When Leo Garcia retired last month after 25-plus years as a coach, administrator and athletic director in New Mexico, he knew he wasn’t ready to take it easy. He decided to look for his next challenge. He found it.
Garcia is Morenci High School’s newest athletic director and assistant principal. He’s taken over the seat left vacant when Frank Ogas retired.
Because his children are grown and have children of their own and because he has an understanding wife, Garcia said he felt like he had the freedom to find another fulfilling job. His wife, Theresa, will remain three hours away in Las Cruces until she can retire from her job as an assistant principal, he said.
“I feel like I can still contribute and I still enjoy doing what I do,” Garcia said.
Garcia, who played high school football and baseball in Lordsburg, N.M., received his bachelor’s degree in education and his master’s degree in education management and development from New Mexico State University. He’s worked at schools in several New Mexico communities, including Hatch, Deming, Lordsburg, Alamogordo and Las Cruces.
He coached for 12 years before before becoming an administrator/athletic director in 2002. He spent more than three years at a Las Cruces middle school before moving up to Las Cruces High School where he spent the last 2 1/2 years as an assistant principal/athletic director.
Morenci students should know that he cares deeply for his students, Garcia said.
“I’m there for them and I’m a real advocate for their education,” Garcia said. “They only get one shot at high school and I want to give them the best high school education they can have.”’
They can expect him to tell them the same thing he told his students in Las Cruces: “Get yourself a good education. Open up doors for yourself.”
In his role as assistant principal, Garcia said he always tries to drill down to find out why students make mistakes or poor choices. Disciplining a student without finding out what drove them to make a poor choice does no good, he said.
He also wants students to know that once they accept responsibility for their mistakes, they’ll have a “clean slate,” with him.
As far as his role as an athletic director, students can expect him to be a big cheerleader. He loves to travel with teams to show his support and he hopes he can continue to help the teams perform at the highest levels.
“I’m a hard worker and I’m going to do the best I can,” Garcia said.
While he knows Ogas left some big shoes to fill, Garcia said he’s “up to the challenge.”
“People have a lot of expectations of me and I’ll do my best to meet them,” he said.