Interview by DANIEL GONZALES
We sit down with Coach George Maya, a rare breed of an educator who has dedicated his entire professional career to the youth of Las Cruces, and ask him a few questions about his career.
2019 will mark the twentieth anniversary of Coach George Maya’s first run to the state championship game as head coach of the girls’ basketball program at Mayfield High School. The Lady Trojans have won sixteen district championships since 1999, they have been in eight state championship games in that same time, winning three of them.
Coach Maya’s high school coaching career has spanned over four decades and he has been a positive influence for hundreds of students as well as student athletes. He is a true treasure to this community.
We were able to catch up with Coach Maya to reflect on the past twenty years of his coaching career, a time span where the Gold Standard of success of girls’ basketball in the state of New Mexico has been changed by excellence and persistence of Coach Maya and the Lady Trojans program, and has become The Green and Gold Standard.
DG: Can you believe it’s been 20 years?
CM: No, not at all, I remember those first couple of years like it was yesterday. I didn’t know how good we were going to be, I just knew we had some really good athletes, and I believed in our system.
DG: Where did you grow up?
CM: San Miguel and Gadsden area.
DG: What was your first coaching job?
CM: Gadsden 1983.
DG: Where did you play basketball growing up? CM: My dad built me a court to play at our house, and though I didn’t realize what he was doing then, but I get it now. He built the hoop ten and a half feet tall, and I we played on an uneven dirt court where we create large grooves in the ground. He never fixed them, but we learned how to dribble through the obstacles and shoot on a higher goal. I see kids now using smaller balls and shorter rims, and I think this only stunts their growth, it doesn’t accelerate it.
DG: What position did you play?
CM: Point and shooting guard.
DG: Who was your favorite player growing up? CM: The New York Knicks’ Walt Frazier and Dave DeBusschere, I also liked to watch John Shumate play for Notre Dame.
DG: You have influenced so many young men and women through your teaching and coaching over all these years, who was your biggest influence?
CM: My mom and dad. Without a doubt, my biggest influences were my mom and dad. My dad always told me to do what I love, and as long as I have been coaching, I still love it, I love the student athletes, I love the game. I can’t imagine not doing this.
DG: You just recently retired from teaching, but how long will you keep coaching?
CM: As long as they let me (laughs), but honestly as long as I can. I love coaching, I will coach as long as I still have the passion and capacity to do so.
DG: Why keep coaching?
CM: I love the kids, I love the game, I have met so many great people, and the best friends of my life from coaching basketball.
DG: Who are your biggest influences as a coach?
CM: Coach Zac Valles, Jimmy Oliver, and of course Manny Trevizo.
DG: What was your first year at Mayfield?
CM: 1986-87 I believe.
DG: When you took over the girls’ program at Mayfield, you had been coaching boys for many years, was the transition an easy one?
CM: Athletes are athletes, every kid has their own tendencies and personality, but coaching is still coaching, I never took it easy on any of the athletes I coached. My defensive strategy was always to be in better shape than the other team, it takes a lot of conditioning to get there. Whether there were boys or girls were on the court, we had a lot of work to do every day.
DG: How has the game changed over your decades of coaching?
CM: The basics never change, but the speed, the dedication, the skills of each generation change and get better, but the basics are still the same. Some teams seem to be more athletically and others seem to work harder with less talent. I learn more every year from watching other teams and coaches, so the coaching schemes can evolve, but a good attitude is still what makes a player special. If a kid has a good attitude toward the game of basketball, the game rewards them back almost every time.
DG: Of all the successes you have had at Mayfield High School, which sticks out to you the most?
CM: There are too many to count, I can’t pick out one. All our State Championships are so memorable because of all the hard work the girls put in that paid off, but there is so much that goes to every season, every game, I can’t even begin to pick out singular memories.
DG: What do you think your legacy will be 20 years from now?
CM: The good thing about that is I am not in charge of it. The athletes that have come through our program will remember me and our staff all differently, all I hope is that the kids come out better than they came in. I genuinely hope that all parents and kids can see how much I cared for the athletes that came to Mayfield, and how much I wanted love teaching this game.
The Lady Trojans look to have another tremendous run in Coach Maya’s twenty-first season at the helm. Looking backwards the Lady Trojans have a lot to live up to, but Coach Maya is never worried about the last season, the last game, or even the last shot, he is always looking and moving forward as any good leader does. Thank you, Coach Maya for your years of service to our kids and our community and good luck!