TJ Madrid looks to hone his Questa-based skills in Alamosa
As the star of his high school basketball team in Questa, N.M., TJ Madrid often saw himself carrying the team on his shoulders. In his varsity season in 2017 he helped lead the Wildcats to the U.S. Bank State Basketball Championships for division 2A where they were ousted in a 66-56 first round loss to Jal, NM.
Madrid did it all that season leading the Wildcats in almost every statistical category including points, assists, field goals, free throws and steals. At 5-feet, 10 inches he is undersized by most basketball standards, but that did not stop him from playing a big game with Questa. Now as the 2017-2018 basketball season approaches, Madrid faces a whole new challenge: taking his big game from a little town to NCAA Division II heights at Adams State University as a member of the Grizzlies.
“Basketball is pretty fluent now,” said Madrid as he headed to one of two open gym practices on a Sunday afternoon with his teammates. “I don’t expect what I had in Questa. It’s a new role here and I have to adapt to the players around me.”
What Madrid had in Questa was a jack-of-all-trades role both on and off the court.
“My last year in Questa I was the man,” he said. “I had to come out every game and help my guys know that we were going to win. I tried to be an influence for the players and give them something to aim for. I tried to push them to be better and help them see that what they are now is not what they have to be. It wasn’t only in a basketball-sense, but also in a life-sense.”
Coming off a 13-16 season, including a 10-12 mark in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Adams State aims to rebound with a winning record. With several players returning from last season’s squad, playing time may be difficult to find for the recruit from Questa, but Madrid says he’s ready to find his role on the team, whatever that may be.
“I knew I was going to play basketball in college, I knew it,” he said. “Not so much that I was coming to Alamosa, but deep down I believed in myself and knew that I could do it. I know that since I’m the new person on campus it’s going to be difficult, I know it’s going to be a challenge.”
With the season still about two months away - the Grizzlies home opener will be November 14 against Northern New Mexico College - Madrid has comfortably transitioned into school working towards a mathematics degree with an eye set towards both business and engineering degrees somewhere down the line.
“I’m looking to have a mechanical or civil engineering degree on top of my business degree so I can start my own business,” he said. “My aunts have civil and electrical engineering degrees and they both own businesses, so I can go work with them or have a business of my own.”
Madrid remains close to his family in Costilla, Questa and Taos, which is also where he attributes his leadership skills and confidence.
“Everything I know and everything that I’ve become is because of my dad and I give him full credit,” Madrid said. “We’re a close family in general. All I know is that when I’m away from them I’m going to stay true to what they’ve taught me so they know that they’ve created a person that is going to hold himself up to a higher standard. I want to make them proud, especially now that I’m out here.”