Ovidio Machado asked the question many in the high school sports world have been asking the last two months.
“An athletic director without sports, what does he do,?” Machado laughed.
That’s the problem Machado, the athletic director at Indio High School for the last 12 years, has faced each day since the middle of March, when high school athletics were shut down in the Desert Sands Unified District and across California because of COVID-19, or the coronavirus.
But it is a question Machado will face for only a few more days. At 58 and after 30 years at Indio High School, Machado is retiring to spend more time with his wife and to work on his ranch in Menifee.
“I wish I would have stayed another year just for (the virus and its impact), but I told people, nah, I’m going to ride my horses,” Machado said. “But with all of this fiasco going on, I wanted to jump into the fire and defend my athletes.”
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Machado’s retirement hasn’t been any surprise, since he first started telling people last fall he was making the 2019-20 school year his last. At just 58, Machado knows he is retiring before many people think he should. But Machado has his reasons.
“My wife retired last year, and she was having fun,” Machado said. “A whole year of fun. So with the ranch, the house in Indio, the kids are out in college or have their careers, I ride my horses. I can still do the things on the ranch that I need to do at 58.”
Machado’s first sports connection to the Rajahs was coaching the freshman football team. He eventually moved up to head football coach, but that ended in 2008 when the Desert Sands district told principals that they could decide if they wanted to separate the two jobs of head football coach and athletic director. At Indio, the decision was to split the jobs, and Machado decided to take the athletic director’s job. He says he had wanted that job since sharing an office for a few years with the previous athletic director, Paul Thompson.
“I told him I wanted his job,” Machado said jokingly.
A goodbye video
While Machado says he loves the kids at Indio High School and loves the diversity of the school, he admits 30 years at the school have changed him a bit. That change was something he wanted to poke fun at in a retirement video he wanted to do and that his family members shot on an iPhone.
With the song “Old Town Road” as theme music, Machado dons a cowboy hat in the video, dances a little bit and rides his horse on his ranch. It’s an image that might stun the current Rajahs but might look familiar to Rajahs from 20 or 30 years ago.
“I did that as a joke. What happened is, the real story on that, I changed from the energetic football coach, out there doing all the drills and stuff like that, into a grumpy old guy,” Machado said. “I didn’t like going to pep rallies and things like that, because I knew they would want me to dance and I didn’t want to do that.
“For the class of 2020, I said I wanted to get out of my box and do that,” he added.
The video ends with Machado saying there are only two kinds of people in the world, Rajahs and those who wish they were Rajahs.
Among his more recent accomplishments at the school, Machado said was replacing the scoreboard at Ed White Stadium, a scoreboard that had lights out and short circuited and often read that there were 11 minutes and 99 seconds remaining in a 12-minute football quarter.
Machado’s era as the athletic director won’t end until the school year ends next week. For now, he says he has been signing contracts and making plans as if the school year and sport year will begin on time with no interruptions.
But Machado knows that as he leaves Indio, just what sports will look like or when they will be played again at the high school level is a major question. Machado has been involved with many discussions about how and when sports might return, but he admits there are no hard and fast answers for now.
“You are waiting, you are not holding your breath,” he said.
Larry Bohannan is The Desert Sun golf writer. He can be reached at (760) 778-4633 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter at Sun.@Larry_Bohannan. Support local journalism: Subscribe to the Desert Sun.
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