AP NEWS

Coach Drake moves from Pecos to ATC

May 1, 2019

In the span of one weekend, Ron Drake went from the top to the bottom.

The plan, though, is to get back to the top.

Ron Drake submitted his resignation Friday as the head girls basketball coach at Pecos, six weeks after leading the Lady Panthers to a Class 2A title, in order to take the same position at Santa Fe’s Academy for Technology and the Classics on Monday. He inherits a program from Mike Cintas, who is not returning after two seasons, that went 7-18 last year and took second place in District 2-2A.

The Phoenix were ranked 33rd out of 37 2A teams last season, according to MaxPreps.com’s Freeman rankings, and three of those teams behind them were district opponents. Now, they have the state’s winningest girls coach in Drake, who has 632 wins in a 33-year career.

Drake gets a program that he feels is a good fit for him.

“I like Santa Fe and being in the North,” Drake said. “It’s a little bit closer to home [in Sandia Park], and they’re going to have a brand new gym. So, we’re gonna try and build the program up. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think they got some good, young talent.”

Drake is no stranger to rebuilding projects. He took over an Española Valley team that went 0-26 for the 2006-07 season and led the Lady Sundevils to a District 2-4A title in two seasons. In his first year at Pecos in 2014-15, the Lady Panthers went from 8-19 to 23-5 and a District 2-3A title. Pecos went 109-35 in five years under Drake, winning or sharing a district title four out of five years. The one season the Lady Panthers didn’t — 2018-19 — they brought home a state title with a 53-46 win over Mescalero on March 16.

The decision to leave a program that developed into one of 2A’s best was a difficult one for Drake.

“I thought about it long and hard,” Drake said. “I was going back and forth with [Pecos principal Fred Trujillo] on some things, but I feel like I did what I could in the five years I’ve been there. It was a very hard and sad decision to make because I had a good time there. If I had a bad time, it wouldn’t be so hard to leave.”

As for how ATC convinced Drake to take a chance on its program, athletic director Tim Host said it had little to do with him.

“I got to think it’s the kids,” Host said. “They are our biggest selling point. When we try to get guys out here to coach and we have a teaching position available for them, I introduce them to the kids. I’ve been here for seven years, I think we’ve had but one fight.”

Host said a couple of players on the search committee, which included ATC administrators and parents, and he felt they were swayed by Drake in the interview. Still, Host marveled at the chance to get Drake to consider the position.

“I don’t know how we get him to the interview table, but we did,” Host said.

Even though Drake believes there are talented players in the program, what caught his eye is the gym the school is building that should be ready by September. The facility means Host and his coaches will no longer have to find available gyms and coordinate the appropriate times for players to show up for practice. Last year, ATC’s boys and girls teams held home games at Nina Otero Community School and often practiced there and at the Institute of American Indian Art’s gym across the street from the school.

That won’t be the case for about another four months, so Drake and head boys coach Anthony Moya will have to spend the summer at other gyms to hold workouts and open gyms, if possible. It was a small sacrifice Drake made in order to take the position.

“We got IAIA and maybe Santa Fe High,” Drake said, referring to his old stomping grounds where he coached from 1993-2004. “We just need to get some times where we can get in there maybe start something.”