UTEP football digs for a winning season


Prospector File Photo

UTEP football Head Coach Dana Dimel addressed the media after announcing his 2019 recruiting class Feb. 6, at the Larry K. Durham Sports Center.

Alexia Lopez, Upward Bound intern

The University of Texas at El Paso football team has been struggling in its effort to end the curse of a losing streak. UTEP is just two months away from tailgate parties and the excitement running through campus. Miner fans are anxious to see what Head Coach Dana Dimel has in store for the upcoming season.
With the addition of Dimel as head coach in 2017, the team has increased its scoring average from 11.8 in 2017 to 17.7 points per game during last year’s season. One of his main goal as a coach is to show the importance of preparation, to get his players ready for a full-grind season at the Division I level. Dimel decided to utilize his “1-0” strategy on the back of the players’ T-shirts to motivate players to take one thing at a time as a new season approaches.
“The motivation for them is to try to have success because there’s so much passion for the city of El Paso. … The importance of how they represent the whole city,” Dimel said.
At the end of the last season, the defense was something that concerned Dimel with the departure of a trio of seniors in linebacker,  A.J. Hotchkins, and defensive backs Nik Needham and Kalon Beverly. Sophomore linebacker Sione Tupou and junior linebacker Jayson VanHook, and the young core of defensive backs will be looked upon to make plays heading into 2019.
From having to be at school at 5:30 a.m. to go for a run, and losing players, to putting in extra time in the weight room, players experience an intensive offseason.
“Extra work, and in the meantime, we’ve been with the strength and conditioning staff… pushing us and encouraging us to be the best we can be and just translating it to others on the team,” said defensive back Josh Caldwell.
Dimel expects his experienced players to take leadership on controlling their position and doing as much as they can to help high school and junior college players.
“Coach Dimel has really been pushing us to be a player and lead the team so that the coaches don’t have much to say and that leaders of their position can take control, and everyone can go from there,” said Wide Receiver Justin Garrett.
The Sun Bowl holds up to 50,000 fans, but there were only 12,809 fans at last year’s matchup versus North Texas, and Garrett thinks that by “winning games we can bring the city out, and will really sell love and support not just the football team, but for the university as well.”
What fans don’t see is the effort players put in every morning on the weight room, and the hard work they put in to be someone better.
“Doubters brings darkness,” Callwell said.
Doubt is something the Miners have to face as a losing team, but that is something Dimel is trying change as he plans to revive the program but that  is something he thinks will take time.
“The biggest mistake you can make is just to assume that you are going to be better because that doesn’t happen. You just don’t get better because you are year one or year two, and for me is to make sure that we are doing everything … all the details that are very important, and to motivate them to play at the highest level they can,” Dimel said.
Associate Director of Communications Drew Bonney is looking forward to the 2019 season.
“It’s hard to say how many games we’ll win, but there will definitely be a better brand of football. We have a chance to go to a bowl if we can finish out close games,” he said.
The UTEP Miners will open its season at the Sun Bowl as they face the Houston Baptist Huskies on Aug.31.

Alexia Lopez is an Upward Bound intern at Student Media and Publications. Upward Bound is a U.S. Department of Education program that provides fundamental support to high school students in their preparation for post-secondary studies. The program provides opportunities for participants to succeed in pre-college performance and ultimately in higher education.