Archive for the ‘El Paso Sports’ Category

Historical Society Plans to Honor 1966 Miners

Ray Sanchez© 09.16.18

This from Mark Calamia: “As co-chairman of the El Paso County Historical Commission’s (EPCHC) Historical Markers Committee, I am overseeing plans for the creation of a historical marker to commemorate the 1966 Texas Western College basketball team that won the NCAA Basketball Tournament by defeating the University of Kentucky.
“It would be placed somewhere on the grounds at UTEP with a dedication ceremony. If you are interested in assisting with this project, then let me know either way, please.”
Of course, I said I would help. This is timely since this month is the 10th anniversary of the death of the Miners’ coach, Don Haskins.

WHEN HASKINS passed away on Sept 7, 2008, I wrote that even the heavens cried. It Haskins1rained all afternoon and night following his death.
But one article that wasn’t mentioned in any of my stories was a tribute that another legendary basketball coach, Bob Knight, paid him on CBS.
The article follows.

“THE GLOW from Don Haskins’ greatest triumph was mostly a memory when Disney decided to take another look.
“Then came the movie ‘Glory Road’ and a whole new generation learned what Bob Knight already knew about his old friend’s career – and legacy.
“’Don got more out of his teams and players than any coach who has ever coached college basketball,’ Knight said.
“Haskins, the Hall of Fame coach credited with helping break color barriers in college sports in 1966 when he used five black starters to win a national basketball title for Texas Western, died Sunday. He was 78.
“’The word unique does not begin to describe Don Haskins,’ Knight, the winningest men’s coach in the sport’s history, said. ‘There is no one who has ever coached that I respected and admired more than Don Haskins. I’ve had no better friend that I enjoyed more than Don Haskins.’”
End of story.

AS FOR ME, I loved the man. Beneath the gruff exterior Haskins was a kind-hearted man. 66 minersPerhaps his greatest attribute was his generosity. When Disney offered him $300,000 for the rights to his life story but offered only $7000 to each of his players, Haskins told Disney to put his $300,000 and the $7000 for each of his players in one giant pot and distribute it equally.
Disney complained that it was too much trouble but Haskins insisted.
Each member of the team wound up with more than $37,000,

TRIVIA QUESTION: What was coach Don Haskins’ overall college coaching record? Answer at end of column.

THE FOLLOWING is from reader Mark Deemer:
“For the past three years I have been trying to get a UTEP women’s basketball jersey hung in the Don, but to no avail. I can think of at least 10 athletes off the top of my head that would qualify. I have been trying to accomplish this when coach Green (Keitha Rachelle Adams, formerly known as Keitha Green) was here. (Former athletic director Bob) Stull never contacted me after numerous e-mails and a phone call.
“The present coach said it was not up to him. The present AD told me that it would not happen this year (that was a conversation in February) and it would be in his in basket. Let’s make this happen. It is time and it would be a great recruiting tool as well.”

TRIVIA ANSWER: Don Haskins coached at UTEP from 1961 through 1999 and won 719 games and lost only 353. In the process he won seven Western Athletic Conference regular season championships, a NCAA basketball championship in 1966 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997 while his 1966 team was inducted in its entirety by the same Hall of Fame in 2007.


Two of UTEP’s Best Teams Will Open Season

Ray Sanchez© 9.09.18

Two of the most competitive teams at UTEP will open their seasons next week. Yes, I’m golf1talking about the Miners’ men and women golf teams.
Ever since former UTEP athletic director Bob Stull lured coach Scott Lieberwirth away from New Mexico State to take the reins at UTEP, the men’s team has been revived. Lieberwirth’s teams win tournaments, finish high in others and have been listed in the top 25 men’s golf teams in the country year after year.
Heck, the Miners, led by Charles Corner, even won a Conference USA championship last year.

