Chris O’Neil has a passion for life and coaching.
So it’s no surprise that he’s the new boys basketball coach at Gadsden High School, in nearby Anthony, NM
The 29-year-old has been fortunate during a young career, learning the game from some of the borderland’s top basketball minds including Guy Crenshaw, Henry Meili, Joel Calderon, Ty Burns, Bob Haack, Donald Dotons and Whelton Richardson.
“I’ve been around a wealth of knowledge my whole life,” said O’Neil, a 2010 Hanks graduate. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to coach the game I love and I want to help kids continue to grow and love the game that means so much to me.”
O’Neil has been a coach in the Santa Teresa High School program, which is also near El Paso in southern New Mexico and was most recently at Fabens High School.
At Hanks, O’Neil didn’t play basketball but was the team manager where he soaked up all the knowledge he could. It was while he was in high school where he was also diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“Having gone through that diagnosis and recovery makes you appreciate life even more,” O’Neil said. “I have a great opportunity in front of me and so many coaches and kids have helped me get here. I’m going to put everything I have into this job.”
O’Neil is close to Whelton Richardson, the grandson of El Paso basketball legend Nolan Richardson. Richardson has been a part of the Gadsden Independent School District as a coach at Santa Teresa HS.
“Whelton has been a true friend, someone who has shown guidance and so much support in my career,” O’Neil said.
Karen Nogues, who is the Director of Athletics for the Gadsden Independent School District, said O’Neil is a tremendous hire for the program.
“Coach O’Neil has a great deal of enthusiasm and we know him from his time at Santa Teresa and he’s got great potential,” Nogues said.
Gadsden competes in District 3-5A, which includes Las Cruces High, one of the state’s most successful programs.
“I’m really excited to work with our kids and see them grow. Las Cruces High has set a high standard in its basketball program and that shows you how good basketball is in southern New Mexico,” O’Neil said. “High school basketball in New Mexico is popular and there is a great deal of passion among the schools and the fans. I’m glad to be a part of it again.”
More: Three high schools name new coaches in soccer, volleyball, basketball
Felix F. Chavez may be reached at 915-546-6167; [email protected]; @Fchavezeptimes on Twitter.