April 2024

Texarkana Magazine

APRIL • 2024

TEXARKANA MAGAZINE April | 2024 | Volume 5 | Issue 4

46. STYLE Defining Zen 52. TXK 411 Navigating a Roundabout

10. BUSINESS Insurance Profiles 18. COMMUNITY It’s a Solarbration



40. ENTERTAINMENT Good Evening TXK 44. LIFE In the Thick of It


24. cover/CULTURE Once a Queen, Always a Queen 34. SPORTS Back to the Nest

54. SHARE THE LOVE Milestones 56. MONTHLY MIX Front Porch Refresh 58. TXK ROOTS Tyler S. Arnold



I’m embarrassed to admit I love…

CASSY MEISENHEIMER watching The 700 Club and Takis. Even better would be eating Takis while watching The 700 Club .

TERRI SANDEFUR staying in bed all day watching any show by Dick Wolfe.

ALANA MOREL laying out in the sun all day slathered in Australian Gold tanning oil.

KARA HUMPHREY paint fumes, the movie World War Z , and Fruity Pebbles.

MATT CORNELIUS the smell of Shell Premium Unleaded. Let’s just say, more than a few innocent brain cells have lost their lives.

LEAH ORR a good conspiracy theory.

BRITT EARNEST watching the Smithsonian Channel Aerial America before bed.

BRITTANY ROBLES McDonald’s french fries. Why do carbs have to be so good?

JOHN BUNCH the taste of instant grits. Being born and raised in the south I hate to admit this.

KRISTIN DAVIS a lovely midday nap.

BAILEY GRAVITT the smell of gasoline.

TERRI GRAVITT The Bachelor . I had a prayer group that met at my house weekly, and we watched it when we were finished.

TIFFANY HORTON Rewatching Disney channel reruns and practicing Spanish on Duolingo.

EMILY SARINE Taco Bell tacos with a side of Long John Silver’s hush puppies.

LISA PORTERFIELD THOMPSON the annual Demolition Derby at the fairgrounds and the MTV show Ridiculousness .




P ets hold a special place in our hearts, becoming integral to our daily lives. While some people prefer either cats or dogs, others find room in their hearts for both. In our household, we’ve discovered that focusing our attention on one pet at a time suits us best, and currently, that’s a dog. Our oversized Bernadoodle, Palmer, makes our lives better with his presence. He stands out as the most affectionate yet challenging dog we’ve ever had because he struggles to make friends easily. His protective nature often leaves our neighbors wishing for our departure, as he vocally challenges anyone passing by our home, be it familiar faces or delivery drivers. His territorial barks meant to ward off perceived threats, have become a neighborhood soundtrack (for which I extend my heartfelt apologies to the Morriss and Folsom families and other nearby residents). In a recent episode that further showcases Palmer’s playful yet troublesome side, a friend kindly drove my car back from a weekend trip, and to avoid anticipated disturbances, she left the keys at my front door. Before any of us could retrieve them, Palmer seized the keys as his new toy, leading to a frantic yet comical game of keep-away with my children. The aftermath showcased a key fob etched with bite marks, a lasting reminder of the incident. However, despite the mischief and challenges, Palmer embodies 70 pounds of pure love and chaos that we would not trade for the world. Our beloved dog shapes our daily routine, similar to the impact horses had on the life of Marilyn “Cattle Kate” Jones, the focus of our cover story. The legendary tales of this former rodeo queen and experiences shared by those who know her made me want to meet this special lady. Marilyn seems to possess a unique spirit that, according to those who have spent time with her, you’d wish you could carry around in your front pocket.

txkmag.com letstalk@txkmag.com 903.949.1460 OFFICE 911 North Bishop Street Building C • Suite 102 Wake Village, Texas 75501 MAIL 2801 Richmond Road #38 Texarkana, Texas 75503

Publisher CARDINAL PUBLISHING Staff CASSY MEISENHEIMER cassy@txkmag.com TERRI SANDEFUR terri@txkmag.com

