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Home | Tag Archives: sun bowl association

Tag Archives: sun bowl association

Deadline for applications for Sun Court extended to July 11th

Due to the national COVID-19 pandemic, officials with the Sun Bowl Association have extended the deadline to apply to be a member of the 2020-21 Sun Court to July 11.

“Each year the quality of contestants that apply to be a part of the Sun Bowl Sun Court rises,” Executive Director Bernie Olivas said. “We are proud to have such amazing, talented and hard-working ambassadors to help showcase all our events and the City of El Paso. We are excited to start the process of looking for this year’s Sun Court and hope to receive many applicants.”

The Sun Court dates back to 1935 when organizers planned the event as a companion to the first Sun Bowl game.

This is a great time for young women to promote their city and to volunteer as community ambassadors. Contestants are selected based on poise, appearance, personality, communication and interpersonal skills, and the ability to demonstrate knowledge of El Paso.

Applications are available online and all interviews will be held July 25, beginning at 9 a.m.

The El Paso area will be represented by the city’s young women to serve as community ambassadors during all Sun Bowl events including the Sun Bowl Parade on Thanksgiving morning and the Tony the Tiger football game on December 31, 2020.

Participants must be full-time students at a college or university and in good academic standing.

Eligibility and Rules:
All Sun Princess Applicants must fit criteria in order to be eligible.

•A female between the ages of 18-22 (as of Sept. 1) and have completed one year of college
•Have not been married and have not had any children
•Must be enrolled as a full-time student taking a minimum of 12 academic hours or full time in a graduate program
•A cumulative grade point average of at least a 2.5 on a 4.0 scale (Transcript must be included with application)
•Sun Princesses may not hold any other title during the time they are members of the Sun Court (i.e. Miss El Paso, Miss Texas, etc…)
•Responsible for their own transportation costs to attend mandatory events

Application/Submission Process: Official application, an official transcript, a professional resume, a color head shot no larger than 5×7, and an essay (500 words or less) telling us about yourself; include school activities and awards, community involvement, employment and why you want to be a Sun Princess.

For questions, please contact the Sun Bowl Association Office at (915) 533-4416 or email

Click here to apply  |  2020 Sun Court Application

Video+Story: Natalia Flores named 87th President of the Sun Bowl Association Board of Directors

Sun Bowl Association officials announced on Sunday, May 3, that Natalia Flores is the 87th President of the Sun Bowl Association Board of Directors, beginning her term immediately.  

“It’s an honor to serve as the 2020-2021 Sun Bowl President and look forward to working with Bernie Olivas,” Flores said.  “I would like to thank the Sun Bowl staff and Board, our amazing Sponsors and over 700 volunteers, as this organization would not be sustained without them.” 

A native El Pasoan, Natalia Flores Zesati, is the Marketing Manager of FirstLight Federal Credit Union and has worked there for 13 years.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations and Advertising from the University of Texas at El Paso and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.  

Flores is a high-caliber sales and marketing professional with over 15 years of outstanding marketing, sales, customer service and management experience with many achievements. Through a series of increasingly responsible positions, Flores has eagerly accepted challenges presented with outstanding results.  

Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas mentioned, “Natalia has been with us for many years and understands what this organization truly means to the community.  I cannot wait to see what is in store with her leading the way.”  

Flores has been very involved with and throughout the community and previous to this had been a member of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce Armed Forces Committee, the VP of Marketing with the Association of the United States Army, and a part of the International Relations Committee of Texas Credit Union League.  

“The Sun Bowl Association is such an outstanding organization that helps promote economic development for our Sun City by hosting a myriad of events for our community to enjoy,” Flores said.  

Under Flores’ leadership, the FirstLight Federal Credit Union has received several recognitions and awards, such as the Honorable Order of Saint George Medallion (United States Army), the Distinguished Credit Union of the Year in 2006 and 2014 (from the Department of the Army), Corporate Sponsor of the Year 2007 (from the Association of the United States Army-Bradley Chapter), as well as many community awards. 

