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Iconic coach steps down

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Submitted to the Optic

After more than three decades in education and coaching, Cindy Roybal is stepping down from her head girls’ basketball coaching post at Santa Fe Indian School.

“It wasn’t an easy decision; I love these girls,” said Roybal. “Basketball and education have been very good to me, but all good things must come to and end. I look forward to this next chapter in my life and whatever it has in store for me.”

Roybal, who was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2012, is well-known in Las Vegas. A native of Pecos, she played for the All American Red Heads women’s basketball team before becoming women’s basketball coach at New Mexico Highlands, her alma mater. She led the Cowgirls to league titles and regional playoffs over a 17-year run, then became the school’s athletic director in 2000.

While a coach, she championed and helped secure equal treatment of the women’s team.

“I graduated high school a year before (federal gender-equity law) Title IX,” she said. “We didn’t have a girls’ basketball team in high school, so early on I realized that I wanted to teach, coach and afford girls the opportunities I never had.”

Her two separate runs at SFIS saw Roybal serve as teacher, department head, athletic director and coach in hoops, volleyball and softball. She led the Lady Braves basketball team to consecutive state titles in 2010 and ‘11, along with seven district titles. Along the way she earned 11 Coach of the Year awards and compiled a 220-54 record.

“The victories and championships are one thing, but the way she inspired her players, the student body and staff are things the public didn’t see,” said SFIS Superintendent Everett Chavez. “She will be greatly missed here. Her genuine caring and love for our students goes well beyond the basketball court. A lot of the successes that we’ve had in producing nationally recognized scholars can be directly attributed to her. Our school pride has been elevated tremendously because of coach Roybal.”