Friends remember fallen Vatos player

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By Dave Kavanaugh

While many will associate Mike Esquibel’s name with the horrific way he died this past Thursday, those who knew him are remembering him as a good friend who loved the adventure of new experiences yet stayed fiercely loyal to the people and places of his hometown.

Esquibel died after his pickup truck was struck by a train on a crossing north of Las Vegas.

Funeral services were scheduled this morning at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, followed by a gathering of his friends at the Plaza Hotel.

Esquibel, 35, attended school at West Las Vegas and New Mexico Military Institute before studying at New Mexico Highlands. While at NMHU, he joined the Vatos rugby club and became one of the team’s standouts, playing the position of prop.

Former teammate Dustin Long recalls Esquibel as a dreamer, a good storyteller, someone who was endlessly optimistic about Las Vegas and its potential and someone who loved life.

In a Web site dedicated to Esquibel’s memory, Long wrote: “In every aspect of his life from story telling to cooking to relationships to rugby the ordinary and predictable were to be avoided at all costs. Only the extravagant, exaggerated, and excessive seemed to satisfy his insatiable appetites and then only for a short while. The concept of too much of a good thing was reprehensible to Mike. Everyone knows: Good things were meant to be enjoyed and moderation is ok--just don’t overdo it.”

“Mikee loved people,” said longtime Vatos player-coach Dick Greene. “He realized that he was not the only imperfect person on the planet. He assumed that everyone was as open and giving as he was — and as chaotic, silly, and fun. Tangible things were simply things. They paled in comparisons to human relationships.”

Greene said Esquibel was a powerful physical presence on the rugby field who preferred running through opponents rather than around them.

“In another land, he could have made a living in the game; he was that good.”

Greene noted that Esquibel enjoyed work as well as play, which included dancing, spending time in nature and with his dogs.