Rob Sexsmith has been coaching youth sports in Valencia County since 1996, when he got his start coaching girls softball.
In the two plus decades since, he has moved on to coach football and basketball as well.
Through the different sports and the different levels, the one constant has been his wife, Silvia Trujillo, who takes care of the logistics of everything else so that Sexsmith and the players can focus on what’s going on on the field.
Initially, Sexsmith said got into coaching because he thought no one should complain about coaching if they weren’t willing to volunteer and do it. He didn’t want to be that parent, so he started volunteering to coach.
It started out strictly as a way to teach the fundamentals of the game to the kids, but morphed into so much more.
“That’s the biggest thing, it lead to more teaching them life skills, making a difference in their life regardless of their home life,” Sexsmith said. “I’m trying to show them that they have a choice to learn and to be above whatever is happening in their lives.”
Trujillo said that she simply helps out to assist her husband, and that she just does whatever he needs help with.
Sexsmith, however, expanded on the numerous roles she plays. She is the one who deals with parents. She orders uniforms. She runs concessions and makes sure the players have everything they need in order to be successful, allowing the coaches to focus on the field activity.
“That’s probably the biggest part of all of this; she takes all of this away from us so we can spend more time on the field,” Sexsmith said.
Trujillo works at Los Lunas Elementary as a one-on-one for special needs students, a title she’s held for about three years that came out of her volunteering at the school, while Sexsmith runs a small business.
She began volunteering at the school when their oldest daughter, who is now 27, was in kindergarten. It’s another opportunity for her to make a difference in the lives of kids.
Sexsmith is currently the head football coach at Los Lunas Middle School in addition to serving as an assistant for the high school team. He also continues to coach softball and basketball.
The couple, who have eight kids of their own, also try and act as a support system for their players. All of Trujillo’s time spent around the parents gives her information about what they might be going through in their home lives.
In turn, she’ll tell her husband and the other coaches so that they can examine the situation and decide if issues the child is having with the team are related to what is going on at home. Sexsmith says they can adjust how they coach that child in order to best set them up for success.
“There’s kids that come from all over, in YAFL is where she makes the biggest impact because she sees it firsthand,” Sexsmith said. “We don’t always see it first hand because we don’t see the parents, but when we get together afterwards, she already knows everyone’s situation. She provides that perspective.”
Once they are aware of the situation, Sexsmith said they attempt to make those adjustments in a way that will give more confidence to that child.
The couple tries to never turn their back on a child, and have been known to reach out after former players have run into any kind of trouble, just to be a reassuring voice and let them know that they are there to provide support in whatever way they can.
Sexsmith said that they want to be there to make sure that those kids know that they are still young and they can recover from that one mistake.
When they started out, Trujillo said it was rare for parents to really be involved with the peripheral things involved with running the team, but now she receives more help from the team parents as they have seen all of the work she puts in. The parents, she says, take some of that load off by helping to run the concessions stand and providing that support.
In an effort to increase the parental support and help to change the culture of youth sports in the area, the two instituted a rule for their team that parents can’t just drop their kids off and leave. They have to stay and be there to provide that support, so that when a child is out on the field, they can look up and see their parent is there to support them and cheer them on, which can give them that extra boost.
Leona Herrell, who nominated the couple as Unsung Heroes, said Sexsmith and Trujillo have giving so much to the youth for many years.
“Their ongoing commitment to our community is exemplary,” Herrell said. “Coach Rob continues to give his time to our youth with little or no recognition, or compensation, in various coaching capacities.
“Silvia has volunteered her time organizing teams, preparing schedules, washing uniforms, finding resources for kids in need, working concession stands and everything else in between. She ensures not only Coach Rob’s success, but more importantly, our children’s. Collectively, they discern the needs of their team, and each individual, both on and off the field, providing direction, guidance, praise and support.”
“Giving back and seeing the kids of kids I went to school with and being a part of their lives and seeing it flourish,” Sexsmith said of the most gratifying thing about his time coaching. “We’re not done yet, so we really can’t comment on that. It’s taken a while to make a culture change and its still a long way to go.”