Mike Powers| News-Bulletin photo
After 12 seasons and 10 district titles with the Los Lunas boys basketball team, Travis Julian has resigned as head coach.

LOS LUNAS — It was easy to see on the face of Travis Julian, and hear it in his voice too, as the coach answered questions after Los Lunas (20-10) was eliminated March 13 from the boys 5A State Basketball Championship.     

Julian was worn out. Seven days later, after 12 years leading the Tigers, Julian turned in his resignation.  

“I just felt it was time to step away a little bit, time to recharge,” Julian told the News-Bulletin in a phone interview, his voice cracking. “It’s been a hard decision. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little emotional about it. I gave my heart and soul to Los Lunas basketball, and it took its toll.”    

The decision wasn’t something Julian, 54, had been dwelling on, but it became clear after the quarterfinal loss in the Pit.  

“During the season, I’m not thinking about anything but the task in front of me. I felt it after the tournament, a little bit different than seasons past.”    

What memories are top of mind?  Ten district titles in a dozen years are a good place to start, with two trips to the 4A state championship game.  

“We didn’t get the blue (championship trophy) at the end of the day, but we came awfully close,” he said. “We were lucky to win way more than we lost, but the losses stick at you and make you work harder.”      

The successful move to 5A is also a source of pride and the relationships built along the way.  

LLHS finished 20-10 during Travis Julian’s final season coaching the Tigers

“I’ve been very, very lucky to have coached some awesome players,” Julian said. “I had some great parents, a lot of support from administration and had a great coaching staff.”      

Guillermo Luna has seen Julian from a couple of sides, first as an LLHS player, graduating in 2016, and currently as an LLHS assistant coach. 

“Everything I’ve coached, talked about with my young guys, came straight, directly from him,” Luna said of Julian. “He’s a selfless guy, always offering help wherever he can.”   

When asked if anything about Julian was surprising, Luna said, the number of hours he puts in, especially watching film.  

“I’d be getting emails at 12:30, 1, 2 in the morning,” concerning opponents. “I’m like, ‘oh my goodness.’ Just to make sure he was covering his bases. I never knew that amount of work went into it.”   

Julian, who will also retire from teaching after 30 years, is planning to spend more time with his mother and stepfather, who live on a ranch several hours away.  

“It’s time for me to give back to them a little bit,” he said.    

Wilson Holland, Los Lunas Schools director of athletics, will lead the process to hire a new coach.  

“Coach Julian did a wonderful job. I am very proud of what coach Julian built here at LLHS,” Holland said in a statement. “He will be missed.”   

Julian is hopeful Tigers’ top assistant Pablo Gabaldon will be considered.  

“I know that he is ready — he’s a heck of a coach,” Julian said of Gabaldon.    

The next coach will have all-state guard and senior-to-be Jalin Holland as a centerpiece, but several vacant spots will need to be filled.   

After further reflection, Julian put his time coaching at LLHS this way:  

“Every season has a special place in my heart. Every season was a unique journey with its own challenges and successes,” he said. “Watching kids improve as players and people was always the greatest reward.”   

While admitting to “some burnout,” Julian may not have put his coaching whistle away for good.  

“I’m never going to say never,” he said. “I feel I need to step away, recharge a little bit.” 

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Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.