By Cassie Logan | UTAMavs.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- More than two decades after its closing, members of the UTA football program are still proudly living out lessons learned by becoming a part of the Maverick family.
Cliff Odom was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1980 following four seasons at Maverick Stadium. The pick was a catalyst for a 13-year NFL career that included stays with the Indianapolis Colts and the Miami Dolphins.
Prior to his rise as a professional linebacker, Odom was offered a scholarship to play for UTA beginning in 1976. He majored in business administration and adapted to the demands of life as a student-athlete. Odom said his time as a Maverick prepared him, not only for the next level of football, but for the next chapters of his life.
“One thing I know has always stayed with me is that UTA taught me the value of hard work,” Odom said.
Nearly four years after the start of his NFL career, Odom joined the Maverick Club because of the importance of giving back to the university, taught to him by the late Charlie Key. Key played UTA football from 1959 to 1962 before becoming the offensive back coach from 1964 to 1979. His five-year tenure as the team’s defensive coordinator began in 1980 and extended until 1985, the year the program closed its doors.
“Coach Charlie Key was a big part of that support for me and the guys,” Odom said. “He really enlightened us and educated us about the importance of support and how we could, and should, give back to the university.”
Not only is the Maverick Club a means of communication and constant involvement with UTA Athletics, but the financial and philanthropic support guides current student-athletes toward achieving higher success on and off the playing field. The Maverick Club provides scholarships, academic resources, facility improvements and adds value to the overall experience of being a student-athlete at UTA.
Odom said he wishes the Maverick Club was more established when he was a student-athlete because of its tradition of relationship building between fans, donors, and Mavericks who have come before. It allows a sense of connectedness and respect for student-athletes and the people who cheer them on from the sideline.
On February 25, the Maverick Club honored those former football student-athletes at the 2017 Football Alumni Reunion. Roughly 55 guests attended to pay homage to alumni varying from years 1959 to 1986, who were recognized on the court during halftime of a men’s basketball game.
UTA Athletic Director Jim Baker announced the next football reunion would be set around the 2018 Hall of Honor as an alumnus would be inducted into the program’s esteemed circle. Despite the absence of a football team, Odom still feels connected more than ever to the university that allowed him to grow into the person he is today.
“It’s great to know football is still recognized and celebrated at UTA,” Odom said. “I think reunions make alumni feel more attached to the university. It’s important for alumni to come back and see how much UTA has grown.”
For information on how you can make a difference in the lives of one of our current student-athletes, please visit the Maverick Club website at www.utamavs.com.