Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Longtime referee remembered as dedicated, affable official | Sports

It was the toughest time out umpire Michael Roybal had to call on Tuesday night, but it was perhaps the best call he has ever made.

Before the girls’ basketball game between Santa Fe High and Rio Rancho Cleveland on Tuesday evening, officials at Santa Fe High observed the life of longtime basketball and football official David Soveranez with a minute’s silence. Soveranez, who had a remarkable 45-year career as a civil servant, died that day at the age of 76 after falling into a coma from an internal bleeding, said son David Ray Soveranez.

It was up to Roybal, Soveranez’s nephew and a member of the game’s reigning crew, to run to center court to signal a volunteer 30-second break in honor of Soveranez. He raced to the center of the pitch, pointing at the sky before whistling, pointing at the scorer’s desk and holding out his arms to signal the time-out in the midst of a silent crowd.

“I knew I had to make the toughest call of my tenure and it’s not a foul or technical behavior on the part of a coach,” said Roybal. “This 30-second time-out was one of the toughest time-outs I’ve ever given.”

Roybal was just one of many reigning protégés Soveranez left behind in a career that began in the 1970s and didn’t end until 2017. Born in Cañones and graduating from Santa Fe High in 1962, Soveranez was known for his calm but sociable personality and dedication to his craft, a skill he passed on to the next generations of men and women who were the black and white Wore shirts.

Mark Salazar, who called many basketball games with Soveranez, said he continued to provide advice and guidance to officials at every step after he retired. Salazar said he would not have become the civil servant he is without Soveranez ‘mentoring.

“David was so humble in what he did,” said Salazar. “He didn’t do it because of his reputation or to show off how good he was. He ran games because they needed to be run. He didn’t care if it was a seventh grade girl [basketball] Game or a soccer game of the state championship. “

Ralph Ortiz, a retired referee who was Soveranez’s classmate and friend, said Soveranez worked hard to be the best official he could be and was rarely out of position to make a call. He added that legendary umpire Dickie Rodriguez held Soveranez in high esteem, and this was evident in the numerous post-season state soccer and basketball competitions – including championship games – in which he played.

“Dickie said, ‘Every time I send David off to a game somewhere, I don’t have to worry,'” Ortiz said.

Greg Sandoval, a 20-year-old football referee and assistant basketball coach for boys at Santa Fe High, said he wonders how Soveranez managed to resolve a tense situation with any coach without losing his temper. Soveranez also knew how to explain a call he was making to the players to help them understand why he called it and to give them tips on how to avoid a similar situation.

Perhaps the best advice Sandoval ever received from Soveranez was not about his position, but about his coaching. Sandoval said he was a bit hot-headed with officials as a basketball coach and sometimes got technical fouls. After a while, Soveranez, along with Rodriguez and Ortiz, sat down with Sandoval to explain how his behavior as a coach was a slap in the face to the officials – some of whom Sandoval worked with during the fall. This prompted Sandoval to review his approach and learn how to talk to officials more productively.

“They said, ‘You can’t be good if you disrespect one of them, and Greg, you respect the officers. You can’t do that, ”said Sandoval.

While Soveranez was best known as a referee, his main job was for the longest as a sports coordinator for the city of Santa Fe. David Ray Soveranez said his father founded mushball and flag football leagues while overseeing adult volleyball, basketball and softball leagues. He was also a football and baseball coach, said the younger Soveranez, and his father always made it a point to be a part of not only his children’s activities but also his extended family.

“Not only was he a father to me, but he had many brothers and sisters and was a father figure to them too,” said David Ray. “He had a lot on his plate, but Papa was always in a good mood. He was always happy. “

David was also an attentive grandfather as he always showed up at his grandchildren’s events. In fact, he spent his last waking day watching his grandson Mateo Soveranez play Pojoaque Valley at Capital’s Al Armendariz tournament on December 9, when he collapsed walking up the stands after a 66-61 Elks win over Grants . David Ray said he was transported to the Christ St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where surgeons repaired blood vessels that were causing the bleeding, but his father never regained consciousness.

“After all, he needed the ventilator and the life support,” said David Ray. “The thing is, he’s always been an active man. He never wanted to slow down. “

Roybal and the younger Soveranez said they had received much condolences and support not just from the people of northern New Mexico but across the state and beyond. Roybal said he had received messages from people in Indiana in the past few days, which didn’t surprise David Ray.

“Once you meet Dad, you know he knows everyone else,” said David Ray. “He knew so many people from his different lines of work that he could have become a politician.”

David Soveranez leaves his wife Anna; Son David Ray; Daughter Felicia Maloney; Mother Alicia Soveranez; and grandsons Andres Soveranez, Mateo Soveranez and Ethan Maloney.

The Rosary will be held on January 3rd at 7pm at the Rivera Funeral Home. The funeral is scheduled for January 4th at 10 a.m. in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

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