Picks Up: Six Fun Sports Traditions at UTEP
UTEP athletics has a rich history. Despite their recent struggles in recent years, the athletic program has over 20+ NCAA national championships and prides itself on the historic 1966 men’s basketball national championship. All of this success has resulted in UTEP forming a very passionate fanbase. And throughout the years, these fans, along with the athletes and coaches, have created many traditions. Let's take a look at some of my favorite traditions at UTEP.
Walking through the Mine Shaft
After every game, UTEP walks through the Sun Bowl concourse to get to their locker rooms in the Larry K. Durham center. Of course, that means fans get to interact with the players as they walk up through the Miner Shaft. After every win, the crowd gets especially loud and fun. The security will have to hold a rope/tape to give the players a path to the LKD, and that’s where the fun begins. Each player walks through and is usually especially hyped after a big win. Players will dance, high-five, and take photos with the fans. This tradition is one of the most popular at UTEP. It has resulted in some sick photos, too.
Stand up for defense in the Don
For the start of every half of basketball played in the Don Haskins Center, fans will stand up and wait until the opposing team scores. The PA announcer says “You know the tradition Miner fans, we stand for defense in the Don!” and everyone will get up and get loud to start the half for the Miners. This is also one of the more recognizable traditions at UTEP, and sometimes fans have to stand for a long time as UTEP will play off the crowd's energy and stifle up defensively. Sometimes though, fans will get up and sit right back down. However, under Joe Golding, UTEP fans may have to get accustomed to standing for long, long times.
UTEP WBB greeting the fans after the game
After every game, Kevin Baker walks to the student section and band, gives them a hand, and thanks them. Then, he goes back with his team and instructs them to go up into the stands and thank the fans. Players go all the way up the stairs and interact with the fans that went to the game. This is, in my opinion, the best tradition at UTEP. The excitement of younger fans to see the players up close and be able to interact with them is off the charts. It is a fun tradition that fans and athletes get to partake in. This is the only tradition of its kind that I know of at UTEP. Kevin Baker has built a great culture for the Miners and traditions like this are part of the reason Miner fans admire him.
Texas Western tradition
From football to softball, the historic Texas Western College is remembered in numerous ways, however, the most popular one is through a jersey. Men’s basketball, football, and softball all have TWC jerseys, and it is one of the best traditions at UTEP. Texas Western College is best known as the team that won the 1966 national championship that broke barriers and is documented in the Disney Film “Glory Road”. The sick dark orange and white jerseys are brought out for a couple of games every season for these squads. Unfortunately, this tradition may end soon with UTEP switching from Nike to Adidas apparel and jerseys.
The Alma Mater at UTEP football games
This tradition may go unnoticed, but after every game, right before they go up the stairs and into the Mineshaft for their walk to the LKD, UTEP football gathers around in front of the band as they play UTEP’s alma mater. The players join and put their picks up. No other sport does this, which makes it such a fun tradition that hopefully, in the coming years, fans will also partake in.
Cigars after the I-10 rivalry
The teams compete for the Silver Spade Trophy and the Mayor's Cup, but for some UTEP players, the victory cigar is what they look forward to.
This has got to be the newest tradition in UTEP athletics, right? When UTEP beat NMSU in 2021 for the first time in 5 years, players lit up cigars and planted a flag on the NMSU logo at the 50-yard line. UTEP players didn’t light up cigars for a whole year until they beat, you guessed it, NMSU. It seems this is something UTEP will do if they beat their I-10 rival, and in my opinion, NMSU should do the same if they win. It adds fun to an already great rivalry game, that will only get more serious as NMSU will join C-USA next year.
There are plenty of other great traditions at UTEP that I missed. There are so many that I can’t even remember them all. These are MY personal favorites, and I’m sure people may disagree with this list, so I’d like to hear your list. College athletics is built around traditions that can stem from over 100 years ago but can also have been created yesterday. No matter how much college athletics changes, traditions should not be touched.