By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal
This city has changed. I feel it when I drive around, I feel it when I walk around campus.
I feel the slow resurgence of a once lost school spirit at Texas A&M University-Commerce.
It began in January with the hiring of Athletic Director Ryan Ivey, and it continued on with new head football coach Colby Carthel and Assistant Athletic Director Joshua Jorgenson.
I saw it covering A&M-Commerce basketball. More people attended the games last year, both men’s and women’s. Especially when coach Nicole Anderson took her team and upset number two ranked seed Abilene Christian in a nail-biting game that went down to the wire, ultimately pulling off a stunning 80-79 victory.
I’ll admit it is hard to have a thriving school spirit when your team has back to back 1-9 season, and hasn’t really done anything in more than a decade.
But it also didn’t help the players that there were more empty seats than filled ones at home games.
I think those days will soon be gone.
Drive around Commerce for a few minutes and you’ll soon lose count of all the Lions posters in the homes and windows throughout the city.
I interviewed Darleen McKay for her moving McKay’s Country Kitchen to downtown and couldn’t help but notice all the Lions posters put up in her windows.
She had nothing but praise reserved for the coaches, staff and players of the football team.
“I met the coaches when we catered for them,” she said, adding that when they showed up to cater, Carthel and the staff offered to served the food. “They became real supportive of us. The new coaches and staff are real nice.”
McKay said when they handed her posters of the athletic program and schedule, she “got them up in the window as fast as we could.”
There are dozens more stories of how the faculty, coaches and staff at A&M-Commerce are fostering a renewed school spirit and a sense of community with the city.
That has me excited for what’s in store.
I know it won’t change over night, or even this season, but I am hopeful.
This season is definitely a rebuilding year and will most likely have many ups and downs for the squad, but a faithful fan stays with the team through the thick and thin.
But give Carthel time, like Commerce football coach Scott Wells was given time to build the powerhouse team the Tigers are today.
Powerhouses aren’t built overnight, and they aren’t built without the support from the community.
I was talking with a friend who gave me a good response to how we should treat our school spirit.
He said we are not Duke, we are not Kentucky or any other Division I powerhouse. But for those of us in Commerce or attending A&M-Commerce, this is our Duke; this is our Kentucky.
Students of A&M-Commerce and residents of Commerce, it’s time to pick up your school spirit, dust it off, and join the fray.
You are here for a reason. Make the best use of your time here.