Page 1


Don’t put your next sports event in anyone else’s hands. From professional event planning assistance to complimentary services, the Lubbock Sports team is known for going above and beyond to make each event a success. To receive a free Sports Facility Guide, call 800.692.4035 or log onto LubbockSports.org.


DECEMBER

Features

2012

Regulars 5

Lead Off

6

Opening Shot

12 |

BEHIND MIDNIGHT EYES

8 Life as I See It 10

Stay in the Game

11

Run the Race

22

SLM KidZone

43

Sports in the Hub

TECH ATHLETICS

SLM salutes Tech’s beloved mascot and his final ride by Trent Wycoff

14 |

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

WHAT STREAK? Headed by coach Jason Strunk, Lubbock High varsity football victories signal the end of one era... and hopefully the start of a new one by Joe Szynkowski

Connect

24 |

www.sportslubbock.com | 806.781.8482

COVER STORY

BIG SPLASH

www.facebook.com/SportsLubbockMonthly

Monterey High power back Travon Benton rumbles and bruises his way to big yardage... and statewide recognition by Joe Szynkowski

www.twitter.com/SportsLubbock

admin@sportslubbock.com

34 |

FIELDS of FAITH

Staff

Lubbock area coaches and athletes converge on Peoples Bank Stadium for worship rally by Georgia Williams

PUBLICATION

Toby & Christi Brooks....................................Publishers Rob Tuttle.........................................Account Executive Kristi Hart..............................................................Editor Baron Batch....................................Contributing Writer Eric Chaffin......................................Contributing Writer Joe Szynkowski...............................Contributing Writer Georgia Williams.............................Contributing Writer Kerry Wimberly................................Contributing Writer Trent Wycoff..............................................Guest Writer

ART

Dominique Harmon..................................Photographer Regina Penney..........................................Photographer John Weast..............................................Photographer Toby Brooks.................................................Art Director Donald MacArthur................................Graphic Designer

IN REMEMBRANCE: First-year defensive coordinator Reese Fleming, 46, of Monterey High School passed unexpectedly from a sudden illness on November 5th. He is survived by his wife Marcy and daughter Raeley (2). A fund to assist the family has been set up at Plains Capital Bank in Lubbock. Please consider contributing to help the Fleming family in their time of need. ON THE COVER: Monterey’s bruising junior Travon Benton has been critical in establishing the Plainsmen’s punishing ground game this season. SLM shutter specialist John Weast summoned his courage and stood in the path of destruction long enough to snap this cool pic for this month’s cover.

Sports Lubbock Monthly is published monthly by Chaplain Publishing, a division of NiTROhype Creative, 3104 CR 7520, Lubbock, Texas, 79423, phone 806.781.8482. Contents may not be reproduced without consent of the copyright owner. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retriival system or transmitted in any form by any means electronically or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher.

4 |

DECEMBER

FIELDS OF FAITH

2012 |

Sports Lubbock Monthly

Sports Lubbock Monthly is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, articles, photographs, or artwork. To submit information, photos, or stories or for advertising inquiries please contact Sports Lubbock Monthly at 806.781.8482, via email at admin@sportslubbock.com, or via the Sports Lubbock website at www.sportslubbock.com.


LEAD OFF

by TOBY

BROOKS

Politics and God

D

id you ever wonder why some things from your childhood managed to grab a hold of a crevice in your gray matter and wedge themselves in forever, while other seemingly similar bits of information, some important, some not, sped through without even flashing their brake lights on the way out? Case in point, I can remember every word to “Ice, Ice, Baby,” yet I routinely misspell “their.” Had it not been for my good friend Garrett McKinnon, I would have humiliated myself and this publication by emblazoning our first-ever cover with the word “THIER” for all the world to see. Now I have probably typed out “their” at least a million times in my life. But each time I do, I have to think about it. It is somewhat comical. And completely exasperating. That’s why it strikes me as odd that I can recall every detail about the first time an adult warned me about the conversational minefields to sidestep. It was my dad. I was eight. “Never, and I mean NEVER talk about politics or religion,” dad said. “All it will do is lead to arguments.” Boy was he right. Little did he know that in a decade and a half, the discussion would turn heated, and the verbal combatants would be the two of us. After realizing that any form of debate would grow heated and possibly ugly, we’ve reached an unspoken truce of mutual understanding out of love and respect for one another. We agree to disagree. And we still love one another. So fresh off a particularly nasty Presidential election in which two candidates who probably could not possibly be more different jockeyed for position in hopes of our vote, I won’t begin to even try to talk politics. And in an election so caustic, polarizing, and charged with issues so fundamental to Christians as well as the opponents of faith, most any mention of religion is almost guaranteed to endear you to some and alienate you from many.

So despite the teachings of my youth, I think we really need to take a quick inventory of what just happened here. After more than $6 billion wasted and literally years of campaigning, our citizenry elected to embrace the status quo. Nothing changed. It is business as usual, and half our nation was dancing in the streets. The other half was weeping in the sheets. Here’s what the process has taught me, though. There isn’t much in this world I can control. I won’t always get to have my candidate in office. I don’t get to determine how much I pay for a gallon of gas. And no amount of worry on my part can change the tax laws by which I must abide. However, I’m an American. Better than that, I’m a Texan now. I might not be able to control much, but what I can control, I’m going to crush. I won’t be outworked. I won’t be outhustled. I won’t be outprayed. And at the end of the day and at the end of the game, I’ll rest easy knowing I gave it my best shot. So here’s the deal: whether our President or Senator or Judge or whomever was or was not the individual you voted for really has no bearing on whether or not our nation will return to greatness. It doesn’t matter if you were hoping for “red states” or “blue states” on election night. And it doesn’t I won’t be outworked. matter where you go I won’t be outhustled. I to church. Those are won’t be outprayed. And all just details. What at the end of the day and matters is the effort. at the end of the game, I’ll rest easy knowing I I’ve come to gave it my best shot. realize that whether it is an athletic team or a church group, a civic group or a labor union, a county or a country, it is all about the team. The harder I work, the better I get. And if the guy or gal next to me has the same mindset, then we might not win them all, but we’ll most certainly be better for the effort. It is high time we all do our part to help this team we call America back to the top of the polls. Our kids might just remember it for the rest of their lives. Or was it thier?

