A New Era for NM State Basketball Begins

By: Joseph Fullbright

In the fall of 2004, a young 25-year old Canadian embarked on a 1,400-mile journey that would change his life forever.

The head coach of the Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School basketball team all the way up in Etobicoke, Toronto, had a plan: attend graduate school in the United States and obtain a teacher’s license in order to become a full-time high school teacher/coach. After writing letters and emails to over a thousand U.S. schools looking for a chance to develop his craft and become a better coach, an opportunity came up. Northwestern State University had a graduate assistant position open, and he took it. Paul Weir was moving to Natchitoches, Louisiana.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Weir. “It was a smaller school where I had a lot of responsibilities. I was mopping floors, working concession stands, and doing a lot of things that had nothing to do with the game of basketball. I was just around people [who were] doing basketball stuff while I was doing the busy work.”

The Demons went 21-12 in Weir’s lone season there under coach Mike McConathy and won the Southland Conference regular season title. It was a good first step, but the next one turned out to be the big break.

Canada was not known for its basketball pedigree at the time. It was a small circle. Whenever there was a talented local high school player, or a young coach with a lot of potential, people with ties to the nation were the only ones who knew about them. Colleges in the north showed the most interest, but not much. Weir, during his time at Don Bosco, caught the eye of an assistant coach from Iowa who was on a recruiting visit. His name was Craig Neal.

In 2005, Weir got a call from the University of Iowa. Thanks to his friendship with Neal, he was named to the basketball staff as the team’s Director of Operations. That opportunity and his position allowed him to work under and learn from one of the smartest and most successful coaches in the country, Steve Alford.

“When I got to Iowa, I shifted into a much more basketball-oriented mode. I think from there, my coaching development really grew.”

In his first season in Des Moines, the Hawkeyes went 25-9 winning the Big Ten Championship en route to an NCAA Tournament appearance. It was a winning environment, and that all started with the makeup of the coaching staff. Every coach on the staff would go on to be eventual Division I head coaches. For starters, Craig Neal was the top assistant and would go on to be the head coach at New Mexico, Tim Buckley is currently next-in-line to be head coach at Indiana University, Brian Jones is the head coach of North Dakota, and Greg Lansing is at the helm of Indiana State.

“For two years, I really learned a lot about the game from Steve [Alford] and Craig [Neal]. They’re both amazing technical coaches. I learned a lot from them basketball-wise that I still look back on to this day. I have been really fortunate have been around [their] success.”

Alford, a two-time All-American, played basketball at Indiana University in the 1980’s under arguably the greatest coach in NCAA history, Bob Knight. He used Knight’s teachings to help lead Iowa’s defense to being ranked #1 in the country during his time there. Those teachings also had a big impact on Weir.

“Developing a team culture around discipline. His knowledge comes from the best teacher ever in college basketball (Knight). It was immense. To pick up some of that stuff was tremendous to me. A lot of the defensive principles that I [use] today and part of our (NMSU’s) defensive success here [originated] from Iowa that Alford implemented.”

Not everything was pretty for Alford at Iowa. He had to replace legendary coach Tom Davis and many Hawkeye fans felt he never quite lived up to those expectations. There were also constant distractions regarding his job status, like him showing interest in vacant head coaching positions at his alma mater Indiana and Missouri. Following a mediocre 2006-2007 campaign, Alford decided to resign from Iowa to become the head coach at the University of New Mexico.

“At the end of the two years [at Iowa], Steve took the job at New Mexico and I was sill in lower-level positions there. I just felt at the time, for me and my own growth, I wanted to be a coach on the floor and recruit and scout and all those things.”

“The intent was to always just be a high school coach in Toronto. Being a college coach in the United States was never on my radar. I really just fell into it, and once I did, I pursued it with everything I had” – Paul Weir

The hope of becoming an assistant coach became a reality in 2007 when Marvin Menzies was announced as the new head coach at New Mexico State University. Weir originally met Menzies through Eric Brown, an assistant at Iowa State at the time. The two got very close being in the same state. Menzies originally offered him the assistant coaching job at NMSU, but Brown declined and chose to go to Long Beach State instead. He recommended Weir to Menzies as a potential suitor for the position.

“When Marvin [Menzies] ended up getting the job [at NMSU], I had the opportunity to become an assistant coach I went to NMSU with the long-term plan of eventually becoming a head coach.”

His hiring would prove to be a great one for New Mexico State. He, along Menzies, would lead the Aggies to seven WAC championships and five NCAA tournaments, including four straight from 2012-2015. Perhaps the biggest impact he had for the Aggies was his excellent recruiting of Canadian players.

“Growing up in Canada, I have a lot of relationships there. When I got to the United States as a Division I coach, I had that advantage of knowing so many people that were off the map. When I got here, we got some really good players that nobody had heard of.”

