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National Champion Anthony Rotich Sets New School Record

Tennis Makes Strides Under First-Year Coach Nathan Jeffery Prepares to Head Up UTEP Ground Game

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OUT ON TOP

The UTEP Men’s Track & Field team won the 2013 Conference USA Outdoor Championship on May 12th in Houston led by Coach of the Year Mika Laaksonen.

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DOUBLE - UP

Junior Rebeca Calvillo secured the doubles point on a sunny afternoon when UTEP competed against Colorado State on March 3. The Miners beat the Rams 4-3.

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Miner Athletic Club

Brumbelow Bldg., Room 109 500 W. University Ave. El Paso, TX 79968 www.minerathleticclub.com

Jeff Darby

Senior Associate A.D. / Communications

Chris Park

Associate A.D. for External Relations & Development

Jon Teicher

Assistant A.D./ Director of Broadcasting

Omar Cruz

Assistant Director for Development

Mark Brunner

Assistant Director for Media Relations

Denise Mata

Assistant Director for Media Relations

Drew Bonney

Assistant Director for Media Relations

Contributors

John Dankovich, Bryan Gates, Genevieve Gomez, Angela Olivas, Daniel Veale

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Summer Edition - 2013

TRACK & FIELD DOMINATES

The UTEP Track & Field team had a stellar 2013 outdoor season, sending nine members to the NCAA Outdoor Meet and bringing home a national champ.

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TENNIS UNDEFEATED AT HOME

The Miners were a force to be reckoned with at the El Paso Tennis Club while increasing their win total by 10 under first-year coach Mark Roberts.

UTEP’S BIGGEST NIGHT

Orange Fever Fiesta has a long-standing tradition of fun, food and entertainment. How will the Miner Athletic Club top last year’s event?

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WE WERE TEAMMATES

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Former UTEP letterman Mark McDonald, Sr. goes back in time and interviews football legend Robert Rogers about life, family and persistence.

STORIES 8

TEICH’S CORNER

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QUICK IMPACT

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Q&A ON THE GREEN

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JEFFREY ON THE MIC

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BULL’S EYE

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TEAM FUND DRIVE

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TEICH’S CORNER Jon Teicher - The ‘Voice of the Miners’

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his time of year, the summer months, are without question the most difficult for fans of UTEP Athletics. Now that the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship is in the history books (congratulations to the Miner men, the 2013 Conference USA Champs!), Miner faithful are nearly three long, hot months from the enjoyment of seeing their favorite UTEP student-athletes in action once again. Although the Miners are out of the public eye during this time, significant work is taking place. Nearly all returning UTEP studentathletes and some of those coming on board for the first time in the fall are hard at it, many attending at least one summer school session, perhaps toiling at an off-campus job, and training, lifting and striving to improve their on-field performance. Coaches and their staffs are out recruiting and planning for what’s to come. To help quench your thirst, let’s take a brief glance at what might be in store for a few of UTEP’s teams that begin their competition in the fall. It all begins in the first two weeks of August when the football, soccer and volleyball teams report to preseason camp. The excitement for Sean Kugler’s initial Miner Football campaign will feature the return of running back

Nathan Jeffery and wide receiver Jordan Leslie plus the arrival of highly touted Texas A&M transfer quarterback Jameill Showers. What promises to be a physical, hardhitting UTEP squad will tackle a home schedule that begins with long-

“...the summer months are without question the most difficult for fans of UTEP Athletics.”

time rival New Mexico on September 7, followed by the 50th anniversary of the first game played in the Sun Bowl Stadium on September 21 against Conference USA newcomer UTSA. Similarly, expectations are high for Miner Volleyball and C-USA Coach of the Year Ken Murphy. The Miners welcome back All-League senior performers Xitlali Herrera and Jeanne Horton from a group that

