As part of the 2021 Western New Mexico University Alumni Homecoming celebration, five individual alumni and one Mustang athletic team will be honored with awards.
Selected as WNMU Distinguished Alumni this year are Mike Castillo, ’70, ’79, and Leonard Mazzei, ’62. The Alfred J. O’Malley Pioneer Award is being given to Alfred Ogas, ’65, and Sandy Cobb Moore, ’67. Being inducted into the Mustang Athletics Hall of Fame is Bob Ruiz, ’65, while the Western New Mexico University Athletics Pioneer Spirit Award is being given to the 1970 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Mountain Division Championship Mustang Football Team.
Nominations are submitted to WNMU Alumni Affairs, while selections are made by the WNMU Alumni Association Awards, Recognitions and Scholarship Committee.
Distinguished Alumnus Mike Castillo
Mike Castillo, ’70, ’79, earned both a bachelor’s a master’s degree from WNMU after attending McMurry College in Abilene, Texas. He also did graduate work at University of Arizona and Highlands University.
Castillo worked for New Jersey Zinc Mining Company in Hanover and for Kennecott Copper Company in Hurley while earning his education. Upon graduation, he become employed at Silver Consolidated Schools, where he was a Spanish, physical education and health teacher and where he coached until the year 2000. Castillo then spent five years working as a teacher, coach and athletic director for Bowie Schools in Arizona before finishing his career at Silver Consolidated Schools.
“I feel that everyone can learn and has the right to the best education available,” Castillo said. “Each student needs love and direction, and as teachers, we can demonstrate both.”
Before he retired in 2009, Castillo coached wrestling, football, boys’ and girls’ basketball, and boys’ and girls’ track, holding the title of Head Coach for wrestling, boys and girls basketball, and boys and girls track.
Castillo was named District Track Coach of the Year nine times and was honored by the New Mexico Coaches Association with a “Milestone Ring.” The Silver City League of United Latin American Citizens named Castillo the Local, District and State Teacher of the Year. In Bowie, he earned similar titles and was 2004-2005 Athletic Director of the Year. In 2009, the Silver High School Track Invitational Meet was renamed the Mike Castillo Invitational Track Meet.
Castillo has volunteered to coach, umpire and judge youth teams, and at his church, Castillo teaches baptism classes and serves as a parish council member and stewardship committee member.
Married to Bertha M. Castillo for 52 years, Castillo has three sons and nine grandchildren.
Distinguished Alumnus Leonard Mazzei
Leonard Mazzei, ’62, attended WNMU after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. As a nontraditional student who started his career as an athletic trainer for the Mustang basketball program under Coach Jim Smith, he functioned as a mature leadership role model for many athletes who were experiencing their transition toward independent life for the first time. Mazzei went on to become a highly awarded and nationally recognized athletic training professional, having spent most of his career as the athletic trainer for the Flint Central High School basketball team. In 1985, Mazzei received the school’s Dedication and Support Award, and in 1997, he received its Nap Lavote Award for many years of unselfish service and loyalty. The National Athletic Trainers Association modeled their athletic training room standards after Mazzei’s. The Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Famer and his wife Christine have one son, two daughters and four grandsons.
Alfred J. O’Malley Pioneer Award Recipient Alfred Ogas
Playing baseball for the WNMU Mustangs under Coach Al Johnson was the start of a lifelong connection to and involvement with WNMU for Alfred Ogas, ’65. With only a two-year interruption while he served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam, he had a 40-year career with El Rancho Unified School District in California.
Involved in the WNMU Alumni Association since 2010, Ogas has served on the board since 2014, accepting the positions of Vice President and President and always agreeing to serve on WNMU Alumni panels, present during new student orientation, mentor current students, and represent the WNMU Alumni Association at community events.
Recognizing the support he received to attend WNMU, Ogas started and co-led seven WNMU Alumni Golf Tournament fundraisers that generated over $120,000 for scholarships and enabled the creation of the formerly named Earn to Learn Scholarship providing students with jobs in the WNMU Alumni Affairs office and across campus. Ogas also spearheaded three golf tournaments in Laughlin, Nevada, to raise nearly $10,000 for the Mustang football program. He assists his brother Robert Ogas in realizing the annual Mesilla Valley WNMU Alumni Chapter Golf Tournament.
Along with several other WNMU Alumni Association board members, Ogas helped create New Mexico Senate Bill 8 in an effort to obtain funding allowing Mustang Athletics to add women’s soccer and men’s baseball teams.