There have been eleven Canada-born players that Weir has brought to Las Cruces through his “Canadian Pipeline.” Most notably were Daniel Mullings, an AP All-American and WAC Player of the Year, and Sim Bhullar, a 7’5” giant who became the first Aggie in 24 years to play in the NBA. Other recognizable names include Hernst Laroche, Renaldo Dixon, and Tyrone Watson. Aside from Bhullar and current freshman Jermaine Haley, none were recruited really hard by other Division I schools.

“Those guys don’t exist in Canada anymore. It is a much bigger market now. It’s sexy to recruit in Canada now. We don’t have quite the advantage in that area anymore, but you’re still able to go in and [use] those strong relationships to be able to go get good players.”

Before the 2011-2012 season, Menzies appointed Weir as the team’s Associate Head Coach, which basically meant that he was next-in-line for the head coaching position. Aggie fans began to recognize how vital Weir was to the program not only thanks to his recruiting skills, but his strong defensive background carried over from Iowa. The Aggies are coming of back-to-back years of finishing in the top-25 nationally in scoring defense, which included allowing only just 63.1 points per game last season, good for 10th in the nation. Most began to envision him as Menzies’ eventual successor.

Due to the Aggies’ success, many bigger schools were expressing interest in Menzies’ services. Every offseason, teams like Tulsa, Colorado State, and Arizona State were rumored to be potential suitors. But every time one of those schools was interested, they would eventually hire somebody else. That would change in the 2016 offseason.

The coaching carousel started with UNLV’s firing of head coach Dave Rice. Like most head coaching vacancies, Menzies was definitely viewed as a possible replacement. After weeks of speculation and interviews, he and Chris Beard, then-head coach of Arkansas-Little Rock, who was coming off an upset of fifth-seeded Purdue in the NCAA Tournament, were deemed as the two final candidates for the job. They decided to go with Beard, who agreed in principle to become UNLV’s next coach.

All was quiet for the next few weeks- until Tubby Smith decided to leave Texas Tech for Memphis. Having been an assistant coach for a decade at Texas Tech, Beard knew where his heart was and decided to spurn Las Vegas for Lubbock and became the head coach of the Red Raiders. This left the UNLV job open again, which garnered Menzies attention. Having been one of the final initial candidates for the job, he immediately put his name back into consideration. Two days after Beard signed with Texas Tech, Menzies accepted the offer to become the next coach of the Runnin’ Rebels.

It seemed like a forgone conclusion as to who the next head coach of the Aggies was going to be. Weir was the obvious choice. He had spent the past nine seasons on Menzies’ staff and had massive support from fans and players. But, NMSU Athletic Director Mario Moccia wanted to exhaust and review all options, and began a nationwide search for other possibilities. Besides Weir, the candidates included Arizona associate head coach Joe Pasternack, Baylor assistant Jerome Tang, and even former Aggie head coach and fan-favorite, Reggie Theus, who was at Cal-State Northridge. Many were unhappy with Moccia even considering anybody but Weir for the job.

“There were a few days there where I didn’t know was going to happen. But I do think at the end of the whole experience, you feel a little better knowing that there was a complete [hiring] process and you did go up against other people and genuinely were the best guy for the job.”

On April 26, 2016, Paul Weir was officially named as the 25th head coach in New Mexico State men’s basketball history. He became the third-ever Canadian to be the head coach of a Division I school. Everything had finally paid off for Weir, who learned a lot in his nine seasons with the Aggies. It should be as comfortable as a transition as any head-coaching turnover ever.

“I think gaining experience has been really important for me. Marvin was amazing at giving me a lot of latitude in trying things- being recruiting, coaching, and teaching. I like to believe that I am relatively prepared for being a first year head coach [thanks to] him. Especially in defense and recruiting, those were two areas where I had a lot of independence over.”

New Mexico has become home for Weir, who recently married his wife, Alma, a Las Cruces native, this fall. The two have a son, Theodore, who is now one-and-a-half years old.

“At the end of the day, I have really grown up in Las Cruces. I’ve gone through a lot of life changes here and matured in a lot of ways. Now, having a family, it’s changed my perspective on things.”

Aggie fans should feel lucky to have Weir as their head coach. He was a final candidate for the Texas-Rio Grande Valley head coaching job this past offseason. Many fans, including boosters and donors, were surprised that Weir did not go be an assistant under former mentor Steve Alford when he was named head coach at UCLA in 2013. It is unconfirmed if he ever was actually offered the position.

“There were some other power five schools that has some assistant coaching opportunities- a couple that I got really close to taking. But, I have a lot of ties here that changed the decision for me. I have a family here now and I graduated from here. My loyalty to Las Cruces and the University now is different than it was 4-5 years ago. If those positions were available [back then], I would have looked into them. These past few years, I have really developed some roots here. This place has come to mean something to me. It would have really taken a lot for me to leave.”

