BY PAT COSGROVE

 

Drop the word “pain” in the presence of an athlete, and indubitably a shudder or flash of recognition was stirred deep into the heart. Pain was a phenomenon which for centuries has gone hand-in-hand with competition. 

For most athletes, mere participation in a sport required a certain physical and psychological confrontation with pain which could rarely be avoided.  Every sport had its own injuries, with the accompanying sensations that rendered an athlete considerably less effective or even totally non-functional in competition. From the rough extreme of football , with the possibility of a muscle pull to spinal cord severance, to a speed and precision game such as tennis where the elbow was particularly susceptible, it was a straight forward, crystal clear maxim: sports begat injury and injury begat pain . 

Most athletes quickly grew accustomed to dealing with the pain inherent in their sport.  But the effects on performance were extremely diverse. An injury debilitation in one sport could have little or no effect on play I another athletic contest. Football players have been known to stay in the battle with broken bones set shielded with devices designed for athletes by doctors.  Patched and protected, participation could continue with little or no loss of effectiveness.  Yet in a game such as baseball, an intimidating pitcher or a powerful slugger might be worthless by a mere blister on the fingertip.




In a year filled with competitive ups and downs, many Longhorn athletes butted heads with the play-with-pain menace.  Diver Denise Christensen sustained a fractured vertebrae in her lower back in 1981 which kept her out of training for nine months.  In her attempt to get back into shape, pain was a major obstacle.  “It was hard to start doing things again,” she explained. “I was real cautious and somewhat afraid.”  As she progressed, it was pain which continued to cause her problems. “I never knew if I was overdoing it,” she said.  In spite of the pain, she just kept “testing it.” When the first meet rolled around, her main concern was blocking everything out, including the discomfort. “Because of the high level of competition, you must just block it out. You know if the dive is a good one, you won’t be hurt again,” Christensen said.

 



Bob Clary, a three-year letterman in track, grappled with minor but painful injuries over several seasons before bowing to their nagging presence. “Track is funny,” he said, “you can hardly play with even the slightest injury.  The lever of competition is that close.”  Clary did what he could by slacking off during workouts to save himself for meets.  But in the long run, he couldn’t regain a full bill of health.  He summed it up very simply, saying “In track, if you’re hurt, you shouldn’t be performing.” 

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Raul Allegre


The Longhorn football team had its share of imposing physical performances in the face of extreme pain.  Placekicker Raul Allegre turned in one of his key outputs of the season after a considerable struggle just to make the game.. Completely down with bronchitis before the Houston game, he spent the entire day resting in bed. However, as the game got underway, “I just forgot about it,” he said.  Allegre booted two crucial field goals enabling the Horns to gain a 14-14 tie.  He spent the next four days in the Student Health Center.



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Rick McIvor

Athletes continued to compete in the face of pain because they despised the though of sitting out or felt it was a part of the game. “You just suck it up,” said Rick McIvor, Longhorn quarterback.

 





Perhaps the most heart-breaking injuries of the year occurred to defensive lineman Kenneth Sims and key forward Mike Wacker.   Sims was out for the season and with his injury went all hopes for the Heisman Trophy.  After Wacker underwent crucial knee surgery, the previously undefeated basketball team skidded to a halt, dropping 11 of the last 13 games. 

 


Longhorn tailback Rodney Tate held a decidedly upbeat view on the haunting pain associated with athletics.  After suffering a severe thigh bruise against Texas Tech, he spent several days in the Student Health Center and then returned to action in considerable pain.  “The main thing  is to forget about it,” he said. “The first time you get the ball, you’ll be thinking about it, but once you’ve been hit, you’ve got to get right up again.   To keep getting up after the knocks you’ve got to concentrate,” Tate said.

Rodney Tate’s attitude reflected a personal philosophy on life; “ To be successful, in football and in live, nothing is going to be easy.  Playing with pain is part of the game.”

In addition to Pat Cosgrove’s observation of how and why players play through the pain, I would like to add that the possibility of losing a starting position on the team is another key motivator to play hurt. The next article deals with Ragan GENNUSA’s successful struggle to overcome pain. It is a great and inspiring story.

