Belen’s new head boys basketball coach will be a familiar face. Donald Marquez, who serves as the Eagles’ head golf coach and has been an assistant under three Eagle basketball coaches, has taken the reins of the program.
He replaces Andrew Dunnell, who left Belen in June to become the new head coach at Manzano High School, his alma mater.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity,” Marquez said. “This is where I want to be. This is where I played basketball. I’m not going to jump ship if we have success here. I want to build a program in Belen.”
Marquez, who oversaw Belen’s first individual state champion in golf in more than 20 years this spring, will continue to lead the golf program as well.
Following Dunnell’s departure, Marquez stepped in to lead the program through summer ball, and said he received a lot of encouragement from the players to apply for the permanent position.
“I stepped in so the kids wouldn’t miss out,” he said. “We had some success and they encouraged me to apply. They told me they wanted to play for me. I talked with my wife about it and she said she was okay with it, so I went for it.”
Marquez said he also received encouragement from Dunnell to apply for the job and was appreciative of the support he provided during the search process.
While he has been influenced by each of the three head coaches he worked under at Belen, including Dunnell, Marquez will bring a new approach to running the program.
“I learned a lot from each of the three,” he said. “Obviously, I’m going to have my own style and my own way of doing things, but I’m really familiar with this program. I played here, I’ve coached here, all of that will go into my approach.”
In the short term, Marquez is just focused on making sure the team is improving, a process that begins with the fundamentals of the game.
“We’ll start with fundamentals with all the kids, even varsity, its never a bad thing to reinforce those,” Marquez said. “As we continue improving, then the goal is to get to a point where we’re competing in district. If you can compete in district, anything can happen when you get to the state tournament.
“Above all, I want to build a successful program. That goes beyond just winning. It’s also about building the kind of program that people want to see in the community, teaching respect and values like that to help us build up our credibility in the community, not that we’ve lost it.”
Though early in the year, Marquez is expecting to have a big roster this winter and believes the Eagles will be faced with a lot of zone defense as a result. BHS is expected to return everyone from the 2020-21 team, and Marquez said he expects to have a few players who opted out in the spring back with the program in addition to a transfer who was ineligible last year.
Last season, the Eagles finished with a record of 1-11 in the fourth and final year under Dunnell, going 0-7 in district play with a roster which featured five freshman. While running two programs is a unique situation, Marquez said the biggest thing to help with the responsibility will be leaning on his assistants.
“The biggest thing is just needing to have great assistants, which I have in golf and I am happy with the staff I’ve put together for basketball,” Marquez said. “I’m hoping that the basketball kids will have seen the success we’ve had in golf and it will motivate them.”