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MAKING HISTORY: Progress made on Smithsonian exhibit

August 27, 2018 GMT

University of Texas of the Permian Basin students and professors are getting closer to figuring out what will be part of an exhibit called “Museum on Main Street: Hometown Teams — How Sports Shaped America.”

This summer, students in a Maymester class led by history professor Derek Catsam and Associate Professor of art Chris Stanley worked on curating sports artifacts for the exhibit, which is featured in partnership with the Smithsonian Institute.

The display starts Oct. 11.

Stanley said part of the fascinating part about creating the exhibit has been recreating the history of UTPB athletics. There was a powerhouse women’s tennis team with players from all over the country and the world, a rugby team and a soccer team that looks like it may have included a woman.

“The Smithsonian show is going to be great, but this kind of unearthing our own forgotten history is even neater,” Stanley said. “Now the question becomes what happened to these guys. What we want to try to do is to get these images out as far as we can.”

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A rugby team shirt was found still encased in its original dry cleaning bag. One of the team members was District Judge James Rush.

Stanley said those who worked on the exhibit were kind of nervous because they didn’t think they had anything. He noted that when the university began it was an upper-level institution for juniors and seniors.

“I kept telling people, ‘Look in your closets! Look in your closets!’ Somebody’s going to have it, and low and behold, the stuff was either found in the university in closets, or was found by people in Odessa,” Stanley said.

Part of the festivities will include honoring trainer James “Doc” Dodson of Midland.

Steve Aicinena, longtime director of athletics and now kinesiology professor at UTPB, helped with the display, as well.

“… We’re real close. We’re at the point now where we’re kind got the exhibits that we know we’re going to put on. We’re working on the graphics and the images right now. It’s going to be a very busy first part of the fall, but an exciting one as we start to put all of these images together,” Stanley said in an interview earlier in August.

Catsam emphasized the quality work that the students did on the project. He said students in the Maymester class did a good job of finding material and creating displays.

He added that because it was a combined art and history class, students could play to their strengths.

“I think one of the stronger exhibits will be on rodeo and UTPB. It’s the continuation of the work my students were doing this spring where they worked on a number of topics. This fall, I’m teaching a course history class on American sports …,” Catsam said.

Catsam said he thinks UPTB’s contributions to the exhibit will be strong. He credits Stanley for all the effort he put in.

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“…I think it speaks to the kinds of students we have here, especially if you can give them real, engaging hands-on projects. … In fact, I’m thinking in the spring of doing a course on UTPB history,” he said.

He added that the legislation giving UTPB the green light was passed 50 years ago, as of 2019. Classes began in 1973.

Catsam said this will be hands-on local history that will remind students that there are wars, Super Bowls, national elections and other major events.

“But there’s also this local history that they’re a part of; that they’re contributing to. It’s their institution,” Catsam said.