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prevailed in 10 CUSA games, the most in seven seasons, a year ago. High-scoring UTEP Soccer looks to bounce back with 14 returning letterwinners, including second team All-Conference USA selection Azia Nicholson plus junior goalkeeper Sarah Dilling. Conference USA Cross Country Athlete of the Year Anthony Rotich is back to lead the Miner long distance runners to the top of the league once again. Finally, the Don Haskins Center will welcome 32 men’s and women’s squads, including the Miners, for the Conference USA Basketball Championships March 11-15. Tim Floyd’s Miner men return a strong, experienced nucleus paced by senior John Bohannon plus juniors Julian Washburn and Cedrick Lang and also welcome the first-ever McDonald’s All-American high school signee in school history, Isaac Hamilton, to the mix. Keitha Adams’ women fought through a slew of injuries to win 22 times a year ago and returning are El Pasoan and second team All-Conference USA standout Kayla Thornton, fellow senior Kelli Willingham. The women will also introduce a talented recruiting class. I hope you’re excited for what’s ahead. Enjoy your summer and see you when the games begin again in August!


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UPCOMING HOME SCHEDULE Summer Edition - 2013

FOOTBALL Sept. 7 Sept. 21 Oct. 5 Oct. 21 Nov. 16

vs. New Mexico 6 p.m. vs. UTSA 6 p.m. vs. Louisiana Tech 5:30 p.m. vs. Tulsa TBD vs. FIU TBD

VOLLEYBALL Sept. 6 Sept. 7 Sept. 20 Sept. 21 Oct. 4 Oct. 6 Oct. 20 Oct. 25 Oct. 27 Nov. 15 Nov. 17

EP Sports Com. Inv. All Day EP Sports Com. Inv. All Day UTEP/NMSU Inv. All Day UTEP/NMSU Inv. All Day vs. Florida Atlantic 7 p.m. vs. FIU 12 p.m. vs. Rice 12 p.m. vs. UAB 7 p.m. vs. UTSA 12 p.m. vs. Tulsa 7 p.m. vs. East Carolina 12 p.m.

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SOCCER Aug. 23 Aug. 25 Aug. 30 Sept. 1 Sept. 6 Sept. 8 Sept. 27 Sept. 29 Oct. 11 Oct. 25 Oct. 27

vs. Utah Valley 7 p.m. vs. Nebraska Omaha 1 p.m. vs. Utah State 7 p.m. vs. Abilene Christian 1 p.m. vs. UC Riverside 7 p.m. vs. Stephen F. Austin 12 p.m. vs. Rice 7 p.m. vs. Southern Miss 1 p.m. vs. Charlotte 7 p.m. vs. UTSA 7 p.m. vs. Colorado College 12 p.m.


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Get to Know Your Miners! How do you plan to spend the majority of your summer vacation?

JADE RODRIGUEZ - SOFTBALL “When school ended, the following week I started training and doing our strength and conditioning workouts. I constantly work out throughout the week. Me and my family are the kind of people who like to be outside, so when I’m not working out or practicing, I’m either swimming, at my brother’s baseball games or just relaxing with family and friends. I’m really excited to get back, I know that we have the heart and potential to be a great team.”

ANTHONY ROTICH - TRACK & FIELD “ I would like to further my education by taking summer courses towards my engineering degree. Cross country season will also be right around the corner, so training hard for my sophomore year will be a priority.”

GABI VAZQUEZ - TENNIS “I will be taking online classes as well as rehabbing for the majority of the summer in hopes of coming back stronger for my final year in a Miner uniform. We had a great 2013 season and I hope to contribute to an equally successful 2014 campaign.”

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ENDING THE SEASON WITH A BANG An NCAA Champion, All-Americans & a Conference Championship The UTEP track and field team concluded a stellar season with a national champion, three first team All-Americans and a second team All-American. Sophomore Anthony Rotich dominated at the NCAA Championships, as he became the first Miner since 2010 to claim a national title. He battled Texas A&M All-American Henry Lelei down to the wire in the 3,000m steeplechase. The outcome of the race hinged on both athletes’ ability to navigate the final water barrier. Lelei leaped over the barrier and landed in the water, giving Rotich an edge. After realizing that he was ahead, he sprinted to the finish line in disbelief that he had just won his first national title. Rotich not only clocked in with a school-record time of 8:21.19, but also posted the eighthfastest collegiate time ever. He has now won four All-American honors in his short UTEP career. Rotich spurred the Miners to a tie for 24th place at the NCAA Outdoor Meet. The Kenyan native had an astonishing year, recording a triple-crown effort at the Conference USA Championships by winning the steeplechase, 1,500m and 5,000m. He was named Performer of the Meet and helped the Miners win the C-USA Championship with a total of 166.50 points. The men’s team picked up six gold, six silver and six bronze medals at the C-USA Meet in Houston. Head Coach Mika Laaksonen was named the league Coach of the Year for guiding the young men’s team to its first conference title since 2008. www.MinerAthleticClub.com ‹ 15


