Spirit high at UMHB
Our look at the history of football mascots starts at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Plus, a musical memory from days gone by.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 31, 2021
Crunk the Crusader dons the purple and gold for UMHB, and he has but one purpose — to pump up the fans for the game. The student who portrays Crunk is a mystery, and as it happens, so is Crunk.
The Mystery of Crunk the Crusader
By JENNIFER WILSON, Our Town Temple exclusive
Football season is almost here, and to get ready I thought we’d do a deep dive into some of the more popular college teams in Texas.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to compare school stats, go over rankings or induce tension discussing the Big 12 shake up. No, I thought I’d focus on something a little more unifying and enduring— school mascots.
Sure, we all know who they are in general, but do a little more digging and you will find some interesting and entertaining history— regardless of your school colors. My heart may bleed green and gold, but I still love seeing what Bevo is up to on the sidelines.
So, stay tuned for future issues to read about your favorite alma mater, and let’s begin with a local: the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
One of the first questions people tend to ask about UMHB is if it’s related to Baylor University in Waco. The answer is yes and no. Since we will be covering Baylor’s mascot in a later edition, let’s go ahead and get this history sorted out.
UMHB and BU have the distinguished honor of being chartered by the Republic of Texas — back when Texas was its own country. In 1839, representatives of churches in Washington County issued an appeal to the Home Mission Board in New York to establish a missionary movement in Texas. Three missionaries — the Rev. James Huckins, the Rev. William M. Tyron, and Judge R.E.B. Baylor — were sent to Texas and were essential in establishing the Texas Baptist Education Society in 1843. Tryon and Baylor were appointed to prepare a charter for a Baptist university, and on February 1, 1845, the ninth congress of the Republic of Texas approved the charter.
Located in Independence, Texas (where you can still see the ruins of the original buildings), the school was initially co-educational, but in 1851 a female and male department were created and co-education ended. In 1866, the female department obtained its own charter and board of trustees, thus ending ties with the original university except in name — Baylor Female College.
In 1886, because of changing transportation and economics, both schools had to move — the male department relocating to Waco and retaining the name Baylor University, and Baylor Female College relocating to Belton. Baylor Female College underwent several name changes before deciding upon the University of Mary Hardin Baylor in 1978.
In 1971, UMHB became co-educational.
Crunk the Crusader dons the purple and gold for UMHB, and he has but one purpose — to pump up the fans for the game. The student who portrays Crunk is a mystery, and as it happens, so is Crunk.
Aside from a brief 2013 article and 2017 interview in The Bells (a UMHB publication), information about the mustachioed mascot is largely nonexistent. He has no current Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account, but is purported to be alive and well per a UMHB Facebook picture posted on August 13. Proof that everything is ok? Perhaps, but I am still wary given that August 13 was on a Friday.
Can anyone out there help solve this mystery? I have so many questions ready and waiting. Please, if you know anything contact me at Our Town Temple. I promise you will remain anonymous. And Crunk, if you happen to be reading this article, send us a sign.
High hopes for normalcy at UMHB
By RANDI WHALON, Our Town Temple exclusive
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team begins its highly anticipated season September 4, kicking off the first “normal” season for the Crusaders since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 9, 2020, UMHB students began their Spring Break from school, but those seven days turned into 6 long months. Students returned to campus in August, but COVID-19 was far from gone. Life at UMHB and beyond continued under a “new normal,” but the American Southwest Conference deemed it unsafe to put the players on the field against another school. Instead, an abbreviated season was held in Spring 2021.
As the September 4 game against Simpson College nears, the atmosphere is set for one of the most exciting seasons in UMHB history. Fans have been waiting months for “normal” to return to Crusader Stadium.
In 2019, the stadium was routinely filled with laughter, chants, and music from the Crusader band. Last fall, however, the stadium only held silence. No children running about in oversized Cru shirts. No “free t-shirt” toss from Crunk, the beloved Crusader mascot. And, a complete disappearance of the “touchdown” chant from the announcer’s box. This year, it’s all coming back and Bell County sports fans are thrilled.
