Basketball Sports

His time has come

Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Seibel succeeding iconic mentor Valdez 

For the past couple weeks, Trae Seibel’s been getting used to the biggest shoes he’s ever had to fill. And so far, he’s liking the fit. 

In fact, he’s wanted to lace ’em up ever since he can remember. “I remember starting to coach when I was 19 years old; I was the boys’ C-team coach and Dad (Shane Seibel) was the JV boys’ coach,” he said during a recent phone interview. “Being on the same bench … I remember hearing ‘Trae, if you want to do this, you can one of these days!’” 

That day dawned late last month. 

Not too long after tax forms were hustled into the outgoing mail, Seibel was named the successor to longtime mentor and Ignacio Basketball icon Chris Valdez, who revealed his intention to step away from coaching after first taking over the boys’ varsity for the 2000-01 season. 

“You know, Chris and I had been talking about this for a while and he and I talked the Wednesday (April 24) I was offered the position,” said Seibel. “He was excited, proud of me that I got the position; he was very supportive. Chris and my dad … taught me everything I know about this game when it comes to coaching. They really set me up well as a head coach and I can’t tell you how much I lean on both of them, you know?” 

“But when (Valdez) actually made THE call … . Right after he did it, he gave me a call – I was on my way home from Las Vegas, watching club volleyball – and I looked at my wife like ‘Oh wow! This is happening!’ This is something I’m going to go after whole-heartedly, you know; this is something that I want to do.” 

A former IHS point guard whose playing career under Valdez and then-assistant Shane Seibel ended in the 2010 CHSAA Class 2A State Championships (the Bobcats placed second) held at CSU-Pueblo, Trae Seibel most recently oversaw the Ignacio girls’ re-joining of the now-3A/4A Intermountain League the past two winters – ended by, respectively, a Round-of-32 and a ‘Sweet 16’ appearance in the Class 3A State Tournament. He also led the program to the 2018 2A State Championships, ending his rookie run as a varsity-level skipper inside the Budweiser Event Center (now Blue Arena) in Loveland, Colo. 

All told, he compiled a 41-29 overall record during his three non-sequential seasons. In both 2A/1A San Juan Basin and IML action, his teams went a combined 19-13 (including a 12-0 romp through the SJBL in the 2017-18 campaign). And though he’s reluctantly relinquished those reins, the chance to direct the program he quite literally grew up in was too great to let pass. 

“Ignacio Basketball … the majority of my sports life, that’s all I’ve known. Watching into the late-90s and into the early-2000s before I got into high school, then (playing) when I was in high school.” 

“I’ve seen so many waves of talent and so much history,” he continued, “so to continue that tradition’s a really humbling and rewarding experience right now. And I’m happy for Chris; retirement is good too, I’ve heard. I’m sure he’ll enjoy it.” 

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