With love, comes passion.
One Cortez man has transcended his love and passion for sports into a milestone career.
That love of sports as a youth became not just a job as an adult, but a passion.
Through four sports at Montezuma-Cortez High School, Bob Archibeque just completed his 100th combined year of coaching.
The retired educator just completed his 36th season with the track and field team, 15th as head coach.
Panther Stadium is where Archibeque calls his coaching home now. But the 57-year-old was on the M-CHS football staff for 32 years, and the boys and girls basketball staffs for a combined 32 years between each team.
First-year M-CHS athletic director Jimmie Lankford will present Archibeque with a 100-year commemorative plaque in the near future.
However, for Achibeque, who is also a city councilman, it’s never been about individual awards or statistics. It’s been about changing students’ lives and the people around them.
“It’s nothing to do with what I did,” said an emotional Archibeque. “It’s the people around me that helped me. My family, the kids, the parents. It had nothing to do with me.”
Those who know the tall, stalky framed coach, realize Archibeque’s heart may be his strongest muscle of all.
“It’s always been about seeing a young man do something with his life. Or, a young lady become a good person in this world, and for me being able to see that,” he said tearfully. “Sometimes, I look aggressive and masculine, but down deep, it’s a little different.”
Archibeque has seen thousands of kids come in and graduate M-CHS. He also coached and taught at Cortez Middle School, where he served as A.D., too. But the high school level is where he spent most of his time.
The most successful years came in 1992 and 2002. Archibeque was an assistant for his older brother Larry on the 4A state champion girls track team. Ten years later, Archibeque assisted Wade Mortensen when the Panthers won the 4A boys basketball state championship. Archibeque’s son Kirk, who plays basketball professionally in Poland, was one of the catalysts on the 2002 team.
Bob has two other sons, Randy and Jacob, with his wife Vicki.
But how did Archibeque’s life of coaching start?
An athletic prep standout in football and basketball at Mancos High School, Archibeque earned a football scholarship to Fort Lewis College over the mountain in Durango.
Besides playing offensive line for the Skyhawks, Archibeque went to college to, well, as he put it, “all I wanted to do was have fun.”
Through the encouragement of big brother Larry and their parents, Bob got his degree in exercise science in 1976, and it was back to Montezuma County.
Archibeque started his teaching and coaching career at M-CHS on the track team and taught social studies. But the man’s giant heart was teaching sports.
“I just wanted to be part of sports somehow,” the coach said. “To me, this sounded like the obvious choice.”
Archibeque eventually started teaching health and activities classes, which is what he taught up until retirement three years ago.
Although Archibeque has retired from teaching, he feels his students and athletes have kept him feeling youthful.
“The kids have gave me the opportunity to stay young,” Archibeque said. “Being around them, you get the opportunity to help people. But in reality, they’re really helping you. Being a role model is important. I’ve had the privilege to be able to help people emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually.”
That feeling of youth still resonates deep within. The coach doesn’t feel like stopping yet. Archibeque plans to take coaching track and field one year at a time, as long as Lankford keeps the door open.
“As long as I feel that I can give something back to the kids and the kids keep putting that smile on my face each day, it’s good,” he said. “As long as I can get that connection and I’m having fun, and my health allows me, too, I’ll take it season by season.”
Looks like coaching season 101 is on the horizon.
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at firstname.lastname@example.org.