Here are the Best in El Paso Sports in 2010




SPORTS PERSON of the Year – Oscar Leeser.  He was a success the moment he

entered the business world running at the age of 21. The Coronado High School

graduate was Salesman of the Year his first two years on the floor at Kemp Ford.


He hasn’t stopped running. He’s risen to the top of his profession, helped

countless charities and now has become the man who kept the Sun Bowl alive by

persuading Hyundai Motors of America to become its sponsor.


ADMINISTRATORS   of the Year – Sun Bowl executive director Bernie

Olivas, game selection chairman John Folmer and TV coordinator Jimmy Rogers Jr.

They accomplished this year what many El Pasoans never thought would happen:  Get  

Notre Dame University to play in our premiere sports event.


COACH OF THE YEAR – Tony Barbee. Okay, so some El Pasoans don’t like him because

he left UTEP to go to a bigger university. But one can’t ignore the fact that

last season under his leadership theMiners made the NCAA Tournament for the

first time in five seasons, won a conference title for the first time since the

2003-04 season when UTEP was a member of the Western Athletic Conference andwas

named Conference USA Coach of the Year as well as the NABC District 11 Coach of

the Year.


AMATEUR ATHLETE of the Year – Randy Culpepper. His thundering dunks and his

three pointers from eye-popping distances have been a head-shaking marvel to

watch and the main reason the Miners won the Conference USA title last year and

are winning againt this season.


PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE of the Year – J. P. Hayes. He didn’t win a PGA Tour event

this year but he was so steady he made the cut in 14 tournaments, finished in

the top 10 three times and in the top 25 five times and earned $862,523 which

made him eligible for full exemption from qualifying for any PGA tournament in



HIGH SCHOOL Athlete of the Year -- Jake Hartley. The swimmer from Coronado High

School won not one, but two state championships: the 50 and 100 state freestyle



SPORTS MEDIA Person of the Year – Margaret Gallardo who became the first female

sports editor of a daily newspaper in El Paso. A former member of the media and

a former school teacher, she took over the postion at the El Paso Times this

year without missing a beat. In fact, the layouts of the sports pages seem even

better and if you’ve seen a little more emphasis on women’s sports, well, it’s

to be expected and can be nothing but a good thing.


SPORTSWRITERS of the Year – The super duo of Bill Knight and Bret Bloomquist .

They cover UTEP and other sports with such thoroughness, insight and good

writing it leaves one with much appreciation for their work. And a special nod

to Aaron Bracamontes, who took over the main high school beat with outstanding

skill and dedication after the departure of Lenny Jurado.


NEWCOMER of the Year – Felix Chavez. He had been writing for years in New Mexico

with eye-catching ability. Now he’s full time with the El Paso Times. Look for

coverage of horse racing to improve.


SPORTSCASTER of the Year – Steve Kaplowitz. His sports talk show on KROD radio

has been the most informative sports outlet for years in El Paso. Now there are

rumors of even bigger things to come. Stay tuned.


SPORTSMANSHIP Award – Trevor Vitatoe. He’s been to college football what Bret

Favre has been to the pro sport: An iron man. Despite injuries, he started in 49

games during his UTEP quarterback career. That includes the New Mexico Bowl last

week. He insisted on playing although his injuries were so severe they required

surgery after the game. An exceptionally handsome young man, he leaves a

memorable legacy.



Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by e-mail at or online at