 

 

In an article written titled T-Ring Reflection the statement is made that “many student athletes every year overcome injuries, obstacles, and hardships to fulfill their dream of graduating and earning their T-Ring.   A ring that embodies the whole college experience of   playing  sports, lettering, and graduating from our great university. This group of men and women possess a special spirit, focused commitment, and an irrepressible passion to have an equity stake in Longhorn heritage that shapes the present and empowers the future.  Ragan Gennusa is one  of them. 

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Yoda says "You want to know the difference between a Master and a beginner? The Master has failed more times than the beginner has ever tried".

Ragan Gennusa the Master he is.

 

Yoda knew Ragan when he said “In a dark place we find ourselves…”  In his first two years as a Longhorn Ragan Gennusa found himself in a dark place and had to overcome several serious sports injuries to earn his T-Ring.  In his first month as a Longhorn Ragan suffered a broken nose at practice followed by a nightmarish ordeal that caused both of his knees to lock up. For the next 18 months of his life he experienced a few partial recoveries that were followed by relapses which required a combination of surgeries, cast, and canes. His teammates kidded him by saying his scholarship was paid by Johnson & Johnson and not by Texas.

After a doctor suggested he quit football, Royal’s staff felt Ragan would quit so they took him off the summer mailing list. Ragan called Coach Ellington and asked to be put back on the mailing list.   Ragan said  “they did not realize that I was a “Buckshot Boy” (referring to his head coach Clarence E. “Buckshot” Underwood) and the thought of quitting never entered my mind.”

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Steve Worster, Ragan Gennusa, and Bill Bradley

Royal said Ragan “could have quit and we’d have given him his full scholarship without any question.”  “It took a tubful of guts for him to keep playing.”  Ragan Gennusa was emblematic of the type of player Coach Royal liked to recruit -tough, passionate, stubborn, and positive. Ragan could by sheer strength of character will a win. 

Ragan returned in the Fall of 1965 as the 9th team quarterback. He was first used as a “dummy” which required full speed contact drills against the starting team. Most football players with Ragan’s type of injury never recover from this demotion to play again. Being used as a dummy either re-aggravates the initial injury, diminishes the player’s skill set, or leaves a mental scar that leads to depression and a sense of failure that the athlete cannot overcome.

As a “dummy” Ragan received a concussion, 15 sticthes in his jaw, and a bicep that swelled to 20 inches due to delivering blows.

 

 

 

Ragan says “I got real discouraged during two-a-days … I was pretty far down”, but “it proved a blessing in disguise”.  Something fortunate was about to happen.

 

 

Frank Denius in his book On the Way captures the essence of the T-ring spirit for many recipients.  He says "there is a purpose in our hardships, because they demand persistence and determination to overcome. Adversity and difficulty often draw out qualities in a person that otherwise might never be realized and incorporated into a useful life." 

Ragan Gennusa was living Frank Denius quote.    

After a short period on the injured list, Ragan got his first break.  The defensive coordinator,Coach Campbell, moved him from "dummy" to the  offensive “attack team” which prepared the first and second team Longhorn defense by running the opposing team’s offensive plays.  Ragan says “I chose to play split end because I thought I might be able to make some of the Longhorn defensive backs look bad,” and I might get a chance to replace one of them.  

His strategy was sound, but the results unexpected.  Ragan says “I was quite successful (at making the defensive backs look bad), and Coach Campbell told Coach Royal that I was beating the starting defensive backs regularly, and that he should look at me not as a defensive back but as a receiver".  Ragan says  “Royal did so at a Friday practice before the opening game with Tulane, and told me that I had been doing a good job, and that I could suit up for the game.”

The night before a home game the team always stays in a local hotel, but Ragan was not officially listed on the team roster so he says " I had to spend the night at Moore Hill and walk down to the stadium the next day".  "I was wearing shorts and a “T” shirt,  weighed 170 pounds, and bore a remarkable resemblance to Ichabod Crane."

"When I tried to enter the stadium, the gentleman at the gate asked me for a ticket.  When I told him that I was on the team, he called for security and shortly before I was fitted with a straight jacket, someone who worked in the office happened to come by and told him to let me in the stadium." 

