Steve Famiglietta, NM Runners head coach

To hear longtime Rio Ranchoan Steve Famiglietta tell it, his life — filled with soccer — has literally come full circle.

Once the Famigliettas moved from Long Island, N.Y., to Corrales Heights in 1975, their 9-year-old son could be found playing soccer right in the middle of Leon Grande Road. He vividly recalls a local German, Harry Gabel, driving by and asking if he’d like to play some soccer. Duh, "Fami" Famiglietta would reply to that question today.

Flash forward 43 years and now he’s the coach of the city’s new indoor soccer team, the New Mexico Runners, who’ll make their debut in the Major Arena Soccer League M2 in three months.

Between those days on the pavement of Leon Grande and then the Rio Rancho soccer fields on Sundt Road, about where The ASK Academy now sits, and the pitch inside Santa Ana Star Center, where the Runners will begin their inaugural season in December, Famiglietta has starred at Cibola High School (Class of 1984), played collegiately (UNM) and professionally — indoor (Southwest Indoor Soccer League) and outdoor (United Soccer League), coached and been a consultant for the game he loves, or what many simply call futbol.

As much as he’d like to get out and play again, his legs won’t have it: "I’m all-titanium now," he joked.

After interviewing a few coaching applicants, Runners co-owner Andres Trujillo said Famiglietta had heard about the opening and called him; Trujillo expected a short interview would help him decide if Famiglietta was a good choice.

That "short interview" lasted about three hours, he said, leading him to believe, "This is our guy. His résumé speaks for itself."

That résumé probably includes his days as a star for the Cougars, plus his induction into the USL Hall of Fame; he’s also in the Cougars’ Hall of Fame "down the hill."

It’s been a little over two months since the announcement of the New Mexico Runners arena soccer team and Trujillo said preparations for the inaugural season have been nonstop, with one of the preparatory spotlights being hiring a head coach.

Arguably, nobody knows more about what they call "the beautiful game" than this guy, whose accomplishments in pro soccer are stacked and include being named to the USL All-Star team three times and being named the USL Defensive Player of The Year twice.

"We have a ton of talent in the Rio Rancho and Albuquerque area. We are excited to see who’s ready to play," says Famiglietta, knowing the importance of having at least one former Cleveland or Rio Rancho high school player on the roster to attract the local fans, or maybe one or two from Cibola and Volcano Vista high schools for added West Side interest.

What will he ask of his players? "Integrity and trust," he replied.

Being on the Runners’ roster will give young athletes an opportunity to play at a higher level, without having an agent, or having attended the best colleges. Some players walk-on at soccer tryouts and make the roster.

Inaugural season tryouts will be held Sept. 9, starting at 9 a.m., at ABQ Indoor Soccer Complex, 5110 B Copper Ave. NE. Check-ins and registration will begin at 8; early-bird registration is $20 per athlete and day-of registration is $30. Call the Runners’ office at 663-7786 for more information.

Seatickets are on sale by calling 663-7786. For more information on the Runners, visit newmexicorunners.com.

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