Magdalena’s Aliza Apache is a combination of brains, brawn and beauty. The senior homecoming queen is soaking up every minute of her final year of high school as she works toward a berth in the state powerlifting meet.

“Over the years, I’ve played basketball, and it is one of my favorite sports, but it just really occurred to me that it’s my last shot,” Apache said. “I decided to give it 100 percent. So, I bought in, and all the team did, too. Everyone working together helped me a lot with buying in, and we worked hard this year.”

Girls basketball coach Sara Sue Olney was a driving force in encouraging Apache to step up and take a leadership role.

“I don’t feel like Aliza ever became enthralled in basketball until this year when she became the basketball player we needed her to be. We needed her to rebound, and we needed her to score when she was open. We needed her to set screens and be a key component to our starting five; progressively, throughout the year, she got better and better. I think the last few games of her season were probably her best by far,” Olney said.

While Apache may not have been a natural on the basketball court, she’s taken to powerlifting like a duck to water, and she’s found that pumping iron is both mentally and physically pleasing.

“I like to work out because it helps me stay in my head,” Apache said. “It helps me to engage my thoughts and focus on things I need to do.”

Some of those thoughts include her future, where she plans to attend New Mexico State University and major in chemistry.

“I’m going to be a teacher. I’m going to major in chemistry, and I’m going to utilize that between math and science. I feel if I can teach it well enough, I can help other kids fall in love with math the way I did,” Apache said.

She’s even considering teaching in Magdalena when she graduates from college.
“I love the mountains here. They are my favorite thing about my hometown. I love everything about Magdalena and the people who live here,” Apache said. “I enjoy being around my friends. I love painting and weightlifting. I weightlift on my own time and love going to church. I truly love reading my Bible and going to church.”

As the high school chapter of her life ends Apache has had time to reflect on her time in Magdalena and reveals her advice for younger students.

“I would tell them to live their lives to the fullest, not hold back, and not be scared to take that step and go forward. Because the worst that can happen is you’ll fall down, but you also get back up,” Apache said.

Head football coach Danny Daniels got powerlifting off the ground in Magdalena last year, and the coaching staff welcomed the move with open arms.

As the junior varsity basketball coach, Daniels noted his starting point guard (Apache) had the physical skills and attitude for powerlifting.

“Aliza has some natural ability and the body for powerlifting. It’s a little bit weird in the sense that one of her best events is the bench press and usually its where the deadlift and squats are where you make all your weight,” Daniels said.

Apache is currently fourth in her weight class. The top eight will qualify for the NMAA 2024 State Powerlifting Championships, which will be held April 12-13 at the Rio Rancho Events Center.

Russell Huffman, El Defensor Chieftain Asst. Editor