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Street makes the majors

June 19th, 2014

Award-winning UTPA pitcher Sam Street is moving to the next stage of his career after being selected in the the 16th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball draft. He was chosen by the Pittsburgh Pirates and the 22-year-old  Australian will be playing for the Pirates affiliate Class A Short Season Jamestown Jammers from New York State.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Street, who won 12 games this season with a 1.81 earned run average, striking out 195 batters on the season. For his efforts, he was named All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association shortly after the season ended in May.

Street is the 34th Bronc to be drafted and the third pitcher to be picked since right-handed pitcher Dusten Knight was drafted in the 28th round and 852nd overall by the San Francisco Giants in  July 2013. Street is one of 18 Bronc pitchers to be taken by the MLB and is the second to be picked by the Pirates.

The Melbourne native has improved as a pitcher since joining UTPA for the 2013 season as a junior after attending New Mexico State Junior College. That season, with 83 strikeouts and ranked second, he led the UTPA baseball team in the nation with eight wins.

He only improved in 2014 and won many awards in two seasons, including Great West Conference Pitcher of the Year and WAC Newcomer of the Year in 2014. Street has made the most of his time at UTPA, dominating two seasons and earning this year’s WAC Pitching Triple Crown by leading in three separate pitching areas: wins, strikeouts and earned run average.

But all numbers aside, Street considers his time at UTPA to be more than just recognition.  “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” he said. “The enjoyment I get from playing with these guys and coming out here every day makes it all worthwhile.”

While playing with the Broncs, Street has turned into the type of pitcher professional baseball scouts look for. Street’s former coach Manny Mantrana knows that Street has everything he needs to do well at the next level.

“He is able to throw strikes low in the strike zone,” Mantrana said. “He commands both sides of the plate. He does a lot of the things that professional teams look for in a pitcher.”

In addition to grabbing the attention of scouts, Street has earned numerous titles during his final year at UTPA. He is a member of the Louisville Slugger All-American Second Team, the WAC Pitcher of the Year and College Sports Madness WAC Pitcher of the Year. He won four WAC Pitcher of the Week awards during his 2014 season.

The righty has also made a name for himself in the UTPA record books. This year he won 12 games and tied for sixth most wins in a single season. He also ranks second with innings pitched at 129.1 and is tied for ninth with 11 complete games this year.

This season 67.41 percent of Street’s pitches were strikes. That percentage is on par with 11 of the best MLB pitchers.

Street hopes to continue the success of his collegiate years while he plays with the Pirate-affiliated Jammers. Street has started off his first minor league professional season by joining fellow newcomers in the bullpen as a restricted player for the first series of the summer against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

Despite this, the Jammers have won two out of four games in the series. Though originally taking a loss in the first game of the season June 13, the Jammers recovered and won the following two games.

Now that the team is four games down, Street has 76 more to go and the pro season will be almost twice as long as the college ones. Mantrana feels that his former ace is exactly where he belongs.

“He is not only a good player, but a great human being and a very good student,” Mantrana said. “There is no doubt he is ready to play at the next level.”

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Weekly UTPA Sports Updates 3/30- 4/2/2014

April 3rd, 2014

Baseball

Lost to the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders 15-7 April 2 at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium.

 

Women’s Golf

Junior Melissa Bernal finished in a tie for 17th place at the Husky Invitational April 1 at the Riverbend Country Club in Sugarland, Tx.

 

Men’s Golf

Finished their final round with a 304. For a ninth place finish at the ULM Wallace Jones Invitational on April 1 at the Southern Pines Golf Club in CALHOUN, La.

 

Men’s Tennis

Lost against the University of Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns March 30, 1-6 at the Cajun Courts in Lafayette, La.

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Broncs drop series against the Aggies

March 27th, 2014

The Broncs baseball team faced off against the New Mexico State University Aggies at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium March 21-23. The Broncs played three games against the Aggies to start their career in the Western Athletic Conference, winning only one game.

Alex Henson, starting pitcher in game two of the series, knows all too well how a team such as the Aggies can benefit when the opposing team struggles. This is what helped them take two out of the three games.

“They are pretty good,” said Henson, a junior from Evansville, Ind. “You can’t go in there throwing balls and walking people because good teams are going to capitalize on that and that’s what they did.”

