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One More Chance

By: Samantha Smith

This year has proved to be my hardest year yet competing in college rodeo. Throughout my years of school, I have been fairly successful in rodeo, but this year has been different.

As a freshman, things seemed to come extremely easy for me. At my very first college rodeo I made the short round of competition which is something many people never get to experience. I then went on to win a college rodeo that year and compete in several other short rounds.

Fast-forward to sophomore year, I again made the short round at the first rodeo and started a bit of a streak, qualifying to the following two rodeos as well. When asked, I usually give my older sister, Taylor, a lot of credit for those good runs – thanks to her yelling in the stands and telling me what to do as if I could actually hear her.

Now, this year, junior year, is another story. Junior year has been a struggle to say the least. At the first rodeo, one I have consistently done good at, I didn’t just knock, but I knocked and flipped over the first barrel, something no barrel racer ever wants to do. This put me at an off start to the year, unsure of how to handle the loss at our hometown college rodeo. Next weekend, Alpine, TX, a rodeo I had won third at the year prior, horse and rider miscommunication causing another knocked barrel and another weekend with no short round. Vernon, TX college rodeo, another no-good run… are you seeing the pattern yet?

After the fall semester my parents finally convinced me it was time to get on a different horse as things obviously hadn’t been working with the one I was on at the time. To be truthful, things hadn’t been working for awhile, but I was too stubborn to admit it and wanted to prove that I could fix the problems all on my own. I was wrong.

December was a good month for me, I bought my new horse, Miracle Tash a.k.a. “Deana,” and got to fly home to Canada for Christmas. After New Years, I returned to the U.S., but only for three days before we picked up and went on a family vacation to Costa Rica that my mom had earned through her multi-level marketing company. Though I was happy to be on vacation, I couldn’t wait to get back and get a feel for my new horse.

Well, now it’s April and I’m still working on that whole “getting a feel” thing. People don’t understand that rodeo isn’t as easy as it may seem. In any other sport the game is always the same, you can switch fields, courts, turfs, you name it, but the idea stays the same. In rodeo, a horse switch after six years is like changing sports completely. This change is taking me time to adjust to, in fact, I had to send my other horse home to Canada to allow myself to completely focus on this one and getting our timing. Did I wish I had my old horse at the rodeo we won freshman year by four tenths? Of course I do, but the only way to get better is to make sacrifices and make changes in order to succeed.

The last college rodeo of the year is approaching fast and I am yet to make a short round. That one hurt to even type. To say I am disappointed would be an understatement, but I am not writing myself off quite yet. As I write this, I am sitting in my farrier’s barn doing homework while I get new shoes put on my horse’s feet. Though to some, this wouldn’t seem like a big deal, I’m seeing it as a fresh set of shoes for a fresh set of wins. Tartleton University hosts the last college rodeo of the year, and some say it’s even the best rodeo of the year, featuring smoke, fireworks, and added money which always draws in more entries. At this point, I’m not sure anyone sees me as tough competition, but what they don’t know is that I’m coming for them. This time, I’ve got a vengeance, I refuse to go a year without a short round, and I will do whatever it takes to make sure I’m in that top ten come Saturday afternoon.

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Snyder Short Round

By: Samantha Smith

Last weekend the ENMU Rodeo Team attended their eighth rodeo of the season and third rodeo of the spring semester at Western Texas College in Snyder, TX. After a less than great performance at the Ranger College Rodeo in Brownwood, TX two weekends ago, both the women’s and men’s teams bounced back strong, qualifying 12 team members to the short round of competition.

The women’s team had a strong performance, with eight girls qualifying for the short round in three events. ENMU Rodeo has a well-known reputation for excellent goat tying and this weekend was no exception. In the long round of competition, Tawny Barry carried away the competition tying a 6.9 second run to win the round. Unfortunately, a bobble in the short round cost her the championship but she was able to recover and finish fourth in the average. Colorado cowgirl Celie Vick ended up being the top ENMU goat tyer over the weekend after a tie for third and fourth place in the long round, and a tie for second and third in the short round resulting in a second place finish in the average. New Mexican’s Saige Bell, Lany Elkins, and Lindsey Adcock also had a strong showing in the long round but had some tough luck in the short round.