Also representing the men’s team at the NCAA Championships was Texas transfer Mark Jackson. The junior earned second team All-American honors by finishing 10th in the triple jump with a mark of 15.87m (52-01.00). He was named the USTFCCCA Mountain Region Field Athlete of the Year following his performance at the NCAA West Preliminaries. Jackson won a gold and bronze medal in the triple jump and 100m respectively at the C-USA Championships. The young men’s 4x400m relay team (Carnell Horn, A-Shawni Mitchell, Daniel Tarango and Abiola Onakoya) received honorable mention All-American recognition at the NCAA Meet. The squad ran in the fastest heat of the prelims and recorded a time of 3:08.02, wrapping up the season with an 18th-place finish. The unit previously set the fourth-fastest time in program history of 3:06.88 at the NCAA West Preliminaries. The foursome also claimed the gold medal at the C-USA Championships. All four members will return next season.

“...Jackson won a gold and bronze medal in the triple jump and 100m respectively.” 16 › Miner Pride › Summer Edition 2013

UTEP’s Janice Jackson ran in the 100m hurdles, one of the fastest races at the NCAA Championships, as Clemson’s Brianna Rollins set a new collegiate standard in the event. Jackson garnered All-American accolades for the first time in her career after dashing to the finish line with a personal best time of 13.06, the secondbest performance in the Miner record book behind UTEP Hall of Famer Kim Turner (12.95). Jackson had an amazing season that featured a first-place finish at the C-USA Championships, an automatic bid to the


NCAA Championships and a spot on the C-USA All-Academic team for her work in the classroom. Concluding what has been a remarkable collegiate career at UTEP was Risper Kimaiyo, who competed in the 10,000m for the first time on the national stage. The distance runner earned her seventh All-American honor with an eighth-place finish in a highly competitive race. She registered a time of 34:03.35 to secure her second outdoor AllAmerican honor. She took two titles at the C-USA Championships, winning the 5,000m and 10,000m. Kimaiyo ran the 10,000m for the first time this season at the Stanford Invitational and posted the 13thfastest time in the nation with a mark of 33:24.21. Now that her career in the Orange and Blue has come to an end, she will finish her nursing degree at UTEP.

“The distance runner earned her seventh All-American honor...”

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TENNIS SERVES UP WINS

The 2013 season proved to be a huge step towards future success for the UTEP women’s tennis program. First-year head coach Mark Roberts was hired in late June 2012 to take over a struggling UTEP tennis program. Roberts’ coaching talents were put to to the test during the fall season, where Rebeca Calvillo and Martina Trierweiler won the 2012 Aggie Women’s Invitational. Trierweiler claimed the white singles main draw title, while Calvillo took the crimson singles main draw championship. The individual achievement paved the way for team success during the spring, as the Miners improved from two to 12 victories, their biggest increase in wins since 1995. The Miners also won all six home matches in securing their first undefeated record in the Sun City since 2004. Calvillo, Trierweiler, Gabi Vazquez, Marie LeBlond and Anastasiya Sylenko all played on the two-win 2012 squad. The returning vets made strides in 2013 by setting career highs in sin-

