The Don Haskins Center
By: Tyler Kranz
Where is the Don Haskins Special Events Center?
The Don Haskins Center is located at 121 Glory road, El Paso, TX 79902. It can easily be found by taking Mesa St up to the Walgreens at 2800 N. Mesa, this Walgreens is across the Don Haskins Center.
For more information contact this UTEP special events venue directly at (915) 747-5481
What is the Don Haskins Center?
Many of us want fame; some of us don’t want it, but get it somehow. The difference though is those who don’t want fame simply want to make a difference and those who DO want fame just want to be known. A perfect example of someone who just wanted to make a difference would be a man with a goal and a passion. This man loved the game and knew it inside and out and wanted to prove a point. His name was Coach Don Haskins. He wanted to get the college level basketball game at equal rights to were African-Americans can play just as Americans can too. It never mattered to him about skin color, all that mattered was if you knew how to play, then you were in. Coach Don Haskins nailed all of his points right on the dot and made the game change ever since; and here is how it all went down.
Hall of Fame Coach Don Haskins, UTEP’s basketball coach was known all over the world because of a very historical moment. He was the first coach who wanted to make a difference in college level basketball. In the year of 1966, UTEP or then known as Texas Western was playing against The University of Kentucky in the NCAA Championships. He was the first man in history to have five African American starters and was successful in bringing home a championship.
Critic after critic, people couldn’t believe their eyes, after seeing that Texas Western had won the NCAA Championship with five African American starters. He believed in his team and each and every one of his players, and took them to victory. Being the first University level basketball coach to do such thing, they made Coach Don Haskins a part of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997. Ever since then, the game has never been the same. College basketball took a complete 360, proving that disregard your skin color; if you love the game you should have the rights to play. Coach Don Haskins stated in the Los Angeles Times,” I wasn’t out to be a pioneer when we played Kentucky… I was simply playing the best players on the team, and they happened to be black.” His nickname he went by, ever since history was in the making was “The Bear.”
Coach Haskins had made a mark in history and was being recognized for it by many and also by having his name on a building that was once called the “Special Events Building,” opened in 1976; which as of today is now known as The Don Haskins Center, being renamed in 1998. Coach Haskins with his seven hundredth career victory versus Southern Methodist University finally decided to call it quits and retired from the university in 1999. Don Haskins came in ranking fourth in victories against all other active coaches.
Coach Haskins, who was born March 14, 1930 in Enid, Oklahoma, and also played for legendary coach Hank Iba at Oklahoma A&M, graduating in 1953.
Out of the all seventeen teams he had, each won at about twenty games, and he stayed with only five losing records during his thirty-eight years at Texas Western (UTEP). Not many know, but Don Haskins also worked as the assistant coach on the 1972 Olympic basketball team.
Don Haskins did so much greatness and changed the view to many people who discriminated against different races and helped realize the equality in the game should be existent. Sadly, the amazing Coach passed away September 7, 2008; leaving his wife Mary, and three sons Brent, David and Steve as well as three grandsons, John Paul, Cameron and Dominick. The legend of Haskins will be carried on by his family, and kept in memory by them as well. He was buried at the Memory Gardens of the Valley down in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
As of today, The Don Haskin Center continues to celebrate his name and what he did. This center in the years of 1984, 1985 and 1990 held the Western Athletic Conference, men tournament. In the year 2011, The Don Haskins Center also held the Conference USA Tournament. For the future a major event, The Conference USA Tournament for both men and woman, will be held there as well in 2014. The Don Haskins Center is also home for both men and woman basketball teams at University of Texas El Paso.
After all his success, in the year of 2006 a Disney film came about called “Glory Road” pretty much rein acting his was to victory and how he made a big impact on the basketball world, during a time where black players weren’t allowed and if so weren’t played.
This center is and has been used for several other occasions. There have been graduations for El Paso’s local high schools, and community colleges. Don Haskins Center has had famous celebrities come and preform as well; such as Britney Spears, Michael Buble, Carrie Underwood in the year of 2008 and several more, as well as performances by Cirque de Soleil. This amazing arena also holds events such as the Monster Jam, Nine Inch Nails, and The Cure. Back in 2007, The Don Haskins Center held the performance of The Cheetah Girls, George Lopez; 2010 Shakira made an appearance as well.
Don Haskins Center El Paso
Amazingly, the Don Haskins Center holds a capacity of 12,222 people. Don Haskins Center is also known by the local residents of El Paso, Texas as the “Don” and is located exactly in the heart of El Paso. This Center has gone down in history alongside the amazing guy, Coach Don Haskins, who gave it a reason to.
What is the definition of equality? Equality to many is known, as everything in life should be fair, one should not have to be judged or so spoken, discriminated due to their skin color, preference in sex, their size, and how they look. To be equal is to have the same rights as everyone else. Don Haskins wanted to bring equality into his game of basketball and enforce it way more, ignoring the negative commentaries he would receive from the critics, coaches, and the media. He knew what he was doing and had his mind on the prize. You don’t have to be white to be able to play; you can be any color and play, if you are good at the game; that’s all that matters. Pretty much stating that the system, the game was unfair. Having great basketball players sitting on the sidelines, not being able to show their talent, coaches getting mad because of their constant losses, was all unfair in the eyes of the amazing Coach Don Haskins, so he stepped forward and made a difference.
To finalize this article on the Don Haskins Center, I would just like to state that if you are passionate towards something and you know that you have a chance of making a difference then go for it! Never underestimate your power of change. Always know that anything is possible, nothing is impossible; take note from Coach Haskins. He was a man, a legend as well as an inspiration to many around the world who never gave up and simply “played his best players” who happened to be black. May you know that equality shall always be enforced. Coach Haskins lived a long, and very successful life full of high expectations towards his players, towards his team, but mainly towards the University then known as Texas Western. He wanted the very best for that school, and that team, and took them into the history books. He is known for making a huge impact on college level basketball; won tournaments, championships, made a movie, made a mark in the Hall of Fame, was an assistant coach for the basketball Olympics, had a building named after him, played five starters who happened to be African-Americans, and aside from all of that had his family, wife, kids and grandkids. Success is an open option to those who truly desire it, and to those who want it but never work for it, will never get it. Let Hall of Fame, Legendary Coach Don Haskins be a perfect example to many of you out there who desire that “fame.” Nothing in life comes easy, everything will always be unfair, its us humans who have to make things right, make things equal, and make things happen; because nothing will never happen on its own unless one takes action on it. As I once had heard a basketball coach tell her kids,” Do you want it? Does your heart want it? Because if your heart wants it, then it will happen! But if it doesn’t, then that means you don’t want it bad enough!” Don Haskins wanted to simply make things equal, and he ended up getting way more than just equality, he got fame, without expecting it. So there you have it that is how The Don Haskins Center came about, and why it is such an important place in the city of El Paso, Texas.