This series of games was the first WAC action for the University. Currently, the Broncs stand at 11-15 overall and started the league season on a high note, beating the Aggies 9-4 March 21. Although it was a win, it started slowly. In the first three innings, the Broncs did not get a single hit versus starting pitcher Christopher Bradley.

However, the pace quickened as UTPA sophomore Bryan Ramirez and freshman Victor Garcia Jr. hit back-to-back doubles in the fourth. Later, infielder Jesus Garcia hit a grounder to put the Broncs 2-0.

The Broncs took the win and outfielder Alex Howe attributed the result to the team’s drive.

“Our defense all year has been really solid,” said Howe, a senior from Australia. “We’ve missed plays, but that’s okay. The guys played hard the whole time and even when we were down, we came back.”

The team continued the pace against New Mexico State in the fifth inning, once again turning the tables on the Aggies as freshman Blake Thomas grounded out, allowing senior Alberto Morales to run in for a score. While running in, Morales knocked the ball out of the catcher’s mitt, and senior Dillon Engelhart also scored. Shortly after the surprise run by Engelhart, junior Evan Mason and Howe provided hits as the score inflated to 9-4.

This was not repeated in game two of the series. Despite a powerful showing from Howe, who hit two doubles and drove in three runs, the Broncs took a 7-4 loss March 22.

“This was a tough loss tonight,” said Howe, who is hitting .349 for the season with 18 RBI. “They got ahead and we weren’t able to get back. (We were) scratching and clawing to get that back but then, unfortunately, gave it up again. That’s baseball. It happens.”

The Broncs could not stop the Aggies from loading the bases in the second inning, leading to a two-run frame and a 4-0 lead for the visitor.

The Broncs then fought back as third baseman Morales hit his second home run of the season, making the score 4-1. Finally, the Broncs picked up momentum in the fourth, scoring three runs. Despite the comeback, the Broncs could not maintain the tie and lost as the Aggies fought back in the sixth, scoring three times.

With one loss on their mind, the Broncs walked into their final try against the Aggies March 23. For the last game of their first WAC series, the Broncs were out to impress. In the first inning they scored after Morales plated a run with a grounder.

The teams were at a stalemate that did not break until the sixth inning. Just then, Thomas scored a run after Ramirez and Garcia singled, but the Aggies woke in the seventh inning, scoring three runs and pushing past UTPA for the final win of 3-2.

Shortly after their final loss against the Aggies, the Broncs took a loss to Texas Christian University March 24 with a score of 11-0. After their loss the Broncs were rained out against  TCU March 25, that game will not be made up but scratched from the schedule. Next, they are off to the Northwest to play against Seattle University March 28-30. The team will be on the road for two weeks and Howe knows all too well what they have in store.

 “It’s pretty tough playing on the road,” he said. “We haven’t won too many games on the road yet, hopefully we can turn that around next week.”

After their trip, the Broncs return to Edinburg Stadium to play against Texas A&M Corpus Christi for a non-conference game April 2 at 6 p.m.

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Double header upset for Arlington

March 11th, 2014

Early on the UTPA Broncs baseball team has taken home a three-game winning streak against the Arlington Baptist Patriots. The game ended in a double header March 8.

The Broncs last game against the Patriots allowed for a 4-2 victory at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium. Originally, the game was meant to spread from March 7-9. But because of bad weather heading toward the Rio Grande Valley, Saturday’s game was turned into a double header, forcing the Broncs and the Patriots to play a total of 18 innings with only a 40 minute prep time in-between.

According to the Bronc third basemen, Alberto Morales, the team held together through the day. It was not easy but in the end its what they had to do.

“Anytime you get three wins on a weekend its good,” Morales said. “These (doubleheaders) are just a mental grid. You know you got to play 18 innings and you just got to grind it out. Fatigue is going to kick in but the mental side is the strong side.”

While the Broncs ended their back-to- back weekend, Kyle Tokunaga had his first start of the season against the Patriots March 8. He pitched a total of seven innings and led the team to a 5-2 game against their opponents.