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gles wins, while freshmen JamieLeigh Michau and Matilda Rose Tench showed improvement over the course of the campaign. Adding to the success of the season, Calvillo was named to the All-Conference USA third team as voted by the coaches. She was the first Miner to win all-conference honors since 2009. “This was a great year for UTEP tennis. About a year ago, I met a group of young ladies for the very first time,” says Roberts. “The relationships we built, fights we fought and memories we made this year were unforgettable. I am so proud of every single one of them for their commitment and effort for each other and their team.” Calvillo finished with a teamhigh 23 singles wins, including 16 in dual match play and 12 at the No. 1 spot. Trierweiler set career highs in overall victories (19) and dual match wins (12) to close her career on a high note. LeBlond and Vazquez combined for 31 wins, while Vazquez tied Calvillo for most dual match triumphs on the season. Rose prevailed in eight matches and Michau ended her first season on a three-match winning streak. On the doubles side, the team of LeBlond/Vazquez was victori20 › Miner Pride › Summer Edition 2013


“-the first undefeated record in the Sun City since 2004.” ous in 15 matches at the No. 2 spot, while Calvillo/Trierweiler won 13 at No. 1. Tench and Sylenko captured five victories at the No. 3 position. “The student-athletes on this team have only scratched the surface of what they are capable of and I can’t wait to lead them again next year,” says Roberts. “Life and tennis are similar in that there are ups and downs, but the most important aspect is the positive attitude and fight that you bring every single day. I look forward to the battles we will face as a team next year and know my players will come out firing and giving everything they have to give.”

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NEW ADDITION TO THE MINER FAMILY Junior transfer makes an immediate impact for the softball program and looks to make a big splash heading into her senior year

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Erika Arcuri made an immediate impact during the 2013 UTEP softball season as she was appointed the Conference USA Newcomer of the Year. The native of Tampa, Fla. finished the campaign in the top 10 of C-USA with a .347 batting average. “I feel proud to be able to represent El Paso in anything. All I wanted all season was for El Paso, my coaches and my parents to have something to be proud of,” says Arcuri of winning the newcomer award. “Mama Coach (former co-head coach Kathleen Rodriguez) called me into her office before the semester started and told me she expected me to take the newcomer of the year award. That’s all I thought about this season.” Arcuri, who will be a senior in 2014, made her way to the Sun City from the Sunshine State after playing at Florida International. She also played at HB Plant High School in Tampa. The slugger earned multiple awards as a prep, including being tabbed a 2010 MaxPreps/Gatorade All-American and an ESPN Rise third team All-American. The centerfielder was a significant addition to the Miner family as she was announced team co-MVP at the annual Dinner with the Miners banquet. She led the Miners by crossing home plate 26 times, was error-free in the field during conference play and only struck out 11 times in 144 at bats. Arcuri could also be seen chatting it up with her teammates while having her arms around them in-between innings. “We put our arms around each other to show that we have each other’s backs,” says Arcuri. “I trust my girls so much in the outfield and they trust me out there as well. We have a very tight

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“I feel proud to be able to represent El Paso in anything. All I wanted all season was for El Paso, my coaches, and my parents to have something to be proud of.”


bond as outfielders and we work hard to make ourselves better. We really have a great group of girls.” The Arcuri family has softball bloodlines. Erika’s father, Frank, is an assistant coach with the Gold Coast Hurricanes 16 & under team, while her mother, Terri, and aunt, Cindi, won the Florida state championship in high school. Her sister, Ashley, was an All-Southeast Conference selection at Auburn University. “I’ve been playing softball for as long as I can remember. This sport has played such a significant role in my life and my family’s life as well,” says Arcuri. “I live for this sport. It’s all I think about and it’s all I talk about. I research my opponents like an enemy before every game or tournament. I enjoy every second of it!” Arcuri has high expectations entering 2014. “I expect us to do a complete 180,” says Arcuri. “I expect a 30-plus-win season. I also expect to bat over .400 and make all conference. But most importantly, we want to win!”

“I trust my girls so much in the outfield and they trust me out there as well.”

