ENMU athletes ready for lift

By Dave Wagner, Freedom New Mexico

Members of the athletic staff at Eastern New Mexico University think a new weight room facility will provide a major boost to the school’s overall athletic program.

Funding for the facility was approved last week, and the hope is it will be ready for the start of the 2009-10 school year.

“We’re absolutely thrilled,” ENMU football coach Mark Ribaudo said. “I’m just thankful to so many people.

“It’s really inspiring to see what’s going on. It’s going to be a great thing for our entire athletic department.”

Ribaudo said the new weight facility, which is expected to cost around $800,000, will be on a par with just about anyone else in the Lone Star Conference.

The state Legislature has provided $358,000 for the facility, athletic director Mike Maguire said. Most of the remaining money will come from fundraising efforts.

“It’s going to be a lot of work raising the money,” Maguire said. “We’re putting together a major fundraising effort, but it’s something we’ve needed for years.”

The facility will replace ENMU’s relatively small football weight room near its practice field. Most of the other sports do weight training inside Greyhound Arena.

Maguire said the probable location of the building will be across from the arena, between the softball field and the soccer practice field.

“It’s something we can all benefit from,” said track and cross country coach Eric Boll. “Plus, it should help us all in recruiting.

“It’s something we’ve been preaching (about) for a while. We’re trying our best to compete (in the LSC), and hopefully it’ll give us a chance to get on a more level playing field (with other schools).”

Ribaudo said it should help ENMU programs beyond recruiting, giving the school’s athletes a sense of pride.

“Once the kids get here, it helps when they can lift in a really nice facility,” he said. “It’s a big shot in the arm for us.

“It’ll help us in recruiting and in retention (of athletes). We’re hoping to build something that’s better than anybody else in the conference.”