Sul Ross to honor distinguished athletes, alumni, supporters at March 30 banquet

ALPINE – Distinguished Sul Ross State University alumni Eddie Sandoval, John Robert and Betty Hicks Prude, Liliana Esparza, and Elizabeth Will-Bates will be honored at the annual Athletics Hall of Honor & Distinguished Alumni Banquet on Saturday, March 30 in the Pete P. Gallego Center.

Outstanding SRSU supporters Bake Turner and Rick Kelly will also be recognized for their contributions to Sul Ross with the Slingin’ Sammy Baugh Award. The event begins with a 6pm reception to be followed by dinner at 7pm and the awards program at 7:45pm. 2019 Athletics Hall of Honor inductees include Sidney Hooper (men’s basketball), Charles Bunch (football), Gregg Slape (men’s basketball/baseball), the 1986-87 TIAA Champion women’s basketball team, and outstanding SRSU supporters Randy and Sherry Jackson.

Below are brief highlights of the 2019 Distinguished Alumni, Slingin’ Sammy Baugh Award honorees, and Athletic Hall of Honor inductees: Eddie Sandoval is a three-time Sul Ross graduate who holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in industrial technology as well as a master’s degree in educational counseling. John Robert and Betty Hicks Prude have become legendary figures in the field of Far West Texas hospitality. Representing the third generation of Prude ranchers, John Robert (BS, MS, and MASul Ross degrees) and Betty (BA Sul Ross degree) helped introduce the concept of ranch tourism to Jeff Davis County nearly 70 years ago.

Liliana Esparza earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Sul Ross and a master’s degree in secondary education from Stephen F. Austin State University. As principal of St. Patrick Cathedral School, she is currently the longest tenured of 12 principals working for El Paso Catholic Schools. A native of Alpine and daughter of two Sul Ross faculty members, Elizabeth Will-Bates was perhaps destined to become a Lobo, an educator, and a Distinguished Young Alumnus. She demonstrated her passion for education early by following up her Sul Ross bachelor’s degree in communication with two Texas teacher certifications and a teaching post at Pecos High School.

Another Alpine native, Bake Turner is being honored with the Slingin’ Sammy Baugh Award for Outstanding Service to Sul Ross. Known nationally for playing wide receiver on the victorious New York Jets Super Bowl III team, locally Turner is known as a successful DFW-area home builder, accomplished musical performer, and Sul Ross booster.

Another Alpine resident known for his generosity to Lobo Land is Rick Kelly, owner of Alpine Auto Rental. For years, Kelly has given the Athletics Department discounted van rates for team travel—discounted to the extent that driving his vans cost Sul Ross less than driving University-owned vans. Sidney Hooper is the all-time leader in career points at Sul Ross since the Lobos joined the NCAA ranks in 1996. A two-time American Southwest Conference West Division First Team All-Conference honoree, Hooper was twice selected as an ASC All-Conference selection and was twice voted to the D3Hoops All-South Region Team.

Charles Bunch had a stellar football career at Sul Ross, lettering four seasons with the Lobos. A Second Team NAIA All-American and a member of the 1996 ASC Championship Team, Bunch earned the ASC Defensive Player of the Year in 1996. Gregg Slape was a two-sport athlete and lettered four seasons in basketball and baseball at Sul Ross. Slape was a two-time All-Lone Star Conference selection in basketball in 1967 and 1968. Following his basketball and baseball playing career with the Lobos, Slape signed a contract with the Cincinnati Reds in June 1968.

Randy and Sherry Jackson have been long-time supporters of Sul Ross State University Athletics. The Jacksons have attended 79 of the last 80 football games, as well as many out-of-town basketball games and track meets, since moving to Alpine.

The 1986-87 Lady Lobos finished with the best record of any Sul Ross women’s basketball team at 20-4. Following a Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association (TIAA) title, the Sul Ross women advanced to the second round of the NAIA National Playoffs and fell to No. 1 Wayland Baptist University. The Lady Lobos defeated NCAA Division I U.T. El Paso and a number of Division II programs including Angelo State, Western New Mexico, New Mexico Highlands, Lubbock Christian University, and the University of the Incarnate Word.