Getting to know your neighbor

Steven Contreras, the athletic coordinator for Belen Consolidated Schools, was born and raised in Los Chavez. He has spent 31 years as an educator, 25 as a teacher, seven as the athletic coordinator and 14 years as a head baseball coach. He also spent several years as an assistant football coach. 

He and his wife, Melissa Contreras, have two sons, Steven, 31, and Adan, 25. His parents are Nago and Annabelle Contreras, and he has two sisters, Stephanie Hargrove and Sharon Sanchez. 

Q: What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?  

A: “I really enjoy listening to music, so if I am driving to a place other than work, I will be listening to and enjoying the music. I may also be thinking of family members and friends, whether a conversation we had or some upcoming plans we are looking forward to. If I am driving to or from work, I am thinking of the day’s and week’s tasks that need to be completed.

Submitted photos courtesy of Steven Contreras, pictured above. 

“Depending on time of season, I may be wondering about transportation, officials, opponents’ confirmation, eligibility questions, game workers, safety and security for events. Did I take care of all communication (returned emails and phone calls).”   

Q: What’s a myth about your profession you’d like to bust?  

A: “That educators have an easy job. Educators work many hours beyond the actual workday — whether it be grading, making phone calls, planning or preparing, there is a lot to being a successful educator.   

“In athletics, coaches spend so many hours after the school day, teaching and preparing our student-athletes. Coaching is teaching and athletics are an extension of the classroom, and we promote education-based athletics for our coaches. Coaches spend evenings, weekends and summers with our student-athletes. We need to be able to effectively communicate with students, parents, staff, administrators and community members.”  

Q: What were you like in high school?  

A: “I believe I was a quiet and respectful high school student, although some of my teachers may disagree. I really loved athletics. I was a member of the Belen High School football and baseball teams. Prior to that, I also played basketball and ran track. I was an above-average student who was involved in student council. I have many great memories from high school and had some great friends — some who I still talk to today.” 

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received and from whom?  

A: “When I was young and involved in YAFL and Little League, I was always worried about earning the position I wanted to play. My dad told me not to worry about the other guy I was competing with but to worry about what I could control — myself.  He said work hard, do extra and be prepared; if you do that, it doesn’t matter what the other guy is doing, I will have at least given it my best.   

“He also said, ‘And whatever you’re doing, whether strength training, extra running, learning the playbook do not brag about it to anyone else.’ It was a simple lesson in that hard work pays off and always be humble about it. I carry that advise with me today.”   

Q: What did you want to be when you grew up?  

A: “As a young kid, I wanted to be a professional football player.  I loved playing, watching and talking about all sports, but especially football. I would read books about famous NFL legends.   

“As I got a little older, I realized that I did not have the height, weight or size to fulfill that dream. So, I suppose I did the next best thing and went into education where, along with teaching in the classroom, I could do the same on the field and be involved with athletics as a coach.” 

Steven Contreras with his wife, Melissa, enjoying an afternoon in their backyard. 

Steven Contreras rides his “three-wheeler” when he was a child. 

Q: Who inspires you? 

A: “It’s never been a secret that my heroes are my parents, Nago and Anna Contreras. They have always been extremely supportive, teaching by example. They have been happily married for 55 years. They have a great relationship and do everything together.   

“Through the years, they rarely missed a game I played or coached in or that my sons, their grandsons, played in. They have taught us the importance of family and faith.” 

Q: If you could work any other job for one day, what would it be and why? 

A: “I would be a professional sports broadcaster for either a Superbowl game or a World Series game. I find it very interesting how these sportscasters are able to communicate with the audience in a dignified, unbiased and professional manner. They are obviously well versed and able to discuss situations while under pressure and remain calm and collected.  They are able to think quickly while engaging in sports-minded conversations.” 

Q: What do you do in your free time?  

A: “A way that I get my blood flowing and clear my head is a good workout on the treadmill. My wife and I enjoy trying different restaurants with a variety of different types of food.  Weekend getaways to Ruidoso, Red River or other northern cities are always fun.  

“Family gatherings where we grill in the backyard and pulling out the disco and frying up chicharrónes with friends is always a great time. I enjoy fishing and need to make a point to get out and do it more often.”  

Contreras celebrates an early birthday. 

Steven Contreras’ high school senior picture. 

Q: What’s something about you most people don’t know? 

A: “Most people do not know that I spent my first-year teaching at Omaha, Neb. I taught social studies and physical education at Lewis and Clarke Middle School. I also coached football and track. My wife and I met some great people there that really welcomed us and made us feel at home.” 