For the past five years, Ogas and his wife Anne have hosted the WNMU Alumni Homecoming kickoff and farewell socials. And, around the holidays, Ogas has donned the magical red suit and white beard for community children attending the WNMU Cultural Affairs Jingle and Mingle.
Alfred J. O’Malley Pioneer Award Recipient Sandy Cobb Moore
During her time at WNMU, Sandy Cobb Moore, ’67, was consistently led her class in academic achievements and was also involved in student government and the Women’s Recreation Association. She went on to earn a master’s from Ball State University and then received a teaching endorsement for gifted and talented. She taught, primarily as an instructor in the gifted and talented program in Richmond, Indiana, until 1993. Moore was named 1990 Teacher of the Year in a system of over 500 teachers.
During her career, Moore started and raised thousands of dollars as the president of Sunrise, a charity providing handicapped children with horseback riding opportunities. She also was a co-leader of a weekend social club providing safe social outlets for teens at the local Y.M.C.A.
Following her career and subsequent retirement to New Mexico, Moore became an active member of the Grant County WNMU Alumni Chapter, also serving on the WNMU Alumni Board in member and officer capacities.
Sandy has admirably co-led many highly successful WNMU Alumni Association Golf Tournament fundraisers, producing $120,000 in scholarship funds for WNMU students.
Critical to the success of WNMU Alumni Homecoming events, Moore lends her time to the event staff and also shares her talent of baking.
Moore is a member of the WNMU President’s Society, contributing annually to the program as well as to the 1893 Club of the Mustang Athletics Department. She also sponsors a scholarship for a member of the Mustang Men’s and Women’s Cross Country team each year, opening her home for annual dinners and socialization with these teams. She helps Chris and Bobbie Jackson in their support of similar activities for the Mustang Women’s Softball Team.
Moore met Marshall, her husband of 60 years, in a WNMU music appreciation class in 1960, and they had four children.
2021 Mustang Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee Bob Ruiz
Robert “Bob” Ruiz played on the WNMU Mustang Football Team from 1962 through 1965. In his first season, he was awarded the Most Valuable Player award, and in his senior year, he became the team captain.
A Silver City native, Ruiz attended Western High School and exceled in football, basketball and baseball. Then, for two years, he attended University of New Mexico, where was a center and linebacker for the freshman program. After seeing very little playing time his sophomore year, Ruiz accepted a scholarship to play football at WNMU and make a name for himself.
After graduating, Ruiz worked at Lordsburg High School, teaching and coaching football, basketball and fielding events on the varsity track team. Ruiz then taught physical education classes at Silver High School from 1966 to 1974, also coaching wrestling and baseball. In 1974, the baseball team he coached became Conference Champions and hosted the State Championship Tournament.
Ruiz went on to coach the Moriarty High School Pintos to their first winning football season and coached there until, in 1978, he accepted the head football coach position at Idaho’s Priest River Lamanna High School, where he stepped in as the interim athletic director in 1981.
As an Idaho High School Sports Official, Ruiz officiated football for 30 years, officiated basketball for 23 years, umpired baseball for 10 years, and umpired softball for 30 years. Ruiz served on the North Idaho Officials Association and was inducted into the North Idaho Officials Association’s Hall of Fame in 2010. For six straight years, Ruiz was an umpire for the National Softball Association Fastpitch World Series.
Ruiz now resides in Oldtown, Idaho, with his wife Pat.
Western New Mexico University Athletics Pioneer Spirit Award
The 1970 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Division Championship Mustang Football Team
Anchored by five All-Americans, the 1970 Western New Mexico University Mustang football team is the only team in school history to win the Mountain Division of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, going 4-1 in divisional play and 5-4 overall.
The Mustangs were led by second-year head coach Bill Shanahan, who developed a team ethos of brotherhood. He fostered a brotherhood in which every player operated together, had a great work ethic and played for each other. Shanahan earned Regional Coach of the Year, a title earned ostensibly due to his strategy of eliminating two-way players. In being told to play new positions, players gained more stamina and better understood their roles, producing a mature and grounded team ethos.
Led by two offensive All-Americans, quarterback Bill Bynum and tailback Ray Maxey, the offense was versatile and explosive, averaging over 100 rushing yards per game.
All-Americans Danny Boyce (Defensive Back), Neil Nuttall (Defensive End) and Rob Barham (Linebacker) were a critical part of the 5-2 defense, which had a reputation for being hardnose.
After winning their division, the team was honored by Silver City, having November 18th, 1970, designated as Mustang Day.