Most athletic directors at high schools around the state generally show their enthusiasm by ending an outgoing phone message to the following effect: “...and I’ll call you back. And, remember, Go (fill in nickname of school here)!”
Portales A.D. Mark McAfee is a little different.
He’s the guy with overflowing enthusiasm who’s likely to move 10 yards onto the field during a football game to passionately address a player or, on occasion, a particular referee.
“Oh yeah, it’s happened,” said Portales football coach Andy Correll, asked whether an official has yelled back for McAfee to stay off the field. “Every game.”
McAfee actually does have a good reason for being in close proximity to the action when a Rams’ football game is in progress.
He may be the boss in the office, but McAfee’s love for football meant that he never relinquished his assistant coach’s duties.
And, in his role as Portales’ defensive coordinator, no one is more animated than McAfee when a game is in progress.
“I told him once, ‘You jump like that again and workman’s comp ain’t gonna cover you. You’re too old to be jumping like that,’” Portales High Principal Melvin Nusser likes to joke about McAfee.
“I really don’t think about it. It just comes with the personality I guess,” McAfee said. “I really enjoy the game and being with the kids.”
In 1980, McAfee was a Portales Ram himself, playing football during his senior season. Unfortunately, his one bit of action as a varsity player came between the Portales state championship years of 1979 and 1981.
While attending Eastern New Mexico University, McAfee got experience as a volunteer assistant with his old high school. Eventually, he moved on to take a head coaching football job in Hagerman and once even was the head coach at Portales itself.
That was in 1996, but McAfee readily avows that he’s better suited as an assistant rather than a head coach.
Wildly gesturing while vocalizing either encouragement or criticism, the Portales athletic director certainly seems in his element on the sidelines.
In last Friday’s 55-14 loss to Muleshoe, while the game was still in doubt, McAfee shot onto the field — leaping several feet forward — to greet his son, Collin McAfee, after he made an interception to thwart a Mules’ drive.
Collin is a sophomore while McAfee’s oldest son, Brandon, played for the Rams’ last season.
It’s that kind of enthusiasm that Correll loves about his boss-slash-subordinate.
“During the game, what I like is that he picks the times to do it,” Correll said. “He’s right there with the kids on the field and I think, as a defensive coordinator, you’ve got to do that.”
“Yeah, he’s a very excited guy,” said Portales senior Shawn Carrasco, who is a defensive back for the Rams as well as being the quarterback. “He keeps us up all the time. He keeps us pumped.”