Along with prep sports, Montenegro said there are other youth and adult sport activities that the newspaper must cover.
"There is a great wealth of child and adult recreation programs that are just as organized as prep leagues and they also deserve ample coverage," he said.
Born in Calexico and raised in El Centro, Montenegro graduated from Central Union High School in 1992. He attended Imperial Valley College and is attending San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus seeking a degree in English.
He has worked for the Press since 1993, starting in paste-up at a time when the newspaper was laid out manually prior to the start of pagination.
Montenegro joked he didn't last long in the position; he was fired a month after he started "for being lazy."
Three days later he was hired by the news department, where he started as a news clerk. He went on to serve as a general assignment reporter and later was assigned to the Calexico beat.
For more than a year, he has served as a copy editor and Life page editor. He also created Weekend Ticket, a page highlighting local entertainment.
Montenegro said he will apply skills he has learned as a reporter and an editor to the sports page to make it appealing through its coverage and its design.
Bret Kofford, editor of the Press, said he is pleased to have Montenegro take over the sports page.
"We are sure he is going to do a great job with the sports page," Kofford said. "Richard has done a great job in each of his previous positions. He's been innovative and dedicated to making things better. We think he'll do the same for the sports section."
Montenegro said he looks forward to working with Eric Galvan, who has been a full-time sports reporter for the Press for two years.
"I couldn't ask to come into this job with anyone better," Montenegro said of Galvan. "I have seen this guy grow as a writer and in layout. He is a valuable addition to this entire newspaper."
Though Montenegro's career with the Press has focused on news coverage, he said he has always had a love for sports. It started as he would watch sports, particularly San Diego Charger football, with his grandfather.
"Every Sunday since I can remember, I was sitting on the floor next to his big chair, watching the Chargers," he said.
Montenegro added, "I'm a card-carrying Charger fan, and I've endured a lot of pain because of it."
Of the sports page, Montenegro said it is important for Valley residents to know he is open to their input. He added one change in today's sports page is that his and Galvan's telephone numbers and e-mail addresses are listed prominently at the top of the page.
"We are a community newspaper and as a community paper we live and die by community contact," Montenegro said.
He added, "The sports section is not going to get better if people feel like the community is not being represented, and being born in the Imperial Valley, I sure as heck don't want to do a bad job representing my home."
>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.