MAGDALENA, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico community is mourning the loss of their girls’ basketball coach. Head coach Marleen Greenwood and her great-niece were killed in a crash over the weekend. Family and friends tell us Greenwood and Reighlyn Rosales were the heart of Magdalena’s basketball program — and the court just won’t be the same.
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“I’ve known her for a long time. She coached when I played,” said Sara Sue Olney, the Magdalena head volleyball coach, now taking over the girls’ basketball team. “Determined, involved, she cared about everybody. She cared about these girls. It was her life.”
Greenwood served as the head coach for the Magdalena girls’ basketball team. On Saturday morning, she and her great-niece, Rosales, were killed in a crash on U.S. 60 between Socorro and Magdalena, when they yielded to the shoulder for a semi with an oversized load, before they were rear-ended by another vehicle, and pushed into the path of the truck. That same day, Olney had to deliver the news to Greenwood’s girls — every single one deciding to play that game in her honor.
“Probably one of the hardest things I had to do was first to hear it and then deliver the news. You don’t ever prepare for anything like that,” said Olney. “We told them and we gave them the option to play and I don’t think a single one of them even questioned the fact that they wouldn’t step on the floor. I did explain to them that it would probably be the hardest thing they’ve ever done but they never waivered and knew they had to do it for her.”
Senior Ella Ganadonegro says Greenwood’s been in her life for as long as she can remember, from FFA to the game. Pushing her team to excel on the court and in the classroom, all feel the emptiness of the gymnasium without the one they called, “Ms. Greenwood.”
“Ms. Greenwood was our junior high coach whenever I was in sixth grade. Basketball’s been in our family for a long time. My mom and her actually played together when they were little,” said Ganadonegro. “I’m just going to miss her because she was a big part of my life and all of ours.”
The basketball program is also grieving its youngest supporter, 8-year-old Rosales. Family members spoke to KRQE off-camera, saying the loss of Greenwood and their ‘princess Rynni-Roo’ have left them heartbroken and grieving.
“Aunt Tooter’s support system, the girls’ biggest cheerleader, the water girl, basketball shagger, anything you could think of, she would do,” said Olney, when remembering Rosales. “Just to have her little smile and her little infectious personality in the gym, made the girls and Marleen very happy every day.”
Olney says as the team moves forward, every move will be to honor them both. Magdalena’s next home game is Tuesday evening. “I just hope that we can honor her the best way we know how and continue to play. I’ll never fill her shoes but I hope to be as good as she was for these girls.”
NMSP says the crash is still under investigation. They tell KRQE News 13, while it doesn’t appear alcohol was a factor, they believe seatbelts were not properly worn at the time of the crash.