NOT FAR BEHIND is the UTEP women’s golf team under coach Jere Pelletier. Led by Liligolf2 Downs, who made the All-Conference team, the women’s team finished second in Conference USA just last spring.
Both teams will open the fall season Monday. The men will play at the Lone Star Invitational in San Antonio. Altogether, the men will play in six tournaments in the fall and eight in the spring.
The women will open the fall season the same day at the MSU/Payne Stewart Memorial Tournament in Springfield, Missouri. They’ll play in five tournaments in the fall and five in the spring.
I can’t wait to see them in action.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Who is the winningest football coach, percentage-wise, in UTEP history? Answer at end of column.

DON’T DESPAIR, UTEP football fans. There’s still hope for the 2018 season.
Okay, so losing to Northern Arizona was embarrassing. But the Lumberjacks were loaded with returning lettermen. We have to give UTEP’s new coach, Dana Dimel, some time. He’ll be facing two tough road trips at UNLV this weekend and University of Tennessee the following week. It’s possible they’ll be 0-3.
But then the real test will begin.
They’ll face their No. 1 rival, New Mexico State, at home. UTEP quarterback Dai Locksley showed good running ability and a strong passing arm against Northern Arizona, but the offensive line couldn’t protect him. He kept getting blitzed. That can be corrected.
Don’t give up on the Miners yet.

EL PASO HIGH School picked three Outstanding Exes instead of the usual one this year. They are:
Myles Cohen, class of 1958.
Anna Lucia Mares, class of 1980.
Mary Jo Ponsford Melby, class of 1958.
They’ll be honored at a luncheon at the El Paso Club Sept. 20, the homecoming parade that night, the homecoming assembly on Sept. 21 and the homecoming football game that night.
Congratulations to all.

THIS FROM Joseph V. Riccillo: Great story (about Mike Price)! long live the Pick, Mike Price and the man who gave it to him (my father)!

VINCE YOUNG, who led the Texas Longhorns to a national championship in 2005, has been inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame this year.
Other inductees this year are
• Johnny Bailey, former Texas A&I and Chicago Bears star running back.
• Nell Fortner, Olympic Women’s basketball head coach and UT women’s basketball legend.
• Pete Fredenburg, head coach of the University of Mary Hardin-Bayor football program.
• Gary Kubiak, Denver Broncos Super Bowl player and head coach.
• Cathy Self-Morgan, eight-time state title-winning high school girls basketball coach and UT Women’s Basketball alum.
• Gerald Myers, Texas Tech University player, coach and athletic director.
• Jill Sterkel, four-time Olympic swimmer and Longhorn women’s swimming and diving alumni.
• Michael Young, Texas Rangers superstar.

TOM HUSSMAN, a golf buddy of mine, tells of the time another golfer went to the dentist. He told the dentist that he didn’t want any anesthesia to work on a bad tooth because he had a 10 a.m. tee time and it was 9:30 a.m. already. The dentist argued but finally said okay. Then the golfer turned to his wife and said, “Okay, honey, show him the bad tooth.”

TRIVIA ANSWER: Mike Brumbelow. Between 1950 and 1956 he had a .651 won-lost percentage. He won 46 games, lost 24 and tied three.

Misery Loves Company Doesn’t Apply to Texas

by Ray Sanchez© 09.09.18

Misery loves company, so goes an old saying. But it’s not necessarily so. And I’m sure it’s not true when it comes to The University of Texas.
No, I’m not talking about UTEP, which lost all 12 football games last year. I’m talking about its parent school, The University of Texas at Austin.
Like UTEP, the Longhorns have fallen on hard times. And it’s sad.

IT WAS ONLY a few years ago that the Longhorns were serious competitors for a national title.
In fact, they won it in 2005 under coach Mack Brown when quarterback Vince Young accounted for 467 yards of total offense (200 rushing, 267 passing) and three rushing touchdowns (including a 9-yard touchdown scramble on 4th down with 19 seconds left) to lead the Longhorns to a 41–38 victory over USC.