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Q&A with Golf Sophomore Jere Pelletier You lowered your scoring average from 76.0 to 74.5 this season, and finished in the top-20 at three tournaments. How did you feel like your season went? It went pretty well … a lot better than last year. To shave two strokes off your scoring average is a lot of improvement in this game. I’m very pleased. My freshman year it was kind of intimidating being around all those upperclassmen, but this year I realized that I could keep up with those guys. You and Martin Simonsen posted the two best scoring averages on the team, and you’re both sophomores. Do you feel like the future is bright for UTEP Golf? Absolutely. I feel like we can give all the incoming freshmen some good guidance, especially Martin. He has a lot of knowledge about the game. What has been the highlight from your time at UTEP so far? Definitely shooting a 66 at the Jim West Intercollegiate this season. That was an awesome round. Everything was firing on all cylinders that day. You started your UTEP career as a walk-on, and were awarded a scholarship after your freshman year. How was that experience? Just getting the chance to walk on was big. That way I could start at zero and work my way up. Nothing was handed to me, and just proving to coach that I could do it and see some reward was fun. Your uncle is UTEP women’s golf coach Jere Pelletier. What kind of a relationship do you have with him, and has he helped you at all on the golf course? We have a pretty good relationship. I rarely saw him growing up, since he was busy with the girls’ team. But he has helped me. He has talked to me about what college coaches look for and what I should be working on to play at a Division I university. You recently received a Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal, and your cumulative GPA is above 3.75. How do you balance athletics and academics effectively? Just stay busy. You wake up in the morning to work out, you go practice in the afternoon and you go home and study all night. If you’re studying something that you enjoy studying, it’s not hard at all. What is it like going to college in your hometown? I’m not from this side of El Paso. I’m from a different area, so living here in the dorms is all very new to me. It just feels like a whole new experience, which is all I ever wanted from college. What would you like to tell Miner fans? Maybe we can get a few more people to come out and watch our home tournament next year. We love the support!

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The Inside Scoop with RB Nathan Jeffery The junior running back gives his insight on life, football and Family Guy

What schools recruited you out of high school and what made you choose UTEP? Kansas State recruited me as a safety, but I didn’t want to play defense. It came down to UTEP and Stephen F. Austin. UTEP was a bigger school, so I chose to come here. You had a spectacular high school career, but do you feel like the Oklahoma game last season really put you on the map as a college football player? Definitely! Just playing the no. 4 team in the nation and having a pretty good game against them had a lot to do with people getting to know who I was. How would you rate last season? You had a lot of big games, but you were also injured a portion of the year. I would rate it a 6 on a scale from 1 to 10, just because of my injury. I pulled my groin and I kind of lost a little bit. I felt like I could’ve had a better season if I was healthy. Hopefully this year will be a better year. What are your early impressions of coach Kugler? He’s a really strict guy. He knows what he wants. He has goals. He has laid the foundation for this program. Overall he’s a great guy. What have you learned from your new running backs coach, Cornell Jackson? He knows what he’s talking about, so if I listen to him it will take me far. He tells me that if I watch film every day and learn how the offense works, I will have a good year. Our offense is going to look a lot different this year. We had a spread attack in the past, and now it’s going to be a lot more of a power game. How did spring ball go for you? It went pretty well. We’re just learning the new offense and taking it step by step. We set the foundation and it’s going to be even better when we return for camp [this fall]. Do you set goals for the 2013 season? I always set goals. This year I hope to rush for over 1,000 yards, score 20 touchdowns and be the most valuable player in Conference USA. As for the team, I’d like to see us win a conference championship, go to a bowl game and show everyone that UTEP can play football. 28 › Miner Pride › Summer Edition 2013


What is your major and what are your future plans past football? My major is kinesiology. I plan to be a coach and a P.E. teacher. I like working with kids. You have done a lot of community service work with children. I did 18 hours this year. I spent time with kids at a few different schools. It’s important to give back to the community. Our fans come and support us, and we want to show them that we care for them as much as they care for us. What is something interesting about Nathan Jeffery that most people don’t know? I love watching Family Guy. Peter Griffin is too funny!

“Our offense is going to look a lot different this year.”

