Lady Jaguars coach is switching sports
Don’t call it a resignation.
Sig Rivera calls it a retirement — at least from softball.
Rivera called it a career as the head softball coach at Capital on Tuesday after four seasons and a 42-58 record. He told his players during its team banquet, calling it one of the hardest things he’s had to do.
“I had the hardest time saying it,” Rivera said. “I had cottonmouth, and it was hard to get it out.”
Rivera said this might be the last softball team he coaches because he is switching his focus to baseball so he can coach his grandson, who is 6 years old. He didn’t rule out a possibility that he could be in a dugout again — just in a different sport.
“I’m going from one sport to another,” Rivera said. “It’s time to change the chapter.”
Rivera has been pretty successful in his two head coaching stints at the two biggest public high schools in Santa Fe — Santa Fe High and Capital. In nine seasons, he guided the Demonettes and the Lady Jaguars to a combined 108-119 mark, and led Santa Fe High to state tournament appearances in 2009 and ’12. Capital went 11-13 this season and finished tied with Albuquerque Sandia at 5-5 in District 5-5A in the Lady Jaguars’ first foray into 5A.
Rivera said he had a hard time leaving Capital after this season, believing he had a state tournament-caliber team in his hands.
“My biggest regret is not getting Capital to the state tournament,” Rivera said. “We were knocking on the door the past couple of years, and no one was answering. But we made it to the door. Maybe if we beat Sandia in that doubleheader [the teams split games April 20], maybe we do.”
While Rivera took the Demonettes to the state tournament in his first year there, he faced a different scenario at Capital. He inherited a program in 2016 that won just one game the previous year and eight over a three-year period. The Lady Jaguars won four games that season, but never had few than 11 wins after that.
Rivera credited the hard work of the group of eight seniors for helping build up the program.
“We had to get them to believe in themselves and play as a group,” Rivera said. “It took a while, though.”
One thing Rivera said he was most proud of was that he left a program in good health. He pointed to the 2014 Demonettes squad, which reached the Class 4A State Tournament the year after he resigned. He feels Capital has a strong core of incoming seniors and juniors that should give the next head coach a good chance to getting the program to the next level.
Of course, he’s not completely shutting the door on softball. Rivera said he expects to hear from some of his former players in the offseason looking for help.
“I love softball,” Rivera said. “I’ve done it for 26 years. It’s not something I will give up completely. Girls will call me up and say, ‘Can you help me with batting practice or with pitching?’ I can’t say, ‘No.’ My wife says I’m never going to say no.”
More coaching changes: Pecos hired Bryan Gonzales for its head girls basketball coach position. He replaces Ron Drake, who resigned in April to take the girls position at Academy for Technology and the Classics. Gonzales was an assistant on Pecos’ boys basketball program last year, and was a girls assistant at Capital and Santa Fe High.
Meanwhile, Peñasco announced former Northern New Mexico women’s basketball assistant coach Mandy Montoya as its head girls basketball coach over the weekend. She replaces Gilbert Mascareñas, who was fired after three seasons and led the Lady Panthers to the Class 2A runner-up finish in 2018.