"I was issued a Ernie Koy's jersey #23  which was an extra-large.”   It was a short sleeve shirt for Ernie but a long sleeve shirt for Ragan.

 

Ragan remembers his first catch on the varsity as a redshirt sophomore in 1965.  Since he had never practiced with the first or second team offense, Ragan did not know any of the offensive plays for the Longhorns, so Royal used a “sandlot” approach to tell Ragan what to do on each  play.  Right before half Ragan says “Coach Royal summoned me to his side and told me to go in for Pete Lammons at  tight end, split out and run an out at 10 yards".  Since his name and number were not listed on the team roster the stadium announcer could only say  ‘pass completed to number 23’”.  The announcer then frantically looked for a name to associate with the number and was successful.  On Ragans next reception the announcer said  "catch by Ragan Genesis ".  It was the wrong pronunciation for Gennusa, but the right word to capture a special moment in Ragan’s life when a dark period finally turned to  light.

In 1966 Coach Royal added  a split end to the offense to take some pressure off the running game.  Ragan won the starting position and every one learned how to pronounce his name.  

 

 

As a starter he continued to hone his receiving skills with the help of three NFL friends-  Ernie Koy, George Sauer, and Jim Hudson . Ragan says “my junior and senior year I led the team in receptions, not a great accomplishment on a team that rarely threw the ball, but more importantly, I did the best I could and fulfilled an obligation to my coaches, teammates, family, Coach Underwood, and myself”. 

 

Coach Fred Akers was not as modest as Ragan when discussing Ragan's skill set.  Aker's said "Ragan's hands were like a net".  Throw the football in his vicinity and he would catch the ball.

 

Page Elizabeth Bauerkemper in her 2013 report titled Beyond Sports says " Many of the lessons and experiences that come from participation in athletics are career transferable skills. Competing with a team improves communication, leadership skill, toughness, and reliability. Athletics teaches many life lessons, including how to try again after failure, triumph with class, and the advantages of going the extra mile............." 

Ragan had all the assets mentioned by Page in his "tool chest".  After receiving his BFA in art in 1968, Ragan used the lessons he learned at Texas and from his High school Coach Underwood as his roadmap to success.  Ragan says “after persistently working very hard and struggling for many years, I was able to make a living as a full time artist”.  

 In 1985, 17 years after graduating from U.T. , he was selected State Artist of Texas.  In 2006 he received the John Ben Sheppard Jr. of Merit  award from the Texas Historical Foundation for outstanding achievement in historic preservation.

 

In 2016 he was awarded the  " purchase prize" which means it is purchased by the Briscoe Museum for it's permanent collection, and

in  2017 he won the Briscoe Museum  "Patrons prize" which is the best painting.

 

Ragan's artwork has raised significant money at auctions for various historical groups, organizations, and causes including the Longhorn Foundation. His paintings hang in private and corporate collections nationwide, including New York Life Insurance Company in New York City, The Texas Longhorn Breeders national office in Fort Worth, The King Ranch, and The Briscoe Western Art Museum.  Several of his longhorn paintings are prominently displayed in The University of Texas Alumni Center and large reproductions of six his paintings are hanging in University of Texas dorms as a part of the Food and Housing Departments “Longhorn Art Series”.

Success always comes in stages

One of Ragan’s favorite and most inspirational artistic endeavors is the  Trilogy. While these three paintings symbolize the stages of success for the Horns on their path to the national championship during the period 1998 to 2005, these paintings also capture the stages necessary for success in ANY endeavor - storm, climb, and triumph.

A very limited number of prints of the “Trilogy” were produced and signed by Coach Royal and Coach Brown, the only two University of Texas coaches in history to win National Football Championships.

All three original paintings are property of The University of Texas and hang in the coaches offices.

The Trilogy is  A  Tribute to the Mack Brown Era
by Ragan Gennusa

  1. The first painting is titled "Longhorn Storm" symbolizing the beginning of the Mack Brown era with the Thunderstorm in the background symbolizing the support building for the Longhorns program and the charging longhorns portraying the excitement of the new program.

  2. The second painting is titled "The Climb to the Top," which depicts longhorns working up a steep hill, symbolizing the team's effort to work their way up in the national rankings. This is Ragan and Coach Royal's favorite because it delivers the message that success follows hard work.