ALANA MOREL alana@txkmag.com KARA HUMPHREY kara@txkmag.com LEAH ORR leah@txkmag.com BRITT EARNEST britt@txkmag.com BRITTANY ROBLES brittany@txkmag.com MATT CORNELIUS matt@txkmag.com

In this month’s edition, we are not only sharing inspiring stories like Marilyn’s, but we are also gearing up for the extraordinary solar eclipse. This celestial event promises to be a highlight of our lifetime. The excitement I feel is palpable, and I know I am not alone in my anticipation! The memory of witnessing the partial eclipse in 2017 with my then five and six-year-old, clad in astronaut pajamas and tuned into the NASA channel, still brings me joy. That experience makes the anticipation of the upcoming totality even more exciting with my now 12 and 13-year-old. They grow up fast. As always, we strive to fill each issue with stories, columns, and information that captivate and enrich, ensuring there is something enjoyable for everyone to discover. Don’t miss out on any of this month’s incredible content. Let’s get outside and enjoy the fair, experience the eclipse, take your dog for a walk, and make the most of this always-gone-too-soon springtime weather.





Texarkana Magazine is a multimedia publication showcasing the Texarkana area and is designed and published by Cardinal Publishing, LLC. Articles in Texarkana Magazine should not be considered specific advice, as individual circumstances vary. Ideaology, products and services promoted in the publication are not necessarily endorsed by Texarkana Magazine .




INSURANCE PROFILES Need help navigating the world of insurance? These local agents are here to help.

The insurance agents participating in this special advertising section provided the information in these articles. Texarkana Magazine and Cardinal Publishing have not independently verified the data.



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Derrick McGary 590 N. Kings Hwy., Ste. 6 Wake Village, TX 75501 903-831-2000 www.derrickismyagent.com

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TEXARKANA FUNERAL HOMES Our Families Serving Yours

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We Are Farmers.

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The total solar eclipse, which will pass over the Ark-La-Tex region on Monday, April 8, 2024, is an astrological event that will not happen again for another 20 years, according to NASA. Texarkana has been preparing for the momentous day for ages, but the time has finally come. Nicole Holze, an adventure and travel-mom blogger local to Texarkana, has not only experienced a similar total solar eclipse before but has also helped to prepare Texarkana for the curious droves of expected visitors and guests. Holze and her husband set out in August, 2017, with their two children, at the time three and six years old, to camp on the centerline of totality in Casper, Wyoming. The Holze family made an adventure of the trip and turned it into a month-long journey filled with fun and exploration. To commemorate the 2017 trip and pique growing interest in the upcoming eclipse, she wrote an entry detailing the family’s Casper experience, “Total Solar Eclipse with Kids,” on her blog. “We planned, we packed, and we took off,” she wrote. “Our route took us out west on Interstate 40. We stopped at every roadside attraction, off-the-beaten- path oddity, and national park we could find along the way.” (To read more about this trip or her more recent adventures, check out her blogs: luckeywanderers.com or arklatexadventures.com .) This bit of information would become increasingly important as Holze’s role in helping Texarkana prepare for the upcoming eclipse evolved. Over time, as Texarkana started preparing, she would become somewhat of a local expert on eclipse tourism. In fact, she was quickly asked to help with the behind-the-scenes social media work that the joint city Solarbration committee would commission to help attract visitors to Texarkana. Holze’s journey to Casper would help inform and color the committee’s work. Glasses ready? Check. Snacks prepared? Check. Sun-and-moon-themed playlist? In progress.