“It felt pretty good,” Tokunga said. “Went out there, threw a lot of strikes, threw a lot of ground balls and that’s what you got to do when you go pitch, you got to give your team a chance to win. Getting strikes-that’s what is going to do it.”

With their noses to the grindstone, the Broncs pulled through against the Patriots but know that they still have a whole season ahead of them. With their first Weastern Athletic Conference game coming up, Morales and his team are eager to move up in the ranks of this new conference.

“We are excited for our first WAC weekend, which is coming up two weeks from now (March 21).” Morales said. “It’s exciting and we are ready to play. As a team we are just trying to win a WAC championship…first year will be a big deal for us…but that is what I am looking forward to.”

Although the Broncs ended this spring break weekend with a win they will head out on a 7 game road trip starting March 11-12. The first stop will be College Station, where they will battle it out against the Texas A&M University Aggies for the first time this season.

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Local talent comes out in force

March 6th, 2014

Twenty-five soccer hopefuls met on the improvised soccer field behind the UTPA Recreational and Wellness Center March 1 in the first open tryouts for the new women’s soccer team that begins Division I play in the fall.

(The guidelines for the tryout were that the participants had to be current students.) The group played a scrimmage game after performing basic technical drills in front of Coach Glad Bugariu and Assistant Coach Lindsey Vera, a former college star who was hired Feb. 6 to assist the successful Bugariu-who joined the program last April after five seasons at South Carolina State University. They will lead the Broncs into the Western Athletic Conference August 2014.

Though the day was windy with overcast skies, Vera was happy to finally get on the field and see the Rio Grande Valley’s talent, since only UTPA students were allowed to try out.

“I feel great. I’m happy that we are finally on the field with a full squad of girls to work with,” Vera said. “The number of players that showed up could have been anywhere from five to 50, so the right amount showed up for us to play some small-sided stuff…so I’m happy with the turnout.”

The 25 women were split up into four teams, blue against green and red against yellow. According to Bugariu, UTPA recruiting is almost over, but the tryouts were held to find those one or two special players to complete his roster.

Currently, the coaches have gathered soccer players from around the globe to compete in the 2014 WAC season.

“The team is predominantly from Texas,” Bugariu said. “But there are some players from overseas: Swedish players, players from Washington state, players from North Carolina. It’s a tremendous recruiting class for our financial level.”

Though the roster is mostly filled, both coaches were on the lookout for purely technical players. The Valley, according to the coaches, is a region in which soccer has been more competitive in recent years.

“We just got to see a good base on these players, their ability to get their head up and play good ball,” Vera said. “Lots of times you can tell when the player passes the ball well just from the sound of it, so we look for that first, then the size and the way they battle on the field together, that comes second.”

Finding Valley talent for the team has always been important to Bugariu, who stressed that the local talent pool for women’s soccer is growing.

“The Valley’s talent on the men’s side, it’s tremendous,” Bugariu said. “On the women’s side, it’s developing…I think there is quite a bit of talent at the younger ages, the eighth to 10th grade that we have seen come through. I think in the last ten years there has been a big boom here in women’s soccer in the Valley and I feel a few years from now, we are going to have some tremendous players come out of here.”

Although the Valley is, as Bugariu said, a “developing market,” UTPA business major Kayla Thomas came out in full force to display her talents. The Bangor, Maine native heard about the tryouts from her boyfriend, and decided to give it a try.

“I felt good. I was nervous. I wanted to show that I could play on his team,” Thomas said after the workout. “I think…it is exciting to have a soccer team because a lot of schools don’t have it, so getting one is a good step up in the program.”

As the three-hour tryout ended and Vera led the athletes in a cool down, Bugariu explained that he and Vera would be inviting only a couple of the girls to train with the new team at camp. They would let the players know within the week, he added.

The coaches are looking forward to training and having a chance to guide players in the sport they both love.

“The average amount of wins for first-year teams in the state of Texas is five for Division 1,” Bugariu said. “So we are hoping to beat that and make the playoffs in the WAC, setting the base for the future. We have some goals, we want to win more games than your average Division 1 first-year program, and at the same time we want to make the WAC playoffs. The sky’s the limit from there.”

