John Zecca says he needs break from being a head coach

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KIRTLAND — John Zecca was intent on restoring stability to Kirtland Central’s girls basketball program when he took over three years ago.

“They were kind of in need of a little stability at the time. So I thought I’d help them out and try to get them going in the right direction,” Zecca said.

But after reassessing various factors, the Lady Broncos coach said today that he stepped down from his post about 10 days ago.

Zecca said he wanted to free up more time to help coach different sports and finish pursuing his master’s degree in athletic administration. Zecca, also an assistant baseball coach at Kirtland Central, said he’s considering a role as an assistant football coach at KC if an opportunity arises.

Zecca also said some recent stresses in his personal life factored into his decision. Given all he wants to do, Zecca said he needs a break from being a head coach.

“It was just time for me to move on and let someone else take over,” said Zecca, who is also a teacher at KC. “I’ve always kind of prided myself in the fact that I played a lot of sports in high school, and I like to be involved in a lot of different sports, as well.”

Zecca coached the Kirtland Central boys basketball team from the 2008-2009 season through the 2013-2014 season, compiling an 85-82 record.

He then took a break from a being a head coach during the 2014-2015 season, serving as the football team’s defensive coordinator that year before being named the Kirtland girls basketball coach.

Zecca went 53-31 in his time coaching the Lady Broncos.

“That’s hard to replicate, trying to find someone with that much experience, that much general basketball knowledge. (The next coach has) got some big shoes to fill,” Broncos athletic director Keith Neil said. “The expectation here is to win, to win often, to win by a lot, to hang another banner up. This community lives and breathes basketball.”

Zecca said the difficult part of coaching basketball was the timing overlap with other sports in the middle of the school year, making it harder to help out in coaching football and baseball.

The Lady Broncos went 18-11 last season and reached the 5A state semifinals. KC will return most of its key players next season.

Zecca’s successor will take over a program that has won 19 state titles, the last one in 2012.

Zecca said the program is in good shape once again, but challenges remain for his successor.

“With that job, there’s a lot of expectations. Kirtland has a lot of good tradition,” Zecca said. “The fact there is a lot of talent remaining, they’re going to be expected to do well. And they will, without a doubt.”

Neil said there will be a national search for the next coach, adding the job is posted on the school district’s web page at ccsdnm.org.

Although he will be away from the bench, Zecca said he’s willing to offer any advice or information on the team to his successor.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

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