Flores was also part of Leadership El Paso, Class XXXII and was awarded the President’s Award at FirstLight Federal Credit Union for her tremendous dedication.  She is married to John C. Flores and they have two children, Marco and Diego.  

Natalia Flores Zesati

WestStar Bank to continue as Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational sponsor through 2022

Monday evening, officials with the Sun Bowl Association announced the extension of its partnership with WestStar Bank as the title sponsor for the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational through 2022.  WestStar Bank originally signed on as the title sponsor in 2009.

The multi-year agreement demonstrates WestStar’s commitment to the Sun Bowl Association and UTEP athletics, as well as continues to honor the family of Don Haskins.

“The Sun Bowl Association has built a family of successful and popular events and we’re excited to continue as the title sponsor of the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational,” said David Osborn President and COO of WestStar Bank.

“We’re committed to being associated with many of El Paso’s traditions that have become a part of the fabric of our region. For many, this tournament is that – a holiday tradition – and we’re happy to be able to connect with our local community in this way.”

WestStar Bank and its employees are very involved with and in the community. Employees of WestStar Bank serve on over 75 boards and committees of nonprofit and civic organizations.

“We cannot produce events like the basketball tournament, which has been running since 1961, without great sponsors like WestStar Bank,” said Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas.

Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post

“We are extremely grateful for WestStar Bank and everything they have done for the Sun Bowl Association and the City of El Paso.  Tournament Chairman Barry Kobren does an amazing job putting everything together and every team that visits El Paso leaves with great memories.”

The WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational is the nation’s oldest collegiate holiday basketball tournament.

This year marks the 58th edition of the event that began in 1961, when legendary head coach Don Haskins was in his first year as the head coach at UTEP, then known as Texas Western.

Haskins amassed 719 career wins as the head coach of the Miners for 38 seasons. He led the Miners to the 1966 NCAA title, won seven Western Athletic Conference championships, four WAC tournament titles, fourteen NCAA tournament berths and made seven trips to the NIT. Haskins engineered 17 20-plus win seasons and served as an assistant Olympic team coach in 1972. He led the Miners to 23 tournament titles in the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.

Haskins was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997 as a basketball coach. The 1966 team was named in its entirety to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Andres Acosta | El Paso Herald-Post

Video: Sun Bowl Association Art Show at International Museum of Art

The Sun Bowl Art Exhibit opened Thursday, Nov. 14 at the International Museum of Art with awards being presented by Sun Bowl Association Executive Director, Bernie Olivas.

The Sun Bowl is the Southwest’s longest running art exhibit.

Originally dubbed the Sun Carnival Art Exhibit at its inception in 1949, the International Museum of Art continues the long El Paso tradition of the integration of artistic and athletic excellence.

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl tickets now on sale

The 86th Annual Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl officials announced that tickets are on sale now for the region’s college bowl game.

“With the El Paso Community continuously supporting the Sun Bowl Association we are excited to show our loyal fans some new ideas we have coming with our new title sponsor,” Executive Director, Bernie Olivas. “The newly named Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl will maintain some of its traditions while adding fun new aspects to game day.”

The Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl is set for a 12 p.m. (MT) kick-off on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 with teams from the ACC and Pac-12 facing each other.  The game will be televised on CBS for the 52nd consecutive year.

The Sun Bowl Association is also encouraging local fans to help send others to the game through their “Salute a Soldier Program” and “Take a Child to the Game Program.”

The “Salute a Soldier” program allows fans and companies the opportunity to give soldiers a memory to last a lifetime. Sponsors who make purchases through the “Salute a Soldier Program” give soldiers an opportunity to attend the game while your company is recognized during the game.

“With so many military members living in and around the El Paso area this gives us a chance to give back to soldiers for their commitment and service,” said Olivas.