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Big Hopes Crumble

March 6th, 2014

The men’s basketball team began prepration for its first Western Athletic Conference season Nov. 2, 2013 with an exhibition game against Texas A&M-Kingsville at the UTPA Field House. The Broncs took home their first win of the season at 74-56 and hopes were high for success in Coach Dan Hipsher’s first season.

But as the season comes to a close, a 9-21 record is not what the early returns indicated.

“It’s been a learning experience for all of us,” said Hipsher, who replaced Ryan Marks, the former coach who spent four seasons in the Valley and won 16 games in 2012-13. “I think the kids have competed for the most part, but of course we would like to have more wins. Some things limited our team, but I’m proud of the kids, the competitiveness that they played with.”

The Broncs began WAC Conference action against Grand Canyon University in Phoenix Jan 2, losing 91-85. Prior to the start of the conference season, the Broncs had endured a six-game losing streak but gotten four wins in a row after that. They continued their fall until facing the University of Missouri-Kansas City, taking the road win Feb. 16.

The conference record is now 6 to 14 with one more home game at the Field House, Saturday night against Grand Canyon University.

The Broncs hope to take home one more win, close out the season and gain a little momentum before heading to the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas, March 13.

There, despite a poor record, UTPA has a chance to make National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament if it can get on a roll and sweep to the WAC title.

The season was affected early on by the loss of promising Shaun Noriega, a transfer graduate student who was taken out by an injury before the season started. Now as the schedule comes to a close, the Broncs have also lost starting guard Javorn Farrell to an injury. The graduate student transfer from the University of Massachusetts will sit out the last home game, but the WAC event as well. He has averaged 16 ppg and about five rebounds as the team’s best all-around performer.

In addition to injuries to major players, Hipsher also cites the difficulty of playing teams from the WAC, who have an advantage in size against the relatively small Bronc group.

“We are limited height-wise,” Hipsher said. “So the bigger teams really bother us. But that’s what we had to deal with.”

Although there were some issues playing against teams of the conference the Broncs have still battled this season.

After the losing streak in April UTPA went 4-7 in March. Despite the losses and change in team dynamics, Shaquille Hines, a forward from Chicago who was part of last year’s winning team, commended his teammates for holding together, making a point to say that the schools in the WAC are not invincible.

“This was a big learning process the whole year,” Hines said. “(But) every team is beatable in this conference. There is no team that’s unbeatable or better than everybody else. That’s the good thing.”

Though the team faced a rollercoaster of a season, Hines knows the Broncs still have something to prove.

This is the first year that the Broncs will participate in the WAC Tourney, and also the final run for senior Josh Cleveland, who has been playing for the school for the past three seasons.

“We still deserve to be in this conference, we jelled as a team,” the frontcourt veteran said. “We’ve been through it all together. There is still more work to be done actually. As we reflect on it we wish we could change, play harder.”

Though the end of the season is on the horizon, there is still some work left to do and once it is all over Hipsher will look forward to the future.

“We are looking forward to getting kids in here,” he said. “Building a program that can be competitive in the WAC. The University is growing and we have jumped up into a league that is probably a little more committed than the one we’ve been in, in the past, so we are trying to develop together.”

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Al Ogletree Classic

February 27th, 2014

Australian senior Sam Street went all nine innings in the first game of the Al Ogletree Classic Feb. 21, pitching a 1-0 victory against the Northwestern State University Demons at Edinburg Baseball Stadium. Street started the night by retiring the first 11 batters before Demons’ third baseman Chase Daughdrill singled in the fourth inning. He would then respond by not allowing another hit until the ninth. The game was part of the 10th annual Al Ogletree Classic played Feb. 21-23.

The Broncs won three games during the tournament and lost one.

“Sam (Street) is a good one,” said legendary coach Al Ogletree. “He is from Australia and we need to get a few more from down there…I’m real impressed with him, he is a great pitcher.”

Ogletree, who has been inducted into nine Hall of Fames around the state of Texas, is a Texas A&M alum who led Pan American University as coach to a 44-9 record and a fourth place finish at the College World Series of 1971. Ogltree’s record at PAU was 1,084-618-1. He retired in 1997 and UTPA honored him by naming the classic after him in 2004.