One of the most important things to Weir is education. He believes that anyone becomes a better overall coach and leader when they are well rounded and educated. All of his degrees were earned from schools that he coached at. First, he earned his bachelor’s degree from York University in Canada, where he also played basketball. Following that, he earned his first master’s degree in health and human performance from Northwestern State in 2005. His second masters’ degree came in sports psychology from Iowa. His third master’s degree was in business administration from New Mexico State- where he is currently pursuing his doctorate degree in educational leadership.

“The fear of losing and the pressure to succeed has not allowed me to rest and just put my feet up. I feel as though I have not accomplished anything yet and I have a lot to prove. That’s what drives me everyday.”

Coach Weir not only has big envisions for the Aggies on the court, but also for their supporters off the court.

“I hope to bring people back to the Pan Am more than anything else. We have to be the team on the court they believe in. It was great when Reggie [Theus] was here, it was great when Neil [McCarthy] was here, and it was great when Lou [Henson] was here. At the end of the day, I want to do everything in my power to bring those days back. We are all in this together: the team, the school, the city; all of us.”

An enhanced atmosphere in the Pan Am Center is something that is important to Weir. He, along with many in the Aggie Athletic Department, recently launched “AggieArmy,” which is a new fan club dedicated to students. All it takes is $20 from a student and they will be able to pick their seat in the student section for the entire season, receive a limited edition Under Armour shirt, and free pizza before every single game. Members of AggieArmy will also be a part of exclusive events, like meet-and-greet opportunities with the team and private access to select practices and events.

“We have for to find a way to get more people [in the Pan Am] and pack the house to increase our ability to win at home. The game day environment will be driven by our students. We need to improve our attendance and that starts with the students. We want to develop a slogan or theme. We threw around a lot of ideas, but decided that ‘AggieArmy’ really [reflects] itself on what we are trying to be about as a team. [We are] trying to build a culture here of togetherness, toughness and unselfishness, and I think if the student section reflects that as well, it is beneficial for everybody.”

It is going to be an exciting new era for New Mexico State basketball. Fans should feel excited to have someone like Paul Weir in charge. He isn’t just a great coach, he is much more than that, and we should all feel very grateful.

And to think none of this would even be a thing… if not for Northwestern State University- 1,400 miles away from Toronto.


Joseph Fullbright can be reached at: trusports@nmsu.edu

NMSU Women’s Basketball Looks to Three-Peat

By: Derek Gonzales

Entering his sixth season at New Mexico State, Aggie women’s basketball head coach Mark Trakh has his program where he envisioned it when he arrived in Las Cruces in 2011. Going from 6-24 his first year to 26-5 last year has shown Trakh’s ability to build a program from scratch and recruit and develop players that will be the foundation of a successful team. Here are some things to watch as their season opener approaches on November 11 against San Jose State in the Pan American Center.

Replacing Sasha Weber

Sasha Weber was the mainstay of the women’s basketball program for the past four years. She graduated last May, and left NMSU with 256 career three-point makes, and a 12.4 point-per-game average through her career. She left some big shoes to fill production-wise and from a leadership standpoint, and the Aggies will look to guards Moriah Mack and Brooke Salas to fill the void. Mack was the sixth man last year, and averaging 11.3 points per game in almost 28 minutes of action a game.

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Tough Non-Conference Slate

Though the team went 26-5 and won the WAC regular season and tournament championship, the Aggies were only able to earn a 15th seed in the NCAA Tournament, losing 74-52 in the first round. Trakh knew they needed to play tougher non-conference opponents since the WAC does not have any top-100 programs, and did just that this offseason. Games at UTEP and New Mexico are usual, but the team will also play in two tournaments. The Play for Kay Shootout in Las Vegas will have the Aggies opening up the tournament against Quinnipiac, and will meet Oregon State or UNLV in the second round. NMSU will also travel to Hawai’i in mid-November, playing against Sacramento State and Hawai’i in the Bank of Hawai’i Classic. Hosting Arizona on December 4 will be a huge test, as the Aggies lost a tough 68-64 game inside the McKale Center to the Wildcats a year.

Chances of a three-peat

Losing Weber and point guard Shanice Davis was the only major losses to the rotation for coach Trakh and company. Moving Mack into the starting lineup will soften the blow, and look for junior guard Zaire Williams to be more of a contributor. Newcomers Tonishia Childress and Gia Pack are looking at getting minutes, as Pack will be able to bring a presence rebounding the basketball for a team that has struggled against bigger teams in the past. Winning 26 games will be a tall task with a tougher schedule, but the team will be better. Here is the WAC pre-season coaches poll.

