LAS VEGAS, NM – Major changes are in store for the Cowboys football team both on the field – literally – and off.
The New Mexico Highlands Foundation is conducting a fundraising drive, the Home Field Advantage Campaign, to replace Highlands’ 14-year-old football field, and the team will be led by a new interim head coach, Marty Fine.
“We are opening the door to a new era for the Cowboy Nation,” said Highlands Athletic Director Bob Clifford. “The new field will provide our current student-athletes and future generations a safe place to play along with the same opportunities and stories to share that are so cherished by our alumni and community.”
The field is used by the football and soccer teams as well as the two-time champions Vatos rugby team. Additionally, the field is used for drills, conditioning and community games and recreation.
Clifford said due to its age, the field has become hazardous for athletes, and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference informed the university it might not be permitted to host home football games on the field unless repairs are made.
The cost to replace the field is $450,000.
“We’ve had some strong community support during the start of the campaign,” said Theresa Law, Highlands’ vice president for advancement, which works with the university’s nonprofit foundation. “This is an important project in terms of recruitment, campus life and community pride.”
Law said this year’s Highlands Loves Alumni event on Feb. 9 will help raise funds for the Home Field Advantage Campaign.
“Last year, we had a great turnout from alumni and friends to raise funds to promote high-impact practices for our students,” Law said. “This year, we’re hoping our alumni and friends join us to help replace the field.
This year will also see a new leader for the football program, interim Head Coach Marty Fine.
“Marty understands the two most important things to make Highlands football successful,” Clifford said. “Our athletes are students first, and we’re in it to win.”
Fine officially took control of the program Jan. 9.
“Highlands is the perfect job for me,” Fine said. “What I’ve done best in my life is build strong programs, and we’re going to do that here.”
Fine brings more than 35 years of coaching experience to Highlands with a strong record of improving struggling programs. His previous position was at Bryant University in Rhode Island, where many of his players received Northeast Conference Player of the Year Awards.
“My goal for the program is for each student to have a positive experience in the classroom, in the residence halls, in the community and on the field,” Fine said. “To do that, you have to work with really great people and with people who care. Highlands has all of that.”
To contribute to the Home Field Advantage Campaign, contact the Highlands Foundation at 505-454-3248 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.