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Shooting Into History The UTEP Rifle team looks to continue national success in a new conference

It is a time of transition for the UTEP rifle team. The Miners, who have competed as an independent squad at the NCAA Division I level, have found a home in the recently established Patriot Rifle Conference. The U.S. Air Force Academy, University of Alaska, Nevada, Ohio State and TCU join UTEP as charter members of the PRC, which will have its initial year of competition starting with the 2013-14 season. Head-to-head matchups will be held throughout the year, and the inaugural conference championship will be held at The Ohio State University Feb. 8-9, 2014. UTEP has held its own against the members of the PRC over the years, making it a natural fit to be included in the league. It is also a period of change for the Orange and Blue, with Korina Rodriguez assuming the leadership role. She will be following in the footsteps of the likes of Hannah Muegge, Alix Moncada and Andrea Palafox, who in recent years have helped UTEP achieve tremendous success. Rodriguez and Miner fans can rest easy, though, with veteran coach George Brenzovich returning for his 14th year. UTEP has recorded 10 top-15 national finishes under his leadership, and he will provide the necessary steadying influence to navigate the program through the time of transition.

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“ UTEP has recorded 10 top-15 national finishes...” www.MinerAthleticClub.com ‹ 31


An Inside Look at Volleyball UTEP Aiming to Take Next Step in 2013 The UTEP volleyball team is ready to kick off the 2013 season with the return of three All-Conference USA recipients. The Miners had a stellar 2012 campaign, finishing 16-13 and 10-6 in conference play. Ken Murphy was named the 2012 Conference USA Coach of the Year after guiding the squad to 10 league victories, which tied for the second-most in a season in program history. The team is made up of 10 returnees, including seniors Jeane Horton, Xitlali Herrera and Malia Patterson. Both Horton and Herrera were recognized at the national level during their junior season, as they were named to both the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I Honorable Mention All-America team and the AVCA All-Region team.

Horton led the Miners as she was ranked 25th in the nation in points per set (4.92) and 28th in kills per set (4.3). Herrera paced UTEP both offensively and defensively, leading the team in hitting percentage (.300) and ranking second in kills (333), digs (290), blocks (101) and aces (20). Patterson earned her first All-Conference USA honor after wrapping up an amazing season where she was ranked 57th in the NCAA in assists per set (10.78). She compiled 1,143 assists on the year. The Miners have added four newcomers to the roster, including Dayana Acevedo Rios (defensive specialist), Naomi Whitehair (defensive specialist), Dominique Millette (middle blocker) and Sarah Villa (defensive specialist). The foursome aims to lead UTEP to another Conference USA Championship bid. The squad will start the 2013 season in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 30 against powerhouse San Diego.

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An Inside look at Soccer Miners Looking to Build on Past Success

The soccer team, under the direction of Kevin Cross, will once again lead off the UTEP athletic year. The quest for a 12th consecutive campaign of 10+ wins commences with a six-game homestand at University Field, where the Miners have posted a 93-15-5 record since 2002.

home/five road), including matchups against new league members Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, La Tech and UTSA.

Thirteen letterwinners return from last year’s squad (10-10-0), including nine starters. AllConference USA honorees Azia Nicholson and Tori Martyn highlight the group. Sarah Dilling, who is already fourth all-time at UTEP for career wins (21), games played (43) and starts (43) for goalkeepers, will also be counted on. Conference USA play takes center stage late in September. A 10-game slate is on the docket (five www.MinerAthleticClub.com ‚ 33


The Team Fund Drive With all the recent success of UTEP Athletics, Team Fund Drive looks to raise the bar

The 2013-14 UTEP athletic season is one of the most anticipated in school history. Both basketball squads introduce top-notch recruiting classes to a solid nucleus of returning players, and a former Miner offensive lineman takes the helm of the football program. Julian Washburn is the top returnee to a men’s basketball team that adds a talented group of freshmen, headlined by McDonald’s All-American Isaac Hamilton. The women’s basketball team, fresh off an injury-riddled campaign that nevertheless produced 22 wins, welcomes back senior starters Kayla Thornton and Kelli Willingham. Sean Kugler, who donned the Orange and Blue from 1985-88, will usher in a new era of Miner Football at the Sun Bowl on Sept. 7 versus New Mexico. Playing off the excitement of the new season is the Miner Athletic Club’s Team Fund Drive. The Team Fund Drive is an annual grass roots campaign run every summer through the hard work of local volunteers, who secure donations for student-athlete scholarships through new season ticket sales. The goal is to encourage Miner fans to pledge contributions for UTEP Athletics by purchasing