NMSU Football Enters Bye Week Riding Three-Game Losing Streak

By: Derek Gonzales

October tends to be the month that makes or breaks the season for college football programs. This year, New Mexico State went into the month 1-3, but with a win against Louisiana-Lafayette on the first day of October, hopes of ending their 56-year bowl drought began to grow. Four weeks later, those hopes have been all but dashed. The team is leaps and bounds better than a year ago, so what has happened to put them at 2-6 with four games left to play?

NMSU cannot play well with expectations

Doug Martin touched on it with the Las Cruces Sun-News after a 32-point loss at Idaho. “Losing is easy. It is winning when something is expected of you. That is what is hard. Our players are afraid of carrying the load of winning week after week,” Martin said. They have proved incapable of handling expectations more than a couple times this season. Against Troy, coming off an impressive 42-point outburst against Kentucky that opened eyes, the team followed it up with a 52-6 loss at Troy. After beating the Ragin’ Cajuns 37-31, the team improved to 2-3 and was featured in Sports Illustrated’s bowl projections, the first time NMSU has ever been included. Against an FCS-bound Idaho team, the defense was non-existent, allowing Matt Linehan to throw a career-best 476 yards en route to a 55-23 win. Going into 2017, there will be no excuses. They will need to be able to perform with expectations if they intend on going to a bowl game.

Special Teams has been awful

It has been a problem all year, and against Georgia Southern, it cost the Aggies what would have been a huge win against a top-tier Sun Belt team. Sophomore kicker Parker Davidson has missed at least one extra point or field goal in every Aggie game except one (Kentucky). Against GSU, he left four points in the board with a missed field goal and missed extra point, and NMSU lost 22-19. The kickoff return game has not posed a threat all season, and receiver Greg Hogan fumbled a kickoff against GSU that led to points for the Eagles. It is a recruiting issue as coach Martin has said, and until it stops being a reason the Aggies lose, it is going to continue to hurt the Aggies in most games.

Is there still hope?

Last year, Sun Belt member Georgia State began the season 2-6. The team reeled off four straight wins to close the year and went on to the 2015 Cure Bowl. Having a bye week allows the team to mentally and physically reset before the final four-game stretch of the season. NMSU will head to Arkansas State for a November 12 showdown, and the Red Wolves are 2-4 on the year. They will have nine days to prepare for the Aggies, but NMSU will have two weeks to prepare for them. ASU has disappointed this year, and a loss before the NMSU game might suck the life out of the team. The next week, the Aggies will come back to Las Cruces to play a Texas State team that is in the first year of a rebuild under new head coach Everett Withers. They are 2-5 on the year and still have to play one-loss Troy and Appalachian State. Speaking of the Mountaineers, they will come to Las Cruces November 26, and are the best team in the Sun Belt. If the Aggies have some momentum and are still playing for a bowl bid, this game could be interesting. The Aggies have proved that they can play with anybody in the Sun Belt at home. Closing the season at South Alabama will be no easy task, as USA has knocked off Mississippi State and 24th-ranked San Diego State, but the same team heads into November with a losing record in conference play. Four straight wins seems like a stretch, but if the team can win two more games to improve on last season’s three-win total, it will give the program much needed momentum heading into their last year in the Sun Belt Conference in 2017.

Aggies Think Pink

By: Jianna Vasquez

NMSU’s Zeta Tau Alpha is thinking pink in honor of their philanthropy Breast Cancer Education and Awareness.

The sorority kicked off their annual Think Pink week on Monday, October 17 through Sunday, October 23, in hopes to raise money for this cause.

“We want the whole Las Cruces community to be involved,” Jazmin Stack said, a member of Zeta Tau Alpha. “We don’t want it to just be an NMSU thing.”

According to the Susan G. Komen foundation, the year 2016 is estimated to have 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer among women in the United States.

These statistics hit close to home for Stack.

“Breast Cancer affects everyone,” Stack said. “For me its affected my family completely, my grandmother and mother both have had breast cancer, which increases my chances of getting breast cancer.”

Stack expressed her beliefs on the importance of staying safe and wants people to be educated on being aware of their body to catch early signs of Breast Cancer, which increases chances of survival.

Zeta Tau Alpha foundation evenly distributes to the foundations national sponsors: American Cancer Society, National Football League and Bright Pink—an educational workshop.

“Together with these partners, we can expand our impact further than it has ever gone before,” the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation said. “The fight against breast cancer is more than a ribbon. It’s survivor recognition, education and awareness.”

Members of the sorority began passing out pink ribbons on Monday to spread awareness throughout the campus. Z-T-A collegiate and alumna chapters hold over 500 events across the nation to raise funds and increase awareness.

