KIRTLAND— Kirtland Central High School has named Nadia Watson as the new head coach of the Lady Broncos volleyball team.
Watson, 29, graduated from KCHS in 2003 with a slew of individual and team accomplishments.
Most remember Watson as Nadia Begay, the volleyball standout that led the Broncos to back-to-back semifinal appearances in the 2001 and 2002 seasons. Or they remember her being carried off the court in the final seconds of the 2002 girls basketball state championship against Farmington High. Or her 31 point, nine rebound and five assist performance in the 2003 title game that earned the Lady Broncos their 15th state title.
Now, Watson is looking to leave her mark at Kirtland Central as a coach by helping the next generation of Lady Broncos realize their dreams on and off the court.
"I'm just really excited. I'm kind of paying it forward for what Kirtland did for me as an athlete," said Watson, who will also serve as an assistant for the Lady Broncos basketball program. "Now I want to help girls coming through Kirtland Central achieve their goals."
Whether those goals are playing at the collegiate level or continuing their education beyond their days in the classroom at KCHS, if her players can attain their highest goals, Watson will also achieve hers.
"That's what I want to do more than anything else," Watson said. "I think sometimes they underestimate themselves, so I want to push the girls a little past their limit to help them realize their potential."
With her experience and success as an athlete and her connection to KCHS and the community, Watson, who returned to Kirtland last year with her husband, Troy, and their two daughters, Gabrielle and Claire, was the clear choice for the head coaching position.
"She's from this community. She has family here, and she is very well respected in the community," said KCHS athletic director Cecil Linnens. "She has a great rapport with the girls, and I think her experience and her connection to the community is going to help her become a great coach for us."
Watson said it will be a rebuilding process for the volleyball program after being in a slow decline during the past few years, and that part of her solution is to implement a new mentality of school and team pride.
Watson said that in the past, being from Kirtland and being a Bronco were a point of pride that has dropped off in recent years. And in her first year, she hopes to bring back some of the pride and tradition that were synonymous with Kirtland Central athletics.
"I'm really excited for this season," Watson said. "We have four returners from last season and a lot of fresh, young players coming up who seem really excited start rebuilding that tradition. We're ready to get the season started and get things going."