BROWN WAS the last in a long list of great coaches at the University of Texas, coaches like Dana X. Bible and Fred Akers, both who coached 10 years, and, Darrell Royal, who coached for 20 years.
Royal was the greatest of them all. Despite the fact he coached 20 years he wound up with a phenomenal .774 won-lost percentage.
I especially remember when Royal beat Notre Dame, 21-17, in 1969 for the national championship. My son, Victor, who had received a basketball scholarship to Texas, was at the game and can only describe it as “incredible.”

MACK BROWN WAS forced to resign after the 2013 season. His troubles had started when in 2009 Texas attempted to raise his salary $2 million up to $5 million. Faculty members complained.
After four more years of going 5-7, 8-5, 9-4 and 8-5, he was forced to resign. Never mind that he had an overall record of .767 for 16 seasons.
Bad decision. The Longhorns went into a real tailspin The Longhorns hired Charlie Strong, who didn’t have a winning season in three years, then Tom Herman, who went 7-6 last year.

THE LONGHORNS opened the 2018 football season this weekend against Maryland. Then comes Tulsa.
But then the Longhorns will run into a buzzsaw called USC, which went 10-2 last year before losing to Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl.
Is Herman the answer to the Longhorns’ woes? We’ll quickly find out this season.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Can you name the eight golfers who have won a PGA tournament as amateurs? Answer at end of column.

MIKE PRICE, former UTEP football coach, is undoubtedly a popular fellow. Last week’s column on him was overwhelmingly positive.
Marilyn Cromeans, a longtime UTEP backer, added this bit of information:
“I was reading your column today about Mike Price popularizing the pick, which he certainly did. However, before he came to UTEP, the UTEP Woman’s Auxiliary sold sterling silver lapel picks as a fund raiser to help fund our scholarships and other donations to UTEP. It was the vision of the late Louise Gelsthorpe, a past president of the Auxiliary. When I became president of the Auxiliary, I had Dunham Jewelry Manufacturing make the pick pins for us. We have since also sold several different rhinestone pins and now are selling orange rhinestone UTEP pins,,,”

AND THIS from Gaines Baty, son of Bowie High School football coach Buryl Baty who was killed along with assistant Jerry Simmang in a 1954 automobile crash with a truck:
“My book, Champion of the Barrio, continues to sell well in Texas and across the United States (top-10% on You were instrumental in helping the story to be written and to be successful in many ways. Thank you again …”
TRIVIA ANSWER: Frank Stranahan, 1945 Durham War Bond Tournament; Fred Haas, 1945 Memphis Invitational; Cary Middlecoff, 1945 North and South Open; Frank Stranahan, 1948 Miami Open; Gene Littler, 1954 San Diego Open; Doug Sanders, 1956 Canadian Open; Scott Verplank, 1985 Western Open; Phil Mickelson, 1991 Northern Telecom Open.

Give Price Credit for Making UTEP Pick opular

Ray Sanchez© 08.26.18

The pick has become a symbol at UTEP. It’s become so popular that even giant statues of pricepicka pick now adorn the school, are included in posters and magazines and little magnetic picks are attached to automobiles.
And the school owes it all to former football coach Mike Price. He almost single-handedly made the pick popular. One of my favorite memories is of Price coming out of one of the tunnels at the Sun Bowl and walking down the stairs waving a pick before a football game.
It was a simple gesture but it caught on so fast that it spread throughout the city.

MIKE PRICE is one of the nicest, friendliest, most cordial coaches the school ever had. He considered football a game and fun and passed that sentiment on to his players.
He started out at UTEP with a bang. Here was a former national Coach of the Year all of a sudden coaching the Miners.
In his first year in 2004, he won eight games, finished second in the Western Athletic Conference and took the Miners to the Houston Bowl.

