Noah Armijo, a senior at Taos High School, and the Taos News’ Male Athlete of the Year, has been handling the pandemic like a lot of other sports fans across the globe — by watching “The Last Dance.”
It’s a documentary about Michael Jordan and the 1998 Chicago Bulls, giving a glimpse into one of the greatest basketball players of all time and his drive to be the best.
“He was an animal,” Armijo said of Jordan and his work ethic.
Armijo, in his own right, performed at a high level in both basketball and football in his final year of high school eligibility, much like the guy who won six championships in eight years with Chicago.
Armijo led the Tigers in football to a 6-5 overall record and a state playoffs appearance at home against Silver a year after Taos won its first ever championship in the sport.
Not many believed that Taos would win over half of its games and with a brand-new starting quarterback, head coach Art Abreu Jr. said, but Armijo was able to write off those doubters.
Armijo didn’t start at Taos for quarterback until his final season, and the season before that he was mostly a rotational player. But he still found success.
The lanky 6-4 senior threw for nearly 1,400 yards and nine touchdowns and he ran for seven more his junior year. He had big pass plays to other seniors, like Angel Limas, for 33-yard touchdowns on 4th-and-27.
And he had flashy run plays, too, like his game-winning bruiser against St. Pius X at Anaya Field for Taos’ first win in over 15 years against the Sartans.
He was All-District in football his senior year.
Armijo is a hard worker and that’s how he helped both the basketball and football team reach the state playoffs. In basketball, he averaged nearly a double-double for head coach Hernando Chavez at 10.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.
But Armijo credits his hard work to those close to him like his father, Jim Armijo, and his stepmother, Wanda Lucero.
My dad was always on my side,” Armijo said “He was on my side even when I wanted to quit during two-a-days.”
Armijo’s dad even set up a camper on campus during two-a-days to let his son get rest in-between practice.
Of his stepmother, Armijo said: “She has helped me with everything, whether it be driving me to practice at 5 a.m. or buying me equipment I need for sports. She also helped me with visualizing the game before I even played it, which I thought helped me [perform] better.”
Armijo played basketball all of high school, but was a starter his final two seasons. During his senior season, though, Armijo nearly missed from February on with a meniscus tear but was able to come back in time for the district championship and state playoffs; he performed well in both games.
“Noah is a big impact [player],” Chavez said.
From a young age, Armijo was fond of the success of some of his favorite athletes such as Jason Witten, Steph Curry, David Ortiz and Jon Lester. So he stepped up to the plate when he needed to the most, just like those athletes did.
He started baseball and basketball when he was 4, but “8 if you want to say competitively.”
“Football, I got into it my third-grade year.”
Armijo was saddened that he didn’t get to play baseball this season, and said it was his favorite sport to play.
“That is the biggest sport for me,” Armijo said. “Just the feeling of the spring and playing baseball with my friends, I miss that.”
Armijo, a left-handed pitcher, was to be Taos’ and head coach Miguel Quintana’s ace this season. Lester is a big inspiration for Armijo, and that’s part of why he chose the pitching route.
“I wanted to be like Jon Lester,” Armijo said. “He’s the main reason for baseball. My brothers weren’t really into it.”
Armijo’s inspiration doesn’t stop at his parents, though. It comes from his brothers and coaches, too. Like texts of support, and lots and lots of encouragement.
“Coach Abreu, he didn’t help me with just football but other sports. He helped me get into a mindset of thinking like a champion, instead of being just mediocre.”
Armijo, without a doubt, is above mediocrity — he’s a stellar athlete, student and leader.