NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A whirlwind emotional trip of victory and defeat ended Monday for the Stephen F. Austin State University Lumberjacks. What will last forever is the impact the team has made on the university, Nacogdoches, and perhaps all of East Texas.
The team's motto, "Dream big," is now applied in an entire community.
It's been a rollercoaster of emotions all week.
By week's end, the SFA Lumberjacks had their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. Two days later, they were dealt a crushing defeat by UCLA.
Before sunrise Friday, the unconditional support of fans told the 'Jacks they're No. 1 no matter what.
As they returned home, one fan yelled, "Way to go guys!"
"They knew that we cared. We were there, and we were cheering them on, and we were telling them we were proud of them," said Joe Max Green, a former SFA Regent and the Lumberjacks'
Green traveled with the team. Taking the red eye from San Diego gave him a match to his red hair.
Nevertheless, the adrenaline is still running. His most unforgettable moment followed replays of the miraculous win against VCU. The jacks were rock stars.
"The crowd recognized them in their purple warm-ups, and they stood in unison and gave a standing ovation to the players of Stephen F. Austin," Green said.
Now Green says it's time to bottle up some of that energy.
"It's all about selling the sizzle sometimes," Green said.
Green believes the class act team, a savvy coach, and a supportive fan base is the winning formula for true recognition.
"It has brought more attention to our town, more attention to our university; people are beginning to recognize our name. And that's what it's all about," Green said. "And it can't do anything but help East Texas."
Now the university and Nacogdoches can adopt the 'Jacks' motto, Dream big."