Making a Difference in the Valley: EVCA Celebrating 50 Years!!

Debra Archuleta, President of EVCA

Making a Difference in the Valley

EVCA Celebrating 50 Years!!

This article has been previously published and is republished today at the request of readers

By Tania Sanchez, Community Contributor

ESPANOLA: 50 years and going strong, the Espanola Valley Community Activities (EVCA) organization has been making a difference since 1965.  Founded by Keith McGill of the United Methodist Church of Espanola, the program’s focus has been to provide recreational activities for the citizens of Northern New Mexico.  For the past several years, their youth coed basketball program has served between 600 and 50 players from the Espanola area.  Throughout the years, hundreds of volunteers have spent countless hours to make this program a success.  With the hard work, dedication and commitment from the program directors, referees and coaches—EVCA has made a major difference in the Valley and we are fortunate to have such a program! 

Debra Archuleta has been director and now the President of EVCA for the last 25 years!  She’s always had a passion for being in sports and played basketball for the Junior and High school in Espanola. She started off with EVCA as a player in co-ed Volleyball. “Volleyball was big back in the day,” she laughs.  EVCA used to offer softball, cheerleading, t-ball and basketball, but due to lack of gyms and facilities in the Valley the program has offered only youth basketball (K-6th) for the last several years.  “It’s unfortunate and if I ever win the lottery, I will build EVCA a recreational facility,” she states.  Her dedication to the program is evident by the fact that she no longer lives in Espanola, but continues to work with the directors, volunteers and community to make EVCA a success.  Debra has enjoyed watching youth from our community grow and develop into high school and college level athletes.  Most of the current referees and coaches have all played EVCA before at some point in their life.  Debra has had a great experience leading EVCA and she has no plans to retire anytime  soon. 

For those of you who attend EVCA games, there’s no doubt that you have seen the EVCA Directors hard at work.  From taking registrations to running the score boards and clock, both Santiago Lopez and Anthony Sanchez have done it all!  Santiago and Anthony spend their entire Saturdays at the gym during January and February.  It’s a long day with back to back games starting at 8am and finishing at 8pm, but at the end of the day they both have smiles on their faces. 

Anthony started playing EVCA basketball in the 1st grade, he continued playing basketball in junior and high school and eventually became a referee, coach and now one of the Director’s for EVCA.  He’s practically been involved with EVCA his whole life, and for Anthony it has been a family affair.  His father, Franklin has been a coach and referee for as long as he can remember.  His brother and sister have also volunteered. “I do this for the kids and the community,” he states, “and seeing the smiles on their faces means everything.” 

From left to right.  Franklin Sanchez (coach and referee), Anthony Sanchez (Director and coach), and two referees. Courtesy photo

Santiago also started playing EVCA basketball at a very early age, either in 2nd or 3rd grade.  He too continued with EVCA as a referee and now as a Director for almost 10 years.  “It’s hard to believe its been ten years, time flies when you’re having a good time,” he states, “I do this because it’s rewarding to watch the kids have fun and improve every year.”  Santiago lives in Albuquerque and travels to Espanola to make EVCA a success.  His dedication to his hometown community is impressive. 

name (volunteer- upper left), Santiago Lopez (Director-upper right), and two  referees. Courtesy photo

There are several other volunteers not mentioned in this article who work hard to make EVCA a success.   The coaches are certified through the National Alliance for Youth Sports and commit to a code of ethics to ensure  a positive experience for all.  These volunteers come back every year to referee or coach and because of this group of committed individuals, our community benefits.  THANK YOU EVCA! 

If you’d like more information about the program and how you can volunteer or help make a difference, please check out their website:  They are always looking for volunteers and support from the local schools and school board to help secure gyms for practices and games.