JAMS OF THE MONTH The Protest: Throw the Roses

Lord Have Mercy: LaCrae www.sportslubbock.com |

What’s rockin’ on your device? Tell us at jams@sportslubbock.com DECEMBER

2012 |

5


OPENING SHOT

6 |

DECEMBER

2012 |

Sports Lubbock Monthly

DOMINIQUEN

HARMON


VIEW FROM THE TOP This incredible image is the result of not one but actually NINE photos all meticulously and flawlessly composited by award-winning Lubbock-area photographer Dominique Harmon of Captivated Images. Taken during Tech’s trouncing of Northwestern State at the Red Raiders’ 2012 home opener on September 1, it was produced to wow customers visiting Blue Mesa Grill across from Jones AT&T Stadium.

www.sportslubbock.com |

DECEMBER

2012 |

7


LIFE AS I SEE IT

by BARON

BATCH

The Little Things

I

8 |

DECEMBER

2012 |

Baron Batch is a former Red Raider who currently plays running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers. In addition to being a world-class athlete, he is a gifted author and artist. He has graciously agreed to share exerpts from his blog for use in Sports Lubbock Monthly. To read more and to see other examples of his work, be sure to visit baronbatch.com.

Sports Lubbock Monthly

Pittsburgh Steelers / Karl Roser image

Check out Baron’s first-ever NFL touchdown run! http://bit.ly/SXCwJG

was in high school the last time my dad attended one of my football games. I hadn’t realized how long it had been, until I invited to fly him and my younger brother to Pittsburgh for our game against the Washington Redskins. Ten years ago the idea of being able to fly my family across the country for a football game would have seemed impossible. Out of all the things that football has allowed me to experience up to this point, it always seems to be the little things like that, that are the sweetest rewards of all. “It’s all about the little things.” A lot has happened over the past few months. I’ve had my fair share of highs and lows: from making the team, to scoring my first NFL touchdown and being a team captain, to letting a sure touchdown pass slip through my fingers on national television. It’s been quite the year so far, and I absolutely love it. I guess the trick of it all is not getting too high on your highs or too low on your lows. “It’s all about the little things.” This will be my 50th Diary that I have written. It’s pretty crazy to think there have been that many really. It’s even crazier to know that many of you have been following my story up to this point. I think the coolest thing about scoring my first touchdown a few weeks ago was knowing that so many of you might as well have been there in the end zone with me. Pittsburgh has grown on me. I might even consider it home. There aren’t many people I’ve encountered that are as proud as Texans, but Pittsburghers are right up there. So I guess I’m extra proud these days. I have finally found a legit group of friends, and most importantly, I moved into a house and built a fire pit in my backyard like my old one back in Texas. It’s a good feeling to be settled after two years of uncertainty. “It’s all about the little things.” Over the past few months this is what God has been reminding me of daily. “Enjoy the little things Baron.” I feel like I had gotten away from that. I had been so fixated on the major accomplishments that I had forgotten about all the awesome little things. It’s amazing how easy it is to avoid riding the emotional rollercoaster life can be when you remember to count your blessings. For me, it’s my family, fire pit and friends. “Its all about the little things.” That’s what I’m going to keep reminding myself. Count your blessings. And then count them again so you don’t forget.


www.sportslubbock.com |

DECEMBER

2012 |

9


Brought to you by

STAY IN THE GAME

by KERRY

WIMBERLY

Functional Flexibility

F

lexibility is the foundation for all physical motion and is the cornerstone for every athletic endeavor. Flexibility programs seem to be less popular today, which is understandable when reading the confusing mixed reviews on the subject. As professionals in physical therapy and athletic training here at Lubbock Sports Rehab, we believe in a principle-based approach that is specific to each individual’s needs. Our program is based on the person’s need, rather than an arbitrarily designed guideline. To help us determine what technique to choose, we follow three primary principles, with a strategic goal of functional flexibility.

Three Primary Principles of Functional Flexibility

1. Individual and Sport or Task Dependent 2. 3D - Three Dimensional 3. Mobility & Stability (most-stability)1 To achieve functional flexibility, we must pay attention to the function of the muscle during the task or sport-specific activity. When we look at the overall global movements that take place in playing a sport, you have to consider the whole body. Every muscle is task driven and has a specific position, angle, speed, and load limit. When the body changes, the muscle’s function changes. So, for flexibility to be functional, the techniques must look like the intended function.2 Our goal at Lubbock Sports Rehab is to educate everyone to better understand how muscles, nerves and joints are functioning three-dimensionally during each individual task in sports and in life. Therefore, the mobility & stability principle refers to the right amount of motion given the right amount of strength. To facilitate a better understanding of this complex issue, here is an example of how this works:

Principle 1: Task Specific

We assess the individual’s ability to perform a task such as walking, running, squatting, pivoting, reaching, jumping, etc. If this produces pain, discomfort and/or lack of confidence then we construct a strategy that creates success. It is always an investigative thought process by changing the body’s positions, angles, reaches, and ranges.

