FARMINGTON — Eric Arpelar has spent more than half of his life reaching out to people and building relationships. Now he'll put those skills to work on behalf of Newcomb High School athletes after being named the school's new athletic director.
Arpelar, 38, spent the last school year as Newcomb's assistant principal, and now he's moving into a new role as the Skyhawks' new AD.
“You’ve got to be one to bring your A game every day. You want to give (the kids) the best experience possible,” Arpelar said. “I want the total package. I don’t want them just to excel on the court or on the field, I want them to be able to excel in the classroom.”
Arpelar said he will encourage the athletes to get library cards and read one book per month, pointing out that extra dedication to reading will result in extra dedication athletically.
“These kids are only going to play for us for five years. With that in mind, I’m thinking about these kids’ futures beyond high school,” Arpelar said. “I want these kids to go to college. They can utilize athletics and an opportunity to do that.”
Arpelar said it would benefit the student athletes in getting their names out there if they were to learn how to build a customized website highlighting their athletic successes and are able to send a college coach video.
“He sees things ahead. He’s kind of like a visionary. He’s got these ideas he wants to implement, and I feel like that’s what we need at Newcomb. He thinks outside the box,” said Ben Tensay, the athletic director for the Central Consolidated School District.
Arpelar is not afraid to think in bold terms to increase the level of exposure the Skyhawks’ student athletes get. He reached out to ESPN about the idea of broadcasting the Shiprock-Newcomb football rivalry game this year as a means of doing that.
“If I don’t hear back from them, I’m going to be calling them because that game’s going to be approaching pretty quickly,” Arpelar said. “If those kids played that game on ESPN, it would change their lives.”
Arpelar said even if the players don’t end up getting athletic scholarships because of a television broadcast, that exposure could still set up potential academic scholarships.
“You’re never going to win anything if you don’t take risks,” Arpelar said. “People who are entrepreneurs, they take risks. Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, a lot of these people all have humble beginnings. You’re never going to know unless you try.”
Tensay said many people in Newcomb initially were not used to Arpelar’s energy, but the community soon bought into it after he served as the public address announcer at a sold-out basketball game last season.
“They just went crazy. They love this guy," Tensay said. "The families like him, the kids like him. He’s very personable."
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.