The Solarbration committee, jointly formed by Texarkana, Texas, and Texarkana, Arkansas, was commissioned to plan for the eclipse, maximize tourism opportunities, and market Texarkana, USA, as a destination for travelers seeking prime eclipse viewing locations. The committee has masterfully branded Texarkana’s eclipse with a website, s olarbrationtxk.com , a vibrant social media campaign, eye-catching billboards, engaging advertisements, and much more, creating a unified and captivating presence. In all the Solarbration excitement, it would be easy to focus on the 50,000 visitors projected to visit the Texarkana region, but the conversation would be sorely lacking if it did not include all the art and events that have been inspired by the pending phenomenon. Texarkana native Dr. John Tennison, a filmmaker now living in San Antonio, is one example of an artist who worked on something distinctly related to the eclipse. His collaboration with artist Tyler S. Arnold was a painting unveiled last spring called Texarkana Totality. The image, originally created in 2022, features a character in front of the United States Post Office and Courthouse on State Line in downtown Texarkana wearing special eclipse viewing glasses, gazing up at the skies. It exudes excitement and wonder. “I came from a background as a child that inspired psychedelic art,” Tennison said. “I knew what I wanted in this image when I took it to Tyler. I had the elements mapped out in my head—mandala, Tibetan sand painting, black light felt poster vibes, circular and concentric—but I never could have put it together the way Tyler did.” Tennison also traveled to Casper, Wyoming, in 2017 to view the solar eclipse and realized then the next eclipse would impact Texarkana. So, the painting by Arnold and Tennison, focusing on the eclipse, proceeded plans for Solarbration. At Tennison’s request, all proceeds from Texarkana Totality will generously benefit the Texarkana Museums System’s enhancement and augmentation of the Wilbur Smith Research Archives in the oldest remaining brick building within the original city limits of Texarkana, USA. Tennison’s work does not stop there, as he recently released a Texarkana-based documentary, The Place That Forgot It

Existed: A Texarkana Reckoning . The film allowed Tennison the opportunity to collaborate with Los Angeles-based artist Sam Shearon, along with numerous local artists, including Chelsie Bullock, Catt Dahman, Keith Gladney, Candace Taylor, Deric Kennedy, Haley Patillo, Dick Eckstein, Harper Baugh, James Peeples, the singing groups Phed and O’Malley’s Prayer, and many more. Tennison also composed a signature piece called “Texarkana (Time to Shine)” for the film, which he calls the masterpiece. “I’ve been documenting Texarkana and Texarkana things since I was in high school,” said Tennison, who graduated from Arkansas High in 1986. “I always want to find an interesting way to tell about the people and things that I’ve been lucky enough to experience, and the eclipse is just one of those things.” Posters, paintings, and documentaries have certainly earmarked the total solar eclipse as an event for the Texarkana history books, but many more events are planned for the month and weekend leading up to Solarbration. “Texarkana has done a great job preparing ahead of time,” Holze said. “The preparations started last August, and I know it’s going to be lots of fun. Emergency management has done a great job getting ready for the potential influx of people, too. The downtown concerts are going to be great, and there’s something for everyone all weekend long. Both sides of the city are working together to make Solarbration a success. This is a once-in-a-lifetime type of opportunity, and Texarkana is doing a great job embracing it.” The celebration starts on Friday, April 5, and continues until Monday, April 8, preceded by various groups hosting eclipse- related events. Downtown’s usual Food Truck Friday will take place Friday, April 5, to kick the weekend off in style. Texarkana Museums System will host tours of the Regional Museum of History during the Solarbration at a special buy- one-get-one-free price. Silvermoon Children’s Theatre will also present its spring production, Little Shop of Horrors, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Silvermoon on Broad.





Meanwhile, the Four States Fair and Rodeo will kick off their 79th season at the Four States Fairgrounds on Friday, April 5, with a monster truck show on Friday night and the demolition derby on Saturday. The fair will continue throughout Solarbration. The Texarkana Symphony Orchestra (TSO) will also present a special performance at the Perot Theatre on Saturday, April 6, as part of their Pops III series featuring Canadian-based touring act Jeans ’n Classics performing highlights from Pink Floyd’s albums The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon in their entirety alongside the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra. A star performer in the arts and entertainment scene, Jeans ‘n Classics is in their second decade of bringing its impressive symphonic rock catalogue to symphonies across North America. Most definitely not a tribute act, Jeans ‘n Classics plans to faithfully interpret the music of legendary rock and pop albums and artists with their own special and signature flair. “Our pop concerts are always fan favorites,” said Andrew Clark, Executive Director of TSO and manager of the Perot Theatre. “This Dark Side of the Moon performance couldn’t have lined up better with all the community buzz and excitement. We are looking forward to a great weekend in downtown Texarkana!” Nita Fran Hutcheson plans to guide tours of the historic Perot Theatre throughout the weekend, as well. In a historic weekend for downtown Texarkana, there will be live music offerings each night of the total eclipse celebration downtown. Texas Country headliner Pat Green will be on stage at Crossties Friday night. Magic One, Roi Chip Anthony, Cecily Wilborn, and J Lake with DJ Godfather will make up a Southern soul and blues set on Saturday night at Crossties. The City of Texarkana, Arkansas, will host the Sunset Sinners at the Loading Dock stage at Front Street Plaza Sunday night, and the Emerald City Band and Kin Faux will conclude the Solarbration weekend on Monday afternoon. Fundraisers, signature cocktails, special brews, sales, and much more are planned. All these events, merchandise, and more can be found on the solar eclipse website, solabrationtxk.com .