A different fundraiser was held each day of the week by NMSU’s Z-T-A sorority. This year’s events included: kiss away cancer tabling, penny wars, drink pink, a give-back night at Texas Roadhouse, a field day where teams got to participate in games, and a 5k run called Pink Up the Pace.

The sorority raised over 2500 dollars combined within all these events and all proceeds will go to Breast Cancer Education and Awareness.

NMSU hosted the Aggie Think Pink football game on October 22, against Georgia Southern University. The goal of the pink game is to cover the whole stadium in as much pink as possible.

Before the game, members of the sorority passed out over 1500 pink ribbons to attendees.

During half-time Z-T-A members helped present the biggest pink ribbon in the country on the football field.

“Pinning a ribbon is just the beginning. Now, our fight against breast cancer is more than a ribbon. It’s our mission. It’s hope for our future. It’s every one of us, and we’re counting on you to continue the fight,” the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation said.

 

Keeping Faith Strong at NMSU

By: Jianna Vasquez

Chi Alpha at NMSU is making their faith a priority.

“We’re trying to provide an outlet for people to talk to God so that they can find comfort and peace and that God can really reach out to them and say I’m with you,” Michael Winters, the founder of NMSU’s Chi Alpha chapter said.

The organizations goal is to reach university students to help them grow and learn about the Christian faith at NMSU.

They want to share their love for Christ with other people in hopes that they will find that too.

“We want students to know that Jesus loves you, and cares about you, and wants to have a relationship with you. Its not a sterile like check list, its not mechanical, it’s a conversation,” Christina Winters, a small group leader of the organization said.

Chi Alpha tables every Tuesday to give prayers to people in need of them.

“All kinds of people have come up to me and have asked me to pray for them over many things, even outside of school,” Michael Winters said.

The organization meets every Thursday night, in Domenci Hall in room 109 at 8:00 p.m. for a large group service in hopes to educate the NMSU community.

“We want people to know about Chi Alpha, and we want more people to know about Jesus,” Christina Winter said. “We want them to know that their hurting can be fixed and that there’s hope.”

They strive to make sure everyone has a place in their organization and is welcomed.

Their open motto is, “Reaching the University to reach more than the University,” and they try to live by that every day.

“We want it to be a community, and a support group. We want to just hang out together and be there for each-other. We want it to be a family like feeling and always be welcoming in more people, no matter what their beliefs are,” Michael Winters said.

Chi Alpha has chapters at 312 universities across the country. NMSU’s was founded four years ago and according to Winters has been successful.

“Jesus has saved me from a lot of darkness. That’s how Chi Alpha has changed me,” Michael Winters said.

They offer a variety of mission trips for the upcoming year planned, and anyone can attend to help them get closer to Jesus. They will announce these trips starting in January.

“We try to live life together and that’s what Chi Alpha is all about,” Michael Winters said.


For more information on the organization and to get involved, contact Michael Winters at (936)-662-1560 or log on to their website at www.xa-nm.com

In the Life of a Student Athlete

By: Courtney Beck

Q and A with Tyler Ellis

The life of a college student can be stressful and time-consuming. For student-athletes, it can be a bit overwhelming at times trying to be successfully for academically and athletically, but for NMSU women’s basketball player Tyler Ellis, it is apart what makes her the blue-collar worker she is.

Tyler Ellis is currently a senior at NMSU and is a power forward for head coach Mark Trakh and the women’s basketball team. The 6’2 senior from Sacramento, California is ready for the upcoming season that begins November 11 against San Jose State, but is also in the midst of taking on her last year of studying before obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Marketing.

Family Life and Support:

“I have a twin brother named Isiah. He is about 6’9 now, he is currently playing basketball for Chico State University. He has been a big reason why I am playing basketball. Growing up, I hated sports, but he was the one that was always in basketball, football or volleyball–anything he could be active in. When I was in seventh grade, I started to play basketball at a competitive level. He taught me everything he knew. He was mainly a defensive player, so my brother is who I get my style of play from. I am more of a defensive player than a scorer, but when I need to, I can score. My brother is a big supporter of me. My mom is also a huge supporter of my basketball and academic career. She did not play sports at all, but she was single mom and raised my brother and I by herself. She taught us to never give up and to always go for the bigger goal in life, and that was (in high school) to get a scholarship to play basketball and we both did it.”

Tyler on her Study Habits:

“I can not work in my bedroom, at all. I feel like I will just fall asleep, because I am always tired from practice, weights and classes. So usually after practice, I will just go upstairs to the coaches’ office to do my homework and stay there as long as I need to. I do not like studying in the morning at all, I am a night person so I am usually there late doing homework.”

Would it be easier if Tyler was not a student athlete?

“Yes of course it would, because sometimes I feel like I do not have time for anything. If I was just here for school, it would be easier because I would have more time to study and go out and socialize. There is more discipline in being a student athlete and I feel like it builds character. It has helped me build character since I have been here. Everything changed when I became a student athlete.”

