Just like every year since 1986, the University of New Mexico Alumni Lettermen’s Association released their list of new inductees into the UNM Athletic Hall of Honor and other special awards. This list, announced on Sept. 3, distinguishes athletes, coaches, officials, groups and more as particularly outstanding individuals and teams.
“In addition to their athletic prominence, emphasis is placed on professional achievement, civic contributions and exemplary citizenship,” the Letterman Hall website says.
Former Lobos basketball guard/wing combo Hunter Greene is one of the inductees. Greene had a stellar career, going from seldom playing his freshman year to leading the team in points during his junior season and graduating as the all-time leading scorer in Lobos history. Greene is now seventh on that all-time scoring list, and is still the only Lobo to go beyond 1,500 points, 600 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 steals.
Joining the hall posthumously is ’60s track and field star Clarence Robinson, a jumper extraordinaire who won national titles in both the long jump and triple jump at the 1965 NCAA Outdoor Championship. Robinson is still immortalized by his 26-foot-9 ¼-inch long jump at the Drake Relays in 1965, which was the second-best mark in the world that year and stands to this day as the greatest long jump in UNM history.
Recently retired Ray Birmingham will become the third head baseball coach to join the hall after Vince Capelli and George Petrol. Birmingham was head coach for 13 seasons at UNM with only two teams under .500.
Joellyn Erdmann Crooks, a former golfer for UNM who was a two-time Western Athletic Conference medalist and 1997 Female Athlete of the Year at UNM, will also be inducted. Crooks played in the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 2004 and 2005.
The 2002-03 women’s basketball team will make history this year as the first women’s team to be inducted into the UNM Athletic Hall of Honor. This is the team that went further than any other, reaching the Sweet 16 in that year’s NCAA tournament after entering with the #6 seed.
As is customary, the Lettermen’s Association also announced the annual awards for 2020-21 athletics year: Coach of the Year is Heather Dyche, Female Athlete of the Year is Gwen Maly and Male Athlete of the Year is Sam Choi.
As 2020-21 Coach of the Year, Dyche said the most honoring part about the award is that the recipient is picked by the other coaches at UNM. She also said her coaching staff is essential to her success.
“It should be Staff of the Year,” Dyche said. “I don’t do anything without (my coaching staff); they’re unreal.”
This year’s Distinguished Service Award winners are Jerry Bruckner and George Scott. The induction dinner will be held on Thursday, Oct. 14 at the Sandia Golf Club.
Matthew Salcido is the sports editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @baggyeyedguy