UMHB fielded its first football team in 1998, and soon intercollegiate football was never the same. In the early years of Crusader football, the team played at Belton High’s stadium. But years of success led to the construction of an on-campus stadium in 2011.
By 2013 UMHB opened the gates to a new stadium with an attached student union. The stadium seats 7,671 football fanatics, and 5,400 of those seats are on the home side. The new stadium gave students and devoted fans a chance to truly enjoy the football experience on their own stomping grounds.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) did hold a mini season in spring 2020 consisting of four regular season games. Although the season was short, it brought much-needed excitement back to campus and Belton.
The Crusaders went undefeated during the mini- season, earning themselves a spot at the ASC championship game, where UMHB beat Hardin-Simmons. The brief spring season set the stage for 2021’s regular season.
“One of the main reasons I attended the University of Mary Hardin- Baylor was for the football games,” said UMHB sophomore Adasia Mardsen, a Belton High School graduate.
“The feeling you get when attending a Crusader football game is comparable to a sold out concert in Madison Square Garden,” Mardsen said. “It is an exciting experience.”
“When COVID hit, I felt like we would never get that excitement back. I’m glad that we will be able to safely start a new season and get that good feeling back.”
Whether it be the players, parents, devoted fans or UMHB alumni, there is one major characteristic they all share — school spirit. The spirit that the University of Mary Hardin- Baylor supporters hold is unmatched, and the excitement and passion that surrounds game time is what will continue to unify the Bell County community.
Stephen Rowe, a Crusader running back from 2016 to 2020, said his time at UMHB was some of the best years of his life so far.
“I gained a group of brothers in my teammates,” he said. “We went through the worst and best of times together, and we learned from them all. The only thing we left on the field was blood, sweat and tears, and I have no regrets.”
“Coach (Pete) Fredenburg taught us so much on and off the field, and I’m forever grateful. My final season was the semester before COVID hit, and I’m thankful I was able to complete my intended goal.”
“I’m excited to come back to town and watch my former teammates play,” Rowe said.
Fredenburg has been the only head coach at UMHB since the start of Crusader football. Alongside his many accolades, titles and awards, he has been named the ASC Coach of the Year 10 times now and was officially inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
The UMHB football roster is full of players who are prepared and eager to get back on the field and dominate. And, this new “normal” season also brings new promising players such as sophomore Jerry Day Jr.
“This will be my first season playing with the University of Mary Hardin- Baylor,” said Day, who came to the Crusader program from the University of Arkansas. “I decided that UMHB is where I belong — a place where I have ample opportunity to grow and be successful. I’m excited to be a part of the Crusader family.”
The 2021 fall season will feature 10 regular season games, and six of those will be played at Crusader Stadium. The team is predicted to repeat as ASC champions and the team also intends to reclaim a national title.
“We have a bunch of players back and expectations are very high,” Fredenburg told Our Town Temple in July. “Our players expect to win. They come here to win national championships.”
Randi Whalon is a senior communications student at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and is interning at Our Town Temple.
There were a handful of people at the Peppermint Lounge that night, and no one really noticed the group of guys setting up in dancehall.
Rock royalty sweeps through town
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple exclusive
The summer of 1979 was awesome. I had just graduated from Temple High and was cruising the streets and backroads of Bell County in my 1966 springtime yellow Mustang. Life was good.
My Mustang — I bought it from the station manager at KTEM for $2,000 — came decked out with the finest in AM radio. Cassettes were all the rage at the time, so I installed an under-dash Pioneer player in order to keep my interior as original as possible and still fulfill my need to rock.
Bands such as Cheap Trick, Nazareth, Foghat and Bad Company usually jammed from the little player, but that summer I gave the old favorites a long break. Something new had caught my ears, and I wasn’t alone. Temple was jammin’ to “Party Weekend,” “96 Tears” and “Let’s Go Nutz.”
