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NMJC Track To Be Dedicated in Memory of Ross Black

NMJC Track To Be Dedicated in Memory of Ross Black photo 4/13/2015 5:30:30 p.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

The new track and field at New Mexico Junior College will be dedicated Saturday, April 18 at 9:00 a.m. in memory of the college’s first athletic director and first track coach, Ross Black.  The dedication will be followed by the first collegiate meet on NMJC’s campus in over 20 years.

Called the Ross Black Field of Champions, this state-of-the-art facility will showcase NMJC’s #4 nationally-ranked women’s track team, and provide an opportunity to host college track and field events.

“The newly designed and newly constructed New Mexico Junior College Track and Field moves the college from a very old 440 yard, non-sanctioned collegiate track facility to a 400 meter State of the Art collegiate facility,” says Dr. Steve McCleery, President of NMJC. “The new track is a NMJC Quality of Life initiative, and positions Lea County to host collegiate track meets including conference, regional, or national championship collegiate track events.”

Special guests for the dedication. include several members of the Black family, including his widow Cherrill Black, and  several members from the 1971 NMJC National Championship track team.

“Ross Black was a tremendous role model for me,” states Dr. Brad Winter, Superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools and City Councilor, District 4 for the City of Albuquerque, who was a pole vaulter on the 1971 track team. “He helped me gain confidence and inspired me to be successful. He was a big influence in my life. I think of him every day.”

Tom Cantrell, another ’71 track team member, remembers Coach Black being concerned with the welfare and education of all his athletes. “He wanted all of us to graduate with our associate degrees and continue our education at the university level.  I owe everything I became to Coach Black.”  Cantrell became Superintendent of Schools in Anadarko, Oklahoma.

David Ratliff was another ’71 team member, who has been successful as a technical supervisor for several companies.  “Coach Black was always upbeat and positive and that rubbed off on just about everyone he was around.  He told me that winning wasn’t everything, but no one remembers who comes in second!  That always made me do my best.”

One of his students Marti Jourden remembers that he was well-respected by his team.  “He challenged all of us to define our quality of life, be good examples for others and walk proudly.  I believe most of us did this.”  Jourden, who is Regional Vice President of Quality and Performance Improvement for SSM Healthcare of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Regent for the American College of Health Executives says, “I like to think I made him proud.”

Proclamations will be made to name April 18, 2015 as Ross Black Day, from the City of Hobbs, represented by City Commissioner Gary Buie, City of Lovington, represented by Mayor Scotty Gandy, and Lea County, represented by County Commissioner Ron Black.

After the dedication, colleges from New Mexico and Texas will begin track and field competition at the facility, sanctioned by the Western Junior College Association Conference. There is no charge to attend either the dedication or the competition. 

Field events during the meet include: Hammer, Discus, Javelin, Shot, Triple Jump, Long Jump, Pole Vault and High Jump. Running events will begin in all categories around 1:00 p.m.

“Ross was a tremendous person, served as a mentor to me, lived life in a big way, and left a legacy that will not be duplicated,” says Dr. McCleery. “I wish Ross could watch the April 18 track meet. Or perhaps he will! If so, I know he will enjoy the meet because it involves students, excellence, a high level of achievement, and family and loved ones from far and near.”

The Ross Black Field of Champions dedication and track meet will kick off several events planned throughout the year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of New Mexico Junior College.

For more information: Susan Fine, NMJC Director of Communication: or 575-492-2781

New Mexico Junior College, as a comprehensive community college, promotes success through learning.



Ross Black was New Mexico Junior College’s first athletic director, first head men’s basketball coach, first head track coach and was chair of the NMJC physical education department.  He was inducted into the Western Junior College Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2006. 

Black led the 1971 NMJC men’s track team to become national champions, and was selected as the National Junior College Track and Field Coach of the Year for 1971. He served as President of the National Junior College Track and Field Coaches Association for three years.  In 1973, he went to Moscow as one of the United States track coaches in the World University Games, where he saw the two American relay teams that were his responsibility bring home the only two gold medals that the U.S. won in the track and field competition.

Black was honored as the New Mexico School Administrator of the Year in 1987 and was inducted into the New Mexico Activities Association Hall of Fame in 1991.  He became Superintendent of the Lovington, NM Municipal School District, and later served on the Lovington, NM County Commission, becoming Chairman of the Commission. 

Black passed away in 2013 at the age of 82.

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