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Coach works for Roswell’s youth through sports

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Tracy Mumford (Submitted Photo)

Tracy Mumford was born and raised in Pampa, Texas. Playing both high school basketball and baseball helped him learn a lot from the sports world.

“During basketball season, the JV team members would officiate the elementary basketball games,” Mumford said. “This was a good experience for the players and we had a different perspective of officials when we played.”

When it came to Mumford’s second passion, the strong duo of sports and his own father played big roles in sparking his interest.

“My dad was a large part of the Pampa Optimist Club,” he said. “I enjoyed seeing and helping him with youth projects in our community; the club conducted the little league baseball program for the city.

“My dad and I coached a little league team together my senior year of high school, and that was the year our team had a perfect record,” Mumford said. “To my knowledge, there has only been one other team in Pampa to do that since. We went on to coach the little league all-star team that year and were one game short of making it to the regional tournament.”

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Mumford has been attending the New Mexico Basketball State Championships every year since 2006.

“Some people think I’m a little crazy watching basketball from 8 in the morning until 10 or later at night, for five days in a row,” he said. “But this all led to becoming the tournament chairman of the Sunrise Optimist/Poe Corn Basketball Tournament, where I have made friendships with coaches and officials over the years. Being at the state tournament is a time where I can reconnect with some of them.”

Officiating high school basketball for four years, he was also involved with the Roswell Girls Softball Association — serving on the board and coaching. It’s quite obvious that sports has always been a family affair when it comes to his household.

“I coached my youngest daughter’s team, and while doing that, I was also watching my older daughter play her softball games and my son in his events,” he said.

His love of sports led Mumford to help not only the kids, but the town of Roswell itself.

“For a decade, I’ve also volunteered my time helping the United Way of Chaves County with all of their events,” he said. “They help a great deal with the Hike-It & Spike-It tournament every year, hanging and keeping up with the sponsorship banners. This is a big job and it takes the support of volunteers and their board members to make this happen, so it’s a great time for us all to work together.”

Working at the Roswell Job Corps Center in 1986, Mumford found himself interested in the program because of the true support it offered to young people ages 16-24 who needed guidance.

“Job Corps is an educational/vocational school where students can come in to complete their high school education, while simultaneously learning a trade. Once they complete the program, they can continue with advanced training options.”

Following in his father’s footsteps, Tracy joined the Sunrise Optimist Club in 2005. And it was only a few years later that he took the chairman’s reins of the Sunrise Optimist/Poe Corn Invitational Basketball Tournament.

Established by Poe W. Corn in 1948, this was a man definitely seen as a coaching “star” for Roswell. Corn became the head coach of football, basketball and track at Roswell High in 1932.

“Not only did Poe work for the young men, but he also began girls’ Phys. Ed. in Roswell public schools,” Mumford said, “decades before the federal government mandated equal access for all students, regardless of race or gender.”

In the late ‘90s, the tournament was struggling to continue, and that’s when the Sunrise Optimist Club became involved.

Formed in 2001, the club’s first big project was to revitalize the tournament. Succeeding in their endeavors, they remain the organizer to this day.

“Our club takes pride in running the tournament and we strive to make it a special one to attend,” he said. “At most, teams play three games and they are done. At our tournament, we include other events to help fill the teams’ down-time and make it fun and informative for the players and coaches.”

Not only is there a banquet held on the second day of the tournament, where club members also set up, serve, conduct a program and clean up, but there’s also a 3-point shooting contest for both players and coaches with awards given out. On the last day, a pancake breakfast is held for all.

“It’s a good time for coaches and players to visit with each other, and also for our club members to visit with the teams,” Mumford said.

Honoring the participants in the tournament, he says, is a part they love to do.

“We usually honor a past coach from RISD with the Excellence in Coaching Award, and we also have a motivational speaker to encourage players and coaches to be good influences in their communities and all future things they get involved with,” he said.

A big fundraiser for the Sunrise Optimists, the tournament proceeds are contributed back to many youth organizations and activities.

“We are able to provide scholarships through our Sunrise Optimist Vern Stahl Memorial Scholarship to graduating seniors,” Mumford explained. “And other donations made include, but are not limited to: the KAPS Art Program, Boys and Girls Club, GHS and RHS Project Graduations and Athletic Teams, Charlie’s Angels and Rockette’s Dance Teams, Buddy Walk, Assurance Home and more.”

Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, the tournament cannot be held this year. Looking forward, however, the event would not even be possible without the support of the local businesses and the community, so keeping up the support for the future is not something to forget, he said.

Tracy voices his gratitude to so many for their assistance.

“Roswell is a great community to live in,” he said. “Businesses and citizens always support things here, from sporting events to local non-profits that provide services to our community.

“Supporting and donating to the United Way helps many different organizations that provide services to those in need, making it yet another great way to help strengthen Roswell,” Mumford said. “The money donated here stays here, and helps many of our neighbors.”