New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame Inductees
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On March 3, Jim Ciccarello and Curtis Williams were inducted into the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame.
Ciccarello's track teams at Manzano, Sandia, Highland and La Cueva high schools have won six state titles and 20 times finished in the top four. He's still at La Cueva, in his 42nd year of coaching at APS. "People think I'm retired because I'm 68, but I'm not," he said. "I still have a lot of energy."
At Valley High School in the early 1960s, as a student at UNM and into his career as a physical education teacher, that energy was channeled into basketball. "I was a gym rat," he said. Yet, when an opportunity to coach track and field presented itself, Ciccarello had memories to fall back on. "I ran age-group track as a kid in New Jersey, and we'd go over to New York City and run in the Armory on the West Side," he recalled. "... I always had a love for track and field." Two years ago, Albuquerque decathlete Curtis Beach, whom Ciccarello coached in youth track, ran at the Armory in New York City. "So we can say we ran on the same track, 50 years apart," Ciccarello said.

Curtis Williams came to the Gallup area from Oklahoma in the early 1970s, knowing nothing about cross-country. But, he said, he read everything and talked to everyone available about the subject. His boys and girls teams at Gallup won a combined 25 state and 32 district titles. "When I say coaching is a science and an art," he said, "it's about the training. You've got to know the scientific approach of coaching an athlete. "But the hardest part is the art -- getting across to every kid what's acceptable to every kid. And you're never going to be 100 percent accepted. "So you just do the best you can, and hopefully, through your motivation and the way you present things to the kids, that eventually they'll accept you."
Williams coached some terrific individual runners at Gallup. Brandon Leslie won consecutive boys championships in 1993-94; Felicia Guliford won four consecutive girls titles (1998-2001). It was the Bengals' depth, though, that made their dynasty what it was. It wasn't unusual for Gallup, at regular-season meets, to score a perfect 15 - its top five runners finishing first through fifth.


Information and excerpts taken from Albuquerque Journal.