Q: What three books would you to take to a deserted island?  

A: “I recently read the prequel to the Hunger Games series, ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.’ Therefore, I suppose I would take the entire Hunger Games series from beginning to end to keep me busy and entertained while on a deserted island.” 

Q: You find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?  

A: “First, I would make sure that all of my finances are in order.  I would make sure to share and help my entire family. Also, I would donate to a worthy cause. Finally, invest some of the money into something where it can earn more.” 

Q: Who is your best friend and why? 

A: “My best friend is my wife of 32 years, Melissa. She is the person who understands me more than anybody else. She really knows how to calm me down and set me straight. She is always willing to listen to my frustrations on a bad day and help me through it with good, sound advice.  

“On the other hand, she is also always ready to celebrate the victories with me. She reminds me to think things through and not make quick rash decisions when I am upset. She makes me laugh; we make a great team.”  

Steven Contreras, left, hitting pregame infield-outfield while he was the head baseball coach at Belen High School. 

Q: What’s your favorite song to sing when you’re alone?  

A: “All genres of music are on my playlist. I grew up listening to Spanish music and country classics, which really influenced my preference of music today. We really enjoy the New Mexico music on 89.1on Saturday mornings and evenings. A couple of go-tos would be ‘Shotgun Rider’ by Tim McGraw and ‘What My World Spins Around’ by Jordan Davis.” 

Q: Where is your happy place, and why? 

A: “My happy place is my home, relaxing in my back porch.  Whether it be an early morning cup of coffee or a late evening cook out, I am always relaxed and at peace while sitting out in my backyard. Listening to music alone or enjoying friends and family is always a great time.” 

Q: Have you had a life-changing experience that led you to where you are today? 

A: “While I entered my senior year of high school, I did not have a plan on to what my future would be. One day, I was called out of class to go to the counselor’s office. Our counselor, Mr. Hayes, informed me that I had received a partial presidential scholarship from New Mexico Highland University.   

“That meeting in Mr. Hayes’ office led me to NMHU, where I got a degree in human performance and leisure sport and a minor in social studies and education. While at NMHU, I got my degree and met my wife and I guess the rest is history.”  

Q: What teacher had the greatest impact on you? 

A: “I believe that there were several teachers who had an impact on who I am today, whether through great lessons in the content area, or just by giving great advice. I do remember my senior year, first period class, my teacher was Mr. Robert Chavez. It was his first-year teaching and he had just graduated from New Mexico Highlands University. When he found out I was attending school there, he gave me some very useful information that helped me during my freshman year.”   

Steven Contreras’ high school football picture during his senior year, 1986-87, at Belen High School. 

Steven Contreras, center, holding his puppy, Lily, and his two sons, Steven, right, and Adan, left. 

Q: What is your favorite movie scene and why?   

A: “This is a tough one as there are so many to pick from. In the movie ‘Coach Carter,’ there is a scene when one of Coach Carter’s basketball players gets up and recites, our deepest fear and thanks the coach for what he has done for him. There are several scenes that I really enjoy from the following movies, ‘Hoosiers,’ ‘Remember the Titans,’ ‘Young Guns’ and ‘Tombstone.’” 

Q: If you could have dinner with one famous person — dead or alive — who would it be and why? 

A: “I am a big Raiders’ fan! I would like to have dinner with John Madden, who was the Raiders’ coach during the glory years in the 1970s. I would like to learn about his leadership and what made his players respect him and play so hard for him. I also wouldn’t mind a dinner picking the brain of ‘Billy the Kid’ and hearing stories from the Lincoln County war.” 

Q: What are you most proud of? 

A: “I am a very proud father. I am extremely proud of my two sons. My oldest son, Steven, is a 2016 college graduate from West Texas A & M University, with a degree in biology and biotech. My youngest son, Adan, is a 2020 college graduate from New Mexico State University, with a degree in broadcast journalism.   

“I am also proud to say that they are both Belen High School Eagles products, where they created many memories as athletes on both the football and baseball field and were both proud members of the BHS National Honor Society.  

“They are respectful, thoughtful and considerate young men, each with a great sense of humor. I thank God for them every day and look forward to the memories to come.” 

Q: How would you like to be remembered? 

A: “I would like to be remembered as a person who was kind, caring and helpful. I would like to be remembered as someone who made a positive difference in the students I taught and coached. I would like to be remembered as a loyal friend and someone others can count on. I want to be remembered as a man who put family first and had a strong faith.” 

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