“I feel all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto,
December 7, 1941
How in the world does the above quote from the Japanese Admiral who led the attack on Pearl Harbor and began World War II have to do with our little school in Commerce, America?, Well, pull up the figurative chair, and I’ll tell you.
We as fans and supporters of the University all knew the potential was there. The talent that had come through the various athletic programs. The outstanding achievements of those in the academic field. The building blocks were all in place. All that was needed was the spark to set everything in motion.
It began in 1996, when the Texas A&M University system stepped in. Up until that time, indoor sports were in a converted World War II aircraft hangar(Heck, they still are!) The football stadium was worse than some AA and AAA level high school stadiums throughout Texas. Various buildings in and around the campus, looked like, in a generous description, that they belonged in the Soviet Union. For those like me that were housed in dear old Hubbell Hall, there was no arranging of furniture as you might like it, and you couldn’t control the temperature in your room.
The process began slowly. First, a name change. From East Texas State University that a lot of us knew, to Texas A&M-Commerce(There’s still debate among some alumni concerning this one.) Then a building torn down there, a relocation here, some painting and refurbishing in places, visitors stands, and artificial turf, along with a scoreboard that didn’t look like it came from a middle school stadium at the football stadium, and now things were beginning to show. That little school we all know and love began to look like a college.
The cosmetic changes we can see brought in more and better students. The changes we couldn’t see brought in more and better faculty. Better and more support services for those students, not just athletes.
Then came the magical National Championship run in the fall of 2017 that brought priceless attention to our little school. Not only for athletes, the students of today want to be where things are happening. They want to be associated with a winner. Where they feel at home. It worked with my daughter, who begins this fall.
That spark that began in 1996 is now a raging inferno. A National Champion in football. Top flight academic programs. Shiny, sparkling new facilities for every student. Support and assistance programs to ensure success. All while maintaining that small town charm and feel . As in the TV series Cheers, ” A place where everybody knows your name.”
The giant has been awakened. Now, turn him loose.