Feb. 21, Street finished the night with 11 strikeouts and the two-hitter was his ninth career complete game and fourth career shutout. Last year he was 10-3 with a 2.73 ERA, and in 2014 he is 2-0 so far. His efforts earned him Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week.

“In the last inning I kept the same thought process I’ve been thinking all night,” Street said. “At the end there I concentrated on the breaking ball a bit more.”

The Broncs got their only run in the first inning. Junior Michael Baca was on second base when senior right fielder Alex Howe stepped up to the plate and hit a two-out, RBI-single.

The Broncs would relax for the night before they were back on the field Feb. 22 against the Prairie View A&M Panthers. For the first time in 42 years and for the third time in program history, they recorded back-to-back 1-0 victories. The last time the Broncs accomplished this was against Baylor April 28-29, 1972, when Ogletree was head coach.

Blake English started the day as the first pitcher for the Broncs. English gave them their second great start as he worked eight shutout innings, allowing four hits. When English’s job was over, junior Clayton Haltom took over in the ninth inning and pitched a hitless inning.

The Broncs’ sole run came in the third inning. Bases loaded with one out, third baseman Alberto Morales was at the plate and the count was one ball and one strike. Morales took the pitch and hit a pop fly, which brought in second baseman Bryan Ramirez from third.

“Well they have been playing good,” Ogletree said. “Good defense is what it is and good defense will win you a lot of ball games.”

The game was the first of two that day the Broncs had little time to soak in the victory before losing to the Demons, 6-4.

Although action started at the top of the fourth inning, the game was decided in the ninth. Down 6-3, the Broncs started off with back-to-back singles. After an out, Howe came to plate and ripped an RBI-single to close the gap to two runs. Morales came up to the plate next and walked. The Demons brought in pitcher Adam Oller, who struck out twice to end the game.

The Broncs closed out the Al Ogletree Classic the following day as they faced the Panthers for the second time. The Broncs were able to draw a season-high 13 walks to go along with eight hits in the 9-3 victory.

It is the third time the Broncs have drawn 13 walks since Manny Mantrana became head coach in 2008, the last being April 30, 2011 against Houston Baptist.

“Any time you can play four games and go 3-1, it’s a good thing, I am proud of my team,” Mantrana said. “We came back from a rough night against Northwestern but we came back, battled back and had a good performance.”

Freshman and former Nikki Rowe athlete Andrew Padron had his first career start and allowed one run, three hits and struck out two in five innings. Through the fifth, the Broncs would dominate the game with an 8-1 score.

Howe was one home run short of the cycle on the final game of the classic as he was one of the Broncs’ six walks during their four-run, one hit fifth inning. The Australian native was also named WAC Player of the Week, but for hitting, and doing it by hitting .733 (11-for-15) with a .765 on-base percentage and .933 batting percentage to go with four RIB’s, three runs and four stolen bases.

“We can always continue to improve,” Howe said. “We need to get some more good pitches to hit and make the opponents pay for it.”

The Broncs were honored to play in front of Ogletree and even more honored that he had praise for their defense.

“UTPA baseball is Al Ogletree,” Mantrana said. “Any time he gives us a compliment we are very honored and blessed. We are just trying to rebuild what he did here and I think we have the players to do so.”

Ogletree often misses being out on the field but is honored that the tournament is now in its 10th year.

“Being with the boys is what I miss most about the game,” the Hall of Fame coach said. “You got to play hard, play smart and have fun, those are the things you need to do when you’re out there on the field.”

The Broncs are now 5-4 and will play at home March 7-9 against Arlington Baptist College. First game starts at 7 p.m. at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium.

