Las Vegas Sun

November 24, 2017

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Former Basic standouts start venture

Family credita athletics, coaches for teaching life lessons


Heather Cory

From top right to bottom left, Napoleon Hooks, Irma Hooks, Jeff Dodson, Leo Hernandez, Maurice Hernandez, Sydney Hernandez, Mercy Huffington and Will Torres stand under their company sign at Basic Sports on Feb. 9. Family owned and operated, Basic Sports is a jersey and embroidery shop.

Basic Sports

From left to right, Sydney Hernandez watches as her aunt, Irma Hooks, works on paperwork at Basic Sports on Feb. 9. The shop is owned and operated by one of the most prolific families in Basic athletics' history with four siblings who all lettered. Launch slideshow »

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It has been three decades since Basic won its second Nevada team wrestling championship, yet Leo Hernandez still remembers the moment like it was yesterday.

Hernandez took second in state that day in the individual competition, while his younger brother, future four-time state champion Maurice Hernandez, watched from the stands.

The outcome of the 1979 championship came down to Basic's Richard Perkins — later Henderson's police chief — who led his team to a one-point victory against Chaparral in an unlikely way.

"All he had to do was not get pinned," Leo Hernandez said. "He lost, but he was so unselfish that he did that for us. We won the championship by the narrowest margin in Nevada history."

Leo Hernandez, who has continued to live in Henderson since graduating Basic in 1980, is full of fond memories from his days on the Wolves' wrestling, football and baseball teams.

He treasures those days so much he decided to name his new sporting goods company, Basic Sports, after his high school.

"All the coaches I've had, I owe them everything," he said. "Everything my family learned about practicing, commitment and being dedicated, we use it in business every day. It's the same principles."

When Leo Hernandez's parents settled in Henderson in 1968, they emphasized to their children the importance of athletics.

All four of the Hernandez children played sports for Basic, including Mercy Hernandez, class of 1981, who lettered in cross country, track and volleyball; Irma Hernandez, class of 1982, who lettered in track and basketball; and Maurice Hernandez, class of 1984, who lettered in football and wrestling.

Maurice Hernandez, who now coaches wrestling at Legacy, said Basic sports was a way of life for his family. He and his siblings would take the late bus home after practice, hardly taking a break from sports during the school year.

"Athletics was a way for our family to stay close," he said. "Some of my best memories are going to the football games and watching Basic. It was a small town when I was in high school, and everyone lived and died high school sports."

Athletics was also a means to stay out of trouble. "It basically kept us off the streets," said Mercy Hernandez, a retired Army sergeant. "We were always on the straight and narrow growing up."

Sean Ammerman can be reached at 990-2661 or [email protected].

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