In the barrel racing, two ENMU cowgirls also managed to find their place in the coveted Saturday night short round. Bailey Harwell managed to put threes all the way across the board finishing third in the long round, third in the short round and you guessed it, third in the average. Joining Harwell in the cream of the crop was one of several Canadians on the team, Kennedy Smith. After a tough start to college rodeo with two injured horses, Smith was able to jockey her way to seventh place in the long round. A knocked over barrel in the short round cost her a place in the average.

Kortney McReynolds was the only roper to qualify for the short round in the breakaway but unfortunately wasn’t able to capture her calf the second time around.

As for the men’s team, six cowboys competed in the Saturday night short round.

Team ropers Luke Hisel and Brandon Muniz were the comeback kids Saturday night, winning the short round after qualifying in last hole after the long round. This first place performance secured a reserve championship in the average for the New Mexico cowboys.

Steer Wrestlers Ringo Robinson and Wesley Gudgell also competed Saturday night. Gudgell ended up sixth place in the average and Robinson was unable to capture his second steer.

In the roughstock events, saddle bronc rider Jacob Lewis won second place in the long round but bucked off in the short round. Bull rider Tucker Turner also qualified for the short round but finished with a no-score in the short round as well.

ENMU Rodeo will compete at Big Springs, TX this coming weekend. Follow southwestregionrodeo.com for full results.

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“So do you ride bulls?” Struggles of a Rodeo Athlete

By: Samantha Smith

People always ask me, “What it’s like to college rodeo? How do you prepare? Does the school supply your horses or do you have your own? Is rodeo expensive?”

Truth is, though it is the most decorated sports team at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU), not many people even know we have a rodeo team. Because of this, I’ve taken it upon myself to help educate those who honestly have no idea (shoutout to the kid that didn’t believe I was a cowgirl because I, “didn’t look the part,” since I didn’t wear boots and spurs to class).

Because I’m feeling rather adventurous, we are going to play a little bit of true or false today! Common cowgirl/boy stereotypes debunked.

1. “All rodeo people listen to country music”

False. Despite popular belief, not all cowgirls and cowboys listen to country music 24/7. In fact, I’m not sure when the last time was that I hopped in someone’s pickup to go to a rodeo and they had a country radio station playing. If I had to take a guess, the most common music played heading from one rodeo to the next amongst my group of friends would have to be pop, followed by hip-hop/R&B. While trying to find some research on this topic, I came across a blog by Rodeo Paige posted on Kimes Ranch’s website. Click on this link to read her opinion on this topic. Personally, I have a large variety of XM radio channels I listen to, ranging from 80’s on 8 to “The Heat.”

2. “The school provides horses for each rodeo team member” 

False again. Of all the questions I receive about college rodeo, I think this one may be the most common. To put it quite simply, no, the school does not buy us horses, nor does the school pay to feed the horses we have. Rodeo is by no means a cheap sport to get involved with. Plus, rodeo athletes have to not only take care of themselves, but also their four-legged members as well. This takes not only time, but money too which can often mean we are relying on a paycheck at the rodeo to pay for expenses the next week. Most of us rodeo team members rode the same horses we ride now in high school, and coaches often will recruit people based on the horses they ride, or what we like to refer to as “horsepower.”

3. “Rodeo kids always wear their belt buckles and cowboy boots to class” 

False. This one can get a little bit tricky depending on who you talk to. Yes, there are some rodeo kids who constantly wear their boots, spurs, buckles, hats, starched jeans and shirts. But there are also plenty of us who do not. Because the statement uses the word “always,” this one will be marked down as a misconception with the others for now. At ENMU, there are actually a lot of kids who fall under this stereotype without even being rodeo competitors, it’s just the norm around here to look “punchy” I guess. Personally, and I think every girl on the rodeo team will agree with this as well as several of the boys, I never wear my “rodeo attire” to class. There are a couple of boys on the team however that do wear all of the above to class AND haul their horse trailers into town to make sure everyone knows they’re cowboys (I’m talking about you Dustyn and Bryce). Moral of the story, just because I don’t spur my chair down for 90 points in class doesn’t mean I’m not a competitor in the rodeo arena.

