A lot to catch up on and a lot to look forward to, so let’s get to some retroactive news.
Congrats to Senior Srdan Budimir who was named to the 2018-19 Honors Court by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Budimir, the sharpshooter from Serbia, is an electrical engineering major who completed his basketball eligibility this season. He was the president of Responsible Lions and has been named to the LSC Commissioner’s Honor Roll four times, Best In Class honor roll twice, Athletics Director’s List twice, President’s List twice, and Dean’s List once. He was a Lone Star Conference All-Academic selection in 2019.
A huge congrats to HC Craig Case and his crew for winning the AVCA Team Academic Award. Once again showing that Lions succeed on both the field/court/track and the classroom, the award, which was initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that displayed excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade-point average on a 4.0 scale or a 4.10 cumulative team GPA on a 5.0 scale. The Lions are one of 141 schools from the NCAA Division II to receive the award, and one of four teams from the Lone Star Conference in 2018.
Golf-The awards keep coming in for the Women’s Golf team and their historic season. They were named Academic Conference Champions for having the highest team GPA in the conference. The LSC started awarding these Championships in 2013 and since then, this is the fourth time the Women’s Golf team has won it. Softball won it in 2015 and 2016, Men’s Basketball won it in during the 2016-17 season, and soccer won during the 2015 season while the Volleyball team won it in 2018. Also, Blake Hartford, a Junior from Klein, was named an All-American Scholar Golfer by the Golf Coaches Association of America. He also won the individual title at the Lone Star Conference Championships in March. Congrats to all our Golfers for their outstanding work on the course and in the classroom!
Now, I am going to do a bit of editorializing on what is typically a hard news type post.
We all know that the giant Lion head that has graced Ernest Hawkins Field will no longer be there starting this year. Now, I know. We have had some great memories and some big wins on that field, but now its gone. The field is up and the new field is being installed, and that is the cold, hard fact. Now, don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE for the big Lion head to stay, but here is the reason it is being replaced.
First, the base turf of the field itself needs to be replaced due to the wear and tear, and player safety is paramount in replacing the surface of the field. Having a good, firm base with state of the art technology is expensive, that is why not all fields can have it. So, the field itself was going to be redone. Bear in mind, the field at The Hawk sees at least 5-6 College Games, 5-6 High School games, Marching Band practices and competitions. That is a lot of use and it will get worn down. So, basically, the field needed to be redone for maintenance and safety purposes anyway.
Now, onto the Logo. Not having the logo will save us somewhere in the neighborhood of 65-70,000 dollars. That might not seem like much, but to a Division II athletic budget, that is quite helpful. That money can be used enhance the much needed cosmetic upgrades to the Stadium’s facade. Tim McMurray has done a lot to help the stadium’ aesthetics, but we still have quite a bit of upgrading to do, in addition to the construction of a 7,800 square foot addition to the football locker rooms. Add that to the corporate sponsorships with Under Armor and Pepsi Co. and this is how things get done, with money. This is something WE NEED. The visitors still stay in cramped quarters and we need new offices and space for the team. We still have quite a bit to fix.
That being said, there are a lot of things that we need that we still don’t have, but a giant Lion head is not one of those things. You can thank prior admins for letting the facilities go to pot and not doing anything about them. The status quo was kept for the better part of 30 years, and when you essentially abandon a facility for nearly half it’s life with the exception of a small improvement here or there, it is going to take a long time to get back up to the standards we want. That is the result of kicking the can down the road. Truth is, these renovations should have started 20-25 years ago, but they never did. But also keep in mind, not once, but TWICE, the State of Texas tried to close our institution because our politicians were making sure that the Texas and Texas A&M’s and Texas Tech’s of the world were being funded, but our school was left in the cold despite it’s reputation as being a top tier II school. The state choked our ability to fund the school, but we kept it alive due to benefactors and people who made sure the legacy of the Lion would live on, and now we are starting to roar again.
Finally, the Lion head will be missed, but it did it’s job, which was to help us recruit good players, draw crowds back to Commerce, get us good publicity, and help us retain our identity. It served it’s purpose. Texas A&M-Commerce is bigger than any stadium surface, any player, any Coach, or any admin. Let’s get ready to get worked up on the only thing on the field that matter, which is the 11 guys wearing the blue and gold.