BY MARK MAY | SPECIAL TO THE MONITOR
EDINBURG – Gary Doyle first put on the Bronc uniform 48 years ago and the memories remain as clear as ever to him.
“My father was an All-State catcher,” Doyle said during his induction speech at the UTRGV Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony Saturday at the campus ballroom. “I wanted to be a catcher (too) but I threw the ball too hard.”
Doyle, one of six inductees into the 2019 Athletics Hall of Fame Class, was one of the best pitchers in the program’s history – Bronc or Vaquero. He pitched for two seasons, including the 1971 College World Series team. He tossed 20 complete games including two one-hitters as a Bronc.
“(Longtime baseball coach and UTRGV HOF member) Coach (Al) Ogletree was my second father,” Doyle, now a retired salesman, said.
Former men’s basketball coach Lon Kruger (1982-86) was also officially inducted. He was not able to attend Saturday but enjoyed an induction ceremony last fall when Kruger’s Oklahoma team visited UTRGV at Bert Ogden Arena on Nov. 9. Kruger’s 1985-86 team went 20-8.
He later guided five programs to the NCAA Tournament while making stops in Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, Nevada-Las Vegas and Oklahoma. His 1994 Gators team and 2016 Sooners squad advanced to the NCAA Final Four. He coached the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks from 2000-03.
He and his wife Barbara were also inducted into the Athletics Hall of Honor Saturday as longtime supporters of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.
“Today is a day to honor and pay tribute to those who have paved the way,” UTRGV Director of Athletics Chris King said.
The other inductees included runner Elizabeth Ortega-Hilpert (1990-96), tennis star Rob Hubbard (1975-78), volleyball’s Jaclyn (Muszynski) Riley (2000-03) and soccer goalkeeper Fredy Sanguinetti (1988-91).
Saturday’s luncheon was a whirlwind of sports memories with the right touch of humor mixed in with pathos.
Ortega-Hilpert, a distance runner in track and cross country who was once featured on ESPN, said her mother, Alejandrina Ortega, and maternal grandmother, Maria Ramirez, taught her a host of life lessons.
“She (mother) instilled in me … the importance of having a strong work ethic, humility, respect, integrity, loyalty and honesty,” she said. “Early on in my life, there were no races to participate in, no medals to be won, no records to be broken. I ran because I just simply loved it.”
She was the first woman in school history to qualify for the NCAA Div. I National Cross Country Championships in 1995. She was also Sun Belt Conference champion and MVP that year.
In track & field, she was Sun Belt champ in the 3,000-meter run in 1996 (indoors) and All-SBC in outdoor 800-m, 1,500-m, 3,000-m and 5,000-m. She still holds the program record in the 800 m with a time of 2 minutes, 9.66 seconds set in 1993. She has served as a speech instructor at McAllen’s South Texas College the past 20 years.
Ron Hubbard made a crack about his student photo featuring him with abundant fluffy long locks that were part of 1970s vogue.
“I told my wife ‘I’m going to be inducted with two celebrities, Lon Kruger and Napoleon Dynamite,’ “ he quipped.
At one point during his playing days, Hubbard was ranked in the top 300 players in the world. He helped the program achieve a top 10 national ranking in 1978 and is a two-time USTA national champion.
Like many athletes who have come from out of state, Hubbard initially did not know where the school was located.
“I never found Pan American,” Hubbard, now the men’s tennis coach at Sam Houston State, said. “It was Pan American that found me. I’m so thankful.”
Sanguinetti’s family immigrated from Uruguay to chase the classic “American dream.”
He recorded seven shutouts and is believed to hold the men’s soccer program record with a career 1.49 goals against average. He later played professionally and has won more than 500 games coaching high school teams.
He spoke of inspiration from his family and his college coach Eloy Moran who introduced him Saturday.
“You were my father figure here … more importantly, you were my spiritual guide,” he said.
Riley came from California and made a name for herself in volleyball by setting a multitude of records. She now sells medical equipment in her home state.
“I felt like I was at home the instant I got here,” she said.