Has being a student-athlete provided you with necessary life skills that you will need in your profession?

“Yes it has. I want to be a college coach one day because I love basketball so much. Being an athlete on a team, you learn so many things, like how to cope with people and how to handle confrontations, because not everybody will get along in life. I also learned how to get through adversity. I have learned about how to work different personalities by being apart of the team.”

How does the basketball program help with develop their players in their academic success?

“We have study hall usually three times a week, but we do not do it in the Fulton Center with the other teams. Our coaches like to monitor us, so we actually do it here (inside the Pan Am) in the coaches’ office. A lot of the girls go to Lynne (a team tutor) and she helps us a lot. We do make use of the Fulton Center tutors and they help us out a ton as well. They really helped me excel in my accounting class, because that was not easy. My tutor for that class was amazing. Coach Trakh also helps girls who are taking government classes. He knows everything about that subject, so he tutors them.”

Tyler Ellis’s advice for current and new coming student athletes:

“I am always giving advice to younger athletes who are still in high school about just being in college while being a student athlete. What I tell them is that this is going to be the hardest thing you have ever done. Coach Trakh told me that when I first got here. I did not know what he meant by that until I got to the first day of practice, because I had to start managing everything (school, practice, sleep, and social life). I say to remember to stay calm, everything will be okay. It is hard, it is a lot of work, and you have to stay on top of everything. Time management is very important as well.”


Catch Tyler Ellis and the rest of the NMSU women’s basketball team, as they will start their season on November 11 in the Pan American Center against San Jose State at 5:30 p.m.

Retreat Brings Community to NMSU Students

By: Luis “Luigi” Finston

Church retreats are a special way for people to connect with one another, and a way for them to escape to a peaceful place of meditation and quiet. The Students at the Newman Center at NMSU certainly hold true to that.

Once every semester, the Newman Center hosts a retreat which is known as Aggie Awakening. The name itself is one that combines the school pride of the Aggies, with the presence of the church all in one.

Aggie Awakening first started out in 2012 when a group of campus ministers and students decided to bring the idea of having a retreat to a college community. Since its first retreat in the Fall of 2012, the Newman Center has had nine of these retreats.

Students who have been on these Awakening retreats describe it as something that you cannot understand until you have been a part of it. Armando Arellano, is a member of the Newman community who plays percussion in the choir during mass and has had the opportunity of attending several of these retreats.

“These retreats are an experience that you can only live”, he said. “It’s one thing to hear about it and a whole different thing to live it. Once you’ve lived the retreat, it really stays with you for a long time.”

To tell what happens at these retreats, would ruin the purpose of attending it. But being able to attend a church retreat that encourages community and bonding is defiantly nothing short of appealing for some.

“There’s a significant amount of change in the people who attend the retreat”, Arellano said.

“People get more involved in the church and serving the community and they tend to stick around more often. It’s a very vibrant and positive outcome.”

The retreat is three days long beginning on Friday evening and ending Sunday afternoon. For the past two years, the Newman Center has been in partnership with the Holy Cross Retreat Center, having its last few Awakening take place at the location.

Carla Villareal is a student Intern who works for the Newman Center. She describes the experience of going on the Aggie Awakening retreats as a way for people to slow down and get away from the chaos of school, and the opportunity to reflect on what’s going on in our lives.

“Here is a chance for people to learn and hear about other people’s stories, and what they’ve been through”, she said.

“It’s amazing how a community of support is formed. By the end of the retreat here’s a bond that is formed between staff and retreat members and everyone who takes part in the retreat. You can tell that there is a holy presence during the course of the weekend.”

For newcomers and freshman to NMSU, attending Aggie Awakening is a way to make friends and be a part of a student organization. But for others it’s a little more than that. Emily Wimsatt is a Sophomore from Albuquerque, and praised the Newman Community and Aggie Awakening for having such a strong sense of community.

“It was eye opening for me”, she said.

“I went on retreat back home in Albuquerque at my home parish. They were good, but in comparison it was nothing like Aggie Awakening. In the course of two and half days, you become part of a community that has a bond unlike any other.”

InTUITION

By: Will VanOrder

‘Tuition Increase’ is commonly seen as one of the dirtiest combinations of words a college student can produce. Amid the constant topic of budget cuts from the University and State levels, a tuition increase may be necessary.

“I feel like a tuition increase would definitely help the university,” Junior Jameson Gallup said. “With students only being made aware of the potential cuts such as the equestrian team (which has not happened yet), I believe we need to be providing more for the University.” Jameson is a student of the College of Business, currently studying to obtain his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

At the most recent Board of Regents meeting, held Oct. 19, the regents discussed the potential for looking at another tuition increase proposal. The last proposal, which was voted on at the end of the spring 2016 semester, did not pass. The regents have also stated that they are not planning on increasing tuition in the middle of the academic year, so any discussions occurring would be in reference to the Fall 2017 semester.