Yep, the music of Joe King Carrasco & The Crowns had made it to town, and it could be heard thundering from cars along 57th Street from Sonic to Safeway and back.
The Crowns initially were pre-MTV but definitely part of the pop-rock New Wave movement associated with Blondie, The Cars, The Police and dozens of other bands. The difference? These guys hung out in Central Texas for a very long time.
“We played all over — Austin, Waco, Gruene and, yeah, Temple,” Joe said this week from France in a brief WhatsApp conversation. “Back then we played everywhere from the tiniest bars to concert halls. We just loved to play, and we played somewhere almost every night.”
While exactly when and where seemed to be lost in the fog of the 1980s, he remembered at least two Temple appearances.
The first was an unscheduled stop in the mid ‘80s.
“It might have been 1985,” he said. “We were looking for a place to try some new stuff. We happened to be in Temple, so we stopped at a place and asked if we could play for free.”
That place was the Peppermint Lounge, and the woman was Mildred Whitlock, who owned both the Peppermint near the intersection of Airport Road and Texas 317, and The Flagon on the corner of 55th and Avenue M.
There were a handful of people in the front bar that night, and no one really noticed the group setting up in dancehall.
Mildred told everyone to stick around because “some guys from Austin” were about to play.
“Really? It’s the middle of the week,” someone said. “Who?”
We found out soon enough.
Joe King Carrasco and his band mostly played new music that night, but with some urging they belted out “Party Weekend” and other favorites.
Year’s later, The King made another stop in Temple, and this one was planned.
“Yes he did,” said Scott Zajicek, David Zychek’s younger brother. (David changed the spelling to Zychek for stage reasons). “It was 1993 at a little bar along the interstate not far from 57th Street. I remember, because we opened the show.”
Scott — bass player for The Groove Merchants — said the Mikie’s gig with Joe King Carrasco was in spring 1993.
“We played there with Talon in June 1993, and it was before that,” he said. “The show with Talon was one of my last with The Groove Merchants and I moved to Missouri that same year.”
The Groove Merchants were a popular rock band with deep local roots. Obviously there’s the Zychek connection, but Scott wasn’t the only Merchant with a famous musician in the family.
Ike Hernandez was the band’s drummer and he also was connected to local fame.
“Little Joe is my dad and Johnny Hernandez is my uncle,” Ike said. Little Joe, Johnny y La Familia are Tejano legends well known throughout the Southwest and Mexico.
Other members of The Groove Merchants were Tommy Diserens and Chris Belcher.
“We played at Mikie’s a few times,” Ike remembers. “It was owned by a guy named Ray Rodriguez. Tiny place. It usually had country music.”
Scott said his memories of the concert with Joe King Carrasco are somewhat limited, but he does remember an incident with the crown.
Joe strutted his stuff during a concert and often wore a crown and royal robe on stage.
That night, Carrasco had left his crown on an old amp next to the stage so it would be ready for his act. But while The Groove Merchants were playing their set, the crown ended up on Scott’s head.
“I’m not sure how it got there, but I knew it wasn’t cool so I immediately put it back,” he said. “After our set, Joe and I talked briefly about music and how different our styles were.”
“The Groove Merchants played original grunge with a few covers thrown in,” he said. “Joe did Joe. On paper, it shouldn’t have worked, but I remember the crowd being super cool with both acts.”
“It was typical of the music scene in Temple back then,” Scott said. “Most of the people who showed up at gigs were pretty accepting of any music style as long as it wasn’t played badly.”
Carrasco’s Temple appearances were either not publicized or performed in tiny venues with limited fan capacity, but many folks in the area have seen The King live.
Steve Kleypas, Nikki Oldham Wilson and Aaron Leibowitz, for example, have all seen Carrasco extravaganzas in Austin.
“I saw him a few times at Club Foot,” Kleypas said. “Crazy shows. High energy, and a lot of fun.”
Wilson also saw a Club Foot performance, and Leibowitz saw a show on Austin’s Sixth Street, a place where Carrasco played regularly.
