By Christina Calloway and Eric Norwood Jr.
PNT senior writer
The last time the Eastern New Mexico University Greyhounds won a conference football title, George W. Bush was elected president for the first time.
Under second-year coach Josh Lynn, the Greyhounds (6-3 overall) are assured of their first winning season since 2004, and with a win in their regular-season finale Saturday at Texas A&M-Commerce, will earn a share of the Lone Star Conference title.
Tarleton State finished conference mark at 5-1 while ENMU is 4-1 in LSC play.
The Greyhounds have won or shared a conference title three times since joining the LSC in 1985, the last time was when their earned a share of the LSC South Division in 2000.
Students, faculty and community members alike are rallying behind the can-do team.
Here are their stories:
• Junior Marissa Mowrer said Greyhound sweatshirts and shirts for ENMU parents have been best-sellers with the team’s recent success. The ENMU bookstore employee and English major has noticed an uplifted morale of the university’s community.
“People have been more excited,” Mowrer said. “I think people are wearing more of their Eastern clothes and are more apt to purchase something that represents winning.”
• Defensive line player senior Malcolm Butters said he knows people are surprised by the winning streak.
“I have noticed people getting excited, telling us stuff like, ‘Good game,’” said the native of Rio Rancho. “When we won the ‘Wagon Wheel,’ (the annual game against rival West Texas A&M) someone told me they couldn’t remember the last time we won it.”
• International graduate student Maria Garcia said football isn’t popular in the rural town of Mexico she grew up in, so attending ENMU exposed her to the sport.
In her desire to embrace the ENMU family and immerse herself in American culture, she said she decided to attend the home games. Now she doesn’t want any other seat unless it’s in the front row.
“Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand why (Americans) make sports such a big thing … (sports) are not supported by the community in Mexico like they are here,” Garcia said. “Here, everybody goes to the games. The president goes. Being part of the college games here is really awesome. I feel connected to the team.”
• Senior ENMU basketball player Johari Templin thinks the football team’s success will increase the school’s overall spirit and camaraderie.
“I think the football team winning definitely will give the moral of other sports a boost because everyone has to step up and try and make that the school standard,” Templin said. “It gives us confidence as a school.”
• Sue Stockley, associate professor of economics, is a die-hard fan of the Hounds. The season-ticket holder from Los Alamos has been riding it out with the Hounds for 10 years, seat cushion and ENMU blanket in hand. She’s thrilled the Hounds are so close to snatching the title.
“We have a lot of disadvantages; we’re the smallest team in the conference and they’re really making an effort,” she said.
She said as a professor, it’s important for her to support her students outside of the classroom.
“I think it’s important to support all types of athletics, it’s part of the college experience,” she said. “One of the reasons I go is because I have students that are players. I think the atmosphere is about having a good time.”