Story and photos by G. Demarest
It’s not uncommon for East Mountain High School soccer player Griffin Burgos to show up for practice wearing football pants.
That’s because Burgos—who goes by “Griff”—is doing something pretty amazing: He’s participating in two fall sports at two separate schools.
Burgos is a midfielder on East Mountain’s boys soccer team, and he’s also the place kicker for Manzano High’s football team.
Burgos said he was asked to try out for the Manzano team by his friend and neighbor, Marcus Gutierrez, whom he has known since kindergarten.
“We really didn’t have anybody,” Gutierrez said.
“Marcus brought him to practice, he kicked, and we immediately put him on the team, simple as that,” said Manzano’s head football coach Chad Adcox.
It’s common for student athletes to participate in more than one sport but few participate in more than one sport during the same season.
Even fewer do it for different schools.
But because East Mountain is a charter school that doesn’t offer football, and Burgos resides within Manzano High’s district, state law allows him to participate in the football program at Manzano, according to New Mexico Activities Association associate director Dusty Young.
Young noted that a number of student-athletes at charter schools play sports for nearby public schools, but said a dual-sport, dual-school athlete during the same season is rare.
“This is the first scenario I’ve heard of like this,” Young said. “There might be someone else in the state who’s doing this but it’s a unique situation for sure.”
Surprisingly, Burgos has never played football before. “I’m still learning the game,” he said.
He kicked his first point-after-touchdown, or PAT, during the Monarchs’ Sept. 3 loss to Volcano Vista.
Last Thursday marked the first time Burgos got to play for both schools on the same day.
He was on the pitch for the Timberwolves’ home soccer game against Gallup, then hustled down to Albuquerque, changed uniforms—save for his bright orange Puma athletic shoes—and launched the 7 p.m. opening kickoff in Manzano’s rout over Rio Grande.
With Manzano rolling to a 55-14 score, Burgos hit six PATs. He might’ve hit more—the Monarchs scored eight touchdowns—but one kick was blocked, and there was a bad snap on another.
But it didn’t seem to matter to Griff. He’s already scored more points for the Monarchs than he has for the Timberwolves, and he’s glad to have the opportunity to play two sports.
“It’s really fun,” Burgos said. “Team-wise, I like them both pretty evenly, both teams are great.”
East Mountain’s athletic director Dave Naylor said the school is “supportive of having him do this,” adding, “I think we have a few kids who could actually contribute highly to several teams during the course of a single season, but usually cannot manage the schedule.”
Burgos seems to be managing his schedule fine.
He said he doesn’t have a final period because he’s taking an online dual-credit course, so he’s able to leave East Mountain at 2 p.m.
He practices kicking at Manzano for about 30 minutes, then heads back up to Sandia Park for soccer practice.
And if dividing his time between two sports at two schools isn’t enough, he’s also East Mountain’s student body president.
“I just make sure I keep organized,” he said. “I use the calendar on my phone, it’s not really that hard.”
And Adcox couldn’t be happier to have Burgos on the Manzano squad. “He’s a great kid,” said Adcox. “He works hard, he’s done a great job for us, I mean, he’s up at East Mountain, he comes down and plays here—he’s rockin’ at two schools.”
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.