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“ Playing off the excitement of the new season is the Miner Athletic Club’s Team Fund Drive.”

football and men’s basketball season tickets or by donating to the MAC. The friendly competition allows participants to sign up their own teammates, including friends, family, alumni, former student-athletes and coworkers. The MAC is the athletic department’s fundraising arm. It is essential to the success of UTEP’s Intercollegiate Athletics Program and its studentathletes, both academically and athletically. The MAC’s mission is to raise funds to offset the departmental cost of scholarships and sport programs supporting UTEP student-athletes. To compete in this year’s Team Fund Drive and make a positive impact in the lives of studentathletes, please contact Bryan Gates at (915) 7476150 or via email at bjgates@utep.edu.

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Orange Fever Fiesta

UTEP Athletics’ single largest annual fundraising event for student-athlete scholarships

UTEP Athletics and the Miner Athletic Club (MAC) would like to cordially invite you to a night of fun, food and entertainment at Orange Fever Fiesta, being held on Saturday, August 17th at 5 p.m. at the Grace Gardens Ballroom. “We are excited about this year’s Orange Fever Fiesta. It is a critical event for UTEP Athletics as the primary fund-raiser for student-athlete scholarships,” explains Director of Athletics Bob Stull. “This year, we have an all-new program that is guaranteed to engage the audience led by Dueling Pianos. As always, we have some first-class silent and live auction items available and it should be a special evening for everyone!” Last year’s event raised nearly $110,000 for student-athlete scholarships through sponsor & table sales, silent and live auctions and raffles. Entertainment was provided by hypnotist Doug MacCraw who interacted with student-athletes, staff and guests to captivate the audience. This year, the Miner Athletic Club will raise the bar and host a nationally renown dueling pianos performance by 176 Keys Fun Pianos. The entertainment group has performed all over the nation and puts on a request-driven, mega interaction show. “The Fun Pianos Show! is NOT a concert. These guys are going to lead us into a musical PARTY!” explains Sam Ferguson, owner of 176 Keys. “There will be tons of singing along to mostly classic &

“There will be tons of singing along to mostly classic & current rock & roll and country hits with some other surprises too.” 36 › Miner Pride › Summer Edition 2013


current rock & roll and country hits with some other surprises too.” This year’s Orange Fever Fiesta will also host a complimentary cocktail hour at the start of the festivites while the silent auction takes place. The UTEP pep band will kick off a short pep rally before dinner. The Miner Athletic Club hopes to continue the previous success of past events with UTEP supporters. The night is sure to produce many laughs and memories while making an everlasting impact in the lives of current and future Miner studentathletes. If you have any questions or would like to reserve your seat today, please contact the Miner Athletic Club at (915) 747-8759 or via email at mac@utep. edu. We look forward to seeing you there!

“We are excited about this year’s Orange Fever Fiesta. It is a critical event for UTEP Athletics as the primary fund-raiser for student-athlete scholarships...” www.MinerAthleticClub.com ‹ 37