THE MINERS moved to Conference USA in 2005. Price won another eight games in 2005 and took the Miners to the GMAC Bowl.
But Conference USA proved too tough for UTEP. The Miners went 5-7, 4-8, 5-7, 5-7, 4-8, 6-7, 5-7 and 3-9 before Price was replaced by Sean Kugler. Price took the Miners to the New Mexico Bowl after winning six games in 2010.
Kugler had only one winning season in four years. The winning season was in 2014 when he went 7-6 and took the Miners also to the New Mexico Bowl. Then when he started 0-5 in his fifth year he was fired.

MIKE PRICE was called on again at that point to take over the coaching reins and stop the losing. But it was too late. The Miners, demoralized, with little talent and with all the remaining games in Conference USA, lost the next seven games.
Price paid the biggest price. It added seven losing games to his overall coaching record. But he took it in stride.
He was a gentleman to the end.

TRIVIA QUESTION: There was a municipal golf course in El Paso before the one at Ascarate Park. What was its name and who was it named after? Answer at end of column.

THERE’S ONE good thing about getting older. I’ve been a witness to the tremendous growth El Paso has undergone.
Like the El Paso Baseball Hall of Fame. I was sports editor of the El Paso Herald-Post in the 1980s when I got a call from Bufe Morrison. He said he wanted to start an El Paso Baseball Hall of Fame and asked if I was interested in helping him.
Of course, I said yes. We got some important baseball people together and we were off and running.
But I’m surprised at how big the Hall has grown. This year, for example, some 400 tickets were printed for the induction banquet last Sunday at the Wyndham Hotel and they sold out quickly.
Not only that, but a reception was held at the same hotel on the previous Friday and that was well attended, too.
The El Paso Baseball Hall of Fame is in good hands with president Leo Caraveo and past president Larry Hernandez.

TRIVIA ANSWER: After El Paso Country Club moved from central El Paso to the west side in 1918, Valdespino Municipal Golf Course was built at the same site. It was named after, A. S. Valdespino, a fine golfer who obviously loved the sport. He rolled up his sleeves and became the driving force that resulted in the creation of El Paso’s first municipal golf course. He helped build it, managed it for many years and, fittingly, it was named in his honor.

UTEP Sports Releases Go the Extra Mile

Ray Sanchez© 08.19.18

I’ve always believed that it takes a special kind of person to become a sports informationray's crystal ball director at a university. I mean, you almost have to be a masochist.
Can you imagine how hard it is to keep up with all the major and minor sports at a school? And you having to deal with the ups and downs of all of them?

UTEP HAS been blessed with some great SIDs. And the present one, Jeff Darby, is no exception. His job has become so important it now carries the title of Senior Associate Athletic Director/Communications and University Relations. Right under him is Mark Brunner, who carries the title of Associate Director UTEP Media Relations. Under them are a few student graduate assistants.
Darby, of course, is responsible for getting out the stories of all the sports – all 14 of them. Count them: Men — Football, basketball, cross country, golf, track and field. Women – Basketball, cross country, golf, rifle, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field, volleyball.

SOMEHOW, some way, Darby and his staff put out press releases on all of them. I know. I get them.
Last week, though, Darby outdid himself. He not only came out with a press release announcing the 40 past and present student athletes who were graduating but had a resume on each of them. Wow.
That includes 13 representatives from the football program, five from track and field, four from men’s golf, softball and tennis, three from volleyball, two from women’s golf and soccer, and one from men’s basketball, women’s basketball and rifle.
The list of resumes is too long to print here but you can go to and check out the resumes. Aaron Jones is among the graduates.
Darby and Co. always go the extra mile in their work. And it’s sure appreciated here.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Who is the winningest football coach in UTEP history? Answer at end of column.

FRANK KETON, former Coronado High School and UTEP basketball player who some call the purest jump shooter to ever come along here, passed away last weekend from kidney failure and high blood pressure.
He played at UTEP with Gus Bailey, Beto Bautista and James Forbes when high school basketball was at an exceptional peak. In one game, he scored 55 points.
I join his wife, Maureen, in mourning his passing.