“I never saw him live, but I listened a lot back in the day,” said Lucy Ludwick Greenway. “One of my kids saw hime live a few years ago and he was still going strong.”
Yes he is. Earlier this summer he played Gruene Hall and now he is performing in Europe.
Drive-thru COVID testing available
The city of Temple’s COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing site has moved to the parking lot across from Wilson Park Softball Complex, 2136-2210 E Avenue H, in Temple. Testing will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday until Sept. 17.
The testing sites will be staffed by the Texas Army National Guard.
Here is what to look for if you think you might have COVID-19:
Fever or chills
A dry cough and shortness of breath
Feeling very tired
Muscle of body aches
Loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
What’s happening, Temple?
September 2, Thursday - Ladies Night at Moe’s Rail Yard Saloon, downtown Temple. 7-11 p.m.
September 2, Thursday - Central Texas State Fair, Bell County Expo Center. Wade Bowen. 5 p.m. to midnight.
September 3, Friday - Central Texas State Fair, Pat Green. Twisted Metal Mayhem Derby. Bell County Expo Center. 5 p.m. to midnight.
September 3, Friday - First Friday Block Party, Fire Base Brewing Company. Axe throwing and music by Dustin Brown & The Now. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
September 3, Friday - First Friday downtown Temple.
September 3, Friday - Artist 2 Artist Showcase, First Friday, 5 S. Main, Temple. 4-9 p.m.
September 4, Saturday - Central Texas State Fair, Flatland Calvary, Professional Bull Riding. Bell County Expo Center. 5 p.m. to midnight.
September 5, Sunday - Central Texas State Fair, Aaron Watson, Professional Bull Riding. Bell County Expo Center. 5 p.m. to midnight.
September 7, Tuesday - Interested in learning to dance, but not sure how to get started? Be our guest and join us for a sample class, professional performances, social dancing, and hors d’oeuvres. This is a great opportunity to get introduced to Arthur Murray in Temple and finding out more about what we have to offer! Open to the public, RSVP (254) 721-9524
September 7, Tuesday - A Great Frontier Odyssey: Sketching the American West, Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum, A new traveling exhibition documenting the 1873 overland journey of artists Jules Tavernier and Paul Frenzeny, on display from September 5 to November 7. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
September 10, Friday - Josh Abbott Band live at Johnny’s Steaks and Bar-Be-Que, Salado. 6 p.m.
September 10, Friday - Clint Walker Blues Band, Fire Street Pizza, Belton. 6 p.m.
September 11, Saturday - A Sami Show Arts & Crafts Market, Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m.
September 11, Saturday - Weird Science. Explore different adaptations animals have made through presentations, fun games, and activities. Bell County Museum. 11 a.m.
September 11, Saturday - Pink Fishing’s Reeling in the Cure, 6th annual bass tournament. Proceeds benefit breast cancer patients and cancer research. Cedar Ridge Park. 6 a.m. Call (254) 681-0102 for details.
September 11, Saturday - 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb & Ceremony. Wildcat Stadium. 7-11 a.m.
September 11, Saturday - Rescue Magazine’s Pet Adoption Extravaganza. There will almost 400 Animals up for adoption and fun for the whole family. Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
September 12, Sunday - A Sami Show Arts & Crafts Market, Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m.
September 12, Sunday - Rescue Magazine’s Pet Adoption Extravaganza. There will almost 400 Animals up for adoption and fun for the whole family. Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
September 13, Monday - Third House Session with State Rep. Hugh Shine, Belton Area Chamber of Commerce, 7 a.m.
September 15, Wednesday - Tiny Thinkers, Kids 5 years old and younger are invited to the museum to experience the State Fair! Bell County Museum. 10 a.m.
September 17, Friday - Neal McCoy, Cotton Country Club, Granger. 9:30 p.m.
September 18, Saturday - The Chancers, O’Briens Irish Pub, 9 p.m.
