Nov. 8—Micky Reeves, one of New Mexico's most prolific and talented high school athletes of the past half-century who was a multi-sport phenom at Roswell High School, and later went to Arizona State to play football and was also drafted by the Chicago Cubs, has died.
Reeves, an assistant football coach, head baseball coach and assistant athletic director at Gateway Christian, died on Saturday in Roswell. He was 51. He would have turned 52 on Thanksgiving Day.
"He was larger than life," said Jason Clemmons, who on Sunday described Reeves as his best friend. "He was one of the most amazing football players and athletes that probably ever played in the state of New Mexico. And he was just as good a guy as he was an athlete."
Reeves, the offensive coordinator, collapsed inside the Gateway Christian locker room at halftime of its 6-Man state championship game Saturday afternoon in Roswell against visiting Ramah, said Gateway athletic director and assistant football coach Justin Stephens.
"It was such a shock," Stephens said. "We're still coming to grips with what actually happened."
Reeves was given immediate medical attention, Stephens said, and taken to a local hospital. It was not immediately known if Reeves died there at the stadium or later, but his brother, Sean Reeves, said Sunday afternoon that Micky had died of a massive heart attack.
"How do you put words on it?" said Sean Reeves, who for the past two seasons has been the head football coach at Miyamura High in Gallup. "Brother, best friend ... I knew what he was thinking and he knew what I was thinking."
Gateway Christian's team was unaware of the severity of Reeves' medical situation as it completed a 70-28 victory over Ramah, Stephens said. The players were informed after the game.
During his playing days, Reeves was a colossal high school athlete at Roswell High.
He started on the Coyotes' football team as a freshman in 1985 for Hall of Fame coach Jim Bradley, and later helped Roswell to three consecutive state championship games (1986, 1987, 1988). His final game was a 14-3 Roswell win at Leon Williams Stadium in Clovis for the Class 4A state title in December of 1988.
Reeves was also a fantastic basketball player and baseball player, and for many years, Reeves held the big-school state record in the high jump. Which has a back story of its own.
One day, said Clemmons, Reeves' quarterback at Roswell High, Reeves and he finished a baseball practice one spring when Reeves began to peel off.
"We were walking back toward the fieldhouse, and he went towards the track," said Clemmons. "I said, Mick, where are you going? He said, 'They want me to try out for the track team.' "
Within a few days of that, Clemmons said, Reeves had set the school record — and the state record — in the high jump.
"I just laughed," Clemmons said Sunday. "He probably worked out, like, once. He was just an unbelievable athlete. He could do anything he wanted to do."
Said Sean Reeves: "He could play anything."
There was no indication that Reeves was feeling under the weather Saturday, Stephens said. Reeves was diagramming plays for the second half in the moments before he collapsed.
The team, under duress, returned to the field and closed out the victory.
"They were very concerned about Mick, but they didn't know the extent of it," Stephens said. "They were able to celebrate, but we knew we'd have to break the news. After all the pictures were done, we brought them in and let them know what had happened.
"He was very well loved by the players," Stephens continued. "Of course, they were devastated, as we all were."
Reeves earlier this year coached Gateway Christian into the Class 1A state championship baseball game, where it lost to Logan.
Reeves, first a receiver and then later a running back for the Coyotes where his offensive exploits remain part of the city's lore, left Roswell for Arizona State — where he could continue to play offense — although he never played for the Sun Devils. As a redshirt freshman, the 1989 Roswell High graduate left the Arizona State program in the fall of 1990 without playing a down due to a back injury, his brother said. The Los Angeles Times said Reeves "was considered one of the nation's best high school players."
In the summer of 1991, the Cubs drafted the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Reeves in the 12th round, and he spent two years in their farm system.
In 1993, he was out of baseball, but he still had football eligibility remaining, so he finished his college playing days at Division II New Mexico Highlands as a safety.
And after finishing in Las Vegas, Reeves had a chance as a free agent to make the San Francisco 49ers roster, Clemmons said.
"He made it to the last cut," Clemmons said. "Deion Sanders was a cornerback, Micky was a safety. The rumor was, Deion was getting fixed to be traded to Dallas. Mick told me, 'If Deion stays, they'll keep me. If he gets traded, they're gonna need another corner and I'm gonna get cut.' "
Sanders got traded, Reeves got cut.
He had been coaching for many years in Roswell, his hometown.
"As great as he was as an athlete, he was dedicated to his church and his family and the people around him," Clemmons said. "To me, it's really a tribute to the man he became."
Reeves leaves behind a wife and three children. Services are pending, Sean Reeves said.
Sean said he and his brother coached together for several years at Gateway Christian, and he also remembered fondly the 1985 season at Roswell, when he was a senior football player and Micky was a freshman.
"We got to play that one year together," he said. "It was a good time."