This from Gilbert De La Rosa of the El Paso Baseball Hall of Fame:
“Chihuahuas Game Night was supposed to be Aug. 17. It has been changed to Aug. 16.
“There are two reasons for the change.

1. “There is a special for Thursdays at the concession stand (Monchies) which is located behind home plate. The special is a hamburger or a slice of pizza and a drink (either a beer or water). The price is $5.
2. “This is also beer night at $2 per glass night. It will be in effect until the seventh inning.
“The tickets ($14 each) will be in left field on the second deck on the right side of the Budweiser Ball Park Patio. We are reserving 100 seats. Make sure to get your ticket as soon as you can.”
“My phone number is 915- 549-1300. My email is”
Hey, sounds like a lot of fun.

SPECIAL BOUQUETS to football’s Will Hernandez and Cross Country/Track & Field’s Winny Koech who were named the UTEP Male and Female Athlete of the Year, respectively, at the 44th annual “Dinner with the Miners” banquet…
And to Courtney Clayton, who was named All-Conference USA first team for her performance on the softball field and for her dedication in the classroom. She was tabbed to the 2018 InTouch Credit Union All-Academic team as announced by C-USA officials after posting a 3.88 GPA in Health Promotion.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Mack Saxon with 66 victories.
Veteran sports journalist, historian and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by email at or online at

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Tim Floyd Tells Why He Really Quit UTEP

Ray Sanchez© 08.05.18

timfloyd18When coach Tim Floyd retired as basketball coach at UTEP in November of 2017, I thought that it was because he was fed up with recruiting and the constant coming and going of recruits. He never mentioned that as the reason at his retirement press conference
But my thought was confirmed in a recent interview with K. C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
Floyd told him: “It just seemed right. There had been a lot of changes in the college game and I just got to the point where I felt the recruiting part of it had become distasteful. And keeping a player had become even more distasteful. So I felt it was time for somebody else to have all the fun and take that challenge on, and I felt at that point maybe somebody else could do a better job.”

COACH FLOYD wound up with a career winning percentage despite going 49-190 with the Chicago Bulls. He was hired there for the impossible task of forming a team without Michael Jordan and other stars. His coaching record in college was 444-218 and in the NBA it was 92-231. That’s overall a record of 536-449.
After Chicago, Floyd took a season off and then guided the New Orleans Hornets to the NBA playoffs where they lost a tough seven game series to the Miami Heat.
Next he landed at USC and eventually at UTEP, where he started his career as a 23-year old, and coached for seven seasons and a few games. He wound up with a 138-99 record at UTEP.

FLOYD SAYS he’s just enjoying life now. As for basketball he said that he was thankful for the opportunities he had during his career.
And he added, “This business (basketball coaching) can make you angry at times. And I haven’t been angry one day since I left.”

TRIVIA QUESTION: Which was the first public high school team from El Paso to fly to the Texas state tournament? Answer at end of column.

SPEAKING OF trivia, I made a goof a couple of weeks ago. I asked how many high schools from El Paso had won state basketball championships. I didn’t use the word “public” high schools.
The response was swift. Former Cathedral High School coach Julius Lowenberg informed me that Cathedral High School, a private school, had won several state basketball championships.

AND LOCAL statistician Charles Hill sent me the following:
“I saw your article today and was intrigued by your trivia question about how many state basketball titles have been won by El Paso area high schools.
“Your answer of 5 is correct if you are only talking about UIL state championships. There are many more if you include TCIL, TAPPS, TCAL and SWCAA titles.
“Cathedral has won 9 TCIL titles, the last coming in 1960. Faith Christian has won several TCAL and TAPPS titles and El Paso Home School has won several SWCAA titles.”
Ouch I deserve at least nine lashes with a wet noodle.

