by Russell Gurule


The Nickel season is here! This thing we call the New Mexico Runners started five years ago. A franchise was born and a dream became a reality. I have to admit, when I first heard about the Runners I was skeptical. How is this going to work in the Albuquerque Metro? Gone are the Chiles, remember the Scorpions? How about the Thunderbirds? I thought on that day when the Runners were announced, are the Runners going to be another name in a long line of franchises that have tried before? 

Yet, the Runners are here today proving skeptics like myself that yes! We can have a team that builds a long lasting tradition in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. It hasn't been easy by any means. Nothing worthwhile ever is. The challenge of acquiring committed players who can play at a high level is immense. The financial investment to build something worthy of your attention with little in return is truly a labor of love. A pandemic almost brought this dream to an end. Yet the Runners are better than ever. Truly something that has given me much admiration and support for this franchise.

Instead of the usual fanfare, this upcoming season has a feeling of laser focus. Gone are last year's trials and tribulations. The injuries cut short last season's promise towards the playoffs. This year is different. A drive towards the playoffs and beyond is the message coming from this year's team. 

The season will kickoff with a new opponent and perhaps a potential rival, the El Paso Rhinos. I already know how I feel about the Amarillo Bombers. I'm sure some of you feel the same way. Maybe the Rhinos will fit in this category also. 

There's plenty of opportunity for road trips to support the Runners. This year offers two road dates with El Paso in February on one weekend. Amarillo will also be another opportunity to show your support. But even better are six home dates at the 7,000 seat multi-purpose Rio Rancho Event Center. This year should be a lot of fun with many events as we begin the drive towards the playoffs.

This year's team brings back some familiar faces with captain Froilan Ramirez leading the way in his third year with the Runners. Goal keepers Nate Yeager and Hector “Chuckie” Castaneda return along with defender Colton Oord to give the Runners a solid defense. Vince Aragon along with Austin Snyder also return as midfielders with Terry Zamora and Luis Fernando Martinez.

Long time veteran “Super Mario” Mario Matute returns to bolster the Runners defense. Also young Jobany Villalba returns from a promising rookie season. Miguel “Miggy” Garcia, one of the original Runners returns for his fifth season. 

A new edition has been added to the roster for this year. Jaime “Chiva” Rodriguez a top goal scorer from previous years returns in a second stint with the Runners. And last but not least, Head Coach Steve Famiglietta and Assistant Coach Nick Famiglietta return as a father and son duo to lead a veteran team in a drive towards the playoffs. 

So what happens next? You'll have to find out this coming Saturday December 30th as the Runners take on the El Paso Rhinos at the Rio Rancho Event Center at 3:05 p.m. Let the drive toward the playoffs begin!

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