Socorro’s Joel Partridge is the New Mexico High School Coaches Association’s wrestling Coach of the Year.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

Being named the 2023 wrestling Coach of the Year by the New Mexico High School Coaches Association left Socorro’s Joel Partridge speechless on July 7. Partridge is used to talking about and lifting his wrestlers while staying in the background.

When first contacted about the honor, Partridge politely responded with a thanks-for-reaching-out response – he needed a little time to absorb the honor that has been slowly rolling up his way since revamping youth and high school wrestling seven years ago.

Last season, Partridge and his staff’s efforts produced multiple state tournament qualifications and two state champions.

After taking a couple of days to absorb the award, Partridge issued the following statement:

“First of all, thank you all for allowing me to coach your kids. I usually respond as quickly as I can in the group anytime something is brought up or a question is asked, and I read Tasha McNeil’s message as soon as I saw it come through.

“Truthfully, I didn’t know how to respond. The first thing I thought of when I heard about this award were Coach James, Coach David, Coach Ronnie, Coach Rottman, Coach Hosman, Coach Sammy, Coach Jon, Coach Sefie, Coach Damien, Coach Bella, Coach Chailynn, Coach Shaydan, Coach Meyer, Coach Hobbs and Coach May (my high school coaches).

“None of the people mentioned do it for recognition or monetary reward. They all show up and give their precious time to kids in our community day in and day out. I’m not trying to be modest or deflect from being named ‘Coach of the Year.’ I just want to offer perspective and my gratitude to all of my fellow coaches who believe in our program and, in turn, me.

“There are many things that go on behind the scenes that most of you do not know about. I appreciate these men and women so much for not only believing in my coaching philosophy but, most of all, everyone’s willingness to question each other and call one another out in order to grow the program and make it better.

“No one is bigger than the program. No one is bigger than wrestling. We all love the sport and work hard together and do our best to make wrestling in Socorro a positive experience for our athletes. Quite a few of our former high school wrestlers who have graduated called me and thanked me for different things, and each time this happens, I always think to myself that’s all the gratitude a coach could ask for.

“I am truly honored to receive this award on behalf of our team, coaching staff and community. Without you all allowing us to push your kids to do their very best, we would not have the opportunity to receive “praise and awards.” Thank you all again from the bottom of my heart. Wrestling is my vice, my passion, my purpose and my church.”

In announcing the award, Socorro Warrior Junior Wrestling pointed to Partridge’s commitment to wrestling and his community.

“Socorro Warrior Junior Wrestling would like to wish our very own SHS Head Wrestling Coach Joel Partridge a huge congratulations on being awarded New Mexico High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year for Wrestling.

“This well-deserved recognition is a testament to your exceptional coaching abilities and the positive influence you’ve had on our wrestlers’ lives.

“From the early morning practices to the intense training sessions, you have instilled in our athletes a drive to push their limits and strive for excellence. Your guidance and mentorship have shaped them into not only formidable competitors but also admirable individuals both on and off the mat.

“Your dedication, knowledge, and unwavering enthusiasm for the sport have made an indelible impact on our team and the wrestling community.

“Your ability to motivate and empower our wrestlers to embrace challenges and overcome obstacles is truly commendable and has been the driving force behind our team’s success. Through your leadership, you have cultivated a culture of resilience, teamwork, and sportsmanship that has united our wrestling family.

“Thank you also to your beautiful bride-to-be Tiffani and your children Trey, Kaylee, Kingston, and Jaxx for sharing you with all of us.

“On behalf of the entire wrestling team and our dedicated supporters, we extend our heartfelt congratulations to you.

“Let’s celebrate Coach Joel and his well-deserved achievement.”