4. “Rodeo kids are all AG Business majors” 

False again! I think I’m starting to sense a trend here, no? Just like any other sports team, not all of our members are earning the same degree. Another fun fact, rodeo is unique because it doesn’t require us athletes to practice as a team. Each individual competes on their own, with the exception of team roping, and at the end of the weekend individual points are totaled, resulting in the team points. Because we don’t have to practice together, we also have several students who are all online with their studies. Tawny Barry is one of our best women’s team competitors and studies business online, meaning she can live wherever she pleases but still compete for and earn a degree from ENMU. Many rodeo kids do decide to study agriculture because it allows them to learn more about what we already do, however many of us choose degrees in other areas.

5. “Cowgirls/boys aren’t real athletes” OR “Rodeo isn’t a sport”

False, false, false. One of my biggest pet peeves has always been the downplay of rodeo as a sport. Just like many other athletes at this school, we put in our time and work hard to succeed in the rodeo arena. When other sports try to knock us down, it is disheartening and simply put, rude. According to all three definitions of a sport given by topendsports.com, rodeo does fall under that category. As for those who think we aren’t athletes, try flanking a calf and tying him down. You can do that? Great, now jump on someone’s barrel racing horse and see if you can make it around all three barrels in record time. Think you can do that too? Time to hit the rough stock end of the arena and jump on a bull because surely that doesn’t require any athleticism at all. If this mini rant wasn’t enough for you, leave a comment and we can come back to this another day.

6. “College rodeo is the experience of a lifetime that you’ll never forget” 

True! I always like to leave things on a good note and this seemed to be the only way I was going to get some sleep after #5 *insert eye roll here. On a more serious note, college rodeo has been one of the best things I have ever experienced. Coming all the way from Canada to New Mexico to rodeo for a university definitely wasn’t a small decision to make, but I wouldn’t go back and change it for the world. I have made great friends that I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life, and the experience here has actually made me look into getting dual-citizenship and moving down here permanently after school. While trying to find a link of interest for this sub-heading I came across a NY Times article about college rodeo that warmed my heart. Click the hyperlink above and see if it has the same feeling for you!

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Presnell Proclaims Championship at ENMU Timed Event Challenge

By: Samantha Smith

Each year ENMU Rodeo hosts a timed event challenge where high school students, college students, and ENMU alumni are able to compete. Coach Albert Flinn is the mastermind behind this event, allowing college competitors to make competitive runs during a break between spring rodeos while also allowing high school students to showcase themselves. Alumni are also able to attend the event and see if they still have the talent to compete against some of the region’s most talented athletes.

This year’s timed event challenge, on Saturday, March 4th, consisted of many competitors – some old, some new, and some hopeful for a spot on the ENMU rodeo team in the future. Perhaps one of the highlights of the day was Taylor Presnell, 20, a student studying animal science at Clovis Community College (CCC), winning the barrel racing championship. Presnell competed in the long round of competition with a 17.303 second run earning herself a second place finish and a qualification into the short round later in the day. In the short round, she was able to add some speed and get another second place finish with a 17.200, earning her the average championship.

Presnell entered the challenge in hopes of seeing how well her horse, Dash, 15, would fair against some of the toughest competitors from the surrounding areas. Because she had competed in the arena prior to the challenge, Presnell knew her horse liked the set up and she had a chance at a championship. When asked about the experience, Presnell said, “It’s pretty awesome to compete with all the college girls even though I don’t college rodeo. It felt really good to win it and know all my hard work has paid off.” Being able to beat several of the Southwest Region’s best cowgirls as well as high school students and ENMU alumni is a tough task that Presnell handled like a champion.

According to Presnell, she has now owned Dash for eight years. When she first bought him, he had some issues and she had to break him down and re-train him in order to see if he would amount to anything in the rodeo arena. Presnell said the best part of winning the challenge was proving those who thought he wasn’t worth anything wrong. Knowing how much time and energy was put into the rehabilitation of this horse makes the win even sweeter in her mind.

When it was announced that Presnell won the barrel racing at the challenge, I was lucky enough to be in the building to see the reaction on her face. Though everyone is happy when they win, the smile across her face and the support she received from friends and family was amazing.