  3. The final painting is called "Dawn of a New Longhorn Era". The longhorn stands proudly at the top of the highest point in the rich dramatic first light of morning, symbolizing the winning of a national championship under Mack Brown.

 

LONGHORN STORM

A "Longhorn Storm" rose up in the sky,
As they started their drive, their goals set high. (1998-2001)

 

 

cLIMB TO THE tOP

 

Through adversity and criticism, they just wouldn't stop,
As they continued their journey, their "Climb to the Top."

Over the last steep part of their journey they came,
Focused on their goals, they took dead aim.

Upward towards the summit, they kept on the move,
After all, they all had something to prove. (2002-2004)

 

DAWN OF A NEW LONGHORN ERA

And they reached their goals, in a perfect year,
At the top stood the champion longhorn steer.

As their tradition becomes history, the view is much clearer,
This is the "Dawn of a New Longhorn Era." (2005)

 2005 National Champions with Mack Brown

2005 National Champions with Mack Brown

 

 

Ragan  is one of those special individuals who has personal equity in  Longhorn heritage and  who represents a portal to the past to  remind all Longhorns that traditions shape the present and empower the future. 

 

 

 

THE NAVIGATION TOOLS TO  THE CONTENT OF THE WEB SITE ARE AT THE TOP OF THIS SCREEN. THE SITES ARE  "QUE" , "FANS", "TLSN", "SPORTS", "ARTICLES", "ICONIC",  "MISSIONS", "LOST TOO SOON",  "SENTRY", AND "DONATE".

Click on red font text in the panel to the  left  for more information on the TLSN mission

My first Journey up Lost Mine Trail In Big Bend National Park occurred in April 1966 followed by another climb in April 2016. the epiphany I experienced 50 years after my initial ascent has changed me forever.     The photos below represent a chronological snapshot of special moments in my life from 1965 through 2016.

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Chairman Benny Pace

November 2017 Chairman Benny Pace and CEO and President Billy Dale toasting the completion process of the TLSN 501 (C) (3). TLSN mission is to both charitable and historical. Texas Legacy Support Network is building a bridge from the past to support the the present and inspire the future of our Great University. Horns Up!

Each of us has special moments in life that forever change us. One of those moments for me was in 1966 when my parents allowed me to climb the Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park without adult supervision. In retrospect it was an important moment in my journey to adulthood.

In 2006 I was stricken with a non-life threatening disease that for 9 years sapped me of my energy and appetite.  By January of 2015 I was left with only one surgical option for recovery. If the surgery was unsuccessful, there were no other medical options available to enhance my quality of life. Fortunately, the surgery was a success! 

After a year of rehabilitation, I was ready to test my return to good health and ascending Lost Mine Trail 50 years after my first ascent was the challenge. The round trip hike is listed at 3 hours. In 1966 I ran most of the way and completed the ascent and descent in two hours. In 2016 the trip took 5 hours with many stops in which I was bent over hands to knees.

This anniversary adventure began at 5:00 A.M. on April 3rd, 2016 with a drive to Fort Davis to see Glen Halsell - a friend since the 8th grade. Glen was an All American and Captain of both the 1965 State High School Champion Permian Panthers and the 1969 National Champion Texas Longhorns. During our visit, we shared a few stories and then said goodbye with a hug that reflected our mutual respect, common bond, and shared experiences. As we parted ways my belief that life has little meaning without family and friends was re-confirmed.

Two hours later at 1:15 P.M. I started my journey up the Lost Mine Trail. I use the word “journey” because this hike included some unexpected symbolic overtones that forever changed my perspective of life.

 3 hours into the ascent and 15 minutes from the top a 14-year-old boy ran passed me. I said to him in jest “‘hey slow down- don’t you know you are in a school zone?” He smiled at me, and he said “I want to see how fast I can run the circuit.” I smiled at him and said “50 years ago I completed the round trip in two hours.”. He was oblivious to my comment, but as I watched him continue his climb I shed a few tears of joy remembering my special running ascent 50 years ago.

When I reached the top, the young boy was sitting on a rock.