September 18, Saturday - Harvest Celebration. Bring your family and friends to enjoy grape stomping, food trucks, music, and wine. This is a ticketed event. 3 Texans Winery. 6 p.m.
September 18, Saturday - Original Debonaires Reunion Dance, Cotton Country Club, Granger. 8:30 p.m.
September 21, Tuesday - Body of Christ Community Clinic’s Together We Heal Banquet, UMHB, Jimmy Dorrell, keynote speaker. 5:30 p.m.
September 24, Friday - Aaron Watson, Cotton Country Club, Granger. 9:30 p.m.
September 25, Saturday - Fun at the Fair! Join us at the museum to for fun at the fair! View the newest exhibit and take part in fun activities - explore symmetry by decorating a popcorn bucket, build your own mini rollercoaster, race your family in duck races, and visit our petting zoo! Bell County Museum. 11 a.m.
September 25, Saturday - Dale Watson, Texas Music Series,Cultural Activities Center. 7:30 p.m.
September 30, Thursday - TLC’s Celebration of Crazy, Sexy Cool with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Bell County Expo Center. 7:30 p.m.
September 30, Thursday - Funniest Comic in Texas semi-finals. Corky’s.
October 1, Friday - Randy Rogers Band, Johnny Steaks and Bar-Be-Que, Salado. 6 p.m.
October 5, Tuesday - Temple’s National Night Out. Anyone interested in hosting a party in their neighborhood should register by Sept. 13 at templetx.gov/nno. 6:30 p.m.
October 7, Thursday - The Spazmatics, Schoepf’s BBQ, Belton. 6 p.m.
October 8, Friday - Painting with a Twist, 3 Texans Winery. 6:30 p.m.
October 9, Saturday - Shinyribs, Texas Music Series,Cultural Activities Center. 7:30 p.m.
October 9, Saturday - Oktoberfest 2021, Barrow Brewing Company, Salado, noon to 10:30 p.m.
October 11-17 - Hocus Pocus, The Beltonian Theatre, Belton. Noon.
October 16, Saturday - Oktoberfest 2021, Barrow Brewing Company, Salado, noon to 10:30 p.m.
October 16, Saturday - Michael Salgado at Schoepf’s BBQ in Belton, 6 p.m.
October 18-23 - The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Beltonian, Belton. 6-8 p.m.
October 23, Saturday - Don Gregory Memorial Lions Club Golf Tournament. Sammons Golf Course. Contact Jeffrey Thigpen Thigpen.email@example.com to register or for sponsorship opportunities. 4-person scramble begins at 8:30 a.m.
October 23, Saturday - Free Movie Night. Harker Heights Community Park. 5 p.m.
October 23, Saturday - Oktoberfest 2021, Barrow Brewing Company, Salado, noon to 10:30 p.m.
October 29, Friday - Season closing event, Domestics vs Imports, Little River Dragway, 7 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Barktoberfest, Dog costume contest at 5:30; adoptable dogs on site. Barrow Brewing Co., Salado. 1-7 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Bulls & BBQ, Live bull riding followed by concert with Jake Worthington and Keith Braxton. Schoepf’s BBQ, Belton, Noon.
November 4, Thursday - Spur Classic Sporting Clay Shoot, Weber Shooting Range. 8 a.m.
November 6, Saturday - Chris Hillman, Texas Music Series,Cultural Activities Center. 7:30 p.m.
November 13, Saturday - Market in the Vines. Take a walk through the vines and shop with over 50 vendors! Free to the public. 3 Texans Winery. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
November 18, Thursday - Taste of the Holidays 2021: A Candy Cane Christmas. Mayborn Convention Center. 10:30 a.m.
December 4, Saturday - Barrow Brewing Christmas Market, Salado. Noon.
Have an event you would like to promote? Email info to OurTownTemple@gmail.com with “What’s Happening” in the subject line. Keep it short and sweet — what, when and where. You may include a short description. You must include a phone number for verification purposes. The phone number will not be published unless requested by submitter.