Though Presnell currently attends CCC, she plans to transfer to ENMU to complete a degree in animal science and pursue a career as an animal drug rep. Presnell also works part time at an equine rehabilitation center, Aquaterra Equine, between classes. Her boss, Kam Knight, has also played a vital role in Presnell’s success. After having her gallbladder removed just last week, Presnell wrapped her scar with several layers and persevered through a little bit of pain to compete. While she was healing, Knight and other employees at her equine rehab and conditioning facility helped prepare Dash for the weekend, putting him on the underwater equine treadmill and completing laser treatments on his joints to help him feel his best. For the past two months, Presnell hasn’t felt her best, and according to her, the crew at Aquaterra Equine played a large role in her success. Perhaps the best part of the interview with Presnell was her admiration for her boss, “Not only is Kam my boss, she’s my best friend. I look up to her in every way and I love her.” Presnell has high hopes of following Knight’s footsteps, even hoping to have the same career as an animal drug rep after graduation.

If Presnell attends ENMU as planned next fall, here’s hoping she puts on a black and green vest and hits the college rodeo trail. After her performance Saturday, it is apparent she has the talent and focus to succeed!

 

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Follow Up – Still Learning

By: Samantha Smith

 

In one of my more recent articles, I talked about what it felt like to learn how to win again. Now, weeks later, I’m still trying to tackle the concept. You don’t realize what you’re missing until it’s gone, or in this case until it comes into your life. When I count my blessings, I count my mare, Deana, twice.

If you didn’t read the post before this, I recently bought a new barrel racing horse and entered my first professional rodeo on her. We made a good run in the first round which qualified us into the progressive round at San Angelo, TX. To follow up with San Angelo, I ran in the progressive round on February 11th. Though my run wasn’t fast enough to win any money or qualify for the final round, it was smooth and consistent and I was extremely pleased. As it turns out, switching horses after running the same one for five years straight isn’t the easiest task to tackle. Every horse is different and because of that, each horse responds to different rider cues.

In attempt to allow myself to adjust and allow Deana to get used to having myself as a rider, I have been entering jackpots whenever I can. When I bought Deana, I tried her in a large covered arena and since then I have only been able to compete on her in indoor arenas. Last weekend I was finally able to enter a jackpot at an outside pen. I was nervous to see how she would work as many horses are different outside compared to inside. Not to my surprise, she was a rock star and got us our first 1D check, meaning we were in the fastest set of entries. Our run had plenty of room to improve and we still were able to make money at a large jackpot which makes me so happy looking towards the future.

This past weekend, we had our first college rodeo together as a team in Odessa, TX. The arena at Odessa is smaller than anything we have competed in thus far, and we had some minor struggles with the small pattern. Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture which is exactly what I’m doing as I type this. Though I didn’t end up making the short go, I ended up in the top 20 girls in a very tough group with an average run at best. Looking forward, and as Deana and I get more comfortable with each other, I hope for bigger and better things. I have no doubt that we will come back better, faster and stronger at the next college rodeo, but in the meantime we have some pro rodeos to conquer.

With a couple weeks off between college rodeos, I figured it would be beneficial to enter some more pro rodeos in the meantime. Over spring break, I have entered three professional rodeos in Arizona with one of my teammates. I have high expectations as per usual, but I plan on using these runs as preparation for the next college rodeo in Brownwood, TX.

Today I rode my old horse, Max, at a local jackpot and it did not go nearly as well as I had hoped. Usually I would be mad about this, but instead I realized several things that have changed for the better. My riding has improved, my attitude has changed, and I have realized that sometimes the best thing you can do is take a break from things. Tomorrow my parents will be taking Max to Arizona for my older sister to run for a while. I have finally realized that I can’t fix everything, and that someone else needs to take the reins (literally) for awhile.

I haven’t learnt how to win again yet, but I’m working on it and I won’t stop until I succeed.

 

-Sam

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A Day in My Life

My name is Samantha “Sam” Smith, I am from Rimbey, Alberta, Canada, and I am a junior at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU). People often ask what made me choose to come to Portales, NM of all places for school and to put it quite simply, I am here to college rodeo. When Coach Flinn called in the middle of December my senior year of high school asking if he could convince me to consider coming to Eastern, all I had to do was look at the snow drift outside the front door to make my decision.

Competing in the short-go at the 2015 Frank Phillips College Rodeo.

Competing in the short-go at the 2015 Frank Phillips College Rodeo.

My older sister, Taylor, my best friend, Gina, and both of Gina’s brothers had gone to ENMU before me, so it only felt right that I carry on the tradition… Go Greyhounds! Now that I am in my third year of school, I finally feel as though I have figured out this whole being a college athlete idea (as I write this article at 1am on my three-day break between rodeos… still working on time management, whoops!). With that said, below you’ll find a short description of a day in my life as a college rodeo athlete.