Thursday, April 4, 2024 •

The Four States Fair and Rodeo continues with the Demolition Derby at 7 pm. A Night of Southern Soul and Blues at Crossties at 8:30 pm. Solar Wubs featuring DJs Seige and Rx Evil at Hopkins Icehouse at 8:30 pm. The Devil’s Doorbell at The Wild Hare at 9 pm.

Eclipse of a Lifetime with TC Stem Professor Delbert Dowdy at Texarkana College at 4 pm. Silvermoon Children’s Theatre presents Little Shop of Horrors at 7 pm. WALL-E showing at Texarkana Public Library at 10 am and 2 pm. Food Truck Friday at the U.S. Post Office/Courthouse from 11 am to 2 pm. Historic Perot Theatre tours guided by Nita Fran Hutcheson at 12 pm. The 79th Annual Four States Fair and Rodeo kicks off at the Four States Fairgrounds. AMMP Motorsports Monster Mash at 7 pm.

Friday, April 5, 2024 •

Sunday, April 7, 2024 •

The Four States Fair and Rodeo continues at the Four States Fairgrounds.

Historic Perot Theatre tours guided by Nita Fran Hutcheson at 2 pm.

Silvermoon Children’s Theatre presents Little Shop of Horrors at 2 and 5 pm. Sunday Fun Day benefitting Opportunities, Inc. at Crossties at 4 pm. Sunset Sinners will perform at The Loading Dock stage at Front Street Festival Plaza at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $25.

Silvermoon Children’s Theatre presents Little Shop of Horrors at 7 pm. Chace Rains at Hopkins Icehouse at 7 pm. 2Pianos at Front Street Festival Plaza at 7 pm.

Monday, April 8, 2024 •

Pat Green with special guest Lane Bricker at Crossties at 8 pm.

Historic Perot Theatre tours guided by Nita Fran Hutcheson at 10 am.

Saturday, April 6, 2024 •

Spring Lake Park opens for eclipse viewing at noon. The partial eclipse begins at 12:28 pm. Emerald City Band performs in front of U.S. Post Office/ Courthouse at 1 pm.

Solar Inspired Art Exhibition at 1894 Gallery. Silvermoon Children’s Theatre presents Little Shop of Horrors at 2 and 5 pm. Texarkana Symphony Orchestra presents Dark Side of the Moon : A Pink Floyd Tribute at the Perot Theatre at 7 pm.

• •

Totality over Texarkana at 1:46 pm. Kin Faux performs at The Loading Dock stage at Front Street Festival Plaza at 3:30 pm.