10 |

DECEMBER

2012 |

Sports Lubbock Monthly

Principle 2: 3D (Three Dimensional)

Assess the body as a whole when evaluating the patient/ athlete’s success. This in turn will allow us to develop a strategy of what exercises we might approach first to reach the intended goal. This search will lead us in the direction of the possible weak link in the motion-stability principle, which now leads into the third principle (mobility-stability) that will determine our techniques.

Principle 3: Mobility-Stability

Mobility and stability is structure specific. Our goal is to provide an environment for the most stability. The patient/ athlete begins a set of exercises that increases the efficiency of the whole body and protects the specific structure in question. Then, as the symptoms improve, the athlete moves toward isolation of the muscle as motion and strength is improved. Traditionally, many techniques teach that we should start with the symptom or structural tightness and then work backward into function. In our paradigm shift, we allow the exact function of the body as a whole to dictate how far away from function and into isolation we should go. Therefore, our strategy controls the symptoms, saves time, and allows for an integrated progression from function into isolation. We use what our patient/athlete is saying and experiencing to guide us into improving their overall well-being. When we apply the principle, strategies, and techniques of Applied Functional Science3, we recognize the individual as a whole. Once the dynamics of the body as a whole are understood, then we can start to understand and appreciate the true action of each part. Kerry Wimberly is a certified and licensed athletic trainer (ATC, LAT) and a Fellow of Applied Functional Science (FAFS) at Lubbock Sports Rehab. 1: Gary Gray, Gray Institute 2: Lenny Parracino, AIM Sports Medicine 3: GIFT, Fellows of Applied Functional Science


RUN THE RACE

by ERIC

CHAFFIN

Does God Care Who Wins?

A

s another season of high school, college, and pro football winds down, I find myself wondering if there are sports fanatics or athletes who have actually prayed, “Lord, if it’s Your will, please let my team win.” Players pray for God to bless their team, yet feel conflicted because they know full well that there are players on the opposing team beseeching God for the same thing: victory.

Does God care who wins?

The reality is that the Lord is interested in anything we endeavor to do, whether it’s being a good spouse, a good businessman, or a good athlete. His involvement is essential. Jesus said in John 15:5, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” So, whatever we achieve in life is due in no small part to Him. But, we must also realize that God is not some kind of puppet master who turns everyone into mindless robots, suddenly causing the Bengals to upset the Buccaneers. He created us with free will.

So, just whose side is God on?

Joshua 5:13-14 says, “When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’ ‘Neither,’ he replied, ‘but as commander of the army of the Lord, I have now come.’” Like Joshua, we always want God to be on our side. But what we need to ask ourselves is if we’re truly on His side. In Luke 22:42, Jesus prayed in the garden and said, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” Likewise, Psalm 37:4-5 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord.” The key to playing on God’s team is to make His desires our desires, not vice versa. It also means heartily carrying out His commands. He calls the plays, we execute them, and we gladly give Him glory for the victory. “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). God is going to do what’s best for us and what brings glory to Him. He is going to bless and use those players who seek His will first and who would be willing vessels for His glory, win or lose.

The key to playing on God’s team is to make His desires our desires, not vice versa.

Signing Day

One of the most anticipated days in college football is “signing day,” when the country’s top high school recruits formally sign a letter of intent, committing to the college of their choosing. Instead of asking whether God is for our team, we should be signing our letters of intent, committing to be on His team. Does God care who wins? Of course he does...when it’s His own team He’s pulling for. Eric Chaffin is an Associate Pastor at Southcrest Baptist Church, chairman of 3:14 Ministries (www.three-fourteen.org) and a former arena football team chaplain. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Heb 12:1 RUN THE RACE is a monthly column featuring a brief devotional written by area coaches and youth ministry leaders.

www.sportslubbock.com |

DECEMBER

2012 |

11


WHAT STREAK? JOE

SZYNKOWSKI JOHN

14 |

DECEMBER

2012 |

Sports Lubbock Monthly

WEAST


HIGH SCHOOL

FOOTBALL

Headed by coach Jason Strunk, Lubbock High varsity football victories signal the end of one era... and hopefully the start of a new one.

www.sportslubbock.com |

DECEMBER

2012 |

15


HIGH SCHOOL

FOOTBALL

WHAT STREAK? I

f Jason Strunk had chosen music as a profession, then he would be dressed in a black tux waving a conductor’s baton. Luckly for Lubbock High School’s once-ailing football program, Strunk prefers to orchestrate turnarounds. In just his second year at the helm of the Westerners, Strunk has ended a 25-game team losing streak, reclaimed district respect and instilled a winning attitude, not to mention catalyzed Lubbock’s leap into the playoffs for the first time in 37 years. And that is music to the ears of players, fans and coaches alike. “When you come in here talking playoffs from day one, people think you’re a little crazy,” Strunk said. “Well, maybe we actually are a little crazy.” Lubbock High sure clinched its playoff berth in crazy fashion on Nov. 2, when despite losing by 45 points to Frenship, they punched their postseason ticket thanks to a Plainview loss. Lubbock is 3-7, 2-3 District 4-4A after losing the Nov. 9 home tilt against Monterey. Earning the postseason honor was a culmination of effort from players, assistant coaches and Lubbock’s new leader. “I’ve never been a coach in a program that was already established,” Strunk said. “I’ve always had to work. I prefer it that way because you get to instill your own program.”

Culture Shock

Strunk boasts an impressive coaching resume featuring high school and division-I college success. After taking over at Plant City (Florida) High School in 2008, Strunk transformed the Raiders from a team that had won just six of its previous 32 games to a 7-3 playoff season. Prior to Plant City, Strunk was the linebackers coach at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania where he helped coach the No. 2 defense in the nation in NCAA Division III. He was also the defensive coordinator and assistant coach at his alma mater, Class 4A Northhampton (PA) High School, where his teams compiled a 31-18 record, including his first-year record of 8-4 (Northhampton went 2-10 the previous season). Before coming to West Texas, Strunk was the offensive quality control and assistant offensive line coach at Purdue University. He wanted a challenge, and sure found one when he landed in Lubbock. The Westerners hadn’t made the playoffs since 1975 and hadn’t boasted a non-losing record since 1998.

