March Madness is in full swing for NCAA Division I Basketball with a national champion to be crowned on Monday, April 4, in Houston at NRG Stadium. As I was watching one of the games this past weekend the broadcast paid tribute to the 1966 national championship team Texas Western College.
Did you know that the College of Marshall, foundational school for East Texas Baptist University, has a tie to the team that won it all 50 years ago?
The athletic trainer for Texas Western in 1966 was Ross Moore. Moore attended the COM from 1933 to 1936.
Ross was described in the 1935 Martian yearbook as “a hard blocking back from Sarepta, Louisiana.” Ross went to what is now the University of Texas at El Paso in 1936 on a football scholarship and played basketball. Except for serving in the Navy during World War II, Ross was at the West Texas school serving as a coach, assistant professor, and athletic trainer until his death.
Ross, who was one of the first trainers to develop fiberglass padding as a protective device for injured athletes, was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame in 1974. The Ross Moore Building at UTEP was dedicated in his name in 1985. He passed away in 1977.
There is a movie about the 1966 Texas Western team titled “Glory Road.” Former Elvis Presley bodyguard, Red West, portrays Ross in the movie. I had the pleasure of visiting on the telephone ten years ago with Ross’ wife, Kathleen Taylor Moore, after “Glory Road” came out on DVD.
Kathleen shared with me she was witnessing a part of her life when she saw the movie for the first time that was very real, not just some production on a screen. “I was not in shock, but I wasn’t all there either. ‘Glory Road’ is not a documentary. It is a story in which some of the things in the movie did not actually happen. I enjoyed the picture, but Red looks nothing like Ross, but does a creditable job of portraying his persona,” she told me.
Kathleen, who was raised in Marshall and graduated from COM met Ross “on the hill” while he was a student-athlete and she was his tutor in English.
“Our little joke between us is that we got married because the only way he was going to learn English was to have a life-long tutor.” They eloped and were married 42 years. Kathleen passed away peacefully in June 2014 at the age of 101.
Texas Western, coached by Don Haskins, won the national title with a 72-65 victory over Kentucky, coached by Adolph Rupp. Coach Haskins started five black payers for the first time in NCAA Championship history.
(From the Marshall News Messenger “From the Hilltop” blog written by ETBU Director of Public Relations Mike Midkiff)