I n the heart of the Lone Star State, where the sun beats down, and the cattle ranches stretch on forever, there’s a spirit as vast and untamed as the land itself. It is the spirit embodied by Marilyn “Cattle Kate” Jones, a woman whose life story reads much like a chapter from a classic Louis L’Amour western novel. It has been said, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway,” and “saddling up” is exactly what Marilyn has done over and over throughout her life. Born July 4, 1939, in the small South Texas town of Raymondville, Marilyn’s story began. She was born to father, Alton Jeremiah Cox, known affectionately as AJ, and mother, Mary Emma. She also had one brother, Jerry, who was four years older. Her dad, who was always moving around and looking for a better life, decided his cattle ranching prospects would be better in East Texas. So, he purchased 800 acres 20 miles east of Texarkana, settling on a cattle ranch aptly named Fargo. “Dad always said that ‘the place was about as far as you could go down a dirt road,’” Marilyn recalled. The family eventually moved to Elizabeth Street, where Marilyn had a pasture to keep her horse. At 11, her mom would drive her to Spring Lake Park so she could hang out around the riding stables owned by Shorty Robinson. She would clean out stalls, and if riders were late bringing horses back in, Robinson would let her ride out to get them. A longtime friend saw Marilyn’s love for horses and suggested to AJ and Mary Emma that they join the Texarkana Quadrille. The Quadrille was a choreographed dressage ride for riders and their horses, often performed to music. Because they needed better horses for the Quadrille, Marilyn’s parents decided they would buy horses for Marilyn and Jerry. They bought two Palomino horses, Jerry’s named Headlight and Marilyn’s named Skylight. They put those two beautiful Palominos right in their backyard on Elizabeth Street. Marilyn loved competing on Skylight but eventually talked her brother out of Headlight as well, and she went on to win many barrel races with him. She still proudly displays the trophies. Every year, Texarkana buzzes with excitement as it hosts the well-loved annual Four States Fair and Rodeo. In 1956, organizers introduced the first Miss Four States Fair and Rodeo contest. Being the spirited, petite, 16-year-old tomboy she was, Marilyn entered the competition at the Spring Lake Park Arena. She proudly rode her beloved Skylight while several of her cowgirl friends entered as well. At the Saturday night rodeo, Marilyn was crowned, becoming the first ever to win the coveted title. “One of the most exciting parts,” she said, “was when they unsaddled my horse and re-saddled her with my new Four States Fair and Rodeo saddle, which I still proudly display in my home. I have always said once a queen, always a queen!” Marilyn jokingly doubled down on the sentiment with the addition of a sign at her ranch that says, “Queen of the whole damn thing.” After graduating from Texas High School in 1958, Marilyn enrolled at Texarkana College (TC), where she remained until 1959. During her inaugural year at college, she enthusiastically joined the Starletts, a spirited drill team dedicated to boosting morale at TC Bulldogs’ football games. Clad in cowboy boots, hats, and star-studded uniforms, Marilyn and her fellow Starletts entertained crowds with their high-energy performances. The following year,

Calf roping at the All Girls Rodeo in Oklahoma.

Marilyn Jones, Lecile Harris, and Sissy Smith King clowning at the 1967 All Girls Rodeo in Hot Springs, Arkansas.




she transitioned to become a cheerleader for the Bulldogs, where she soon crossed paths with Raymond Jones, a football player who would later become her husband. In 1960, Marilyn transferred to East Texas State University in Commerce, Texas, majoring in Physical Education with a minor in Agriculture. There, she became one of only two female students in the Agriculture Department. Embracing her love for the outdoors, Marilyn joined the college rodeo team, competing in barrel racing. However, her academic journey was soon interrupted when she and Raymond tied the knot in 1961 in Linden, Texas. In 1969, the couple, along with their son, Kelly, relocated six miles north of New Boston. Marilyn’s father owned approximately 600 acres near the Red River, situated close to the tri-state borders of Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. It was there the family settled and built their home. Despite Raymond and Marilyn’s eventual divorce, she and Kelly stayed in the home, where she has continued to live for 45 years raising beef cattle. Kelly eventually married his wife, Cindy, and the two remained in New

Marilyn as a little girl riding Skylight at the Spring Lake Park Arena in Texarkana, Texas.

Boston. Marilyn also has two granddaughters, Chloe and Devan, who are graduates of the University of North Texas. They are both married and living in Dallas, Texas. In the late 60s and early 70s, Marilyn became involved in the International Rodeo Association (IRA), where in 1969, she was awarded IRA Woman of the Year. In 1970, she also received the Sportsmanship Award for the association. It was during this time that she was given her nickname. She and a friend were traveling in a camper without a bathroom. So, in her normal, fearless fashion, Marilyn went out searching for one in her nightgown and cowboy boots. As she came upon a couple of familiar cowboys feeding the rodeo stock in the early morning hours, one of them looked up at her and said, “Well, if it ain’t Cattle Kate!” The nickname stuck, and she proudly answers to it to this day! On August 20, 2023, Marilyn was thrilled to be asked by the New Boston Chamber of Commerce to be Grand Marshall of the New Boston Pioneer Days Parade. “It was exciting to see so many