16 |

DECEMBER

2012 |

Sports Lubbock Monthly


“We kind of had to start from scratch with the kids,” he said. “Really break it down to basics.” While Strunk was teaching the game, he was also cultivating relationships. “I was actually planning on focusing on basketball the year that coach came in,” said lineman Raleigh Anderson. “Then I met coach, and he was so enthusiastic. He convinced me to come back out. “He loves what he does. He’s always jumping around. He knows how to win because he’s been there before.” Strunk’s approach with his players is direct and contagious – and honest. “If kids know you care about them, then you’re going to get more out of them,” Strunk said. “Eventually, you can get them to the point where they will buy into anything you tell them.” Strunk’s first year in Lubbock didn’t exactly go as planned. The Westerners finished 0-10. He and his staff implemented more rigorous training, better nutrition and even brought in Marines to lead a Navy Seals-like program. Anderson said the installation of such a demanding system paid off immediately. “It was definitely a challenge,” said the senior, who gained 30 pounds and a whole new level of strength in the offseason. “It brought us closer together, I think, too.”


HIGH SCHOOL

FOOTBALL

Working Smarter, Not Harder

At Purdue, Strunk’s work days started at 7 a.m. and didn’t end until 1 a.m. The rookie D-I coach found himself missing his family and wondering if there was a more time-efficient way to prepare for football games. His strategy at Lubbock includes a consistent 4:15 to 6 p.m. practice schedule, with film uploaded to the software program Hudl, which allows coaches to watch tape from home. “We get our work done,” Strunk said. “I pride myself on working smarter, not harder. I have a family and my guys have family. We all want to win and be here, but there is no point in working 14 hours a day, then coming and being dead the next day. We keep it fresh and we’re ready to roll every day.”

18 |

DECEMBER

2012 |

Lubbock High’s new facilities sure help the work process, too. The Lubbock community passed a bond to finance their football teams, which included a three-phase plan to provide new practice facilities for each of the city’s four scholastic football programs and $18 million in renovations to the city’s football stadium, which already seats 8,500 and has state-of-the-art scoreboards and field turf. “This is a Division-I setup,” Strunk said. “Coaching in Purdue gave me an insight into what it would be like to coach high school football in Texas. The facilities here reflect the importance of Texas high school football.” Strunk’s appreciation for his new state’s football passion is evident to his large coaching staff, many of whom have remained loyal to the Lubbock program through tough times.

Sports Lubbock Monthly


“When we win, it’s because of my coaching staff and my kids. When we lose, it’s because of me. I truly believe I have the best coaching staff in the United States.” -Lubbock High Head Coach Jason Strunk

“Expectations are very high here,” said assistant coach David Moody, in his eighth year at Lubbock. “He came in here and did a great job right from the get go evaluating the situation, and then he went to work. We struggled the first year but the offense and defense were getting better. We weren’t missing by much.” Moody has coached at every level of competitive football, including internships with the Buffalo Bills and

Miami Dolphins. He has worked with some of the sport’s best coaches, and he says Strunk has what it takes to lead. “Coach has the will to win,” Moody said. “He is a people person and the kids love him. It’s demanding down in Texas. It’s not that much different from the NFL as far as the expectations go. Thirty-seven years is a long time without the playoffs. He’s leading us that way.”

Strunk’s Four Keys To A Turnaround 1: Listen “Listen to what everyone tells you. All I heard about was that it was a tough job and you can’t win here. I wrote that stuff down and still use it as motivation. You develop a plan around that.”

2: Get Tough “The second thing is working on mental toughness. You have to learn how to battle through tough times and adversity. Before, if they lost a game, they might say, ‘We lost again. Let’s give up.’ You have to break through that cycle.”

3: Fundamentals “You have to get back to the basics. This is a big step because it is all of those simple fundaments that make a difference on Friday nights.”

4: Continuity “You can’t rebuild programs when you’re changing your game plan every week. You instill continuity and run the same offense week in and week out. You need consistency in your approach and in your staff.”


Strunk’s Resume Lubbock High, Lubbock, TX • Head football coach • 2010-Present

Purdue University West Lafayette, IN • Offensive quality control graduate assistant • 2010

Plant City High, Plant City, FL • Head football coach • 2008-2009

Muhlenberg College Allentoen, PA • Assistant coach, linebackers • 2007

Northampton Area High School Northampton, PA • Assistant coach • 2000-2006

Nazareth Area High School Nazareth, PA • Assistant coach • 1996-1998

Victory!

With a group of key players back in the fold and a full year of Strunk’s tutelage, the Westerners were primed for a quick start this season. Quarterback Layven Armendariz, running back Brandon Hernandez and a host of experienced reinforcements up front came into the season on a mission – win. But Lubbock lost three straight out of the gates, even though its offense was showing real signs of life. Strunk and his staff stayed focused and upbeat, knowing that victory was at the doorstep. And then it happened. Lubbock’s rain-soaked 22-7 win over Andrews snapped a 25-game losing streak. Some Westerners hadn’t won a game since they were in eighth grade. Others had never experienced gridiron victory. It was a hard-fought win over a tough team on the road. Lubbock celebrated for days. “I took a step back and let the kids and coaches enjoy that one,” Strunk

said. “The kids treated it like they just won a BCS bowl game. I’ll always remember walking off the field that night. There were kids getting pictures taken with their parents. There were cheerleaders crying. That sticks out.” One could argue that Lubbock’s turnaround became official on that night. Strunk would say it started two years ago when he took the helm and began yet another meticulous reconstruction of a struggling football program. “When we win, it’s because of my coaching staff and my kids,” he said. “When we lose, it’s because of me. I truly believe I have the best coaching staff in the United States.” Get your cameras and Kleenex ready again, Lubbock. You just made the playoffs. Joe Szynkowski is a freelance writer for Sports Lubbock Monthly. Read more of his work at www.joeszynkowski.com.