“Even I weren’t still here to see the benefits of it, I would be in favor of the tuition increase,” Gallup said. “If it can help my school, then I want it to happen.” Gallup is not alone in his perspectives. Out of 100 students polled in Corbett, 64 stated that they were in favor of tuition increases of $200 or less. When the number was increased to $300, the majority defaulted to saying “no”, and by $500 there were no students in favor of the tuition increases.

“I think that a tuition increase would help students take their education more seriously,” Senior Stephen Brazil said. Brazil, a math major, is currently on a full ride scholarship. “I feel that there are many students who don’t understand the value of their education, and paying more for it would not only help the university but also potentially help them recognize its worth.”

When asked what the main reasons were for students being in favor of the budget increases, there were only a few given. The first and, most broadly stated reason, was that students in favor of the tuition increase are wanting to ensure that NMSU is able to continue providing the services and education it does at the same caliber. The second reason was student organizations could potentially be harmed if funding was decreased, a notion not wanted. The third reason was that many of the students in favor of the tuition increase are or are going to receive scholarship aid, so they felt the increase didn’t affect them as severely.

The main reason that students were against tuition increases greater than $200 was affordability. According to the report released by the Regents from their meeting on Oct. 19, the demographics at highest-risk of dropping out are those with low income. They have also stated that their main goal is retention, as it also plays a heavy role in the amount of funding the University receives. Although a tuition increase could potentially damage the statistics of these demographics, the four-year graduation rate of the university has increased by four percent.

According to a resolution which was unanimously approved by the regents, the expected budget cuts for the fiscal year of 2017 (Fall 2016-Spring 2017) will be roughly $12.7 million more in decreased spending, putting the three-year total (Fiscal years 15, 16, and 17) at just over $30 million.

Last Spring, students heavily voiced their discontent with a possible tuition increase on the horizon. With the budget cuts which have come about, are currently being dealt with, and are being theorized to come next year, it seems that students might have a different opinion on the matter.

Inside the Chambers: Wobble On

By: Will VanOrder

NMSU is the the only college whose fight song involves alcohol and drunkenness. After the most recent senate meeting for ASNMSU, which involved a passing vote in favor of Resolution 12, it might soon become much easier to get ahold of that illustrious “keg of booze.”

“Resolution 12 proposes the acquisition of a Liquor License in the Corbett Student Center Union,” Senator Manuel Ordoque said. Senator Ordoque is the senator who wrote the resolution, and therefore represented it throughout the process of it being voted on. “We hoped that acquiring a liquor license would open potential discussion for a place for students to enjoy alcoholic beverages, be it through conference services or a potential pub.”

ASNMSU President Matt Bose was also in favor of the resolution, and more specifically in support of Senator Ordoque. “Senator Ordoque is a passionate senator, when he believes in something he will do everything in his power to see it through,” Bose said. “With a resolution like this its important to have somebody who has that kind of passion. Manny also does a great job of going to every college council when big decisions like this are being made, I admire that about him and I think he did his due diligence throughout this process.

The pub Ordoque mentioned was a secondary aspect of the resolution, which would allow Corbett to not only sell liquor during conventions and at events hosted there, but also set up a permanent establishment to sell alcoholic beverages. “Some positive consequences for having a potential pub, which is explained in the resolution, would be potential employment for students and the involvement of HRTM department,” Ordoque noted.

Bose also stated a slew of potential benefits for the liquor license. “Alcohol is not off limits in the student union, but the people looking to organize the event must jump through hoop after hoop. With a liquor license it will be much easier and cheaper for our student organizations to have alcohol at their events,” Bose stated. “This translates to Greek Life being able to host events with alcohol in the union, this means the Graduate School can bring the graduate symposium back but most importantly we open up the space to the community as an opportunity to generate revenue for the union.”

On top of the advantages for the liquor license, Bose and Ordoque both believe that the potential to increase student connection is large, while the added risk of serving alcohol is quite low in their opinions. Ordoque stated that because ASNMSU typically focuses on the younger demographics, this is something they felt was capable of “creating an atmosphere that they (older students) can enjoy and utilize with other people in their age group.”

Bose’s statements regarding potential advantages in a pub largely built on what Ordoque had previously stated. “I see a potential for us to bring back a connection with our 21 and older students. I think as student organizations we do a good job reaching younger classmen but as people get older it gets harder for them to stay engaged on campus,” Bose stated. “My vision for the pub is a hub for NMSU athletics, much like a buffalo wild wings environment as well as allowing us to put programming such as: bingo, trivia, and open mic night on.”