Marilyn competing in the 1971 International Rodeo Association barrel race in Hampton, Virginia.




friends lining the streets of New Boston,” she shared. She did not think her family was going to get to attend, but they surprised her by showing up with signs and cameras. She was then surprised to be recognized by Ron Humphrey, Mayor of New Boston, who read a proclamation that August 19 would be declared Marilyn “Cattle Kate” Jones Day. “It was the honor of a lifetime,” recounted Marilyn. After the parade, there was a gathering at the New Boston Pavilion, where she was able to visit with longtime friends and family. These days, Marilyn remains as spirited as ever. Her hobbies are watching rodeos on the Cowboy Channel 24/7 and traveling with her family. She also loves all western events and going to the cattle auction when her cattle sell. She remains actively involved in her community and dedicated to preserving the ranching way of life. Whether she’s volunteering with the New Boston Round-Up Club, serving on the Farm Service Agency Board of Directors, advocating for soil conservation on the Bowie County Soil and Water Conservation Board of Directors, or serving as Director of

Marilyn serving as Grand Marshall of the 2023 New Boston Pioneer Days Parade.

the Woodstock Cemetery Association near her ranch, her energy and tireless committment to serving her community is unwavering. “I always love talking and visiting with the many friends I have made along the way, especially the cowboys,” she jokingly said. One of these very special longtime friends of over 50 years, fondly called “her sidekick,” is Jane Forrester. “We are true cowgirl friends,” said Forrester. “I don’t know if I would have had any fun in life without her! We have also shared deep sadness. She has stood with me for a lifetime. She inspires me every day, and I am so grateful that God brought us together.” As Marilyn looks to the future, her vision is clear. She wants to continue living life on her own terms, surrounded by the beauty of the Texas countryside. “I also hope to continue volunteering and helping others in any way that I can,” she said. Her fearless spirit remains strong, and she is ready for whatever adventures lie ahead. In a world that is constantly changing, Marilyn “Cattle Kate” Jones stands as a reminder of the timeless values of hard work, courage, and perseverance. She’s more than just a rodeo queen— she’s a symbol of an enduring spirit. Her passion for rodeo wasn’t just about winning—it was about pushing the boundaries of what was possible for women in a male-dominated sport. As one of the few female riders on the circuit, she faced her share of challenges and obstacles, but she refused to stop, and she still keeps going. With cowgirl-style grit, she has blazed a trail for future generations of cowgirls, proving anything is possible with enough courage to keep “saddling up.”

Marilyn volunteering at the New Boston Rodeo arena.




The new RRCU Athletic Complex on the Texas A&M University-Texarkana campus will feature baseball and softball fields, tennis, pickleball, and sand volleyball courts, seating areas, and locker rooms.


T hey say there’s no place like home. But for several of the Texas A&M University-Texarkana athletic teams, “home” has been a somewhat relative term. The Eagles tennis, baseball, and softball teams have held their home competitions at other venues across Texarkana, which by default lack much of the excitement and energy of the game day experience on a college campus. The facilities are well-kept and taken care of and have provided a much-needed home location during the early years of the athletic program. However, they were not designed with many of the amenities needed by intercollegiate athletic programs. That is now about to change, as the university has recently unveiled the plans for its new Red River Credit Union (RRCU) Athletic Complex to be constructed on the A&M-Texarkana campus. Officially unveiled at a ceremony in February, the new RRCU Athletic complex will feature home fields for baseball and softball, as well as both indoor and outdoor courts for the university tennis teams. The facility will also be home to the university beach volleyball

teams, which are scheduled to begin competing in the fall of 2024. The new complex will also feature pickleball courts, a hospitality and community engagement suite, a sports performance center, and other amenities. Having the new complex on campus will also mean that the facility has cutting-edge technology installed from an infrastructure standpoint. In this era of college athletics, athletes want to know friends and family back home will see their games. Many of the Eagle athletes come from across the country and around the world, and their families expect to watch games online. The lack of high-speed internet service at some of the current venues makes live streaming a game virtually impossible, and even keeping up with live statistics is a challenge. “Having the RRCU Athletic Complex on campus will give those venues access to state-of-the-art technology,” said Jayson Ferguson, who works in the university’s Information Technology Department. “We’ll have the ability to do everything we need to do with regards to streaming and live statistics.”




