The second annual Española Community Matanza hosted the first edition of the fundraising mens basketball tournament, June 1-2, at the Lucero Center.
Twelve teams came together to help support the Matanza, but also to raise money for the Northern New Mexico Predators Amateur Athletic Union basketball team, ages 10-and-under.
The Union is a sports organization dedicated to the development and growth of amateur athletes — and it has been doing so since its formation in 1888.
Matanza Chief Financial Officer Ralph Martinez facilitated the idea for the basketball tournament after he ran into his friend Roman Lozano at a gas station, who served as the coordinator of the Matanza softball tournament.
“After talking to Roman, I loved the idea of a softball tournament that he gave me,” Martinez said. “I thought it would be great to move forward with other tournaments like basketball and sand volleyball.”
Martinez decided to contact his longtime friend, David Salazar, who is also the Predators coach, to coordinate the basketball tournament.
“David is a big name in the Española basketball community,” Martinez said. “We’ve been friends for many years, so I knew this opportunity to coordinate the tournament was right up his alley.”
Martinez said the Matanza is all about giving back to the community — and he thought it would be a great opportunity for the Predators to give back as well.
“I came up with the idea of the team sponsoring the event to get exposure, but at the same time, to get the kids involved in community events,” he said. “It’s great to plug them into that realm at an early age to teach them the value of the community.”
Salazar played basketball for Española Valley High School from 1993-96 and went on to play at the junior college level for the College of Eastern Utah.
It’s his first year coaching the Predators and he’s learned quickly about the importance of fundraising. Association tournament team fees run steep, anywhere from $175 to $375, which is often covered by team parents.
“Parents will sponsor a tournament or we get donations from local businesses,” Salazar said. “We hope to make about $400 (from the Matanza), which should provide us entries fees to two tournaments.”
The Predators profited from all the money raised by the concession stand during the tournament — and they tallied between $400 and $500 dollars, according to Salazar.
The occasion also provided Salazar another opportunity to keep playing the game he loves, in addition to the two mens leagues he participates in. His team, “Puro Norte” won the tournament and earned a $400 cash prize.
Other former college players also participated, including Kendrick Nichols, from New Mexico Highlands University, and former Northern New Mexico Eagles A.J. Peralta and Eric Coca.
Coca played for Northern during the 2016-17 season, but has since moved back to his hometown of Santa Fe to assist the youth, going right along with the theme of the tournament.
“I work for the Santa Fe Youth Development Program now,” he said. “It’s all about helping these kids. I can help shape them and help them learn from what I experienced growing up.”
All 12 teams paid a $400 entry-fee, which went towards the Matanza.
Martinez explained that 40 percent of the money raised over the weekend goes into the Matanza’s account to fund the future of the event, while the other 60 percent is divided among the Hispanic, Native American and Sikh culture committees, who then chose a business or non-profit to donate to.
The Hispanic committee donated its 20 percent to the Española YMCA Teen Center.
“I’m quite pleased with the expansion of the softball, volleyball and basketball tournaments to the Matanza,” Martinez said. “It’s a new foundation and stepping stone for the future.”