Bose also noted that the financial expenses to the university would be minimal. “As far as finances go, because NMSU is a governmental entity liquor licenses are much, much cheaper,” Bose said. “Every time we get a ‘new’ license we are actually just extending our current license. I’m told this costs no more then $1,500 – $2,000.” This would be considerably cheaper than the competitive price for private companies in the $300,000 range. It also is similar to neighboring states’ rates such as Colorado, where the average liquor license will sell to the public for roughly $3,000.

While Resolution 12 passed its vote through the senate, the margin was slim. 17 votes were needed to acquire the necessary percentage, and it was counted as 18 senators in the affirmative. “I was for the acquisition of a liquor license for Corbett, but my main reason for voting against the resolution was the pub.” Senator Emerson Morrow stated. “After reading the WAVE report presented to senate, it was made clear that WAVE was not in favor of the pub.”

The WAVE report Senator Morrow made reference to had five main areas of concern for the pub. These areas were mostly regarding students who have struggled or currently struggle with alcoholism, as well as academic standing and retention of the university. According to the report- which was composed by Meg Long and Debra Darmata of WAVE- “one in four students report having problems in school due to drinking; among college students who dropout, an estimated 30% attribute it to alcohol abuse.”

“Having a pub inside the student union presents a lot of issues for recovering alcoholics, or grew up in a home with alcohol abuse,” Emerson stated. “There is a time and place for everything, and I don’t think that an institution of higher learning needs to concern themselves with a pub.” Senator Emerson stated that he took the WAVE report heavily into account, and made emphasis on the fact that he was in favor of the license separate from the pub.

Senator Ordoque believes a large portion of resistance to the bill comes from the term ‘pub’. “Pub is usually given a bad connotation because it refers itself to a place where people go purely to get inebriated,” Ordoque said. “But, it has been explicitly presented to the senate that this will not be the case in reference to the reasons and intentions stated below. We hope, in conjunction with the ASNMSU Senate, we can put strict measures on how alcohol will be sold for the safety of our students and the community.”

“I’ve tried to assure all that I’ve talk to that this will be the strictest place to get served in Las Cruces,” Bose stated. “Some are citing that drinking and driving will go up to which I reply, one they shouldn’t be able to drink enough to get drunk but if they do, ASNMSU provides crimson cab to ensure that our students get home safely.”

WAVE’s report included mention of the proposed precautions in terms of safety. According to the report, the resolution would require that students provide two forms of identification (driver’s license and Banner ID). The student would then have to swipe their Banner ID to receive confirmation of being 21 years old. The drink limit would be three. WAVE’s report concluded by stating “after reviewing the published literature and examining the results of our own CORE surveys, we strongly recommend that Resolution 12, as presently proposed not be passed.” WAVE did offer their continued assistance if the resolution was passed.

“We believe that building a pub on campus will bring student life together by throwing events, such as karaoke, professional seminars and conferences, and social gatherings vital to student organizations,” Ordoque stated. “We hope, in conjunction with the ASNMSU Senate, we can put strict measures on how alcohol will be sold for the safety of our students and the community.” The passing of the resolution does not guarantee the license will be obtained or the pub will be put into Corbett, but it does move each of those two possibilities one step closer to becoming reality.

Aggie Soccer Week in Review (10/10 – 10/16)

By: Joseph Fullbright

Seattle 2, NM State 1 

The Aggies fell to the first-place Seattle Redhawks last Friday 2-1. The NMSU defense was the key for them staying in the game. They held the Redhawks (8-5-1. 3-0) scoreless in the first half, but would fail to keep the defending WAC Champions in check the rest of the way. Seattle got on the board first with a 52nd-minute goal from Ayana Robles. Seven minutes later, Rosalie Sittauer nailed in a cross from a corner kick to give them a 2-0 lead. The Aggies would prove to be resilient. In the 79th-minute, defender Stephanie Petre notched her first goal of the season. That would be all for the scoring in the game as the Aggies dropped the match and fell to 4-10-1 on the season and 1-1-1 in WAC play.

NM State 2, Utah Valley 2 (OT) 

Holly Abdelkader has established herself as one of the top players and leaders on the NMSU women’s soccer team, and last Sunday was no different. After trailing 2-0 to Utah Valley, Abdelkader took matters into her own hands and scored a pair of goals in less than a three-minute span. Her goals led to a 2-2 tie forcing overtime. Neither team would score in the overtime period and the game end in a tie. The Aggies ended the weekend with a record of 4-10-2 and 1-1-2 against the WAC. It was the 14th time in NMSU women’s soccer history that a match had ended in a tie. The Aggies’ next match will be this Saturday, October 29, vs. UTRGV. It is Senior Day and is the last regular season match of the year.

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Photo Courtesy: Las Cruces Sun News