“We are thrilled to add the RRCU Athletic Complex to our beautiful campus,” said Dr. Ross Alexander, President of Texas A&M University-Texarkana. “This state-of- the-art new facility will have a tremendous impact on our athletic teams, the university community, and the greater Texarkana area. This facility will enable our teams to attract and recruit elite student-athletes, and it will enhance the overall student experience. We are extremely thankful for Red River Credit Union and their continued support of the university and the greater Texarkana region.” “Red River Credit Union making an investment in the naming rights of the RRCU Athletic Complex was two-fold,” said Brad Bailey, President of Red River Credit Union. “First, we understood the importance of a great sports program and the success of a university go hand in hand, especially in a smaller community such as Texarkana. Having worked for a large university in a prior career, I saw first-hand when the sports programs did well, enrollment did well since students feel pride in their university’s sports teams. The other reason is the discount our members will receive if they decide to enroll with TAMUT. This gives our members an excellent opportunity to start a degree or possibly finish one and save money at the same time. Giving back to our community through supporting TAMUT while helping our members is a complete win-win for RRCU.” You can feel the excitement on the A&M-Texarkana campus, as the entire university community looks forward to bringing these home fields to what many students have dubbed “the nest.” The student sections at Eagles volleyball and basketball games are some of the loudest and rowdiest in the conference, and that is expected to carry over to the fields and courts of the new complex as well, giving all Eagles a true home field advantage for the first time. Head baseball coach Steve Jones says the new facilities will be a “game changer” for the Eagles. “The City of Texarkana has been so good to us, allowing us to use George Dobson Field for the past nine years,” Jones said. “But it’s still not home. The new venue will have a huge impact on our current players, giving them a place on campus to hang their hat and eliminating the need to travel across town daily. Recruiting will be

greatly enhanced by having a new facility with artificial turf and state-of-the-art locker rooms right on campus. I’m so impressed by and thankful for the work put in by President Alexander, Director of Athletics Michael Galvan, and the many others who have made this possible,” Jones added. “The RRCU Athletic Complex will add yet another layer to the student experience on our campus,” said Director of Athletics Michael Galvan. “Bringing our baseball, softball, and tennis athletes and their families onto campus will create a synergy among multiple stakeholders,” he added. Baseball player TJ Hughes, a freshman infielder from Lynbrook, New York, commented, “We’re all super excited to have baseball brought on campus with the new facilities. This will definitely help the program gain more support from other students and the community. It will also be a big upgrade for us to play on turf and not have to drive across town to play and practice.” Former Eagles baseball player and current assistant coach Jack Skinner agreed, saying the new facility will help the players feel more connected to the university. And while he will always cherish the memories of playing at “The Dob” with his teammates, he’s excited to see the Eagles compete at their new home field. Eagles tennis coach Jim Turley expressed his gratitude as well, saying, “we are so thankful to have the opportunity to practice and play matches on our campus. This new facility will help us to recruit the best players from all over the world. The indoor courts will now allow us to draw better teams to Texarkana to compete, as we will now be able to play, no matter what the weather may be.” The Eagles tennis team currently uses the Texarkana College tennis courts as home Jaelee Young, a sophomore member of the women’s tennis team from Dallas said, “Our TAMU-T tennis team is extremely excited to be given the opportunity to have tennis courts at home because there are so many advantages that this new facility will bring us for years to come. Not only will it give us close and easy access for playing and practicing, but it will also bring the ability to play in any type of weather with the addition of our indoor courts. But most importantly, we get to play home matches with the support of the other

