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November 28, 2002

HOOPS '02-'03 New Mexico School for the Deaf (Boys)

From: Santa Fe New Mexican, New Mexico - 28 Nov 2002

By TODD BAILEY | The New Mexican 11/28/2002

Coach: Letty Perez
Last year: 5-17 (2-8)
District: 2A
City: Santa Fe

This year, it's the sky. Next year, it's the moon. After that, it's the stars.

Letty Perez has goals for her New Mexico School for the Deaf Roadrunners.

And while her goals are long term, her team's expectations this year are high.

For this season's Roadrunners, the sky is the limit. Four players return from a 5-17 team, which finished 2-8 in District 2A. One of those players is sophomore Robert Salas, who averaged 14 points per game. Another is 5-foot-11 post Dwayne Johnson.

And they are two of about 12 to 15 players that have Perez smiling.

"These kids are dedicated and excited about the season," says Perez. "We won't have practice until 7:30 at night, yet they will be in the gym 30 minutes before shooting baskets."

Perez says the team's determination and dedication is a force for her as well. Perez, who is an assistant coach with the Lady Roadrunners, often has 12- to 13-hour days with practice being last on her daily to-do list.

"We feed off each other," she says. "When we start practice, I am not tired at all, just pumped up. They want to learn so much and are so excited that they help me as much as I help them."

Three years ago, Perez was a boys assistant coach, two NMSD students went to the season's first basketball meeting. Last year, it was 10 and this year, 15.

Of those 15, seven are sophomores, two are freshmen and two are eighth-graders. They represent the bulk of Perez's long-term plan.

"Right now, the sky is the limit," Perez says. "Then, once the sophomores, freshmen and eighth-graders get more experience, we'll shoot for the moon."

To reach the moon, you only have to travel halfway and then let its gravity pull you in. For Perez, it's the same concept. Once the foundation is set, the kids understand the coaching and learn basketball fundamentals, the program can guide itself.

"The coaching will be easier, because you are not always working on fundamentals," Perez says, "but it won't be easier on the coach."

It's hard to reach the sky when the gravity is pulling you down, but Perez and her Roadrunners know it will be a lot of fun trying.

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