HIGH SCHOOL

FOOTBALL

www.sportslubbock.com |

DECEMBER

2012 |

21


SLM KidZone

by CHRISTI

BROOKS

Playing Favorites

T Publisher’s note: Last month we asked you which teammate you were most thankful for and why. We got several responses and appreciate your input. Here’s SLM’s own Christi Brooks’ response.

Next month’s question:

What is your funniest sports memory? Send your response and a photo of you or your child to kidzone@ sportslubbock.com. Be sure to include your child’s age. We will do our best to publish as many as we can. The deadline is December 1.

eams are made up of individual players. Successful teams are made up of teammates. I love the camaraderie of sports. When a team really jells, they can accomplish feats that otherwise would never happen. Laughing with teammates is what makes those days in the 105-degree sun bearable. Hearing your teammates chant your name after you score your first run of the season makes all the hard work and sacrifice meaningful. I am very thankful for my teammates. I am thankful for… • Lynn, who had never played an inning of softball until junior high when we needed one more player to field a team. She endured the struggle of learning a new sport at that age because she didn’t want to see us miss a year of something we loved. • Keri, who I could always count on to do her job at shortstop and at the plate. She knew the game of softball and played it well. • Rachel, who was my top choice to warm up with before each game and practice. She had mad speed running the bases. • Heather, who always threw strikes so we fielders could do our job. • Sara, who could intimidate our opponent with one wellplaced look. • Miranda, whose sunny personality always kept the team looking on the bright side. And I am thankful for countless other teammates who came and went throughout my softball career. Together we learned how to play a difficult sport well, we accomplished goals that people said were out of reach, we laughed at crazy moments, and we cried at heartbreaks. We may not have always agreed, but we worked through it together. We were teammates. Here is what you had to say about your teammates… Christi Brooks is a freelance author and owner of Chaplain Publishing in Lubbock. She may be reached at christi@ chaplainpublishing.com.

22 |

DECEMBER

2012 |

Sports Lubbock Monthly


AUBREY AYERS “I love the kindness and good sportsmanship of my teammates.”

JAYTON AYERS “I like my teammates because we work together.”

BABY BLASTERS The Lubbock Baby Blasters 9U Fastpitch Softball team are thankful for one another. They won the 9u Division in the Amarillo Rt. 66 Tournament. The team is coached by Sjana and Bobby Drum.

KEELEY ETCHISON (#5) I love my teammates from Heritage Middle School because we are truly best friends. We motivate each other to do our best each time we get on the court.” (Above pictured with Courtney Miller and Mackenzie Nuss)

ANSLEY AGUILAR “I like playing with my teammate Marleigh (Fagin) because we won.”

www.sportslubbock.com |

DECEMBER

2012 |

23


COVER

STORY

BIG SPLASH

Brought to you by

Monterey High power back Travon Benton rumbles and bruises his way to big yardage...and statewide recognition JOE

SZYNKOWSKI JOHN

WEAST

T

ravon Benton’s big game against Caprock turned heads throughout the land of Texas, but it may have been his performance the week before that actually put him on the map. Monterey’s bruising junior running back amassed nearly 600 rushing yards in a two-week span during the middle of this season on his way to establishing himself as the Plainsmen’s biggest offensive threat. “We’ve always kind of known that Travon was a special talent and somebody we could rely on,” said Monterey coach Todd Pearson. “He has really become the focal point of our offense, and has responded to it.” Monterey (7-3, 3-2 4-4A) opened its season with three straight wins before falling onto tough times. The win over Caprock was the team’s only victory during a challenging four-game stretch during which it surrendered 42 points per game. Monterey has since bounced back with wins over Plainview and San Angelo Lake View to clinch a playoff berth heading into the season finale against Lubbock High. Benton has been a driving force behind Monterey’s success. His size (5-foot-8, 190 pounds) makes him a tough tackle. His breakaway speed makes him nearly impossible to catch. “He has really great vision and balance,” Pearson said. “He’s very quick, so he gets from his position to the line of scrimmage in no time. And he’s a physical kid who doesn’t shy away from contact.” After playing more of a secondary role behind standout Byron Parker last season, Benton has taken advantage of his opportunity to shine. “I really didn’t have too much time to work on things over the offseason because of baseball,” Benton said. “I just wanted to come in and help the team win games.”

www.sportslubbock.com |

DECEMBER

2012 |

27


COVER

STORY

“He is a very humble and quiet leader. He never gets on anybody else for missing blocks or anything like that. He’s a team guy.” -Monterey High Head Coach Todd Pearson

YAC-ITY-YAC Benton isn’t known to shy from would-be tacklers. Many of his longest gains are tough-earned yards-after-contact (YAC).