TAMUT students on campus! It will give us a chance to showcase our love of the sport to other students and staff.” Alexis Snyder, a freshman softball pitcher from Texarkana, Texas, is excited about the facility as well. “The new complex is going to be great for A&M Texarkana, and I can’t wait to see it,” said Snyder. “It is going to provide us so much as a team in all aspects of the softball experience. It will make it super easy for us to get extra work in with it being on campus, in addition to having locker rooms to keep our equipment, gear, and clothes. The fans are going to enjoy the layout and a relaxed environment to watch Eagles sporting events. It will also give the opportunity for more fan and student support. This new complex will help recruiting immensely… it will give us something we’re proud of to show recruits when they come visit. They are going to fall in love with the new complex and the nice facilities. I can’t wait for the finished product and to get to play there. It will be a whole new experience for everyone involved in the best way possible!” The Texas A&M University-Texarkana athletic department currently participates in 11 sports at the varsity level, including men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, baseball, softball, and volleyball. The department is now preparing for an unprecedented expansion planned over the next two years, which will nearly double the number of varsity sports on campus. “We’re seeing a lot of excitement about the nine new programs coming to the department,” said Galvan. “This will double the number of student athletes on campus, which will help increase enrollment and support the success and growth of the university as a whole.” Competitive cheer, competitive dance, Esports, and beach volleyball will make their debut in the fall of 2024. The following year will see men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, and bowling teams compete. There are several sponsorship and naming opportunities remaining in the new RRCU Athletic Complex. Interested parties should contact LeAnne Wright, Vice President for University Advancement, at 903-223.3078 or lwright@tamut.edu .






olds who were all dealing with inner turmoil, trauma, and insecurities. Middle school was a blast! This was the beginning of a major shift in the way those around me were perceiving me, and I remember crying a lot. I’m human with natural human emotions, after all. However, somewhere along the way, those tears turned into laughs, which eventually turned into eye rolls. My absolute favorite thing about humans is our incredible ability to adapt. Something that at one time caused us so much pain can eventually be easily overlooked, no matter how prevalent it still is. Taking offensive questions and comments like a champ became second nature to me, but somewhere inside, I became bitter. Make no mistake, that initial offense that occasionally creeps over all of us is completely normal. I’m convinced it’s in our DNA! Have you seen Texarkana Cheers and Jeers? But it’s what we decide to do with that offense after the initial hurt where things tend to get a little rocky. As time passed, I realized I was internalizing a lot of these false narratives about me and building my entire identity around them. Instead of trooping on and proudly embracing myself for all my beautiful little eccentricities that signaled to others that I’m not the same as them, I became consumed with a longing for these people to experience the same pain I was enduring. I would speak aloud that I was unphased by the vitriol spewed my way while simultaneously obsessively rehashing my offense to anyone who would listen. I constantly searched for an excuse to talk bad about these people, to bully them the way they had me, and to gain sympathy, as it temporarily soothed (but, of course, never healed) the wound. After living a little life and gaining a little wisdom, most of us realize retaliation doesn’t remove your offense. Getting even doesn’t change any of your current circumstances, and holding a grudge or being angry only holds you back from reaching your full potential. On top of all this, the person who caused your hurt, the offender, is (possibly) sleeping soundly while you’re staring at the ceiling fixated on how they scarred you. Jesus occasionally speaks to me through dreams. In a dream I had in


O n my very first day of middle school, I was silently washing my hands with my head down, when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a girl who was scanning me up and down. She looked a little taken aback by me before she asked if I was gay. I didn’t know there was a “gay” way to wash your hands, but apparently, I had mastered it. No, I wasn’t wearing anything flashy or attention-grabbing, just some flip-flops and an Aeropostale tee, looking overly plain. I didn’t know exactly what that word meant, but the tone with which she asked me the

question didn’t give me the impression it was a compliment. After school, my mom explained it to me, and it kind of hurt my feelings. It wasn’t necessarily the word “gay” that offended me, but the negative way the word was hurled at me that day that stuck with me. Little did I know this would become a recurring question asked to me almost daily by my peers for the remainder of my junior high years. Ahhh, yes… I’m sure you can also remember your own wonderful junior high experiences and the absolute JOYS of being surrounded by angsty, filterless 12-14-year-



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