For me, my favorite way to start a great day is to hit the snooze button on my alarm as many times as possible before actually waking up. Is this necessarily the best way I could start my day? Probably not, but I don’t plan on changing that part in my life until I’m a real life grown-up. Once I have finally pulled myself out of bed, I walk outside to feed and water my horses before returning to the house to feed my cute little dog, Charles. Then, I go to class in a ball cap, t-shirt and jeans, get educated and return home. Some days, I will wake up early, put makeup on, do my hair and smile in the mornings for the fun of throwing people off. Once I’ve got the in-class portion of the day completed, it is time to go home and start with the online classes! Because I’m a communications major, I spend a lot of time staring at blank pages trying to remember that cool story idea I forgot to write down six months ago… Fun stuff!

Eventually, I complete my online work for the week, or give in for the day hoping a surge of excellence will come my way before the due date. Once the temperature starts to drop, I head outside to condition and work with my horse, Max. Most days I end up spending several hours outside with him, doing my best to ensure he is in the best physical and mental shape possible before competitions.

By the time I go back inside, my younger sister, Kennedy, has dinner cooked and the daylight is gone. If anyone was wondering, Kennedy is a great chef and more than half-way into the semester has yet to miss a Taco Tuesday. We usually start watching Netflix while we eat dinner and then back to my computer I go! For whatever reason, I always seem to do my best work at night when I should be sleeping.

On rodeo weeks, the trailer has to be stocked with feed for my horse and myself, all of my tack must be packed, the water tank and propane bottles must be full, tires have to be checked, and so many other items on the never-ending list of things todo! Of course, my time to do all of this is squeezed into whatever spare time I have between classes, practice and homework. Though my life is busy, I always make time to spend with friends, often playing a competitive game of “Uno” before bed one day of the week.

My older sister Taylor (left) & I at 2015 ENMU College Daze Rodeo.

My older sister Taylor (left) & I at 2015 ENMU College Daze Rodeo.

In all reality, my life is a little bit chaotic but I wouldn’t have it any other way. ENMU has given me the opportunity to travel 30 hours from home, earn an education, and compete in college rodeos all while making new friends and even adopting a few as family. Without the support of my parents, I wouldn’t be able to do any of the things I do and I give them credit for raising three girls who rodeo as that’s not the easiest feat. Would I ever complain about a day in my life? Not at all, in fact I may be a little biased but I think I am the luckiest girl on Earth.

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“Gray”Hound Leading ENMU Women’s Rodeo to Victory.

By: Samantha Smith

Last weekend, Tierra Gray led the ENMU Women’s rodeo team to a victory at the annual Vernon College Rodeo. Gray, a senior from Lovington, won the all-around cowgirl title after placing second in the barrel racing and first in the breakaway roping events.

Tierra and her older sister, TiAda, are known as, “The Gray Girls” throughout New Mexico and Texas for their competitive barrel racing and roping skills. Both girls decided to pursue their education at ENMU after high school, following the footsteps of their mother, Pat, and making a family of “Gray”hounds.

TiAda graduated from ENMU in 2014 after winning first in breakaway roping in the Southwest Region. This year, Tierra is on the right path to do just the same in more than one event!

You can read more about Tierra and her thoughts in an interview below.

How does it feel having your first college rodeo all-around title under your belt?

GRAY: It is actually kind of a breath of fresh air. I have had a rough time at the college rodeos for the past 3 years, so it is very rewarding to see my long hours in the practice pen every week finally paying off.

How do you balance your time between school and rodeo?

GRAY: Balancing time between school and rodeo is much easier said than done. Being an accounting major, the workload is not what I would consider “light” by any means. Time management is something that has to be a priority to any athlete, especially a student athlete. I typically work on homework first thing in the morning, go to class and practice during the day, and then work on more school when I get in at night.

I understand you compete on three horses every weekend. What are their names and what makes each one special?

GRAY: My breakaway roping horse, Booger, age 20, is as lazy as they come, but knows his job well. You’re luck to get Booger to pick his feet up while you’re warming him up because of his laziness. But when it comes time to walk into the box to rope, it’s like a switch flips and he is alert and ready for business.

Gray breakaway roping on Booger at the 2016 ENMU College Daze Rodeo.

Gray breakaway roping on Booger at the 2016 ENMU College Daze Rodeo.

