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Better late than never: Viramontes honored with NMAA Hall of Fame induction

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Las Cruces Public Schools Athletics Director Ernie Viramontes has been inducted into the New Mexico Activities Association Hall of Fame, but he had to wait a little longer than expected to get the honor.

His selection was initially announced in 2019 and he was scheduled to be honored in March 2020 during the state basketball tournament.

But the celebration was put on hold for more than a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Instead, Viramontes was honored during the annual fall conference of athletic directors in September 2021 in Albuquerque.

Viramontes has worked in a variety of roles with Las Cruces Public Schools since 1984. He has worked as a teacher, counselor, assistant principal and athletic director.

Viramontes also has coached track, football and basketball at the middle-school and high-school levels for LCPS.

A native of Deming, Viramontes was a two-year letter winner in football and basketball when he was a student at Deming High School. He was all-district and all-state in football and all-district in basketball.

Following high school, Viramontes attended New Mexico State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education with a minor in math and a master’s degree in bilingual education.

He began his career as a P.E. teacher at Central and Fairacres elementary schools in 1984 before moving to Picacho Middle School in 1987, serving as a P.E. teacher there as well.

He spent six years at Picacho Middle School before going to Sierra Middle School, where he worked as a school counselor and assistant principal. In 1999, he moved to Las Cruces High School and served as an assistant principal and academic dean.

Starting in 2004, he moved to the district office where he first served as assistant athletics director for two years before becoming the district athletic director in 2006, a position he still holds today.

During his time as district AD, he has been instrumental in several facilities improvement projects including the addition of the Field of Dreams baseball and softball complexes and the turf on the Field of Dreams football field.

“I am truly blessed working for this district that has given me so much,” Viramontes said in a press release issued by the district. “This is a team effort and I couldn’t get the job done without the people I work with, my staff. I would like to thank my family for always supporting me and inspiring me every day. Finally, I would like to thank the athletes and the people here in Doña Ana County. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve my community.”

He had previously been named the District Athletic Director of the Year, the New Mexico Athletic Directors Association’s Athletic Director of the Year and the New Mexico High School Coaches Association’s Athletic Director of the Year.

Viramontes has also served the NMAA in several capacities, including the NMAA Commission and Board of Directors, sports specific committees, the NMAA Hardship Committee, the NMAA Eligibility Committee and the NMAA Classification and Alignment Committee.

The NMAA Hall of Fame includes individuals who have made significant contributions to interscholastic education in the state of New Mexico over an extended period of time. The hall of fame was established in 1976 and consists of 108 members. In order to be considered, nominees must show “great support of the NMAA’s philosophy and objectives, they must have a combination of involvement in formulating regulations and procedures for various interscholastic education programs and they must have a minimum of 25 years of service, 20 of which must have been in New Mexico,” according to the LCPS press release.