ENMU hosts 1969 basketball champs


1969 Championship Basketball Team

A special group of men attended the Eastern New Mexico University men’s and women’s basketball games on Saturday.

The 1969 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball championship team visited campus for the 50th anniversary reunion of their championship game.

During halftime, the 1969 champions were honored by members of the Department of Athletics. As each 1969 player was called out one by one, cheers roared from inside the arena. As a special gift to the former ENMU basketball players, the university added two new banners in the arena, honoring their championship team.

“Playing in front of such a great group of men was definitely inspiring for my team and myself. We wanted to represent those men in the best possible way, and I truly believe my guys played harder to make sure that we won,” said men’s head basketball coach Tres Segler. “I was also very aware that the 1969 team was coached by a very intelligent and highly gifted coach, and I wanted them to see our attempts in the modern times to play basketball in a tough ‘old school’ style.”

Jerry Hyder, a 1969 champion came to ENMU when he was only 16 years old. Coming back to the school for the 50th reunion is something Hyder said he wouldn’t miss for the world.

“I tell people this all the time, this arena in here filled up to the rafters. The football team wasn’t too good, but the basketball team, we were next level. When I first got here in Portales, I didn’t know if I was going to like it here, but it ended up being the best four years of my life,” said Hyder.

Hyder said it was euphoria to win the championship.

“They had people lined up from Clovis all the way into Portales. First championship for the state of New Mexico for any team,” he said. “The Greyhounds brought it home, and people were so excited. I’m not only talking about people in Portales; I’m talking about people in Clovis, Roswell, El Meguro, Albuquerque, and anything in between. One of the best times of my life to this day.”

Having part of ENMU history at Saturday’s game meant a lot to Segler and his team, the coach said.

“Having them there reminded us very clearly that basketball history at ENMU is incredibly strong,” Segler said. “We got to see first-hand how proud those men were of their accomplishments but also that they call ENMU home. It showed our current players that they're building something way bigger than themselves, and I know that it refocused us all on our mission to being the best possible team we can be.”

The men’s team faced off against Western New Mexico University, where they defeated the Mustangs 98-80. The men’s team will face off against Texas A&M Kingsville at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Greyhound Arena.

The ENMU women’s basketball team brought home another victory, defeating the Western New Mexico Mustangs 59-44. The women’s basketball team will be facing off against Texas A&M Kingsville at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

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