Benton finished with 22 rushing yards in Monterey’s 5A bi-district playoff loss last year. The Plainsmen have been bounced two years in a row from that round, a trend Benton is hoping to curb through leadership and reliability. “I’m always trying to work on becoming more of a leader,” he said. “By example and by talking to guys, that’s something I’m working on.” Benton was definitely a leader Sept. 28 against Caprock. Pearson called Benton’s number 34 times, which he churned into 371 yards and six touchdowns. The midseason spurt garnered Benton some local and statewide attention, as he was named to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football list of nominees for the Gridiron Legends Player of the Week award. More importantly, Benton’s performance sparked Monterey to a 75-61 victory. “He had a great night,” said Caprock coach Seth Parr. “We couldn’t stop him and we really helped his cause, too, with some poor defense. It’s a learning experience when you give up stats like that.” Benton’s Caprock game was a brilliant follow-up to week four’s 200-yard game that integrated an improved facet into Monterey’s option offense. And as high-flying offenses are becoming the norm, Benton’s style of play may help Monterey’s defense, too, come postseason time. “He’s a system guy,” Pearson said. “He’ll get you that one, two or three yards, then he’ll break one for 15 or 20. He really keeps the offense moving along. That’s the best thing you can have when you’re facing high-scoring offenses.”


www.sportslubbock.com |

DECEMBER

2012 |

29


GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS... Benton is quick to point out the consistent hard work of his offensive line, who he says have routinely opened gaping holes like this one to help him stack up some impressive numbers.

30 |

DECEMBER

2012 |

Sports Lubbock Monthly


TAKE THE ROCK Plainsman senior QB Jacob Batholomae hands off to Benton during Monterey’s matchup against Frenship.

“My offensive line deserves the credit. They have been really playing well together.” -Monterey running back Travon Benton

Pearson – promoted to head coach in 2009 after working with the team’s offensive linemen since 2002 – plans to lean on Benton for a playoff push. Even if teams choose to game plan against Benton, Monterey’s offense has the weapons to adjust. “You know that at some point, someone is going to take him away,” Pearson said. “So for him to continue to get his yards, he helps relax our offense and defense.” Benton has loved the extra work, but not necessarily the attention his performances have attracted. “My offensive line deserves the credit,” he deflected. “They have been really playing well together.” Pearson says humility is nothing new from Benton. “He is a very humble and quiet leader,” Pearson added. “He never gets on anybody else for missing blocks or anything like that. He’s a team guy. “He really doesn’t like getting attention. He’s not that kind of kid. He just wants to do his job and fly under the radar. It’s great to see a kid do that.” Joe Szynkowski is a freelance writer for Sports Lubbock Monthly. Contact him or read more of his work at www. joeszynkowski.com. www.sportslubbock.com |

DECEMBER

2012 |

31


32 |

DECEMBER

2012 |

Sports Lubbock Monthly


www.sportslubbock.com |

DECEMBER

2012 |

33


FIELDS of FAITH

Lubbock area coaches and athletes converge on Peoples Bank Stadium for worship rally GEORGIA

WILLIAMS REGINA

PENNEY

T

here is a movement sweeping across the South Plains. It’s taking form on Wednesday nights on basketball courts and in locker rooms. It’s gaining momentum in school courtyards and classrooms as area athletes and students gather in “huddles” for fellowship through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. This mighty work of God could be seen clearly at the recent Fields of Faith event Wednesday, October 10 at 7 pm in Peoples Stadium in Wolfforth. Instead of cheerleaders, there were “encouragers” in bright neon shirts. Instead of players, there were thousands of junior high and high school students from across the South Plains. Instead of cheers for a team there was the unanimous voice of 6,500 students chanting “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!” into the crisp autumn air. An estimated 750,000 students met on football fields across the nation to have a night of peer-led encouragement and praise for Jesus at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Fields of Faith events.

34 |

DECEMBER

2012 |

Sports Lubbock Monthly


FIELDS OF

FAITH

WHERE TWO OR THREE ARE GATHERED More than 6,500 Lubbock-area students recently attended the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ “Fields of Faith” event. The crowd enjoyed powerful performances by Christian artists and inspiring messages from an impressive slate of speakers.

www.sportslubbock.com |

DECEMBER

2012 |

35


EMPTY HANDS HELD HIGH Worshipers young and old stood shoulder to shoulder and enjoyed the sounds of the Amarillo-based Marcus Dawes band

GET IN HERE Hundreds of encouragers greeted attendees with smiles and high-fives as students from across the area made their way into the stadium

“It’s like charging your battery. Your life is a battery and then the Scripture is like God charging you.” -Lubbock High senior Clara Tarigan

36 |

DECEMBER

2012 |

Working Out Body and Soul

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, also known as FCA, is not new to the South Plains. However, for sixteen years local FCA huddles have been meeting without an Area Director to unite them. Two years ago this all changed when Texas Tech football Coach Tommy Tuberville came to Texas Tech. His request was simple: they needed a chaplain and a Fellowship of Christian Athletes. This set off a chain of events that led to Terry Kinard becoming the new Area Director for Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Kinard now oversees an area of FCA huddles spanning 28 counties from Andrews to Childress, and Bovina to Jayton, as well as supervising the Texas Tech University Athletics Chaplains. Kinard is no stranger to FCA. As a freshman in high school in 1965, he became involved with FCA and from there he coached and led FCAs at multiple

Sports Lubbock Monthly

high schools and universities. “God was getting me ready to do this,” he said, motioning back to the buzzing stadium and field, “for a long time.” For Skylar Spurgeon, a seventh grader at Evans Middle School, FCA has made a huge impact on her during a trying year of family illness. “My mom had cancer,” Spurgeon said, “and FCA helped relieve pressure because I feel like I can talk to God like no one else and He understands me.” Lubbock High School senior Clara Tarigan had a sense of urgency about leading FCA on her campus. “As a teenager there is a lot of peer pressure,” Tarigan explained, “and it is really hard on campus sometimes.” Tarigan believes that FCA is a vital part of campus life, “It’s like charging your battery. Your life is a battery and then the Scripture is like God charging you.”

