacancy at Rio Rancho Sue Cleveland High. So I called him and he said he was hired, was no longer retired, and soon it made the newspapers, and I wrote something, finding it all hard to believe. I made sure to ask him if he was still going to be an official at the state track and field championships where I always run into him, and he said of course.
But it’s all falling into place. He’s back in business, his beat goes on, hasn’t slowed down at all. From celebrating Cleveland’s 6A state football championship over city rival Rio Rancho High, he turned his thoughts to hoops and drove up to Santa Fe High where the Storm girls were playing in the annual Bobby Rodriguez/Capital City basketball tournament. They arrived at 2-0, rolled over Robertson, 53-20, downed Capital, 41-31, in the semifinals, and then got past Espanola Valley, 36-33, for the championship.
Cleveland played its final on Saturday. On Friday, its athletic director hoped the school bus in RIo Rancho, took a seat with the boys team and coaches for the approximate 3-hour drive to Clovis. There was still more to do for the traveling man, but he never figured on what turned into a thriller of a basketball game.
The Wildcats were also out to avenge the 56-43 setback to the visiting Storm in the state football semis. In attendance was Clovis head grid coach Cal Fullerton, who carries the same, unrelated name as Cal State Fullerton College in California.
It was a familiar sight on the court, for many of these players had also played in the football game, including Cleveland senior Dorian Lewis, the Player of the Year who now wore No. 2, and 6-foot-5 teammate Tre Watson III, a junior who was wearing No. 1.
The first quarter was close, with the home team up 15-12. At halftime, the Wildcats were in front 36-30, but the Storm charged to within 47-44 heading into the final eight minutes. Trailing 45-36, Cleveland got behind Lewis, Watson, 6-1 junior Nathan Hasberry, and senior Aiden Moreno’s clutch baskets to get within three points of the lead.
The fourth quarter was hectic, but Clovis wouldn’t give in, still hanging on to a 53-52 advantage as the clock ticked down. It was 55-54 when Watson converted a free throw for the tie with 1:30 to go. Next, he drove off a steal and laid in the basket for a 57-55 lead, the Storm’s first of the game. With two minutes remaining, Clovis tossed in a pair of foul shots and it was 57-all.
Hasberry then missed the first of a one-and-one, but got his own rebound, fed the ball to Lewis, who responded with a 3 from the corner and a 60-57 lead. Clovis responded with a basket to cut the gap to 60-59, but after a loose ball was recovered by the home team, Wildcats’ 6-6 senior post Bryce Cabedule was fouled with 2.9 showing on the clock. He stepped to the line, missed both, and it brought a happy trip home for Cleveland and its athletic director, while Hasberry was named Player of the Game.
But Clovis was back on the court the next night, traveling to Albuquerque La Cueva and returning with a 63-62 triumph that now gave it 122 points scored and 122 allowed. On Thursday, the Wildcats hop on the bus again to play at Albuquerque Volcano Vista, while Cleveland, now 2-0, is home Thursday to Albuquerque Menaul, and that’s probably where you will find Matt.
Meanwhile, it was an all-winning weekend for Martinez. He was back at Santa Fe High’s Toby Roybal Memorial Gymnasium Saturday to see his girls win and hoist the championship trophy.
Retire? No, but he did leave behind many years of success at Pojoaque Valley, and this included great communication with the students, the teams, the coaches, the media, has won numerous awards, and sorry to say, the other guy with the same name finds it difficult to keep up, lacks the same communication skills, while the beat goes on for the Matt Martinez now down at Rio Rancho Cleveland.

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