It just won’t be at West Las Vegas for the moment.
Salazar resigned Monday after one season at the school, in which she led the Lady Dons to an 18-5 record in 2014 and a District 2AAAA title, the first for the program in a decade. Salazar, who did not return phone messages left by The New Mexican, took a job as a teacher at El Camino Real Academy in Santa Fe.
“It was more about her teaching career,” said Tripp, athletic director at West Las Vegas. “We wish her the best and wish her well. And like I told her, ‘Who knows? You might end up coming back. You never know.’ ”
Salazar, a 2011 graduate of Española Valley, spent a year as an assistant coach at West Las Vegas in 2013 and co-coached with Arissa Nichols during the then-Class AAA State Tournament after the sudden death of head coach Mary Bustos a day before the team played. She played four years at Española Valley, including the last two years under her dad, Damon Salazar.
The 22-year-old recently graduated from New Mexico Highlands University. Tripp said she saw Karli Salazar gradually grow and mature into her position, and both she and the team were at their best down the stretch. West Las Vegas won 12 of its last 13 matches and went 6-0 in district play to earn the fourth seed in the AAAA tournament.
The Lady Dons struggled in pool play at state, finishing third in Pool D, and lost a heartbreaking five-game quarterfinal to Portales. Still, Tripp was impressed with how she ran the program. “She will be one of the better coaches in the state,” Tripp said. “They way she grew and the team matured said a lot about her maturity and her leadership. She is going to be one of the good ones.”
Meanwhile, West Las Vegas begins its search for her replacement. Tripp said the school already posted the position on its website, and he hopes to have a hire very soon — hopefully by the beginning of July at the latest. He added that the team will begin its summer workouts in a couple of weeks, so finding a hire as soon as possible is of the utmost importance.
“We are attempting to get a new coach in place as we speak,” Tripp said. “We really have no deadline other than as fast as we can. We’re on a mission to bring in the best possible candidate we can find, but we’re not desperate.” Tripp said the next coach will inherit a program that he feels is one of the best in AAAA. The team lost only two seniors and setter Alyssa Gold, who transferred to Rio Rancho Cleveland. However, the bulk of the team returns. “We feel very good about our chances this year,” Tripp said. “We know it’s not going to be easy. There’s Sandia Prep, Hope [Christian] and Ruidoso, and we know about them, but we like our chances.”