THE PLACE TO BE The stream of students waiting to get in the gates at Peoples Bank Stadium stretched for over 600 yards at one point early in the evening


FIELDS OF

FAITH

www.sportslubbock.com |

DECEMBER

2012 |

37


FIELDS OF

FAITH

SOLID ROCK Amarillo’s Marcus Dawes got the crowd going with a bevy of popular Christian rock covers.

Thousands Unite in Faith

“Basically, it is a miniRevival for high school kids to get together to share stories and testimonies and sing songs and at the end of the night we ask kids to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.” -Andy Penney, FCA Area Board Member

38 |

DECEMBER

2012 |

Fields of Faith is evidence of this growing success and revival brought on through the work of God in FCA huddles across the region. The excitement in the air at Peoples Bank Stadium and the mere turnout alone are undeniable evidence. Andy Penney, FCA Area Board Member, said, “Basically, it is a miniRevival for high school kids to get together to share stories and testimonies and sing songs and at the end of the night we ask kids to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.” Fields of Faith at its core is meant to be a student-focused interdenominational pep-rally in a non-threatening environment. Students share their testimonies, read the word of God and encourage one another. This is the second year to have Fields of Faith on the South Plains. In 2011 the event was held at Lowrey field and the response was overwhelming with over 1,100 decisions for Christ. A line of smiling and laughing students snaked out of the Peoples Bank Stadium gate and through the packed parking lot on October 10. Over 350 volunteers or “encouragers” from area churches flanked the walkway cheering and giving high fives to incoming students. Precious Fargoso, a Cooper senior, arrived early and stood in the

Sports Lubbock Monthly

stands rubbing her icy cold hands. She was thrilled to be there. As she watched the stands fill and the band prepare to play she gushed about the event, “I go every year. It’s fun to see everybody come together for one night.” Precious’s answer for why a student should come to Fields of Faith was simple. “It’s awesome!” Clearly, Precious was not alone in her opinion. Everyone was excited. The atmosphere from the very beginning was like the last quarter in a tied championship game. Everyone evidently came with eager expectation. The enthusiasm was palpable. Even the adult volunteers were delighted to be involved with the event. Mike Gomez, Linda Cartwright and Janice Gomez, volunteers from local churches, stood near the entrance to the stadium, cheering and clapping as students passed through. When asked what is special about


Fields of Faith they all chimed in like a cheer squad in perfect unison, “Salvation!” Just twenty minutes before, hundreds of volunteers had huddled on the field around Kinard for the equivalent of a pregame pep talk. Kinard said, “Tonight is not about FCA. Tonight is not about you. Tonight is not about your denomination. Tonight is about the kids who come to you and what they say.” All of the volunteers erupted in applause. Kinard, charismatic and excited, energetically walked up and down the track shaking hands with students, leaning in for encouraging words. Marcus Dawes, a Chrisitan rock band from Amarillo, started playing worship songs as students quieted and focused on singing to Jesus Christ. Students continued to steadily fill the stadium for a solid twenty minutes as the band lead the crowd in songs of praise. As worship drew to a close, students came to the stage for a time of student testimonies. Students from Monterey High School, Lubbock High School, Post High School and Texas Tech shared their testimonies about how God has worked in their lives and how FCA has helped them. First, Adam Smith, a senior from Post shared how two years ago he had a stroke the day before Fields of Faith in Abilene. The crowd quieted as Adam spoke. Smith, a sophomore at the time living in Archer City, collapsed on the football field during practice. His father and coach at that time, Steve Smith, remembered, “He had a blood clot on his brain.” Seventy-two hours later they were told he wasn’t going to make it. “They didn’t give us a shred of hope,” Coach Smith shared. They prayed for him at Fields of Faith and he had a miraculous recovery. It’s a simple testimony that carries a lot of weight. Clara Tarigan, a senior at Lubbock High School, took the stage next. Tarigan is originally from Jakarta, Indonesia, and

shared how being a minority Christian in Indonesia taught her how to cling to her faith amidst very real persecution. She said, “There are always... those type of people who will go after you because of what you believe in...They are not exposed to what Christianity is really all about.” Tarigan also shared her surprise at finding a form of persecution even in American schools where it’s not “cool” to be Christian. “I am really sad because people are not exposed to what Scripture is really about,” she said. “A lot of people take it for granted.” Paul Childers, a senior from Monterey High School spoke next. Childers confessed that he is not perfect but working daily to be conformed to the image of Christ. Even amidst set backs like knee injuries during the football season of his senior year Childers is striving to keep his perspective focused on Christ. Mary Bokenkamp, a senior Guard for the Texas Tech Lady Raider’s basketball team, was the last student testimony. Bokenkamp shared how her faith became more than religion when she moved to Lubbock and began to seek out answers and community on her own. Amidst unattainable expectations and disappointments Bokenkamp has learned to find her self-worth in her relationship with Christ. As the key speakers for the evening took the stage every student was focused on them. Former NFL players and twin brothers John and Guy Earle were an impressive sight in their matching number 54 jerseys and clean-shaven heads. Now youth ministers in the Dallas area, the Earle brothers take their experience playing for pro teams like the Redskins, Bengals and Patriots and translate that into intense, and powerful testimonies. As they passed the mic back and forth it would have been easy to believe only one person was speaking.

JUST PREACH IT A number of speakers from all across the country and all walks of life captivated the crowd with their powerful testimonies.

www.sportslubbock.com |

DECEMBER

2012 |

39


FIELDS OF

FAITH

STATS THAT REALLY MATTER By night’s end, a total of 484 students prayed to accept Christ , 1,779 students rededicated their lives, and 848 pledged to read their Bible daily.

With thick Jersey accents, the Earle brothers clearly shared the message that Jesus alone, not religion, saves. As they gave the invitation, hundreds of volunteers poured onto the field, followed by thousands of students responding to the call.

