The New Mexico State Athletics Department in conjunction with US Bank is proud to announce this year’s inductees into the US Bank/NM State Athletics Hall of Fame. The class of 2012 will include former Aggie head athletic trainer C.R. Bickerstaff (posthumously), former sports information director (SID) at NM State Dave Lopez and former Aggie football standout Tony Wragge.
C.R. “Brick” Bickerstaff was the first person to ever hold the position of head athletic trainer at NM State. He joined the staff at NM State in 1955 when the university was still known as New Mexico A&M College. Bickerstaff studied athletic training under famed athletic trainer Frank Medina at the University of Texas. Before coming to NM State, Bickerstaff was the head athletic trainer and assistant coach at Arkansas State. Aside from being the first head trainer at NM State, Bickerstaff also opened the first athletic training room at the university. He was the head athletic trainer at NM State until 1961 when he left for the same position at Iowa State University.
Bickerstaff remained the head athletic trainer at Iowa State until 1969 when he was promoted to an assistant athletic director position at the university. He left Iowa State in 1971 to become an assistant athletic director at Florida State University. Then, in 1973, Bickerstaff left Florida State for an assistant athletic director position at Vanderbilt University, a position he held until his retirement in 1990.
After his retirement, Bickerstaff remained in Tennessee and became the Executive Secretary of the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame (NFF), a national non-profit organization committed to ensuring the future of amateur football. Bickerstaff remained in this position with the NFF until his death in 2007.
In 2005, the NFF recognized Bickerstaff along with famed Vanderbilt head football coach Bill Pace for their contribution to the organization by introducing the C.R. Bickerstaff/Coach Bill Pace University Scholar-Athlete Award. The award is presented yearly to the top university football scholar-athlete in the Middle Tennessee area based on scholarship, sportsmanship and value to the team.
Las Cruces native Dave Lopez served as the SID at NM State from 1974 to 1979. As the SID, he was in charge of publicity and media relations for all NM State athletic programs. Lopez, who has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education from NM State, started working for the athletic department as an undergraduate student assistant. He also worked for the Albuquerque Journal and the El Paso Times during his time as an undergrad.
Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1974, Lopez was immediately hired by the athletic department as its SID. During his time at NM State Lopez’ writing skills earned him various awards for his publications, and he twice served as president of the New Mexico Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. After earning his master’s degree in 1979, Lopez decided to leave NM State to embark on a telecommunications career.
After leaving NM State, Lopez worked for 22 years with SBC Communications (now AT&T) ultimately becoming president of the company in Texas and Oklahoma. Before serving as president, Lopez held a variety of executive positions for the company. He worked in cities such as Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Oklahoma City and St. Louis.
In 2001 Texas Gov. Rick Perry appointed Lopez to the board of regents for the Texas Tech University System, a position he held until 2003.
After leaving SBC Communications, Lopez began working as president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., a non-profit organization focused on continued revitalization of the city’s downtown district. He then served as president of Oklahoma City-based American Fidelity Foundation, a charitable foundation that gives grants for economic development, education, human services and the arts.
On January 27, 2011, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin appointed Lopez as her Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Tourism, a position that Lopez still currently holds.
Throughout the years, Lopez has served on numerous boards including: the American Fidelity Corporation, the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the City of Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust, the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation, the BancFirst Corporation, the Allied Arts and the Latino Development Agency. He also previously served as president of the Oklahoma Business Roundtable and was co-chairman on the steering committee of Oklahoma’s EDGE Fund.
Lopez has received various honors and awards including induction in the Oklahoma City University Commerce and Industry Hall of Honor, the Corporate Advocate Award from the Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Oklahoma City chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
Lopez currently resides in Oklahoma City with his wife, Lana, and has five children and seven grandchildren.
Current NFL player Tony Wragge was a standout offensive guard for the Aggie football team from 1998 to 2001. He was a big part of an offense that constantly ranked among the nation’s leaders in rushing yards and total offensive yards.
During his freshman year in 1998, Wragge saw action in 11 games, mostly on special teams. An injury to starting right guard Jason Berger before the final game of the season at North Texas, however, gave Wragge the opportunity to get his first start at NM State, an opportunity he would not relinquish for the rest of his Aggie career. Wragge went on to start every game thereafter for the Aggies, a total of 34 consecutive games.
During the 1999 season, Wragge helped the NM State offense reach its third-best total offensive output in school history. The Aggies also had their fifth-best total rushing offense in school history. NM State finished the season ranked 31st nationally in total offense and 14th nationally in total rushing offense. At the end of the season, Wragge was rewarded with an honorable mention All-Big West selection, the first of three consecutive all-conference team selections.
As a junior in 2000, Wragge was selected as a team captain and anchored an offensive line that helped the NM State offense go from 31st in the nation in total offense the previous year to 17th in the nation. NM State also set a school record for rushing yards in a season. The Aggies finished the season ranked sixth in the nation in rushing and had four of the nation’s top 35 rushing totals per game. Wragge’s play was once again recognized by the conference, this time by being selected as a member of the second team All-Big West team.
The 2001 season brought some changes to NM State as the school moved its athletic programs from the Big West Conference to the Sun Belt Conference. The Sun Belt Conference was in its first year of having full Division-I football programs. What didn’t change, however, was Wragge’s play on the field as a senior. Wragge, in his second year as a team captain, once again anchored an offensive line that was one of the best in the conference. The Aggies once again had one of the best rushing seasons in school history, finishing with the fifth-best rushing total in school history. Wragge led an offensive line that only allowed 13 sacks on the season, a conference low. At the end of the season Wragge was selected to the inaugural first-team All-Sun Belt football team.
Wragge is a Creighton, Neb., native and played his high school football at Bloomfield Community High School. A 1998 graduate, Wragge earned Nebraska Class C-2 All-State honors during both his junior and senior year. He was also a two-time All-Northeast Nebraska Athletic Conference selection and was selected as conference player of the year.
Wragge’s career after NM State includes playing with three teams in the NFL and also one year (2005) in the Arena Football League with the L.A. Avengers. His NFL career includes stints with the Arizona Cardinals (2002-04) and the San Francisco 49ers (2006-10). Wragge joined the St. Louis Rams in 2011, playing in 14 of the 16 games while making eight starts. Throughout his NFL career Wragge has played in a total of 82 games, starting in 23 of them.
Wragge met his wife, Nicole, while at NM State. She was a volleyball player for the Aggies and later worked in the public relations department at the university. The couple has two daughters, Addison and Avery.
The official induction ceremony will be held at halftime of the NM State versus San Jose State men’s basketball game on Feb. 25, at the Pan American Center.
The US Bank/NM State Athletics Hall of Fame seeks to recognize New Mexico State University student-athletes, coaches, special benefactors and teams who have distinguished themselves in the field of athletics, either by virtue of their performance on athletic teams representing the university, or by meritorious efforts on behalf of athletics. The hall of fame is maintained thanks to the generous support of US Bank.