Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Don Haskins (left) and Ray Sanchez at a booksigning to promote the rerelease of Haskins: The Bear Facts.
Sanchez talks with Josh Lucas, who plays Coach Haskins in the upcoming Disney film Glory Road.

iU Author Ray Sanchez
Helps Pave Glory Road

Disney’s new film Glory Road chronicles the high point of legendary basketball coach Don Haskins career, his run to the 1966 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship with Texas Western (now known as the University of Texas-El Paso).

Haskins and his Texas Western team made history by being the first team to start five African-American players in the championship game. The contrast between the two teams in the final was stark as the Texas Western Miners faced an all-white team from the University of Kentucky.

El Paso sportswriter Ray Sanchez reported on Haskins’ team and later published two books, Haskins: The Bear Facts and Basketball’s Biggest Upset. Both books have been reissued through iUniverse’s Authors Choice/Out-Of-Print program.

How did you first become involved with Coach Haskins on his biography?
As a sportswriter and sports editor I followed and covered Don Haskins' career since he arrived in El Paso in 1961. In fact, I was the first news person he met on his arrival in El Paso. We began a long and exciting connection and friendship.

Can you describe the process of writing Haskins: The Bear Facts?
Haskins became the greatest coach in the history of University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and one of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball. But no one had ever written a book about him so I took on the task myself. After much urging, he agreed to co-operate with me on his autobiography. We would meet in early mornings (he was still coaching then, 1986) for many days and he told me the history of his life. The book, Haskins: The Bear Facts, was published in 1987 and was re-released this year with an update.

What was your involvement with the new movie Glory Road?
The whole process of the movie Glory Road started with my books. Screenwriter Christopher Cleveland called me, said he had read both Haskins: The Bear Facts and Basketball's Biggest Upset and wanted to do a movie. He and Disney Studios used my books extensively for background and I became a consultant for the movie. I'm officially listed as a consultant in the credits. I helped Christopher with the script, all the players in the movie were provided a copy of Basketball's Biggest Upset and I helped actor Josh Lucas, who portrayed Haskins in the movie, with background on the personal habits and personality of the coach. I also helped Disney researchers and provided them with information.

What led you to republish the books with iUniverse?
The demand for both books increased with the announcement of the movie. I sought advice on re-publishing them from Jim Fensch, who had published many books with iUniverse before. He had moved to El Paso. He encouraged me strongly to contact iUniverse because he had much success with that company.

How has the process with iUniverse worked for you?
Fantastic. The people are friendly, co-operative and have done one whale of a job.

You were at the El Paso Herald-Post for the Texas Western championship. Tell us more about your journalism career and what you are up to today.
I started as a sport writer at the El Paso Herald-Post while still in college (Texas Western College then) and went on to become sports editor. I covered almost every conceivable major sport, including Super Bowls, World Series games, Triple Crown races, the Dallas Cowboys and, of course, the Miners and NCAA events. After my retirement in 1990 my services were highly sought locally. I wrote a weekly column for the El Paso Times and I am now writing a sports column for a new paper here, El Paso Inc. I am also freelancing. I have written or co-written four other books. They're The gods of Racing, Baseball: From Browns to Diablos, El Paso's Greatest Sports Heroes I Have Known and The Miners: The History of Sports at University of Texas at El Paso.

I have received many awards, including Scripps Howard awards for column writing and news reporting and have received UTEP's highest honor for journalism, the Hicks-Middagh award for "Excellence in Journalism."


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