Coach Charles Zimmerly has been guiding athletes in Socorro for more than five decades.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

You didn’t have to look too hard to find the Zimmerly Relay’s namesake on March 23, because it seemed 74-year-old coach Charles Zimmerly was everywhere at Socorro High School’s track. Before one event, Zimmerly was at the far north end of the oval and during the next race you would see him headed toward the south end. During a 15-minute break, Zimmerly slowed down enough to share his thoughts on the event that now bears his name.

“It feels great. We have two meets here and one is named after Dave Mathieu (Invitational) and I named that when I was track coach and the athletic director here,” Zimmerly said. “And when these coaches decided to have a second meet and wanted to name it the Zimmerly Relays I realized I was happy with that. I thought it was very nice.

Zimmerly served in several capacities during his 51-year career with the Socorro schools.

I’ve coached everything here. I have coached football. I have coached basketball and track,” Zimmerly said.

Those contributions weren’t limited to sports, with Zimmerly serving as AD, vice principal and principal at Socorro Middle School over various times in his career.

Having a track event named after him holds an extra special meaning for Zimmerly, who admits football and track are his favorite sports.

“Those are my two favorite sports, but I loved coaching all of them. They (sports) all fit together, and I liked keeping the kids busy. The busier kids are, the better things work out,” Zimmerly said.

Now in “semi” retirement, Zimmerly hasn’t let his age slow him down and he leads by example. He still devotes a great deal of his time helping as an assistant coach for the Warriors football team and the boys and girls track teams.

While he was working like a whirlwind at his own relays, Zimmerly didn’t overlook how the 2023 group of athletes from Socorro and Magdalena were scoring points for their schools.

“It’s been great. You know, there a lot of these small schools and you see how much effort they put into things and it’s neat to see them perform at a high level,” Zimmerly said. “I think our kids have done well today. It’s been a lot of fun. Both these two coaches, coach (Cody) Lee and coach (Diana) Jameson put so much effort into their sport. We put so much into every day. It’s great to see them having a chance to show what they can do.

Zimmerly’s contributions to Socorro sports aren’t lost on coach Lee, and he has a ton of admiration and respect for the man who was his track and field coach and now serves as one of his assistants.

“To be at the same school for 50-plus years is incredible, and he has done so much for sports in Socorro, and he continues to amaze me with all the things he brings to our track program,” Lee said. “He does so many things for us. He’s not paid anything for what he does, and coach Zimmerly is the guy going out and buying a practice hurdle or other things when he sees a need. His knowledge of track and field rules makes him a walking encyclopedia that I can always depend upon for help.”

Editor’s note: Coach Zimmerly has no plans for a full retirement and remains dedicated to bringing out the best in the athletes he coaches in Socorro. The El Defensor Chieftain plans to present a more detailed feature story on coach Zimmerly as part of our fall sports special section that will be published the first week of the football season.