NMJC's McCleery Inducted into WJCAC Hall of Fame
1/16/2018 4:18:30 p.m. - Hobbs, NM.
[Story by Jason Farmer - Hobbs News Sun]
Monday was a big day for Steve McCleery. Not only was it his wife’s birthday, but the former New Mexico Junior College official was inducted into the Western Junior College Athletic Conference’s Hall of Fame.
“It is a great thought,” McCleery said of being inducted on his wife’s birthday. “I took her to eat at lunch and she still gets her due. (Today) we will celebrate her birthday a little bit more because she kind of had to take a second seat (yesterday) just because of this.”
McCleery made sure to emphasize that while the award means a lot to him, he couldn’t have gotten where he is without his family.
“The best part of my life, is my wife,” McCleery said. “She has been the support, the hub, and the foundation. My children, one of my daughters was here and I just appreciated my family members, they are the foundation.”
New Mexico Junior College Director of Athletics Deron Clark talked about how much McCLeery meant, not only NMJC, but also the NJCAA.
“The energy that was created by everyone that I mentioned this too, and the response and willingness to want to be on board to make this the night that it should be for he and Linda,” Clark said. “So many people got to show their love for what he had done. I had been contacted for him just with comments of how much he did for the conference and how much he meant for the NJCAA as a strong representative for what athletics can do a young person’s life.”
The ceremony was held at half court of Caster Activity Center right after the Lady Thunderbirds’ game against South Plains College.
Following the ceremony, friends, family, and fans were invited into the NMJC Booster Club, which was started by McCleery, to talk with and celebrate with him.
“It has been phenomenal,” McCleery said. “I have had so many hugs and the outpouring has been incredible today. Some of these people I haven’t seen in five or 10 years. One of the English teachers who was here tonight retired several years ago and I got to visit with her, so it has been a whirlwind, but I loved every minute of it.”
One of the people who worked closely with McCleery who could not be at the ceremony was Ray Birmingham, the former skipper of the NMJC baseball team who managed the team to a national championship. Birmingham, who is currently the skipper of UNM baseball spoke highly of McCleery.
“Steve is one of the greatest leaders in the history of the WJCAC,” Birmingham said. “He has left a positive footprint on the conference, the school and the thousands of us he led. I am a better man because of Steve McCleery.”