By Wendy Gragg
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON From the solid sentinel standing watch outside the building to the purple words emblazoned on the floor within, the new sports arena at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is combining the best of old and new traditions.
The Crusader may have become The Cru, but at the new Frank and Sue Mayborn Campus Center, theres room for both.
Adopted as the UMHB mascot in 1968-69, the imposing, knight-like statue that guards the way into the Mayborn Campus Center is a crusader. UMHB President Dr. Jerry Bawcom rehashed the heritage of the Crusa-der at the unveiling of the namesake statue earlier this month. Bawcom quoted 1965 graduate Carole Smith on the creation of the Crusader.
We were on a crusade to be successful in womens athletics and athletics, he said.
Bawcom said the Crusader, which officially became the mascot 30 years ago in 1975, also represents the Christian purpose and heritage of the university.
At UMHB, which holds fast to countless rituals and traditions, the Crusader still has his place. But today, the student body has sidled up beside the stately standby and declared themselves The Cru.
The simple moniker has even found its way, in bold purple letters, onto the new sports arena floor.
The Cru has become a favorite slogan of the students and the athletic department, so it seemed to fit well to have it become part of the design of the new floor, said Carol Woodward, UMHB director of marketing and public relations.
Woodward said UMHB teams have even been announced as The Cru at away games.
UMHB University Ambassador Jeffrey Olcheskey said The Cru stems from the Couch Cru, the fairly young tradition of noisy, spirited students who support the football team from the sideline and north end zone. The Couch Cru has been a rallying point, bringing together the students, often slathered in purple-and-gold paint and sporting T-shirts of the same colors that boast of The Cru.
The Couch Cru came along, and it just kind of rolled off the tongue better, Olcheskey said.
UMHB cheerleaders Amy Vessels, Kristin Biggs and Freddie Rollins would probably agree. They said the abbreviated version is easier to fit into cheers.
And some students just like the sound of The Cru.
I think its cuter, nursing student Stephanie Little said.
Ask students why they claim The Cru and the reasons vary, but two words tend to surface again and again group and unity.
A crusader is one person, but The Cru represents the whole student body, UMHB junior Clayton Presswood said.
He said The Cru perfectly fits the close-knit family feel on the small Baptist campus.
Thats why I like it better it includes everybody, he said. Were The Cru, and everybody knows everybody.
Contact Wendy Gragg at firstname.lastname@example.org