Focus on Faces: Tom Cantrell
6/27/2011 2:41:53 a.m. - Hobbs, NM. Tom Cantrell, who has been Superintendent of Schools in Anadarko Public Schools in Anadarko, Oklahoma, for the past 15 years, is also an NMJC graduate who enjoys the distinction of having been part of the college's first-ever national championship team. According to his former track coach and long-time friend, Ross Black, Tom anchored the mile relay team (now the 1600-meter relay) and played a critical role in that memorable championship in 1971. But Black remembers Tom for much more. "Tom stood out for more than just his athletic abilities and talents, considerable though those were. Just to be able to try out for the U.S. Olympic Trials like he did, for instance, you have to have a high level of proficiency. But Tom was more than just that. His attitude, his morals, and his dedication were equally impressive. Even as a young man, he was a great leader. To this day, he's modest -- and such a gentleman. Tom Cantrell has always been a quiet leader by example.
"Education: New Mexico Junior College-Associate in Arts Degree; University of Oklahoma -- Bachelor of Science in Education Degree; University of Oklahoma -- Master of Science Degree
Honors: NMJC Letterman, NMJC All-American, NMJC Track Captain, NMJC Outstanding Trackman; Oklahoma University Letterman, "O" Club member (service organization for Oklahoma University Letterman), United States Track & Field Federation All-Stars, U.S. Olympic Trials; Anadarko Optimist of the Year
When I came to New Mexico Junior College from high school in 1969, I was not the strongest student or athlete. Through the direction of Coach Ross Black, my academics improved as well as my performance athletically. Our track team won the first national championship for the junior college and went undefeated for two years. Coach Black influenced my desire to become an educator and coach. In 1980 I fulfilled my dream by coming back to New Mexico Junior College as an instructor and head track coach. Three of my four children were born in Lea General Hospital, and I made many friends during my seven and half years.
Now that I'm a year from retirement, I look back at the wonderful experience I had at New Mexico Junior College and the people who influenced my life. I could not have asked for a more positive experience or a better start to my college education.
Thank you, New Mexico Junior College.
- Tom Cantrell