By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
Instead of blitzing on third down or calling for a hit-and-run, Eastern New Mexico University athletes will be serving up roast beef and dancing the Tango — all in the name of restoring a Portales landmark.
On Tuesday, March 11 ENMU athletics will host the first High Hopes Benefit Dinner and Dance at the campus union building’s ballroom, complete with a local singer covering songs from Frank Sinatra and others.
It’s part of a new NCAA Division II program that asks member university athletic programs to host a community engagement project, with all money raised to assist the community.
ENMU athletic director Mike Maguire thought it was a great idea.
“We want to show the good side of sports and we have a lot of good student-athletes,” Maguire said. “We’ll have the best of the best there.”
All money raised will go toward the Portales Yam Theater restoration project, and ENMU athletes will work the semi-formal event.
“It’s a great multi-purpose facility that everyone will be able to use,” Erf said of the Yam. “Whether you’re doing weddings, class reunions, lunches, Christmas parties, that kind of stuff.”
“We want to touch the people who really affect the community and do something that they can draw a benefit from,” Maguire said.
Tickets are $25 per person and are on sale now at the ENMU athletic office as well as the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce.
Groups can also purchase an eight-person table for $200.
Three tickets to a Michael Buble concert in Rio Rancho in late April will also be up for auction at the dinner-dance.
“It’s a chance for people in the community to come out for a good cause and dress up a little bit, which you don’t see too much in Portales,” Maguire said.
And what if you can’t dance?
“If you know the seventh grade shuffle, you’ll be fine at this event,” Maguire said.
The Yam is one of Portales’ historical buildings currently undergoing an extreme makeover.
“We have all the brick-and-mortar dollars to securely finish the Yam,” Portales MainStreet board member Greg Erf said. “We’re just working on our campaign now to finish the carpeting and tile. It will also help us upgrade some of our fixtures.”
Maguire also said he plans to make this an annual event, with a different beneficiary each year.
“It’ll be a pretty good chunk of money,” Maguire said. “I’ve had people call and ask what they have to do in order to be the beneficiary next year.”
“The athletes are very involved and they like to do community service and they thought this was a great thing to do,” Erf said.
“When’s the last time you saw somebody go to a dinner-dance,” Maguire asked. “It’ll be kind of nice.”