Make it three Los Lunas High School girls basketball players heading to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference next fall. Feleena Gabaldon, a senior at LLHS, has committed to Adams State, a division two school located in Alamosa, Colo.
She joins her teammates, Natalie Jojola and Mia Guest, who are committed to Western Colorado and Colorado Christian respectively, both RMAC schools, at the division two-level.
Los Lunas head coach Marty Zeller recommended Gabaldon to the Grizzlies coaching staff, and after a whirlwind recruiting process which lasted about a month, Gabaldon announced her commitment in a twitter post on Oct. 11.
“Super excited to announce that I will be continuing my academic and athletic career at Adams State University,” she wrote. “I am super blessed for this opportunity and I want to thank my family, friends and coaches for the support! Grizz Gang!”
While the process for Gabaldon was quick, she quickly developed a relationship with the coaching staff at ASU, who was excited about being able to bring her on board. Plus, she was able to stay close to home, something that was a priority for her.
“Since my mom has been sick, I wanted to make sure I was close enough that I could come home if I ever needed to, even if it was just for a weekend,” Gabaldon said.
“I also wanted to be close so that my family could come to more of my games, I didn’t want to be somewhere were they could only come see me play once a year because of the travel.”
Alamosa is less than four hours away from Los Lunas, and because the Grizzlies play in the RMAC, they are conference mates with New Mexico Highlands, ensuring Gabaldon will have opportunities to play in her home state during her collegiate career.
Last season, the Grizzlies went 4 -24 and 4-18 in conference play under head coach Jamie Green, who is entering her third season in charge of the program.
The coach Gabaldon was in contact with more, was assistant Mario Ceatano, who was hired at the end of August by the program after an eight year stint at Northern New Mexico College.
Ceatano told Gabaldon that not only did they want her to come to Adams State, but she was their top priority in the state of New Mexico and is someone they expect to be able to slot in immediately to fill an important role in the post for the team.
Gabaldon is excited to have the opportunity to play against Jojola after they finish their final year together, and said there has already been some trash talk exchanged between the two in the locker room, which she only expects to pick up.
She said she was looking forward to having the opportunity to face off against her friend for years to come.
Gabaldon said she was relieved to have the process over with, as she wanted to have her future cemented before the season started so she could focus her full attention on her senior year in whatever form it ends up taking.
She is a multi-sport athlete for the Tigers, and also plays volleyball. Because the volleyball season was moved to the spring, there will be some overlap between the two sports, with the state championships in basketball occurring simultaneously with the first weeks of the volleyball season.
While she’s been an important piece for the Tigers, she said that as a freshman beginning her years in high school she couldn’t have predicted she would be in this spot of going on to play college basketball.
She credited Zeller for pushing her and for helping her reach the next level with her game as she has gone through the program at Los Lunas.
“I can’t thank him enough,” Gabaldon said. “He’s not easy to play for but he pushes you to be better and he wants to see you succeed.”
Before she leaves Los Lunas High next summer, Gabaldon wants to win a fourth straight state tile, and said she and the team aren’t scared for the new challenge that awaits in class 5A.
She is also hoping to grow as a leader, so as a senior she can help lead the team, as well as go into college as someone who can step into that role early on in her time at ASU.