My barrel racing horse, Ching, is 7 and every day with him is like having a little kid. You have to keep him close to another “buddy” horse or he will let out a little squeal and kick his back feet up, which is rather embarrassing to tell the truth.

Ed, the horse I team rope and goat tie off, is 21 and he is a grouch, constantly kicking the fence and wanting to be fed at all times. He gets super excited before the goat tying.

Of all the places you could have gone to, what make you choose ENMU?

GRAY: I chose ENMU not only because it was close to home, but also because of how close everyone is around here. At Eastern you are not just another number unlike many other universities.

After winning your first all-around title at Vernon College Rodeo, how do you plan on continuing your success throughout the remaining fall season?

GRAY: I plan on continuing my success throughout the remaining rodeos this fall by continuing practice and working hard to get better everyday, then letting the rest fall into place.

What is the relationship between teammates on the rodeo team? How do you help each other get better in such an individual sport?

GRAY: I would have to say that we are all pretty close on the rodeo team. We push each other to get better everyday without being afraid of stepping on each others’ toes.

With her work ethic and talent, there is not doubt that Gray will continue to succeed throughout the year. Not only does she have the competitive nature of a true athlete, but she also has a kind heart and always carries a smile on her face. Those lucky enough to call Gray a friend know that she is always willing to lend a hand and would go out of her way to help anyone. In fact, the only complaint anyone had about Gray was that she can be too kind and at sometimes needs to remember to put her foot down.

Here’s hoping that she will continue her winning streak and lead the ENMU rodeo team to more victories in the future! She’s a real “Gray”hound!

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Noteworthy Games

Here are a few games around the sports world that you should tune in to this week:

It’s only right to start with MLB, as the chase for the coveted World Series ring continues! Tuesday, October 20th will see the key fourth game of the ALCS. The game will be between the Kansas City Royals and the Toronto Bluejays. The royals outbatted the Bluejays in game one of the series, winning 5-0. The Royals again outdid the Bkuejays by a score of 6-3, giving them a two-game advantage. Monday will see game three of the series, but game four will really give us the answer as to who may be representing the American League in the World Series as Chris Young duels with R.A. Dickey.

October 20th will be a double-header as the New York Mets travel to Wrigley Field for a key game three against the Chicago Cubs. Game one brought us a 4-2 victory for the Mets as Jon Lester and the Cubs couldn’t keep up with the Mets. It’s been a very exciting season for both teams so far; even making it this far is a surprise for the Cubs. Game three will involve a pitching matchup between Jacob deGrom and Kyle Hendricks. Tuesday will also bring us a better view of who will represent the National League in the World Series.

The NFL is finally in the swing of things with a very exciting 50th season, and here are a couple of those upcoming games:

The Seattle Seaharks will travel to the Bay Area for a match against the San Francisco 49ers. These two teams will kick off week seven of the season, and there’s no better way to start than with a divisional rivalry game. Week six saw the Seahawks fall to the Panthers, leaving Seattle at 1-5 for the season. The 49rs snapped a four-game losing streak against the Baltimore Ravens and now sit at 2-4. Thursday should be an exciting night of football!

Another rivalry game will air on Sunday, October 25th, this time between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. These teams have had plenty of good games against each other in the past, and Sunday should be no different. The Jets now have a record of 4-1 while the Patriots are undefeated in the season (pending results against the Indianapolis Colts). This game is sure to be a hard-hitting match.

Story by Jacob Aranda and Cristian Pacheco

Athlete Spotlight

By Mark Foley

 

Zach Walling, a junior from Anthem, Ariz., is big part of Eastern New Mexico University’s track team. He is in his first year as a Greyhound after transferring from Scottsdale Community College. Walling, who also is on the cross-country team, runs the 1500-meter for track.

 

Chase: When did you decide you wanted to take track seriously?

Walling: I wanted to take track seriously the spring of my freshmen year in college. So it would have been Spring 2012 when I realized I could make it to nationals.

 

Chase: If you could run anywhere in the world, where would you run?

Walling: I would want to do the Great Wall of China marathon.

 

Chase: What is your favorite memory you have had from running track?

Walling: My favorite memory from track is qualifying for indoor nationals in the 1000-meter in Spring semester 2013 while running at Scottsdale Community College.

 

Chase:  What do you like about running track for ENMU?

Walling: All of my teammates are so dedicated not only in running but in school as well.