Victory Lap

In the end, 484 students prayed to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, 1,779 students came down and rededicated their lives to the Lord, and 848 students pledged to read their Bible and pray daily. The Fields of Faith event ended the way it began, with thousands of excited students snaking their way into the parking lot. Hundreds of other students were still on the field talking with volunteers as music played. 40 |

NOVEMBER

2012 |

Sports Lubbock Monthly

Clara Tarigan said, “I encourage everyone to go to Fields of Faith... and for those kids who are really connected to FCA, just invite your friends. You never know what God is going to do because it’s God and you don’t predict His doings.” Looking out at the field Andy Penney contemplated, “We always come to football stadiums and it’s always this side verses that side...we’re always trying to compete to see who will win. But on a night like tonight, it’s a story of the greatest victory ever won and it’s an invitation for everybody.” For many students a victory was won at Fields of Faith. Thankfully for them, this is one victory that will never tarnish or fade. Georgia Williams is a freelance writer for Sports Lubbock Monthly.


She saw her dad blow insulation into the attic to make the house more energy-efficient. Then, she got an idea. Find out how South Plains Electric Cooperative can help you lead by example at TogetherWeSave.com.

ERICA BECAME CONCERNED By THE LACK OF INSULATION IN HER DOLLHOUSE.

South Plains Electric Cooperative, Inc.

TOGE T HE RW E S AV E .C OM


42 |

DECEMBER

2012 |

Sports Lubbock Monthly


SPORTS IN THE HUB

by SCOTT

HARRISON

F

rom the East Coast to the West Coast and everywhere in between, Lubbock Sports is making its mark on the country with annual trips to help promote Lubbock and bring in sporting events. Lubbock Sports is committed to bringing the best sporting events to Lubbock, while increasing local businesses’ bottom line. Jumping on a plane to boast about Lubbock is a privilege for longtime Lubbockites Scott Harrison, director of Lubbock Sports, and Josh Dill, sports sales manager for Lubbock Sports. Without these essential relationships, some of Lubbock’s biggest sporting events might not take place in the Hub City. “These trips provide us a chance to meet with the ‘big boys’ in sporting events,” Dill said. “We are able to create and maintain relationships with planners and make sure they have Lubbock on their radar.” Two of the most important marketing trips for Lubbock Sports are the U.S. Olympic SportsLink, held this year in Colorado Springs, and the TEAMS Conference and Expo, held this year in Detroit, MI. The relationships built at the U.S. Olympic SportsLink conference were pivotal to Lubbock hosting USA Diving, USA Gymnastics and USA Track and Field. The USA Track and Field event brought 971 athletes to the Hub City in July 2012. Lubbock Sports has formed a strong relationship with USA Gymnastics President and CEO, Steve Penny, which helped bring the 2012 Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions to Lubbock this fall. The TEAMS Conference and Expo is the largest sports trade show in the country. While attending TEAMS, Lubbock Sports has the opportunity to schedule meetings and network with 60 separate event planners. The relationships built at TEAMS spawned the Premier Baseball Sophomore National Championships, which was held in Lubbock in July 2012. Premiere Baseball’s events in Lubbock will add about 7,000 room nights this year alone. Aside from bringing big-league sporting events to Lubbock, annual marketing trips provide the Lubbock Sports team with continuing education opportunities. This year, Josh Dill was able to receive a Certified Sports Event Executive honor given by the National Association of Sports Commissions. He is one of only 123 in the nation to carry this accolade. “Even if we don’t come back to Lubbock with events, we come back with knowledge, ideas and stronger connections,” Dill said. At Lubbock Sports, you’re more than a client; you’re a teammate. If you would like to learn more about what Lubbock Sports can do for you, please call 806.747.5232. And to find up-to-date information about events, attractions and dining and shopping options, visit www.visitlubbock.org.

Lubbock Sports is committed to bringing the best sporting events to Lubbock, while increasing local businesses’ bottom line.

Scott Harrison currently serves as Director of Lubbock Sports. He may be reached at scott@visitlubbock.org.

Don’t put your next sports event in anyone else’s hands. From professional event planning assistance to complimentary services, the Lubbock Sports team is known for going above and beyond to make each event a success. To receive a free Sports Facility Guide, call 800.692.4035 or log onto LubbockSports.org.

www.sportslubbock.com www.sportslubbock.com ||

DECEMBER OCTOBER

2012 |

43


HARDBALL IN THE HUB CITY Thanks to the efforts of Lubbock Sports at the TEAMS Conference and Expo, Lubbock was able to successfully bid to host the Premier Baseball Sophomore National Championships. Premiere Baseball’s events in Lubbock will add about 7,000 room nights this year alone.

SPORTS IN THE HUB 44 |

DECEMBER

2012 |

Sports Lubbock Monthly


SPORTS IN THE

HUB

It Happened In the Hub

FAST TIMES ON THE SOUTH PLAINS The team at Lubbock Sports was able to turn a visit to the U.S. Olympic SportsLink conference into a successful pitch to play host to an event sanctioned by USA Track and Field. The event brought 971 athletes to the Hub City in July 2012.

www.sportslubbock.com |

DECEMBER

2012 |

45


Get the FREE SportsLubbockToGo app today! Now available for your iPad, iPod, and Android mobile device.

46 |

DECEMBER

2012 |

Sports Lubbock Monthly


You will possess a towering sense of honor.

You will develop a relentless will to succeed.

You will become a part of our nation’s impenetrable shield.

If you have what it takes to make it.


December 2012 Sports Lubbock Monthly  

Travon Benton, Fields of Faith, Midnight Matador, Jason Strunk/Lubbock High

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you