Home Sports Arreola becomes second Wildcat to leave for Lone Star state in a month

Arreola becomes second Wildcat to leave for Lone Star state in a month

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Texas two-step: Arreola becomes second Wildcat to leave for Lone Star state in a month

PETER STEIN/NEWS-SUN

Robert Arreola is a sports-minded guy, a football and baseball guy, it’s in his blood, his DNA.

So if Arreola is involved in sports, particularly football and baseball, the where doesn’t really matter, only the what. Wherever he’s doing it, Arreola is doing what he loves.
That makes Arreola’s move to Denver City, though surprising, fathomable at the same time. Arreola – a 1987 Lovington High graduate who was part of a 1986 state championship as a football player, served four separate stints as Wildcats head baseball coach, and spent almost a decade as the school’s athletic director – will do what he loves at Denver City High. He will serve as the Mustangs’ head baseball coach and as an assistant football coach, beginning in the 2024-25 school year.

Arreola becomes the second Wildcat to leave for a Texas school in the past month. Anthony Gonzales stepped down as Lovington’s head football coach in early May to become athletic director and head football coach at Snyder High School. Arreola’s career move to Texas will be a little more commutable.

“I’m going over there to help where I can,” he said. “At this point, this is what’s best for my family, and I’m just excited to be going to Denver City and helping their student-athletes out and working with a great administration. And of course, working alongside some great coaches.”

Arreola isn’t blazing a pioneer trail from Lovington to Denver City. Speedy Faith – a Lovington alum and legendary Wildcats football coach who won four state championships, coached future Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, and landed in the New Mexico High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor – has been an assistant football coach and head baseball coach at Denver City in recent years, guiding the Mustangs baseball team to the state playoffs this past spring.

Chief Bridgforth was a Lovington athlete and boys basketball coach who moved on to become Denver City’s athletic director and girls basketball head coach, before circling back to Lovington in 2022.

For Arreola, following that trail was made easy by the way he was received at the end of it.

“I went over there a couple of days ago,” he said Tuesday afternoon, “and it’s pretty awesome the way they treat you. You almost feel like you’re a celebrity, people coming up and wanting to meet you. It was pretty special. It didn’t take me long to want to be a part of that program over there.”

In addition to his coaching duties, Arreola will teach junior high physical education at Denver City. As for the Mustangs football team, Arreola is already involved. Tuesday afternoon he was close to leaving for Denver City to watch the team’s night practice.

“They’re blue collar kids,” Arreola said. “It’s just like the kids here in Lovington; I really feel that the kids are a lot alike. Denver City doesn’t have as many people, but same kind of kids – hard-working kids, they want to succeed, they want discipline. And they’re willing to achieve whatever goal and whatever’s out in front of them.”

Arreola’s football background is impressive enough – he played quarterback for that ’86 Lovington state championship team – but his baseball résumé really jumps out. After playing for Lea County legend Ray Birmingham at College of the Southwest (now University of the Southwest), Arreola went on to become an NCAA Division I pitcher for the University of New Mexico.

“I wasn’t the fastest pitcher in the game,” he said in 2022, “but I had to learn how to pitch at the level.”

As the Mustangs baseball head-coaching reins are handed from ex-Wildcat (Faith) to ex-Wildcat (Arreola), the latter is ready to step back into coaching after spending 2024 away from it.

“I have plenty of experience,” he said Tuesday, “having played high school ball, college ball, being able to coach some great players and be on some great teams. I’m going to coach them hard, but I’m going to love them just as hard when they do something great. I’m excited. We’re going to have a lot of fun.”

Fun yes, but Arreola will be busy.

“It’s been like that all my life,” he said. “I love a challenge. I’m excited for another chapter in my life; it’s go time for me. Let’s go to work.”

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