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Stevens: Happy 25th for Lobo League
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/09/2013

New Mexico Lobos Volleyball -- in Johnson Center

Thursday: 7 p.m., Lobos vs. San Diego State Aztecs - "Res Hall Night"
Follow along: Live stats | Watch live (for FREE via MWN)
Saturday:  7 p.m., Lobos vs. UNLV Rebels - "Jam Johnson" ($3 tickets)
Follow along: Live stats | Watch live (for FREE via ProView Networks)
Twitter: @unmvolley

New Mexico Match Notes

Lobo League:  is a safe, indoor league for passionate volleyball players at various ages and competitive levels who want to continue involvement in volleyball while also supporting the New Mexico Lobos Volleyball Team. You can contact Lobo League at 277-2472 or by email at vbleague@unm.edu. The website is www.loboleague.com

By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobo.com

The benefits of Lobo League spiral in many directions, but two of them stand out like a Chantale Riddle smash over a tentative defender.

1.      Lobo League a tremendous outlet for volleyball players of various ages and competitive levels to stay in touch with a sport they love.

“I don’t know what my life would be like if I didn’t have Lobo League on the weekend,” said Franchesca Davila, a self-proclaimed volleyball junkie. “I’m playing on four teams. I can’t say enough about it.”

2.      The Lobo League makes New Mexico volleyball better by supplementing the team’s budget.

“Lobo League allows us to provide extra things for the team that raises the level of our program and helps us to be exceptional,” said Lobo Coach Jeff Nelson. “It’s important that we thank the people who play in the league and it’s important that people realize how much the league supports our program.”

The Lobos League will be thanked and recognized on Saturday during the Lobos Mountain West match with UNLV that starts at 7 p.m., in Johnson Center.  This is the 25th anniversary of Lobo League which began in 1988 with 24 teams.

Lobo League has grown to around 200 teams in eight co-ed divisions, seven women’s divisions and five men’s division. All matches are played in Johnson Center on Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Lobo League has fall, spring and summer sessions with about 3,000 participants annually. The league director is Dave Buchholz.

The benefit to the Lobos is an obvious one, but the passion that Lobo League participants take to the court also has personal streams of motivation and memories.

Floyd Duran has been playing in Lobo League since 1992 along with his wife, Theresa.  They met in a volleyball class at UNM.  It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, but more a question of pain at first contact. 

“I went up and came down on her ankle,” said Duran.  “I spent more time on the sidelines after that and we got to talking.”  Duran, 54, said they got married about a year after the ankle sprain.

They joined Lobo League when their eldest child became old enough to babysit the younger kids.   Their team now – “Spare Parts” – is four family members and a friend.  “We only have six on the team because nobody wants to sit out,” he said.

Volleyball might not have the same reputation as golf – a sport you can play until a ripe old age – but the various levels of competition and age groups allow passionate volleyballers to hang around a long time.

“You lose some quickness and you don’t jump as high,” said Duran. “But you have the experience to position yourself better.”

Said Joseph Garcia, 28, who has played in Lobo League for seven years: “It just depends on how much your body can handle. If you have the want and desire, you can play a long time. And there are a lot of different divisions.”

Garcia said he found out about Lobo League from attending a UNM volleyball game. Sheryl Conway said her husband, Ron, has been in the league “about 25 years,” and she started about 20 years ago.

“It’s just such a fun thing to do,” said Sheryl. “At first, I stunk and nobody wanted me on their team. This fall I’m on a team with two of my daughters, my husband and two friends. I might be the weak link on my team, but I enjoy being out there.”

Franchesca Davila is a prime example of a volleyball junkie who turned to Lobo League to continue her passion for the sport.  She played the game at St. Pius X and didn’t want to leave it behind when she entered the working force.  Davila is a math teacher with APS.

“I didn’t play for about ten years,” said Davila, 38. “Somebody told me about Lobo League and I ran into people I had played with in high school and club ball. It’s an amazing league. I’m so happy it’s available. I can’t say enough about it.

“You are playing in a nice facility and not at a bar or some park outside. It’s a safe place for people and their families. It’s affordable. I’ll probably be playing the game until someone drags me off the floor.”

 Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former award-winning Sports Columnist and Associate Sports Editor at The Albuquerque Tribune.  You can reach him at rstevens50@comcast.net.

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