Bell, Martinez newest LLHS head coaches

........................................................................................................................................................................................

The Los Lunas High School volleyball and boys soccer programs both have new leaders at the helm with the recent hiring of former junior varsity coaches Amy Bell and Daniel Martinez.

Bell, whose Tiger junior varsity volleyball team only had one loss last season, takes over for departed head coach Leah Newton.

Newton resigned earlier this month to take the head coaching position at Sheyenne High School in West Fargo, N.D., along with her husband, former LLHS head football coach Jeremy Newton.

Martinez, who also coached the LLHS JV team last season, takes over the boys soccer team from former coach Eliseo Aguirre.

Aguirre resigned the position after the state tournament in November to become Valencia High School's athletic coordinator.

Both Bell and Martinez will be taking the head coaching reins for the first time.

"I am really excited about the opportunity," said Bell, a graduate of Cloudcroft (N.M.) High School who has 15 years of coaching experience and has master's and bachelor's degrees from New Mexico State University.

"I feel I worked my way up through ranks of coaching," she said recently. "It's a great time to be a head coach.

"I'm excited about it," she said. "I have passion for volleyball and I'm hoping I can bring that energy and excitement to the girls an our program."

Martinez, who is his second year of coaching, grew up in Los Lunas but went to high school at Barstow High School in Barstow, Calif., before spending three years at Fransican University of Stubenville in Ohio.

Martinez also expressed excitement about stepping into the head coaching role, saying his emphasis would be on the defensive side of the ball.

"My main focus is getting everyone on the same page working together," he said. "I'll focus on making this a united team, where everyone knows their responsibilities and roles."

The 15-7 Tigers boys soccer team earned a District 6-4A title before finishing the 2012 season with a 1-0 loss to Class 4A semifinalists Los Alamos in the quarterfinals of the state tournament. Los Lunas returns four seniors and 10 juniors from last year's team, including All-State first team forward Alejanrdo Garcia, as well as second team All-State honorable mention goalkeeper Dylan Romero.

The LLHS volleyball team finished 19-3 on the year in 2012, earning a District 6-4A title and won its pool at the state volleyball tournament but lost a heartbreaking 3-0 match to eventual Class 4A champions Albuquerque St. Pius X in the quarterfinals.

Bell said her volleyball team lost five seniors from the district title team and will have some work to do to return to the form they showed in 2012.

"We lost a lot of key players in key roles and a lot of experience, so we need to have some younger girls ready to step in and fill some big shoes," Bell said. "But we definitely have a great group of girls."

Bell said she would not change much from last year's squad, which will likely lean on senior middle blockers Tiege Zeller and Katie Inman as well as senior outside hitter Carly Medina.

"We want to be a very fundamental team," Bell said. "We'll work hard do things correctly and try to do a lot of different things with the offense.

"We'll run some different sets to give our hitters the best opportunities," she said.

Both coaches said they feel keeping consistency in the programs was one of the reasons they got the head coaching jobs.

And both also said that consistency gives their squads the opportunity to immediately improve on their 2012 finishes.

"I'm familiar with the girls and I'm looking forward to working with them in the offseason and work towards beginning of the season," Bell said.

Martinez said his involvement with the players over the last two years — and his role in helping implement the new system as JV coach — puts him in a position to help the team continue to succeed.

"I think the main thing is trying to keep a similar focus," he said. "The good thing is there are similar faces. I know them and they know me. I coached most of them in JV.

"I coached all but one personally, so trying to keep similarity in program amongst coach and players is good," he said.