WHAT A DEAL. I’ve always been fascinated by tailgate parties at UTEP football games and even have attended some.
Season tickets are now available for the 2018 season and they’re a bargain. Here’s what you get for the six home games:
• A hearty catered meal
• Non-alcoholic beverage
• Beer – If over 21 only (wine sold separately – cash bar available)
• Pep Rally
• Music and Dancing
• Mini-Miners Kids Play Area
• Giveaways.
All that for $85 ($75 for Miner Athletic Club members), and $10 less in each category if you’re under 21. Or you can buy a single game tailgate ticket for $20. Student tickets are only $10.
No, I’m not hawking for the Miners. I just think you’ll have a lot of fun. Call 747-8600 if interested.

TRIVIA ANSWER: The 1947 El Paso High School basketball team which won the state championship. The team became known as “The Flying Tigers” in honor of the American squadron that became famous during World War II.

Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at by e-mail at or online at


Books   University of Texas at El Paso  Home Court

Why UTEP Not a Consistent Winner In Football

Ray Sanchez© 10.16.16

I sort of feel sorry for UTEP athletic director Bob Stull. Just about every coaching selection he’s made for football or basketball since he took his present job in 1998 has been hailed as brilliant.
Charlie Bailey was the football coach when Stull took over. Stull’s first hire in football was Gary Nord, who was an instant success. In 2000, he won eight games, tied for the Western Athletic Conference championship, took the team to a bowl game and was hailed throughout the city.
Nord followed his first-year success with three straight two-win seasons.

ENTER MIKE PRICE. He, too, was an instant hit and hiring him was considered a great feather in UTEP’s hat. After all, he had been a national College Coach of the Year at Washington State and had been hired by Alabama. In his first two years, he won eight games each season and was the toast of the town.
He followed that up with six straight losing seasons.

THEN CAME Sean Kugler in 2013 with a resume that would make any college athletic director’s mouth water. Not only had he been a star player with the Miners but he had wide experience in the National Football League. He had been an assistant coach with the Detroit Lions, the Buffalo Bills and even the Pittsburgh Steelers. A sure-to-be winner with the Miners, right? Wrong.
He had a 7-6 season in 2014 but losing seasons in 2013 and 2015 and is off to a 1-4 start this year.

NO, IT’S NOT the fault of football coaches Stull has hired that has made the Miners losers on the gridiron. It’s the situation UTEP finds itself in and that is, isolation.
We are so far removed from major cities, major markets and major news centers that few of the better athletes want to come here. Which means that our football teams are going against bigger, stronger and faster players in game after game.
Oh, we’ve had some good players, like running back Aaron Jones this year, but not enough of them. And we’ve had some good teams, but not enough to sustain a winning program.

THE SOLUTION? Some say we should have stayed at our same level of competition and never left the Western Athletic Conference.
But I can’t blame Stull for wanting to improve the school’s status and competition and moving the Miners into Conference USA. It means more and better exposure for our players and our teams – and more money for UTEP.

THE OTHER major sport at UTEP, basketball, has been competitive but that’s a different story. It takes much fewer players to fill a team and means more good players are available.
And Stull has had much success in finding good coaches for that sport, too. That they haven’t stuck around long is not his fault. He’s lost most of them to those bigger and better paying schools.
Stull’s first hire in basketball was Jason Rabedeaux. Then came Billy Gillespie, Doc Sadler and Tony Barbee. The latter three produced outstanding teams and each took the Miners to the NCAA Tournament.
And finally, there’s the present coach, Tim Floyd. You couldn’t have asked for a better resume. He had been late UTEP coach Don Haskins’ assistant and had even coached the Chicago Bulls, for goodness sake.
He hasn’t made it to the NCAA Tournament yet but has produced winning teams.

ALL IN ALL, Bob Stull has been quite an asset to the University of Texas at El Paso. Before he took over as athletic director he coached the football team to its winningest football season ever, 10-3. And as athletic director he has not only hired highly qualified football and basketball coaches but has hired some good coaches for all the other sports.
In addition to all that, he’s greatly improved the athletic facilities to heights not even imagined before.
I highly admire the man.

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