by Dan Ford
Coach Al Garten was the legendary coach at ENMU from 1936 through 1965. He saw the school grow from a junior college to a four-year institution to a university during his 29 years. Coach Garten is also known as a successful high school coach, although for just a brief time. He was born in 1906 in Kansas and graduated as a three-sport star at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee. He came to Clovis in 1931 and acted as the assistant coach for another legend, R.K. “Rock” Staubus at CHS. After three seasons he went to Carlsbad as its head coach for two years and had a year at Hobbs as well.
In his first year at Clovis he was the head track coach. They did not have track when he got there. In the fall of 1930 Clovis High School had enrollment of 390 (4 grades). That ballooned to 548 by January, 1932. It seemed like a good time to start another sport in the spring. Below is an article from the Clovis Evening News Journal on February 11, 1932. It tells you all you need to know about coaching in that era.
“TRACK, FIELD EVENTS REVIVED AFTER THREE YEARS
STUDENTS START BUILDING TRACK ON VACANT BLOCK
The steady tap of running shoes on the cinder track will be heard this spring as Clovis high school’s first track and field squads in three seasons groom themselves for invasion of district and state meets.
A call for candidates for track was issued yesterday by Coach A.D. Garten. Twenty-five boys responded.
Coach Garten, in his first meeting with the track candidates, made it clear that to have track and field teams for the high school this year, it will be necessary for the participants to make a certain amount of sacrifice and to work hard.
Instead of going into fundamental drills in the various events yesterday afternoon, the tracksters set to work building a track on a vacant lot on East Eighth street. The Boys secured a drag and Coach Garten loaned the use of his car to pull it.
As soon as the track is completed, the boys will set out to secure lumber, the small amount necessary, to build hurdles and stands for use in high jumping and pole vaulting events. The boys will secure the equipment without cost to the school.
Track teams were maintained in Clovis a number of years but were eliminated to allow the boys to devote their time in the early spring months to spring football practice. It was been found, however, that a large number of boys in the high school who do not care to take part in football desire to participate in the track events.
Practically every school in Curry county has a track team and competitive meets are held on weekends throughout the spring.
This season, the high school will make no attempt to hold a meet of its own, but likely will compete in the annual Texico-Farwell meet and the district meet in Portales.”
PS — While the Clovis boys are yet to win a state championship in Track, the girls have won it 12 times …. And, no, spring football in New Mexico has not been sanctioned since the late 1940s.