July 1, 2011
Albuquerque, N.M. --- New Mexico's newest head coach, Yvonne Sanchez, and her staff turned out to celebrate their new roles with the Lobo women's basketball program on Thursday evening and, true to form, so did an almost overwhelming number of Lobo supporters.
In fact, the after-work event -- which was hosted by members of the UNM athletics marketing team in the Club Level of the Pit -- could be described as nothing less than Lobo mania, as attendees included over 500 members of the Lobo Community, from head administration to former players, dedicated fans and season ticket holders.
Notorious for having one of the most inspiring and intimidating crowds in the nation, it's not surprising that Lobo fans of all ages would demonstrate their unwavering support for Coach Sanchez and her new staff, especially considering the tremendous positive response to Sanchez's recent appointment to the position of head coach. Because although hindsight suggests that the decision was an obvious one, the selection process was grueling, and one that UNM fans were sincerely invested in.
Thursday's celebration confirmed the community's support though, as Sanchez stood to a warm welcome as she introduced her new coaching staff, which includes three new assistant coaches in Anthony Turner, Erin Grant and Vicki Hall, and former assistant coach David Shoemate returning to assume the position of Director of Operations.
Following a brief address to her audience, Sanchez introduced her new assistants, each of whom spoke briefly about their excitement to be a part of Lobo basketball, and expressed their gratitude for the undying support for New Mexico women's basketball. And with such an outstanding turnout to celebrate the inception of what promises to be an exciting year of women's basketball, it's unimaginable that the coaching staff could be anything but excited and appreciative.
The significance of the intimidation factor that Lobo fans are capable of was not lost on two members of the staff especially; Grant experienced a packed Pit during her playing days, while Hall compares the crowd to that which she knew as a player at the University of Texas, when Longhorn fans were known for being some of the most devoted in the nation. Now, both coaches have the opportunity to have the dynamic fan base behind them as the proverbial "sixth man" in the fight for the Mountain West Conference title and a chance at the Dance.
"The turnout today is tremendous," said Director of Athletics Paul Krebs, following the staff introductions. "This is part of what makes New Mexico basketball so unique.
"Our fans are passionate, involved and committed," Krebs continued. "I'm not sure that the fans know exactly how unique they are - but this coaching staff certainly does."
So with a coaching staff in place and a truly inspirational fan base, Sanchez is ready to get into the grind of the season.
"I've never been one to promise wins or anything," Sanchez said. "But I can promise that we're going to play hard. We're going to be tough, physical, and we're going to work. "
And no one can ask for any more than that.