Atomic City Update: Consistency is hardest thing to accomplish in sports

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By Phil Scherer

One month into the high school sports season, the thing that sticks out the most to me is how difficult it is to maintain a successful program year in and year out in any sport. This idea has really hit me in volleyball this year, where two historically great programs, St. Pius and Cleveland, have come to Griffith Gymnasium looking like shells of their former selves. 

Though St. Pius defeated the Hilltoppers, it took far more effort than it has in recent years, and the sense of confidence seemed to disappear. For Cleveland, the change has been even more dramatic. After being in the state playoffs last year, the team has only won one game in over a month this year. 

As fans of teams, we often don’t appreciate the good times nearly enough, and forget that the bad times are right around the corner. It happens to every team. There will always be high moments, and there will always be low moments. Maintaining excellence is so difficult. 

That’s why I want the Los Alamos community to appreciate what the cross country and soccer programs at Los Alamos High School have built, and never take it for granted. 

For years, the cross country program, built by Rob and Kathy Hipwood, has been excellent, competing for state championships year in and year out. It is a nationally recognized program, and their results speak for themselves. Even in what this community would consider “down years,” the team is highly competitive, and still finishes among the top teams in the state. This year is no different, as the team is off to a strong start with some of the fastest runners in New Mexico. 

The soccer program is similar, with strong results expected and achieved. The teams are always contenders for the state championship, and have made deep runs in the state tournaments for years. The success of these teams comes from many different levels. The coaches, Ann Cernicek and Ron Blue, are excellent and have deep knowledge bases and passion for their sport. 

The kids are just as passionate, and have the drive and motivation necessary for success. The community has also done an amazing job developing a strong feeder program for soccer, where kids get experience playing from a young age, and continue to grow as players through high school. 

Many of the kids on the teams now have been playing together since they were little, and have chemistry built that other communities just don’t take the time to develop.

Having these types of leaders and dedication help to extend the periods of success, and make the rebuilding process so much easier. 

It is fun to see the local kids succeed and find joy playing the sports they love. These are memories that will last a lifetime for every one of these kids, and they will be proud to say that they were a part of something special.