For the second time in less than a month, Los Lunas High School has landed a new coach with high name recognition within the state.
Three weeks ago, Ron Geyer, who led the Alamogordo High School boys basketball team to three state championships, was named head coach of the girls hoop program at LLHS. And now, at its last regular meeting on May 28, the Los Lunas School Board approved Michael MacEachen as the Tigers head track and field coach for both the boys and girls programs.
MacEachen, 51, was the head women’s track and field coach at the University of New Mexico for 18 years. He also concurrently headed the Lobo men’s track program for 10 years, ending in 2000.
With a few exceptions, Tiger sports teams have not had much success over the past decade or more. Los Lunas Schools Athletic Director David Atencio said the hirings were an indication of the district’s renewed commitment to high school athletics at Los Lunas High.
“I’ve been telling people our district is in a good place right now in terms of its athletic programs,” he said. “I know the board and the superintendent have been working hard to change the opinion. As is evident by the caliber of coaches we’ve hired, we’ve turned that corner.”
MacEachen takes over programs which, last year, were headed by Tiger football coach Avilio Chavez and Lady Tiger volleyball coach Tara Trujillo.
In addition to his duties as track and field coach, MacEachen was also hired to fill a newly-created position of coordinator for the Better, Faster, Stronger program adopted by the district three years ago.
The program was instituted as part of the ciriculum in grades eight through 12. Essentially, the program is designed increase athletic performance through weight and agility training.
“We feel good about having Mike on board to coordinate Better Faster, Stronger,” Atencio said. “With his experience at the collegiate level, and also coaching younger-aged kids, we feel he is going to be great for our kids and have them ready to perform at their optimum level when they get to the high school.”
MacEachen is also glad to be on board. “I’m extremely excited about the opportunity. There’s enormous potential for the whole program — both the Better, Faster, Stronger and the track and field programs. I’m really excited and thrilled to be involved and have the opportunity to work with these young men and women, helping them achieve their goals and desires,” he said.
After resigning as Lobo coach in 2000, MacEachen spent one year as an assistant director with the New Mexico Activities Association, the governing body of high school sports in the state.
This past school year, he worked as a physical education teacher at Rio Grande Elementary in Belen, a job he said helped rejuvenate his desire to coach.
“I missed coaching, but it was really hard for me to make the decision to leave there,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of those kids would come in each day and be really enthusiastic about being there, whether we were playing a game or learning skills. Every coach should be able to draw from that kind of excitement and enthusiasm.”
MacEachen said he’s already begun preparation for his new job by developing a list of priorities to help guide him through the summer.
Topping the list is familiarizing himself with the Better, Faster, Stronger program. Atencio said MacEachen will institute strength and conditioning programs throughout the district, utilizing the program’s methods. He will also be called upon to work with coaches in other sports to help identify objectives and implement aspects of the program that are specific, or most applicable, to the sports they are coaching.
Also on MacEachen’s priority list is selecting coaches who will assist him with track and field. He said a third objective will be to get to know some of the athletes expected to return next year.
MacEachen’s resume indicates he coached 17 All Americans, 34 NCAA qualifiers, 75 conference champions and 161 All Conference athletes during his stint at UNM. It also shows 60 of his athletes were named to All Conference academic teams.
“Academics and character are critical in developing successful (athletic) programs,” he said. “The same principles apply. It’s all part of a working mix. It’s important, as coaches and as mentors, to be involved in that. I’m excited about putting the pieces together.”
The coach has worked at the high school level before. Soon after graduating from the Eastern New Mexico with a degree in Psychology in 1973, he worked as a special education teacher’s aide at Highland High School in Albuquerque. He spent four years there as head cross-country coach and assistant track coach.
MacEachen continued his undergraduate education at UNM, working toward a teaching certificate in the late 1970s. He earned a master’s degree in Physical Education from the school in 1980.
MacEachen is married and has two young children. His wife, Linda, is a Belen High School graduate.