We Were Teammates

Former Fulback Shares his UTEP Experience - by Mark McDonald Sr. To find flip side of the entitled, over-indulged entertainer, politician or athlete, look no further than Robert Lynn Rogers … respected hunting lodge operator, husband, father, man of faith, the author of two books, with another in the works … and, by no sheer coincidence, a former UTEP fullback grateful for the experience. “Without an athletic scholarship,” Rogers says, “I never would have gone to college.” Out of Tuloso-Midway High near Corpus Christi, Rogers, who lettered for the Miners from 1970-71, was that rare combo of size (6-0, 205) packaged with a certain unteachable explosiveness that translated to speed and power. As a sprinter he ran what was then the 100-yard dash, the 220 and the mile relay, and won the Class AAA state championship in the shot put. “I actually got more attention in track than football,” says Rogers, now in his early 60’s, running a lodge near Carrizo Springs with his wife, Laura, and still competing in masters age-class shot put events. “Our offensive line averaged 150 pounds, we were off the beaten path and not very good. A kid in a program like that can get overlooked,” he said. Baylor offered, but only one other major college program came knocking, the school that had only recently changed names from Texas Western to UTEP. “I hate humidity,” Rogers says with a chuckle. “When (assistant coach) Bob Lee came to recruit me, I wanted to get as far away from home as I could, but still be in Texas. And I wanted to play for a winner.” The Miners had recently won bowl games over TCU and Ole Miss. “I grew up in rural country. Visiting the Sun Bowl and getting the chance to travel and play at places like Arizona State, BYU, Arizona and Utah were impressive to me,” Rogers says. “All that, and I love El Paso and its climate.” With the fullback as a key figure in the triple-option veer attack, Rogers emerged as a reliable blocker, a stubborn runner inside and, most of all, a valued teammate who never – not even in practice – fumbled. Never. So how does an unheralded athlete earn his/her stripes? Follow Rogers’ lead: “Going to a D-1 school, people doubted me, saying I would never make it. Before my sophomore season, we bused from El Paso to Las Vegas, New Mexico. It was a defining moment for me.” Under the late Bobby Dobbs, the Miners endured the military training their head coach had received at West Point. Players were up at 5:45, dressed and standing, blistered feet and all, on a gravel road, set to run the first of four timed 440-yard dashes, with one minute of rest between. First practice was at 9 a.m., the second at 3 p.m., a third covered the kicking game – followed by chalk talk with the position coaches. Rogers had heard of Bear Bryant’s notorious gauntlet which led to the book “Junction Boys” and later a made-for-TV movie on ESPN. At Camp Western Life, elevation 8,000 feet, the Miners were not watching a reenactment on TV. They were living it. 38 › Miner Pride › Summer Edition 2013


“I grew up at sea level and El Paso is 3,800 feet,” Rogers says. “Up there, I thought my lungs were bleeding.” Defections were common. “We slept in cabins and in the middle of the night, you would hear guys gathering up their stuff and leaving,” Rogers says. “Guys would hitch-hike into town, and take a Greyhound back to El Paso.” The Miners who persevered returned to campus as a team, bonded by a collective sense of purpose and camaraderie borne out of shared hardship. Rogers has since used survival lessons learned on the football field to overcome obstacles in business. One summer, just before deer season, a landowner suddenly withdrew from Rogers’ 30,000 acres of prime deer habitat he had previously committed. With hunters (and family members) counting on him to make do, Rogers found himself scraping and clawing to lease tracts to satisfy multiple obligations. This, too, would pass, as Rogers – with no small input from his wife, Laura – has built the Casa Monte Lodge hunting operation into the model it is today. He credits former backfield coach and Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter leader Wilson Knapp for feeding his competitive fires with positive reinforcement. In that regard, a Miner from yesteryear has advice for Miners of today. “Everybody gets homesick, even the toughest do,” he says. “Never quit. Keep coming, keep coming. Best way to do that is to be in better shape than everybody else. “In the summer, train and let the heat test you. If you’re in the best physical condition, you will be prepared mentally, too.” Rogers says the blessing of God-given natural talent comes with responsibility. Failing to make the most of it is to disrespect the gift. “Your mindset for athletics will prepare you forever,” he says. “It means that when you take on the task, you do it the very best you can, whether it is stacking rocks, painting a house or studying to be a lawyer or doctor.” McDonald, the author of six books, is the survivor of metro newsrooms, where four Texas dailies took turns trying to starve him. To share your UTEP experience, email the author at mark.mcmarketing@gmail.com.

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Faces in the Crowd Dinner With the Miners & Student-Athlete Graduation Brunch

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THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT EL PASO Miner Athletic Club I Brumbelow Building, Room 109 I 500 W. University Ave. I El Paso, TX 79968 mac@utep.edu I 915.747.8759 facebook.com/minerathleticclub I twitter.com/UTEP_MAC I Linkedin.com/in/minerathleticclub www.minerathleticclub.com

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Miner Pride - Summer 2013