By Arnie Leshin
In the six years that I hosted Inside Santa Fe Sports televised on Comcast from the Santa Fe Community College, there was much fun, interesting guests, no shows, and lots of laughs .
Now Joey Fernandez, the record winning head coach of the football and track and field teams at St. Michael’s, must have appeared about 3-4 times.
But this time he was busy as usual, and it had nothing to do with coaching. I had him set up for the third and last show of the day.
But when the second 30-mimute show had ended, there was no Coach Joey and I had one of those shows in which I’d have to do the finale alone. He was tough to reach, but I called him anyway.
Fortunately he answered. “Joey, I said, where are you, this is the time I had you scheduled for.” “I’m in the parking lot,” he said, so I asked what parking lot, the one at the college? “No, I’m still at St. Michael’s,” he told me, so I asked if he’s going to be here, and he said he would.
Actually, he was waiting for Jocelyn, but she had a softball game that day, and he forgot that. So I stalled, did some commercials, told some jokes of the past and present, and applauded when he showed up with two of his daughters, Jolianna and Jordan, and young Joey sat on the nearby guest couch to watch the show.
After we finally got underway, I noticed young Joey, now a 7th grader seated alongside another young girl, so I asked Coach Joey if that is his son’s girl friend?
“No, Arnie, “he said, “that’s my youngest daughter,” and everybody laughed, even the crew on the set. I never forgot that, neither did he, neither did young Joelyn, then in the 6th grade, neither did young Joey.
But the next August, when school began, Joelyn was now a student at St. Michael’s, and I thought I saw her sitting in the first row of the stands in the gymnasium while her dad had a class. I was right. As a substitute teacher I was to have a class in the Tipton gymnasium, and just before it began, in walked Joelyn, who was in that class, and she flashed a huge smile and asked if I remembered her.
I said, of course. You were in the TV studio that day when I asked if you were Joey’s girl friend, and as we both laughed I informed the class what had occurred that day when she sat in the studio next to her brother.
About a year later, little Joey was growing up, looking like an athlete, when I asked him if Joelyn was a good athlete like her sisters are. He answered that she was okay, nothing special. Of course, he went on to become one of the finest athletes in the state, especially on the football field, and he was better than he thought when his dad made he come out for track and field.
Joelyn worked her way up. As an 8th grader, she took a try at the hurdles, but inexperience slowed her times down. It was frustrating, but she worked at it, and when her times improved, it perked her up. By her junior year, she was a good hurdler and ran a leg on the sprint relay teams.
She was also making strides as a member of the basketball and volleyball teams. She showed leadership, defense, rebounding, and improved her shooting while earning a starting spot in basketball.
Volleyball was special for her this past season as a senior. She was more athletic, one of the key ingredients in the Lady Horsemen’s run to the 3A state championship. When they stunned Robertson in the final to complete a four-match sweep of the rival Cardinals, she celebrated like never before.
This was what all athletes long for, a state title, and what she didn’t accomplish in track and field and in basketball, she found on the volleyball court. But wait, she’s not finished yet. The basketball season is still alive and track and field awaits her.
In track and field, she does have a shot at a state championship, whether in the relays or the hurdles. And Joey, who graduated last year, was wrong about Joelyn, for she became better than okay.
She was also recently recognized as the “Subway Featured Student” and was interviewed on the Internet. There were also shots of her scoring from underneath in basketball, making a big block in volleyball, and celebrating with her teammates after they won state.
In addition, Joelyn appeared on the telecast and told of her joy at playing sports and winning a state championship. She handled it well, even better than okay.
She’s the last on Coach Joey’s family list of accomplished student athletes. The J chart. Time sure does fly and Joelyn, too, will graduate on top of the heap just like her sisters and brother Joey.
How busy were they all? Well, along with getting to class, having excellent grades, and making their modest dad proud, check out how Jolianna, Jordan, Jocelyn, Joelyn and son Joey spent their time on the field of athletics.
*Basketball: 2012-13 Jocelyn in 8th grade. 2013-14 Jocelyn as a freshman. 2014-15 Jolianna as a junior. 2015-16 Jordan as a senior. 2015-16 Jocelyn as a sophomore. 2015-16 Jordan as a junior. 2016-17 Jordan as a senior. Joelyn as a freshman. 2016-17 Jocelyn as a junior. 2016-17 Joelyn as a sophomore. 2017-18 Jocelyn as a junior. 2018-19 Joelyn as a senior. *2018 Jocelyn All-District, All-State.
*Volleyball: 2011 Jordan as a sophomore. 2012 Jordan as a junior. 2013 Jolianna as a junior. 2017 Joelyn as a sophomore. 2018 Joelyn as a junior. 2019 Joelyn as a senior. *2019 State Champions.
Softball: 2016 Jocelyn as a sophomore. 2017 Jocelyn as a junior. 2018 Jocelyn as a senior.
Soccer: 2014 Jocelyn as a freshman. 2015 Jocelyn as a sophomore. 2017 Jocelyn as a junior. 2018 Jocelyn as a senior.
*Track & Field: 2013 Jocelyn as an 8th grader. 2013 Jolianna as a sophomore. 2013 Jordan as a junior. 2014 Joelyn as a freshman. 2014 Jolianna as a junior. 2014 Jordan as a senior. 2014 Jocelyn as a freshman. 2-2015 Jocelyn as a freshman. 2015 Joey as a sophomore. 2016 Joey as a junior. 2017 Joey as a senior. 2016 Jocelyn as a sophomore. 2017 Jocelyn as a junior. 2018 Jocelyn as a senior. 2017 Joelyn as a sophomore. 2018 Joelyn as a junior. 2019 Joelyn as a senior. *2014 and 2017 Jocelyn javelin state champion
*Football: 2014 Joey was a freshman. 2015 Joey was a sophomore. 2016 Joey was a junior. 2017 Joey was a senior. 2018 Jocelyn was a senior.*2017 Joey All-District, All-State. *2018 Jocelyn kicked 7-straight field goals, 8 of 9, and 11 for the season.
Proud Coach Dad: Coached state champions in football and track and field. All-time winning coach in Santa Fe and a stellar athlete in his days as a Horseman.