 

Chase: Do you have any rituals before a track meet?

Walling: I always have to carb up and hydrate the day before, and eat four hours before I start warming up for the race.

 

Chase: Is there anything else special ENMU students should know about you?

Walling: I am the treasurer of VOICES. VOICES is the education club on campus. I’m also a nutrition and fitness encyclopedia.

Zach Walling (2)

Mark Fox

By J.T. Keith

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Georgia

Five seconds left in the game. Georgia Bulldogs basketball coach Mark Fox sat on the bench, removed his glasses, and held his head in his hands. The fans did not know for sure what they were witnessing as Fox began to cry uncontrollably.

Sports fans across America only could guess the range of emotions going through Fox’s mind at that moment. Maybe it was a release of pent-up grief and a way to pay tribute to the man he admired and emulated.

His father Raymond Lewis Fox, 78, a former basketball coach, died from lung cancer a week earlier. That same night, Mark Fox’s team was being routed by George Washington University.

Four seconds. Maybe it was because he had lost his best friend, the man he had often talked to about basketball strategies and whom he had celebrated making it as the head coach of the University of Georgia’s basketball team.

Three seconds. Maybe he was thinking about all the times they had spent working on his game in the driveway, shooting jump shot after jump shot. Or the times he tagged along with his father to the gym for practice. It could have been that he was remembering the times they shared each other’s tough losses and shared in each other’s victories.

In the end, all Mark Fox ever wanted was to be a basketball coach. Fox played basketball for the Greyhounds and graduated from Eastern New Mexico University in 1991.

Two seconds. Maybe it was knowing that his father would never get to see his daughter walk down the aisle for her graduation or wedding. Maybe it was knowing that his dad would never be able to tell him the things he was waiting to say until the time was right.

One second. His team was about to upset No. 21 Missouri at Mizzou Arena. Maybe it was him realizing all the things his father had taught him about doing things the right way no matter how long it takes. Maybe during those final five seconds it was a way for Fox to pay tribute to his father and say goodbye.

“My father was a coach and educator who believed in coaching and in education in life, that there’s a right way to do things,” Fox said. “I never really got a chance to grieve the way I should have. I flew in for the funeral, and flew back, and I was back at work.”

The night Fox’s Bulldogs defeated the Missouri Tigers was a turning point in their season. The Bulldogs finished the regular season with a 20-14 record and made it to the National Invitational Tournament before losing to Louisiana Tech 79-71 on March 22.

The Chase caught up with Coach Fox earlier this season.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Southern California

Chase: Who was the coach when you played here?

Fox: I played for Earl Diddle, and I still golf with him. He was a good coach and was trying to reestablish the program at the time.

 

Chase: How long did you play here?

Fox: I really only played one year. I got hurt and had surgery the day before practiced started my senior year. I spent most of my senior year with an injury. Even so, it was still a good experience.

 

Chase: Are there any coaches who made a lasting impact on you that you think of today?

Fox: Jack Scott, God bless him, he’s such a good man. I really enjoyed him. I’m glad he is still there.

 

Chase: Do you have any memories of your coaching?

Fox: When I was at Nevada University, and Dana Altman was the head coach at Creighton University, we met in the NCAA tournament game. It was the first time two Eastern New Mexico University grads were coaching against each other in a tournament game. [Nevada defeated Creighton 77-71.]

 

Chase: Were there any classes that you particularly liked?

Fox: I took a Biomechanics and a Kinesiology course that I liked really well. Those things helped me in my profession. They really do. I remember an Education course that I took that—they had us map out what we wanted to be. I started with the pyramid and worked backwards. I put I wanted to be a head coach by the time I was 35. Strangely enough, the steps weren’t exactly as I had drawn them out; however, I think back to that activity. Yeah, ENMU prepared me well.

 

Chase: What advice would you give to college athletes?

Fox: Athletically, there are very few athletes who can make it in the pros and will earn enough money to live off of for the rest of their lives. They need to function for the next 40-50 years of their lives. I highly recommend they get the best education they can.

 

Chase: What about people who want to be coaches?

Fox: It’s a tough life; it’s moving every couple of years. It is dependent on 18-19 year-olds doing what you tell them to do. I have been fortunate enough to have some success, but that doesn’t mean that every day is rosy. It is a very rewarding profession if you want to endure bumps along the way.