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Aug. 31, 2010

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4 DAYS UNTIL KICKOFF - Anthony Guillory could tell you about the first time he walked into the showers after his first Lamar University football practice, and the majority of the other players immediately walked out.

Guillory could also mention the road games when he endured nonstop verbal bashings of racial slurs from opposing players and their fans, or the nights he wasn't allowed to sleep in the same hotel with his teammates.

Most of all, however, Guillory could tell you how he overcame. He was a Lamar trailblazer -- the first black athlete at the schoo in 1962.

Guillory was on the field when Lamar played in Cardinal Stadium for the first time in 1964. He was part of Lamar's first-ever class of All-Southland Conference honorees that same year, and he was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams following the 1964 season.

A 1961 graduate of Beaumont's Hebert High School, Guillory played one season at the University of Nebraska before returning home when Lamar decided to begin integration in athletics in 1962. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder played offensive and defensive tackle as well as noseguard for the Cardinals.

"I was the first black athlete Lamar recruited, and I came in as the lone ranger," Guillory said. "It was tough, but my attitude the whole time at Lamar was it doesn't make me any difference. You can do anything to me; you can call me anything, but my performance is going to show you what I'm capable of doing.

"There was a lot of name calling when you went to places like Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin, but it was a different game back then. I got used to being verbally abused..

"It didn't make me any difference. In Nacogdoches, they must have called me bad names at least 50 times, but I was hardnosed and I was a kid. You were going to have to beat me. You weren't going to talk me out of anything."

 

 

While Guillory found success on the football field and with the Lamar track and field team, he said the integration process slowly improved through the help of Lamar football coaches J.B. Higgins and Vernon Glass, LU track coach Ty Terrell and Lamar president Dr. F.L. McDonald.

"It was tough, but we made it," said Guillory, a 1985 inductee to the Cardinal Hall of Honor. "Gradually, each year we would pick up another black player, and when I left there were about four or five of us. I don't know how, they (were successful in integrating Lamar), but they did it.

"On campus it was slow, but people started accepting it. There were probably a couple of hundred blacks on campus, and I had a good feeling about them. We could sit down and talk, and we all had the same intentions -- to show people that we're not different from anybody else."

After being drafted by the Rams in 1964, Guillory played four seasons in Los Angeles and one year with the Philadelphia Eagles before playing professionally in Canada.

"When I got to the NFL, I felt I was as equal as anybody to play," Guillory said. "There were all of these guys who you read about who were All-Americans at these big schools like Notre Dame, and I never thought of it as, `Oh, I went to Lamar.' I was proud to be from Lamar, because the school doesn't make the athlete. It's proven today, because you get some really good players from the so-called small colleges."

In other words, playing in the NFL provided Guillory the opportunity to overcome yet another challenge.

Guillory also sees the return of football to Lamar as a challenge for those involved, and he's eager to watch for the progress the Cardinals can make over the next four or five seasons.

"I'm excited about getting it started," Guillory said. "What I'm looking for is effort. If everybody comes together and gives a good effort, everything else will fall together eventually."

The Texas State University System Board of Regents approved an athletics fee to restore the program in February of 2008 and named former NFL player Ray Woodard its eighth head coach on June 19, 2008.

Lamar will play an 11-game schedule this season, with six games being played in the newly renovated Provost Umphrey Stadium. The first home game will be against Webber International on Sept. 11.

Tickets for this historic season are currently on sale and can be purchased by calling the Lamar Ticket Office at (409) 880-1715 or by visiting the athletics Web site at www.lamarcardinals.com/tickets/footbl-s-tickets.html.

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