While students watched skits at the Simms Center for Performing Arts or hung out with friends around the bonfire Friday evening, Albuquerque Academy alumni were inside the music building for the school’s Sports Hall of Fame and Alumni Awards ceremony.
Head of School Julianne Puente started the ceremony off with a brief introduction as attendees finished eating an array of sides and entrees offered from the buffet. “Welcome back and welcome home. We are thrilled to be hosting the Alumni Awards Dinner, and you can feel the energy on campus,” Puente said.
The ceremony coincided with homecoming and alumni weekend, which brought hundreds of current and former Academy students on campus Friday and Saturday. Friday night’s highlight for the adults was seeing former students inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame and receiving the Young Alumni Service and Distinguished Alumni awards.
Sports Hall of Fame inductees
Ellen Hart, Academy Class of ’76, introduced each of the Sports Hall of Fame inductees, beginning with Olympic gymnast Chainey Umphrey. Umphrey, who was unable to attend the ceremony, graduated from Albuquerque Academy in 1988. He trained as a gymnast at Gold Cup Gymnastics School alongside Olympic gold medalists Lance Ringnald and Trent Dimas. He continued gymnastics at UCLA and was a member of the U.S. national team from 1989-97. He appeared on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in 1986 and 1995 and in 2000 retired from gymnastics before returning to UCLA to attend medical school. He is currently a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor in California.
“Chainey’s worked with patients who have suffered strokes and traumatic brain injuries, wounded veterans from the Middle East and athletes at all stages of their careers,” Hart said. “Congratulations Chainey.”
The next inductee into Academy’s Sports Hall of Fame was Anika Apostalon, Class of 2013. Apostalon is a Czech-American swimmer who attended San Diego State and the University of Southern California. She is a 17-time NCAA All-American and eight-time individual scorer at the NCAA national championships. She set the national record in the Czech Republic for the 100-meter freestyle and currently holds the national record in the 50-meter freestyle. She anchored the four by 100 freestyle relay to help her Czech team qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and was noted for her artistic talents.
Apostalon explained that “team is paramount” in a quick thank you speech before handing the mic back over to Hart, who then introduced Academy Hall of Fame inductee Curtis Beach.
Beach, who graduated from Academy in 2009, won 17 individual state titles in track and field events while at Academy. He placed 12th in the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships heptathlon and second in the decathlon during the 2011 NCAA Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships. In the 2012 Olympic Trials, he is noted for his sportsmanship after slowing down to allow Ashton Eaton to take the new decathlon world record in the final 1500-meter event.
Beach took a shot at La Cueva High School during his acceptance speech, joking that the school only offered cookies during their hall of fame ceremony. He then thanked his coaches and teachers at Academy before allowing Hart to introduce Andrea Goldberg as the next inductee.
Goldberg, Class of 1998, was a “high school standout” and holds the record for winning five straight New Mexico singles tennis championships. She was named Albuquerque Sports Hall of Fame Female Athlete of the Year in 1999. She graduated first in her class and was awarded the National Merit Scholarship before going on to play tennis at Yale. She graduated summa cum laude from Yale and was awarded with distinction from the University of Oxford, where she received a master’s degree. She also appeared in Glamour Magazine and later earned her M.D. from University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine.
The last Sports Hall of Fame inductee was Dave Barney, who was a swim and track coach at Academy from 1967 to 2021. He helped the swim team to win numerous championships and was inducted into the National Federation of High School Associations Hall of Fame, the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame, the University of New Mexico High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the National Intercollegiate Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He is also a poet, essayist and memoirist and most of all, well known and loved by the Academy community.
Hart explained that Barney cared more about the athletes than the numbers. “He said numbers are good. People like to talk about their numbers. What is important, he says, is the human interaction between a coach and an athlete. “And that friendship extends long after kids graduate from high school and go onto college,” Hart said. “To quote Dave, ‘they are in my heart’, and you Dave, are in their hearts and in all of our hearts as well. Congratulations Dave Barney.”
Barney received a standing ovation before giving an acceptance speech where he said, “Most of all, I think, I love the parents and their sons and daughters.” He gave praise to several of the athletes and thanked the Academy for the opportunity to teach and coach before leaving the podium to another standing ovation.
Young service and distinguished alumni awards
Next up were the 2022 alumni awards. Dustin Martin, Class of 2007, was introduced as the Young Alumni Service Award recipient for his “notable service to the community and society that exemplifies the spirit of the Albuquerque Academy mission.”
Among Martin’s achievements include becoming the director of the Wings Program, which is a “nonprofit that uses the cultural, spiritual and competitive history of Native runners to empower tribal youth and their families.”
In Martin’s acceptance speech, he emphasized the feeling of safety that students get at Academy. “I was really overwhelmed by just the feeling of safety that I think the students have. One of the things that really made a mark is no one was on their phone. I’ve worked with a lot of young people and maybe the world isn’t stimulating enough for them or maybe they feel safer staring at their phones,” Martin said, adding that at Academy students rarely have to be reminded to put their phones down.
He said the feeling of safety students receive goes beyond the wall lining the perimeter of the campus. “But it’s more the emotional safety, the intellectual safety,” he said. “Go out there and try and share that feeling of safety that you have with the people you encounter on a daily basis. And not just our Academy community or the Albuquerque community or the New Mexico community, but all of our community will be a better place for that.”
Last but not least was the Distinguished Alumni Award presented to current Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. Gallego graduated Academy in 2000 and was given the award for her “extraordinary achievement or service that exemplifies the principles and values of Albuquerque Academy.”
While at Academy, Gallego participated in varsity cross-country and softball, she was in the student senate and competed in the science bowl, among other accomplishments. She went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard University and earned an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. She was elected to the Phoenix City Council in 2013, was the second female to be elected as Phoenix’s mayor and is one of the youngest big-city mayors in the country. In 2020, she was reelected to office with the highest number of votes ever cast for Phoenix mayor and as mayor helped Phoenix to become “the most sustainable desert city in the United States.”
During her acceptance speech, Gallego mentioned how she has applied the lessons learned from high school to the real world. She said the math, science and Spanish she learned while at Academy have been useful to her while serving as mayor. “We are celebrating Hispanic Heritage month and I gave a speech in Spanish and the last time I studied Spanish was at the Academy. And that’s just this week. So for the teachers out there, you have made such a difference to so many of us. Getting through COVID as a mayor, you really had to understand science. Again, that was the Academy,” Gallego said.
She explained how Academy helped her to deal with loss and to understand other people’s grievances. She said it was her first time being back in Albuquerque after losing her mom to cancer and told the story of how she ran for mayor while with a newborn and going through a divorce. Gallego thanked the teachers and audience once again before the award ceremony ended to more applause.
To see Gallego’s full acceptance speech, she the YouTube video below: