Then with the Valencia County News-Bulletin and with more hair, Gary Herron interviews Los Lunas volleyball standout Carla Greenup in the Tigers’ gym in 1979.
(Valencia County News-Bulletin file photo)

More than once on these pages, I’ve written about my love for history, especially in the Southwest.

That’s one of the reasons I’m taking a short vacation in Bisbee and Tombstone, Ariz., this week.

But I’m also interested in local history — as local (or loco?) as my own.

Hence, my enjoyment of making the drive on Nov. 9 to Los Lunas High School to see the state volleyball tournament’s early action as the 12th-seeded Rio Rancho High School Rams visited the No. 5 Tigers.

You can read how the match turned out on the sports pages. (Spoiler alert: Yay, Rams.)

In my mind, the Tigers’ orange-and-blue gym is where this journalism career of mine has its roots.

More than four decades ago, in my early days as the sports editor of the Valencia County News-Bulletin, I was covering high school sports in Los Lunas and Belen, as well as Belen’s “cop shop” and city council meetings.

Coincidentally, I had a pre-match dinner with Jeff Aragon, who graduated from LLHS in 1980 and had played varsity basketball for the Tigers, then coached by Rudy Aragon, not related to Jeff.

Jeff and I reminisced about the olden days — the 1980s — in Valencia County before match time, and we said goodbye but will stay in touch.

In the Tigers’ gym, I showed Rams coach Toby Manzanares a photo of me in that gym back in the fall of 1979; I was interviewing a Tigers volleyball standout, Carla Greenup, who later played at Arizona State.

Manzanares — no surprise here — recalled a former Tigers volleyball coach, Mike Chambers, although it had been Juliette Castillo who coached Greenup in 1979.

Later, in an unexpected coincidence, a former VCNB colleague of mine, Frank Gurule, recognized me in the gym and came by to chat.

At age 76, the lifelong Los Lunas native still hasn’t lost his passion for Tiger sports, a passion for local sports I haven’t seen during two decades in Rio Rancho — except, perhaps, for that of Rams diehards Ken Todd and Martha Griego.

Aragon told me Castillo died recently, and Gurule informed me he had just met with a former VCNB editor, Jeanette Baughman, who had celebrated her 100th birthday.

Don’t get me wrong: I thoroughly enjoy working in this City of Vision and covering its sports teams and people, but I can’t get those early days out of my head at times.

When I get those opportunities to return to those days, it’s kind of cool.

And it’s humbling to know some of those people haven’t forgotten me, nor have I forgotten those 20th-century days in Valencia County.

Back to dinner: When I was catching up with Aragon, I related my tale of how I’d left the VCNB in 1985 to initially work with the Observer for what turned out to be a seven-month stint, before returning to the VCNB in 1986.

But that’s a Herron history tale for another time.