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Building a program

February 13th, 2014

There are a total of 14 sports at UTPA, ranging from baseball to golf. This number will rise to 15 by August 2014 as soccer is in the process of becoming the most recent sport on campus. The women’s soccer team’s first game will take place Nov. 10 against neighboring school and future counter part, the University of Texas at Brownsville.
The addition of the soccer program comes at a time of growth at the University. UTPA will merge with the UTB and change its name to The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley by 2015.
Though Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach Lindsay Vera has only been on the job for a week, she is looking forward to building the program from scratch with Head Coach Glad Bugariu, a Romanian.
“Personally, I think it’s like the best timing that I could have come into this school,” Vera said. “Because everything is going to be brand new, we get to put our own mark on the program, but also get to see things happen from start to finish. I’m excited.”
Vera has a collegiate and professional background in athletics. She is a former standout at North Carolina State, where she earned Most Valuable Player honors for her team and was the  leading scorer for three of her four seasons with the WolfPack.
From there she moved on to a professional career. After college, in 2009 she was drafted in the seventh round by the Boston Breakers of the Women’s Professional Soccer League. She moved on to the Capital Area Soccer League in Raleigh, N.C., where she worked as a coach and director of marketing from 2009 to 2013.
This background is a contrast to Bugariu’s past. He was hired to become the first women’s soccer head coach in program history in April 2013. He comes from South Carolina State University, where he was head women’s soccer coach. He started in 2008 at SCSU and by 2009 he was able to place his team third in the league.
During that same season, he won more games than the previous four seasons combined by SCSU. In 2010, Bugariu was named Coach of the Year.
“The bottom line is, I’ve done this before,” Bugariu said. “South Carolina State was basically the worst individual team in the country before I took over. We became highly competitive, we won a championship in 2010, which was a major achievement. In the four years I was able to bring in recruits there, (those) were the four greatest years in the history of the school in terms of women’s soccer.”
Both coaches are now readying themselves for the season. Vera is adjusting to her new office and Bugariu said that with the complete support of the Bronc Athletic Department, the soccer program is quickly picking up its pace.
“Here we have a great athletic director,” Bugariu said. “A great president, great direction. I think they made the right decision to hire me to take the program forward, and I think I made the great decision to hire Lindsay (Vera) to help me with that process.”

SCOUTING
In the six months that Bugariu has held the reins, he has been prowling the country looking for raw talent to add to his newly-minted team, which he envisions competing well in the Western Athletic Conference.
“We have recruited a fantastic team,” Bugariu said. “That’s number one. Two, we recruited a team that is going to set the base for future years…it’s a long-term project. It’s going to take  future recruiting classes to win the WAC, but not that long. Our 2015-2016 class(es), during one of those two years, we are going right on top of the WAC, hopefully earlier.”
The coach’s predictions are lofty, but Assistant Coach Vera agrees.
“We are coming off nothing,” Vera said. “We would like to set the standard as impossibly high as we can and go from there. We are trying to get the best players we possibly can and go from that point then move up.”
As for the specifics of the lineup of the future UTPA team, the  coaches aren’t saying much.
“We keep it quiet,” Bugariu said. “Because there is a time when everything needs to be put out. Nothing we do is by chance…every moment, every press conference, every word we speak is all planned out well ahead of time. It’s all part of a process and (what) we show to the community and the world. We want to make sure it’s right.”

LOCAL THEN GLOBAL
Although the lineup of the team is still under wraps, both coaches agree that it is an important step to have local blood and pride running through his team. He believes that the UTPA team should select from surrounding talent in the area, then the net should be cast out wider until they find the rest of their players, “to start locally and expand globally.”
“We think we have found the best players we can find under the circumstances of our increasing scholarship budget,” Bugariu said. “That being said, you always focus on players’ positives when you recruit them, cause that’s what we recruit them for. You will never know what they are like until you start working with them.”
Though most of the athletes have been chosen, with severall locals mixed in, the coaches never truly know how a team will form, especially under the scrutiny that comes with building a new program. According to  Bugariu, neither of the coaches consider this a problem.
“The reason why we are here is to win,” Bugariu said. “But I think we are also looking to make the team a symbol in the community. Men’s and women’s soccer are looking to be the face of the athletic department, ultimately. Because we think we are the most important sport for the region, and we want to make sure our student athletes exemplify that in terms of academics, community service, visibility and, obviously, results.”

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UTPA has rough weekend

February 12th, 2014

The Broncs dropped to No. 64 in both matches against the Arkansas Razorback 1-6 Feb. 7 at the George M. Billingsley Tennis Center in Fayetteville, Ark.

The Razorbacks got the day started by winning the double points as Arkansas’ Hall Fess and Pete Thomason defeated Chetan Panditi and Juan Cruz Soria 6-2.

In singles the Broncs only point came from the Joseph Bishop and Juan Marino match as Bishop defeated Marino 3-6, 6-2 and 6-3.

