Running Community Mourns The Loss Of Longtime Coach

 In General News, Press Releases

The cross country community in New Mexico is mourning the loss of longtime Jemez Valley cross country coach Daniel Chinana who passed away earlier this season.

Daniel had been a part of Jemez Valley Schools as a student athlete and then became an assistant coach in the mid 80s and took over as the head coach of their cross country program in the late 90s.  Danny was inducted into the New Mexico Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2016.  In 2019, he was named the NFHS Southwest Regional Coach of the Year for the sport of boys cross country.

“Daniel touched many lives as a coach and also in our schools, in general, as he has been an employee of the school district for over 30 years,” said Jemez Valley High School Athletic Director Robert Mata.

“He was a part of many state and district championship teams in his tenure at Jemez,” added Mata. “The one word though that was spoken about him so much today was he was such a kind man.”

Many cross country programs around the state honored Chinana in various ways. St. Pius X cross country coach Jeff Turcotte said Sartan runners had “DC” written on their left shoulder in sharpie pen for all meets this season in memory of Coach Danny Chinana.

“Danny was a great coach and an even better man,” said Legacy Academy cross country coach Ben Sandoval.  “Our team knew we wanted to do something to make sure people remembered Coach Chinana and all of his amazing contributions.”  Sandoval and his athletes wore green and yellow ribbons in honor of his memory and encouraged others to do the same.

Jemez Valley was greatly appreciative of the support and decided to return the favor.  Following their district meet, the Jemez Valley runners presented the Legacy Academy team with gifts. “This was one of the best moments I’ve been a part of as a coach,” said Sandoval. “Jemez Valley did not have to do this, but they were moved so much by our athletes’ support.  The bond between our district and our teams is truly special!”

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