Coach Ray Gonzales’ era began last week in Socorro as the Warriors’ basketball team hit the hardwood in defense of its District 3-3A title.

The 2022 edition of Socorro’s basketball team became known as the “Road Warriors” after playing just six games at home, and it’s part of the reason the Warriors haven’t released a full schedule.

Gonzales has been under Socorro’s roof as a teacher (Spanish) and coach for the last seven years. He’s familiar with Warrior athletes, having coached seventh-grade boys basketball at the old junior high, and his previous varsity stop was in Cobre.

Gonzales’ coaching resume dates back to 1984, and as a multi-sport coach, he sees a problem with his current schedule, which needs to have the number of road games he would like. While many home games are great for a player’s family, it’s also detrimental to finding out how your team reacts on someone else’s court.

“Other than the tournaments, we have four far-away games,” Gonzales said. “That’s not going to be enough, but with the tournaments, it’s going to be okay because we’re going be driving back and forth.”

On November 20, the Warriors held their first official practice of the basketball season, and with 28 players (a couple more are expected) turning out, it’s easy to see being a full-time teacher helps get athletes.

“Being a teacher definitely helps because I’m there. I get to talk to them. I see them in class. I see them in the hallways; they know me, and it makes a big difference. The question is, will they stay? We don’t know. Hopefully, it will all be positive when grades come out at the end of this semester. I get to check their grades. I have their grades. I check the grades every at least once a week,” Gonzales said.

Less than half of his players will make the varsity squad, with Gonzales planning to carry his “lucky number” of 13 total players.

“That’s my lucky number; I married my wife on Friday the 13th,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales may feel lucky, but he’s behind the curve in molding his players into his basketball system. He is taking over for coach J.J. Griego, who quietly left his position over the summer with no quick replacement.

It left the Warriors without an offseason program and no summer games. “

We’re way behind, especially the northern schools right now. They played 30-something games over the summer. We had one little scrimmage, and I didn’t have all the kids there because they were still playing football,” Gonzales said.

While Socorro had some success last season with a district title and a trip to the state tournament, the Warriors posted a 12-17 overall record, and half of those wins were their 6-0 district run. Socorro won its first-round state tournament game 57-53 against Tohatchi.

“We have some good competitive kids. I think they’ll be competitive, and our seniors will be dependable,” Gonzales said.