2017 Unsung Hero

His other car is a Zamboni

Brian Greer, the face of Taos youth hockey, serves the community

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Working with kids is like producing a fine pottery vase — requiring a village of potters. It’s a delicate process that takes lots of time and care along every transformative step toward a marketable, original piece.

One worker mixes and stirs the slip, while another prepares the molds. When the lumpy cast has formed, the molds are pulled back and the seams are removed. Upon the potter’s wheel, another set of hands trims the unnecessary parts and carefully smooths and shapes both the inside and outside of the hull.

After some drying time, the hardened clay is further sanded into a finalized “green” state. Others come along and apply the paint and the glaze, while yet another fires the pot in the kiln at just the right temperature.

Understanding the key ingredients and their respective roles in the development of those beautiful works of art are what make great potters — aka great parents, teachers and mentors.

Brian Greer embodies all those titles precisely through his service to others. And, in the many people he has shaped as a Taoseño, Greer has made a difference.

In 1999, Greer and several like-minded citizens helped acquire the resources to build the Taos Youth and Family Center (TYFC). At the time, the need for more recreational opportunities was really high and the ambitious group set out to create a state-of-the-art space for area youth. The push by the group led to the fruitful collaboration between the town of Taos, Taos County and the local business community — creating a campus that contained an ice rink, skate park, arcade, meeting rooms and a swimming pool.

“The efforts of hundreds of people rallied to build this place up,” said Greer, who pointed out that improvements to Enos Garcia Elementary and Taos High School accompanied the project and aided in the passage of a $40 million bond. “Going back to the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, we all saw the need to bolster our facilities.”

Greer became the first full-time director of the TYFC in 2004.

Greer has also served as the head coach of the Taos Ice Tigers, leading his teams to several New Mexico Interscholastic Ice Hockey League championships — despite having limited practice time due to the high cost of producing ice in Taos outside of the winter months.

“We have always been at a disadvantage here in Taos,” said Greer, who motioned to the open-air section of the ice rink. “Every year, we shoot for Nov. 1 to open the rink. But since we can’t control the weather, there’s no guarantee the ice will be ready for skating and hockey workouts.”

His tenure in that special avocation lasted until he turned over the reins to longtime assistant Mark Richert. Greer also served as commissioner of the New Mexico Interscholastic Ice Hockey League, cementing his legacy as a leader in the realm of the sport in Northern New Mexico.

A transplant from Tucson, Arizona, Greer was never exposed to hockey until he was persuaded to help out with his son’s team here in Taos. “I first learned to skate at Kit Carson Park,” said Greer, alluding to the old sunken rink that also served as basketball courts before the TYFC rink was built. “I knew nothing about the sport, having grown up in the Sonoran Desert, where it rarely ever snows – and football and baseball are the dominant activities. I had to learn everything about the sport on my own.”

The journey from Tucson to Taos has built a treasure chest of memories for the pioneering coach.

“We have been involved in the lives of a lot of great kids,” said Greer, as he proudly points to a wall inside his office covered with photos of past hockey and soccer players he has coached. “Nothing pleases me more than knowing these individuals have gone out into the world and are continuing to do great things with their respective talents.”

Greer’s passion for his jobs speaks volumes. However, like the handing over of his coaching duties, Greer is planning to step down from his TYFC directorship at the beginning of 2018.

One of the last major projects completed under Greer’s watch is the renovation of the exterior of the swimming pool. The grant-funded repairs to the structure are the result of another collaboration between the town and county governments.

Greer credits Mayor Dan Barrone and the town for making this a priority. “The cooperation has helped the project stay on target with regards to budget and schedule,” said Greer. “I’m happy to talk to the community about the progress we’re making here with our pool. But more importantly, I’m thrilled that wehave been able to stay open throughout the summer during construction.”

As a supervisor, coach or administrator, Greer doesn’t seek the limelight. He prefers to toil for the adults and youth in our community without commendation or accolades — silently trudging away behind the scenes. He is, however, keenly aware of the direct and indirect impact he has on them.

“You don’t always know you’re making a difference,” said Greer, who grins at the sound of children playing in the pool during recreational swim time. “But sometimes, it’s clear as a bell."

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