The Broncs returned to action later that day as the Razorbacks defeated the Broncs for the second time 1-6.

The Razorbacks took control early yet again as they won the doubles point, with Jovan Parlic and Christian Lee defeating Mauricio Fosado and Bishop in the last match.

The Broncs sole point came from Bishop as he got his second victory of the day. He dropped the first set 4-6 to Jacob Herndon Bishop then bounced back in the final two sets as he won 6-2 and 10-6.

The Broncs wrapped up a three-match road trip with a 1-6 loss to the Southern Methodist University Mustangs at the Bent Tree Country Club Feb. 9 in Dallas.

The Mustangs came out early in doubles as Arturs Kazijeves and Micha Nowicki defeated the Broncs’ team of Juan Cruz Soria and Sebastien Job 6-2. The Mustangs would go on to win the next doubles match to gain the double point.

The only point the Broncs got was in the fifth match of singles as Alejandro Sanoja defeated Julio Olaya in straight sets 6-2, 6-5 (8-6).

The Broncs return to action Feb. 14 at the Orville Cox Tennis Center when they host the University of Texas San Antonio Roadrunners at 10 a.m.

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Eight-minute donation

February 6th, 2014

Quick and quiet breaths come one after another as the phlebotomist says to stay calm and relax. She takes a light blue tourniquet and places it up above the crook of an elbow. “Breath,” she says, taking note of the blue vein as it begins to swell. Then there is a slight pinch, and a quick prick of pain as the needle hits home. Eight minutes later a bag of blood and plasma sit separated on a sterile white table.

 

This is the process of a simple blood donation. A process each of the Bronc baseball players went through in honor of Nolan Naranjo and Jiada Grace Ortiz, Jan. 30 at the UTPA Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex.

 

The drive was held by United Blood Services and is not solely for Ortiz and Naranjo, but the two have been sponsored by the team in the past with not only two previous blood drives but a bone marrow drive as well.

 

Both children are from the Rio Grande Valley were diagnosed with a type of rare bone marrow disease known as Aplastic Anemia. The illness affects the bone marrow the patient; this causes them to stop producing enough red blood cells and white blood platelets.

 

UTPA Assistant Coach Norberto Lopez explained that the blood drive was in honor of the children and marked another chance for the team, as a whole, to give back.

 

“We have been able to help a couple of kids in the past,” Lopez said. “They had some real rare blood disease…(Head Coach Manny Mantrana) wants to teach the guys, he wants to make sure that we teach them that it isn’t just about us and our lives. (It’s about) going every day and making sure that we are giving back and helping out.”

 

This event is by no means the first or last of its kind. This is the third year in a row that the Broncs have hosted the drive.

 

Recently, the baseball players paired with members of the women’s basketball team to host a bone marrow drive in November. The bone drive held Nov. 13 was to sponsor Naranjo, who was diagnosed with Pre-leukemia and was in need of a transplant.

 

Andy Fortuna, a Bronc outfielder, was present and donated at the January drive. He feels that he and the team should hold themselves to a standard where the community is also a priority.

 

“This is to set an example to the rest of the community,” the senior physical therapy major said. “If they see a group of guys in jerseys donating blood they will come around. Being a part of the University everyone looks at us in a certain way, we always try to set an example to everybody else.”

 

According to Fortuna this is a belief that the coaching staff has instilled in these players and has made the team what it is.

His coaches agree.

 

”We have been doing this for four years,” Lopez said. “And we might have a special group, cause they never complain. I’ve seen guys that are scared of needles and they are freaking out, they are almost turning white, but they still want to do it. And I think that is a testament to Coach Mantrana; he really preaches to them and tells them about giving back.”

 

Whether it is the ideals instilled in them by their coaching staff or peer pressure that keep them donating, the end, even first-timers see the value.

 

Jesus Garcia, a shortstop for the team, said sometimes it’s the little things that matter, and taking time out of their days to donate is a small price to pay.

 

”This was my first time,” Garcia said. “And you really don’t feel much. It did not bother me at all, it was for a good cause. We are doing a small part for something big and this is what we are doing, each of us, It will contribute little by little to something big.”

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