After the May 18 high school state track and field championships had ended, as fans were filing out of UNM’s track complex and the roar of the F-16 jets from the air show at Kirtland Air Force Base had quieted down, Moriarty High’s track and field head coach Joe Bailey gathered with some of his athletes.

“Come here you son of a gun, I remember when you played kickball,” Bailey said as he put his arm around one of the boys who medaled in the 4×4 relay.

A moment later, he extended an arm to freshman Payton Edwards, who medaled in the girls relay races. “Payton, way to step up, I’m proud of you.”

Bailey, who was noticeably emotional, wasn’t just congratulating his athletes for performing well in the final track meet of the season. He was saying goodbye.

Joe Bailey, the man at the helm of Moriarty athletics for the past four years, and a head or assistant coach in several different sports at both the high school and middle school for 35 years, has decided it’s time to hang up his whistle.

Sitting in his office May 28, while finishing up a few final details, Bailey said his decision to retire is not one that came overnight.

“I’ve been mulling it over for several years,” the 60-year-old Bailey said, adding, “There’s never an easy time to go.”

Bailey wants to devote more time to his wife, Jill, who he said has been “the ultimate coach’s wife.”

“She’s given up her free time for my coaching and I want to spend some quality time with her,” he said.

Bailey, who has also been a teacher for decades, took over as Moriarty’s athletic director in 2015—a position he said he didn’t aspire to but accepted because the former superintendent asked him to.

“I did it out of loyalty to the district,” Bailey said, noting that Linda Apodaca, the athletic department’s administrative assistant, has been a great asset to him.

“The reason I was successful was because of Linda Apodaca,” he said.

Bailey also helped establish the Moriarty High School sports hall of fame, he’s organized several summer sports camps, and was instrumental in starting the twilight track meets each June—a free, weekly all-ages event.

“That is probably the most fun thing that we’ve done,” Bailey said of the twilight track meets. “I think it’s really appreciated by the community.”

Bailey said he’ll miss teaching and coaching—vocations that he highly recommends—but when asked what he’ll miss most, he noted the people who have been his partners on the court and the fields.

“Joe Anaya, Jordan Allcorn, Peter and Gabe Romero, Lee Brundige—he’s worked with me since the 90s—Jana Baguskis and Jacki Bailey, those are great people that have been a pleasure to work with,” he said, adding, “I love Moriarty High School, it was a great place to raise my daughters, I’m very grateful for the opportunity, and I’ll be around—I’m a fan.”

The Moriarty-Edgewood School District recently announced that Joe Anaya is taking over as the new athletic director, Gabe Romero replaces Anaya as the new head football coach, and Erin Edwards is the new varsity girls basketball coach.