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FARMINGTON — Dave Gardner, the athletic director at Mesa View Middle School, was named the Middle School Athletic Director of the Year by the New Mexico Athletic Directors Association last week.

Gardner, who has been the AD at Mesa View for the past five years and was recently named the northwest regional representative on the middle school committee for the NMADA, said he did not expect the honor.

“It came as a surprise. I got an email telling me I had gotten the award, but I didn’t know at the time I had even been nominated,” Gardner said. “When I got the email, it was sent to a whole bunch of people, and I thought I was getting it because I was on the committee. I opened the attachment with the list of winners, and my name was first on the list. It was very much a surprise.”

Gardner was nominated for the award by Jeanie Mataalii, the former AD at Koogler Middle School in Aztec and 2014 winner of the award.

In his time as AD at Mesa View, Gardner has pushed to better the athletic programs by bringing in coaches who know how to work with adolescents.

“You need someone who’s going to be understanding and nurturing of that age group, because it’s a very difficult age group to work with, and it takes a special person,” Gardner said.

But maybe Gardner’s biggest achievement at Mesa View has been the growth of student participation in athletics by the introduction of an archery team.

“I believe we’re the only middle school in the county that has an archery team," he said. "We’re in our third year of having an archery team, and it gives more students the opportunity to compete in a sport. Some of the kids who are out for archery wouldn’t necessarily go out for one of the other sports. So trying to improve that student participation is important.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.

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