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NMJC Alumni Winter and Birmingham to be Inducted

11/22/2016 6:01:47 p.m. - Hobbs, NM. Two alumni from New Mexico Junior College will be inducted into the Western Junior College Athletic Conference Hall of Fame: Dr. Brad Winter and Ray Birmingham. Each of them will be honored at different events at NMJC: Winter at the NMJC Athletic Banquet in May, and Birmingham at a January 2017 basketball game.

"We are thrilled that these very deserving individuals will be recognized for their achievements," says Deron Clark, Athletic Director for New Mexico Junior College. "When we were asked by WJCAC who is eligible for the Hall of Fame, we realized that neither Winter or Birmingham had been inducted. Their accomplishments while at NMJC merit this recognition."

Brad Winter, who is the Secretary of State for New Mexico, was a pole vaulter on the NMJC men's track and field team when they won the National Championship in 1971. Winter won second place in Pole Vault at the national meet, jumping 15'9". The next year, he set the NJCAA Pole Vault record at 16'9". He continued his sport at the University of Oklahoma, where he won the Big 8 Conference Championship in 1973, clearing17' in events and achieving All-American status as a pole vaulter. Winter returned to New Mexico Junior College as a professor, and eventually received his Doctorate of Education from UNM. He worked for 22 years with the Albuquerque Public Schools, and has been an Albuquerque City Councilor for four terms. He continues pole-vaulting today, and has qualified to attend the U.S. Senior Olympics in Birmingham, AL in the summer of 2017.

Winter will be honored for his achievements at the NMJC Athletic Banquet May 2, 2017 at Lea County Events Center, when he will also receive his induction into the WJCAC Hall of Fame.

Ray Birmingham, the current head baseball coach of the UNM Lobos, is from Hobbs. He led the NMJC Thunderbirds as baseball coach to a NJCAA National Championship in 2005, followed by NJCAA national runner-up in 2007. The team eventually claimed six WJCAC championships and seven WJCAC runner-up titles. Birmingham has also been inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame, the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame and the Lea County Sports Hall of Fame. At the University of New Mexico, he led the Lobos to their first NCAA postseason appearance in 48 years, and has since guided the team to five out of the last seven NCAA postseason games. Birmingham is the winningest coach in New Mexico history, which includes his coaching at the College of the Southwest, New Mexico Junior College and University of New Mexico.

Ray Birmingham will attend the January 12 basketball game between the NMJC Thunderbirds and South Plains College. He will receive his induction recognition during the men's half-time.

For more information, contact Deron Clark, NMJC Athletic Director: 575-492-2741 or dclark@nmjc.edu.

About Brad Winter
Winter was a graduate from Highland High School in Albuquerque, NM, before attending New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, NM where he received his Associates of Arts in 1972. While there, he was a NJCAA National Championship Team Member ('71), finished 2nd in Pole Vault at the National Meet jumping 15' 9" ('71), and set the NJCAA Pole Vault record at 16' 9" ('72).

He received his Bachelors at the University of Oklahoma in 1976. While at the University of Oklahoma, Winter competed in ('73, '74) and won ('73) the Big 8 Conference Championships, clearing 17' in events. Brad achieved All-American status as a pole vaulter.

Dr. Winter continued on to complete his Masters at the University of New Mexico in 1979, and his Doctorate of Education at the University of New Mexico in 1995.

Dr. Winter began his career in education as a professor at New Mexico Junior College and as an assistant coach. While coaching during a meet at Odessa College, Dr. Winter cleared 17'1" at age 37. He also set an American Record at a meet in Baton Rouge, LA for his age group.

Dr. Winter then commenced a 22-year career with Albuquerque Public Schools. After his retirement as Chief Operations Officer, Dr. Winter was named Interim Superintendent by the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education from August 2014- June 2015.

Brad Winter is serving his fourth term as an Albuquerque City Councilor, and is currently the longest serving seated councilor. He has served as Council President four times during his tenure. On December 15, 2015, he was appointed by Governor Martinez to serve as the interim Secretary of State for the State of New Mexico, making him the first man to have the job since 1922.

In June of 2016, Dr. Winter competed in the New Mexico Senior Games as a pole vaulter, and qualified to attend the U.S. Senior Olympics in Birmingham, AL in summer of 2017.

Dr. Winter is also an avid fly fisherman. He is married to Nann Winter and they have seven children.

About Ray Birmingham

Ray Birmingham's coaching career began at Mayfield High School in Las Cruces, NM, where the Trojans won the Class AAAA state championship in 1981, and had three No. 1 rankings in New Mexico through 1983. In 1984, Birmingham began at NMJC as public relations officer and assistant basketball coach (there was no Thunderbird baseball at the time), where he helped legendary basketball coach Ron Black to three consecutive 20-win seasons and the school's first conference championship in 1987.

In 1988, Birmingham moved to the College of the Southwest (now University of the Southwest) to begin its baseball program. The next year the Mustangs ranked as high as 25th in the country in NAIA, and won 33 games, reaching the regional finals.

Returning to NMJC in 1990 to start the Thunderbird baseball program, he helped over 2,000 kids have the opportunity to attend college while playing baseball. He has seen 115 of his players drafted, sent over 200 young men on to four-year institutions, coached 31 All-Americans, seen national rankings 14 times, a national championship in 2005, and a runner-up championship in 2007. In 1998, the Thunderbirds led the country in home runs (122). His record at NMJC was 817-328.

Birmingham left NMJC in 2007 to lead UNM's Lobos baseball team, where the reached its first NCAA Tournament in 2010, finishing second in the Mountain West conference. He is known as one of the top-hitting coaches in the nation, leading the Lobos to five top-10 national finishes in batting in seven seasons.

He has been elected to three Hall of Fames: National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame, Lea County Hall of Fame, and New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame.

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