West Las Vegas High coach under investigation; players allege verbal abuse

High School Sports

LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) –  Players on a New Mexico girls basketball team say they’ve had enough of their coach, claiming she’s verbally abusive. They’re refusing to play unless the district hires a new coach at West Las Vegas High School and now, the New Mexico Public Education Department is checking out their claims.

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Gabriella Salinas’ love of basketball started at a young age but now she says many of her varsity teammates at West Las Vegas High are refusing to play this season unless they get a new coach, claiming head coach Miranda Martinez is verbally abusive.

“She’d go into locker rooms and throw her clipboard and say that we’re a lost cause. Pick on you individually in your face. There’s been points where I’ve had her saliva on my face from her yelling so close to me,” Gabriella said.

Another player reportedly quit after Martinez insulted her weight. The New Mexico Activities Association profiled Martinez in a video when she was hired at her alma mater back in 2018 as one of the youngest head coaches in the state.

Gabriella’s mom says she first told Superintendent Christopher Gutierrez about her concerns last year but nothing was ever done. So, Gabriella sent a petition to the district, signed by six of eight girls who would have been returning to the team, explaining how they refuse to play, even boycotting practice starting this week.

NMPED confirms Martinez’s license is now under investigation but wouldn’t give any specifics. The NMAA says it expects school coaches across the state to uphold its sportsmanship code, adding that it’s up to schools to decide if a coach goes too far.

“There is a line that shouldn’t be crossed and when it is belittling, you know, putting them down, saying they’re not good enough, that’s the line,” parent Sarah Tafoya stated.

Gabriella says that while the move may end her athletic future, she wants to stand up for incoming players. KRQE News 13 tried to get a comment from the superintendent and contact the coach through the district, but did not get a response.

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