What is your current occupation and for how many years?
Currently, I am the assistant principal at Taos High School. I have been an educator in Taos Municipal Schools for 27 years. I’ve been in my current position for 11 years. I am also the Taos High School Varsity Cheerleading coach and head coach of Taos Xtreme All-Star Cheer. I began coaching in 1993 at Taos Middle School, was the high school coach from 1997-2003 and returned to coaching in the fall of 2012.
How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?
My family, my husband, Gilbert, my children, Analise, 23, Cristóval, 20, Estévan, 19, and Felíz, 14. My parents, Anna and Eddie Abeyta, extended family, friends, coaching staff Leanne Etzel, Valerie Trujillo, Melecia Ortega and Rosa Flores, Taos High Athletic Director Nicki McCarty, team parents, school administrators and staff, High Altitude Athletics … the list is endless. The support that so many people provide the teams is always key to our success.
If you could go back in time and tell your 18-year-old self-anything, what would it be?
I would tell myself to enjoy the moments, to laugh a lot and not to rush. I’d tell myself to work hard in everything and to believe that all things are possible if you believe in yourself and your God. To cherish the people in your life in every stage of life and, lastly, that at times life is hard but it is always worth it.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
My husband and I have both coached. He understands the demands and sacrifices. My daughters are cheerleaders and participate(d) on my teams. Our sons were wrestlers/football players and learned at a young age about commitment and sacrifice. It is a definite balancing act, and at times can get very hectic. The love and support at home and from the team parents and kids make it all possible.
How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
The teams motivate me. I have the privilege of working with most of these athletes since they were young girls on the all-star team. I have been able to form a relationship with them and their families. It is so exciting to see them get better, stronger and more confident in their abilities as athletes and people. They are fierce and amazing athletes. They push themselves from April through the following March, and to see them grow as athletes and as a team is so amazing and rewarding. They sacrifice more than anyone can imagine participating in their sport. So, I always want to give them every opportunity to be the best that they can be.
What’s an accomplishment that you are proudest of?
My four children will always be my greatest personal accomplishment. In cheerleading, I have had the privilege of working with so many wonderful athletes – I have won six state championships, a few runner-ups and many third-place trophies. But, most important, my greatest coaching accomplishment is the relationships I have with so many strong, amazing young women. I love seeing them accomplish their milestones: graduation, college, marriage, children, careers. They come visit me and it makes all of the time and work worth it. Their successes are mine.
As an invisible mentor, what is one piece of advice that you would give to readers?
Build relationships, enjoy every moment, listen, work hard and believe in your power. Always accept help from others. People always have so much to offer you in areas that really enhance a program. We are not all-knowing, so networking and collaborating are essential.
Meet all of the Taos Woman 2020 Women of Impact:
• Debbie Lujan: Community and Non-Profit Leadership
• Michele Hunt: Educator
• Jacquelene McHorse: Entrepreneur
• Yvette Ortega: Restauranteur
• Catherine Strisik: Literary Artist
• Ernestina Cordova: Community Volunteer
• Lisa Abeyta-Valerio: Athletics
• Nikki Ross: Children's Creative Opportunities
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