Otero Gymnasium was filled to capacity May 16 as the "Annual Sports Awards Banquet" brought closure to another productive school year.
The annual awards banquet is a time for athletes and their families from each of the 18 different sports to come together one last time to honor individual and team achievement.
Master of ceremonies at this year's gathering was Rudy Baca, who also served as the voice of Taos Tiger basketball on the radio and game announcer for boys and girls basketball.
Guest speaker was A.J. Bramlett, a former pro basketball player with New Mexico ties and current team member of the New Mexico Activities Association.
Bramlett was three-year letterman at La Cueva High School in Albuquerque, where he led the Bears to a state championship in 1994. He went on to play Division I basketball at the University of Arizona, where he helped the Wildcats win the 1997 Men's Division I Championship.
The Albuquerque native entered the 1999 National Basketball League draft, and was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the 39th pick in the second round. After a short stint with the Cavaliers, Bramlett played for nine years overseas in both Spain and Latvia, where he was a member of the Latvian League Championship team in 2007.
He offered sound advice for the students in attendance, but the message resonated well with parents, school personnel, coaches and fans too.
In total, 249 athletes earned their "letters" by meeting the requirements of varsity sports participation. Students are eligible to take part in a varsity sport when they reach their eighth-grade year and can play for five years.
A special recognition was made during the ceremony to thank the many coaches for their dedication and time given to teaching the student-athletes in their respective sports.
The following is a list of all head coaches and their assistants:
• Bruce Gomez completed his 33rd year as the cross-country head coach for both boys' and girls' teams in 2017. He was assisted by Rohm Padilla and Lucia Padilla.
• The Lady Tigers volleyball team was coached by Anita Rodriguez and assisted by Tom Duke and Miguel Quintana.
• Football had the largest fall coaching staff with Art Abreu Jr., serving as head coach for his third year. Art Abreu Sr., Ramon Abreu, Tom Good, Tony Perez and Eric Welch rounded out the staff.
• In golf, Jim Fambro helmed the two squads with Marietta Fambro and Jimmy Loder serving as assistants.
• Soccer was led by longtime coaches, Michael Hensley and Casey Tonrey, who headed the boys and girls teams, respectively. Hank Friedman and Rohm Padilla played vital roles as assistants for the two squads.
• On the basketball court, Hernando "Nando" Chavez was the top conductor on the Taos Tiger bench along with Clarence Vigil, Daniel Cordova, Eric Mares and Pat Thoma as his assistants. The Lady Tigers were led by second-year coach, David Sanchez, aided by Benny Mitchell and Ralph Garcia.
• In wrestling, Robert Valencia returned to the chair to guide his grapplers--both boys and girls this year. His staff included Cory Shropshire and Eric Griego.
• Cheer was once again coached by Lisa Abeyta-Valerio, with Leanne Etzel, Melecia Ortega and Valerie Trujillo at her side. The Taos Classics dance team was led by Maria Jeantete and assisted by Miquela Polanco.
• Alfredo Aleman was the head coach for the Taos Tigers swim team in 2017-18. He was assisted by Melissa Aleman.
• Completing his 25th year as the head coach of the Taos Tiger tennis teams was Kurt Edelbrock. He was aided by another longtime coach, Bob Clawson.
• In baseball, skipper Miguel Quintana was surrounded by a plethora of baseball wisdom with Francisco Cortez, Cruz Chavez III and Ryne Valerio as his staff whisperers. Ramon Abreu was the Lady Tigers softball manager and was assisted by Kimberly Marcus.
• Benny Mitchell was the head coach of both the Tigers and Lady Tigers track and field teams. His assistants included: Nando Chavez, Hillario Serrano, Devette Sanchez, Janice Medina, Ernest Martinez and Rohm Padilla.
The banquet included a meal provided by the Taos High School Boosters Club.