 

I asked him what happened to his race against time? He said “I decided to enjoy the view and to wait for my mom and dad and to share this moment with them.” We spent 30 minutes talking to each other, and the more we talked the more impressed I was with his maturity. When his family arrived he climbed down from the rock to greet them, and I took the opportunity to ask him to take my picture.

Summit April 3rd 2016 50 year anniversary of my first climb in 1966 when I was 6 years of age. A moment of reflection about my life journey.

While you see my image, you can’t see the epiphany that touch my soul as the camera clicked.

It was a “stop and smell the roses” moment. For a split second, I saw the world thru his eyes -not mine- and I was full of hope and optimism for the future. This young boy started the day in a race against time, but decided to end the day by preserving a special moment with loved ones. A choice of family over personal goals is an important decision for anyone to make but this 14 year old boy's decision encouraged me to continue to see life thru his eyes.

I started up the mountain to complete a personal challenge, but I walked down the mountain with more altruistic goals. A passion to deliver this young boys message of love, family, and hope for the future.

The Lost Mine trail once again has impacted my life. In 1966 it was my pathway to adulthood, and in 2016 it was my pathway to enlightenment.

Billy Dale – proud member of the 1967 football recruiting class at the University of Texas.

 

                                 

                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.21.2006

Part of an article on Texassports.com about Karen Haight is below

 

 

2006 KAREN HAIGHT: WHY I MISSED SOCCER SENIOR PICTURES STORY ON TEXASSPORTS.COM 

Karen Haight says 

 

Last year as a junior, I applied for an internship with Goldman Sachs through the on-campus recruiting program here at The University of Texas. I interviewed in Austin with a lot of people and then traveled to New York for a day to interview with six more people. After I found out I made the cut, I was given the internship at the beginning of the summer.

I worked 10 weeks in the sales and rotational program, spending time with different desks within that division while learning about the company. I met as many people as I could and even helped out when possible. The main purpose of the internship was to see what life would be like if you worked for Goldman Sachs.

Prior to this internship, the closest I came to a full-time commitment (outside of playing soccer at one of the best Division I programs in the country) was a minimum wage, fast food job a few summers ago. I think the recruiters appreciated that I had little-to-no working experience because of my involvement with soccer, my grade point average and my personality. That combination helped me through the initial screening process and into the interview pool. From there, the people who selected the interns looked for people who they felt had a good personality to fit with the company and the program.

When I left for New York City, I knew no one there. I had never been to New York, other than for my interview, but even then, I flew in and out the same day. When I accepted the position I was definitely going on a leap of faith.

I met a lot of fun people in Manhattan including a few from UT. Actually, I met a lot of Texas students there. In our program were a number of students mainly from Ivy League colleges and other programs on the East Coast.

I lived in a dorm off Wall Street within walking distance to work.

 

2006 KAREN HAIGHT: WHY I MISSED SOCCER SENIOR PICTURES STORY ON TEXASSPORTS.COM 

Karen Haight says 

 

Last year as a junior, I applied for an internship with Goldman Sachs through the on-campus recruiting program here at The University of Texas. I interviewed in Austin with a lot of people and then traveled to New York for a day to interview with six more people. After I found out I made the cut, I was given the internship at the beginning of the summer.

I worked 10 weeks in the sales and rotational program, spending time with different desks within that division while learning about the company. I met as many people as I could and even helped out when possible. The main purpose of the internship was to see what life would be like if you worked for Goldman Sachs.

Prior to this internship, the closest I came to a full-time commitment (outside of playing soccer at one of the best Division I programs in the country) was a minimum wage, fast food job a few summers ago. I think the recruiters appreciated that I had little-to-no working experience because of my involvement with soccer, my grade point average and my personality. That combination helped me through the initial screening process and into the interview pool. From there, the people who selected the interns looked for people who they felt had a good personality to fit with the company and the program.

When I left for New York City, I knew no one there. I had never been to New York, other than for my interview, but even then, I flew in and out the same day. When I accepted the position I was definitely going on a leap of faith.

I met a lot of fun people in Manhattan including a few from UT. Actually, I met a lot of Texas students there. In our program were a number of students mainly from Ivy League colleges and other programs on the East Coast.

I lived in a dorm off Wall Street within walking distance to work.