Reminiscing upon ‘glory road’
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05
Four decades after Don Haskins started five African-American basketball players during the 1966 NCAA Championship, the accomplishment debuted on the big screen with the release of “Glory Road” in 2006. Partly filmed on campus, students, faculty, staff and alumni remember the making of the film, in time for this basketball season.
The film recounts the events leading up to the Texas Western Miners’ victory on the night of March 19, over Kentucky with a score of 72-65. The film won an ESPY award as the best sports film of the year.
Jaime Mendez, student support services program director, said he recalls the excitement and the pride the Miners felt when they found out that UTEP would be featured in the film.
“I was very excited to know that the world would not only see UTEP showcase our beautiful campus and region, but also share something fantastic about the only Division I team in Texas to win a NCAA championship in basketball,” Mendez said. “It is something I’m extremely proud of as a UTEP alumnus.”
According to UTEP alumnus Art Gloria, who was a junior at the time of filming, students had the opportunity to be a part of the movie.
“‘Glory Road’ had casting calls for anybody that was interested to appear on the film,” Gloria said. “The Prospector published ads on their bi-weekly newspapers, informing them about this exciting opportunity.”
Apolonio Acosta, UTEP alumnus, was given the chance to be in the film as an extra.
“I heard about it through the newspaper, the selection was fairly easy. All extras had to fit in the ‘50s and ‘60s era, they took a profile picture of me with full characterization, costume and prop,” Acosta said. “To my surprise I got a call a week later. I was really happy that I was able (to) contribute in such an important film that changed athletic history and also getting a chance to experience the filming process.”
Mendez also helped in the making of the film.
“I worked with a local crew to do crowd control in the scenes shot near the Old Main building, it was such a surreal atmosphere,” Mendez said.
Gloria mentioned that students congregated in the Bell Hall area during filming in order to see the action take place.
“One of the landmark buildings that was mostly featured in the movie was Old Main,” Gloria said. “However everything from Hudspeth Hall to the Cardiac Hill was blocked due to the re-making of the Texas Western College set.”
While filming took place, UTEP was in full swing. Signed posters by Don Haskins were provided, the bookstore sold TWC vintage sweaters and ‘M’ letterman jackets, and later there was a pre-screening reserved for UTEP students, faculty and staff. There was also a street named after the movie, Gloria said. “It was really moving to see the boosting of school spirit, everyone on campus was sporting and promoting TWC,” Gloria said. “Not only were Miners excited, but so was the entire UT system and people involved in the film industry that knew who Don Haskins (was). They all applauded this great achievement.”
Kimberly Kilpatrick, University 1301 professor, said that she also took part in the excitement that had taken over the campus.
“It was some very exciting days. Located at Quinn Hall, my students and I could just hear everything that was going on right outside, making it very hard for the students and myself to focus on the speeches that were being presented,” Kilpatrick said. “After a few minutes we just gave up, ended the class early and we all stood next to the window where we could see everything from actors and extras to vintage cars and sets.”
Jeff Darby, associate athletic director of media relations, said he was in charge of the crew before filming commenced. He helped with the searching process of UTEP historical props.
“I helped on the process of searching for UTEP historical memorabilia such as scorebooks, uniforms, newspapers and sports information, anything that kept the movie as credible as possible,” Darby said. “The meaning behind ‘Glory Road,’ and the difficult but outstanding journey of Haskins and its players has educated people all around the world. This will continue to be the crown jewel of UTEP Athletics.”
The Old Main building—which was built in 1917 and continues to be the oldest building at UTEP, and the first one to have the Bhutanese architectural theme—was one of the landmarks featured in Glory Road. Others include the Fox Fine Arts Center, the Magoffin Auditorium and the Special Events Center, renamed in 1996 after Haskins.
“I very much expect for the movie to be the centerpiece of the Centennial Celebration in 2014,” Darby said. “Bringing new generations together for the continuous effort to maintain this accomplishment part of UTEP significant recognitions.”
Andrea Acosta may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.