ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The University of New Mexico Men's Soccer program welcomed a very special New Mexican to the program's marquee fundraising event of the year this past Sunday night. Former two-term governor, presidential candidate and University of New Mexico graduate, Gary Johnson, was the keynote speaker at Hotel Albuquerque. His inspirational presentation on climbing Mount Everest along with the auctioning of an autographed Lionel Messi jersey highlighted the event that raised $50,000 for the program.
"I am humbled by our community's support of Lobo Soccer and the generosity displayed this past weekend. Our program takes great pride in representing the people of New Mexico," Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein noted. "Mark Gorham put this incredible event together with the tireless help of former Lobo Soccer captain, Jason Hix. Gorham's ability to bring Gary Johnson on board was the icing on the cake. Together the three of them put on a night to remember."
Johnson's presentation centered around a mantra of persistence, focus and one's ability to adapt. In his escalation of the world's tallest peak, he and his expedition would ascend to the top of the world at a tedious pace. They would climb, return and repeat their way towards the summit to allow their bodies to acclimate to the elevation of over 28,000 feet. Even when ready to begin their seventh and final climb that would take them to the highest point in the world, Johnson and his team were delayed an additional week while waiting for a storm to pass.
"Nothing in life goes as planned so it becomes all about how you can handle it," Johnson continued. "I didn't plan on breaking my foot while training in New Mexico. I didn't plan on being delayed seven days at base camp either, but I knew that special situations require individuals to adapt."
Gary Johnson was governor of New Mexico from 1995-2003 and conquered the world's tallest peak in 2003. Johnson was the Libertarian Party's candidate in the 2012 Presidential election. The former governor received the most votes as a third party candidate since the 2000 presidential election. He is an alum of the University of New Mexico ('75) and earned a Bachelor's degree in Political Science.
"Now that I am an alum of this soccer program, I have come to realize that the most important thing about being a Lobo isn't the soccer. Coach Fishbein and his staff develop us to not only be the best players we can be, but the best students, leaders and community members we can be," Rossi observed.
The Lobos are coming off another successful season on the pitch and an extremely impressive one in the classroom. The team made its second-consecutive Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament while matching a program record for most wins in a two-year span with 35 victories. Kyle Venter and Devon Sandoval were named to a pair of All-America teams. UNM was one of only seven programs in the nation to have three or more players selected in the MLS Draft this year.
The honors and accolades came rolling in on the academic side of things for New Mexico. The team grade point average for the Fall 2012 semester was a 3.43, which is a new Lobo Soccer record. Levi Rossi repeated as an Academic All-American and Kyle Venter was named to the NSCAA Scholar All-America Team as well.
The program will take another step onto the national scene by becoming a Conference USA member beginning in 2013.