If a fan or company would prefer to take part in the “Take a Child to the Game” program, that person or company affords local children the opportunity to attend the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl.

With the game falling only six days after Christmas, this would make an excellent Christmas gift. The goal is to send 3,000 children to the game and give them an experience they will never forget. Along with the goodwill that comes with sending a child to the game, any person or company taking part in this program will receive recognition at the game.

The Sun Bowl Association is happy to provide a list of youth organizations that your company may choose from if you do not already have a connection with one in the community. Contact the Sun Bowl Association ticket or marketing offices for details on the two programs.

“The ‘Take a Child to the Game’ program is a great way to inspire our youth to become involved in and around athletics and sports. It also makes for a great opportunity to bring cheer to youth who may not always have the opportunity to attend such a big event,” Olivas mentioned. “This fits in with Mission Tiger and initiative in keeping middle school athletics alive.”

The ticket prices start at $22 and vary depending on the stadium’s seat location:

$22 – End Zone

$22 – Touchdown

$32 – Sun Seats

$47 – Stadium

$57 – Preferred

$62 – Premium

A map of the stadium’s layout can be found online at

Tickets can be purchased online by going to or by calling the Sun Bowl Association office at 915-533-4416.

Fans can also go to or call the Ticketmaster toll free line at 800-745-3000. Ticketmaster offers a user-friendly mobile app for both iOS and Android, as well.

To purchase tickets in person, fans can stop by the Sun Bowl Association Office located at 4150 Pinnacle Street, Suite 100 or the UTEP Ticket Center at 2901 N. Mesa St.

Sun Bowl Association welcomes new board president Stuart Silva

Stuart Sliva took over as Sun Bowl Association Board President on May 1 and is set to hold the position until April of 2020.

Sliva has held a career in the automotive industry for over 25 years and is currently an executive representing the Ford brand with Fortune 200 company, Group 1 Automotive.

Sliva has received four straight Group 1 Chairman Awards, is an eight-time President’s Award winner with Ford Motor Company and is the recipient of the Ford Motor Triple Crown, all while maintaining a Top 100 Ford Dealership annually.

“I look forward to working together with Stuart Sliva at the helm of the Board of Directors and we expect that he will do a great job in keeping the Sun Bowl Association one of the top and long-standing organizations in El Paso,” said Bernie Olivas, Executive Director of the Sun Bowl Association.

In his new role as President, Sliva is dedicated to the continued success of the Sun Bowl Association events such as the Sun Bowl Marathon All-American Golf Classic, Sun Bowl Parade, the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, and the 86th Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl, scheduled on December 31, 2019.

Stuart’s mission is to preserve the legacy of the Sun Bowl Association and to continue the longstanding El Paso tradition generations of families have enjoyed.

“It’s an honor to be a leader of one of the most respected organizations in El Paso,” Sliva said. “I am excited to see what the year brings and anticipate another year of great community events put on by the Sun Bowl Association.”

Prior to taking on the role as Sun Bowl Association President, Stuart has served on the Board of Directors/Advisory since 1999, starting with co-chairing the Sun Bowl Rotarian Team Luncheon.

In addition to serving on the board with the Sun Bowl Association, Stuart served as a Trustee/President at St. Clements Church/School, a Rotarian, and former Board of Trustees for Schreiner University.

Stuart Sliva is married to Jennifer Lowenfield Sliva and together they have four children, Mason, Morgan, Cole, and Sophie.

The Board of Directors added two new members in Michelle Hays of Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare and Rebekah Wierson of Harrison French & Associates.  All board members are listed below.


Board of Directors – 2019-20   Name                                               Business/Company

Chair Emeritus                                    Jimmy Rogers, Jr.                        Retired

President                                                Stuart Sliva                                    Group 1 Automotive

President-Elect                                    Natalia Flores                               FirstLight Federal Credit Union

Executive Vice-President                Robert Dunlop                             Schneider Electric

Immediate Past President              Scott Mann                                     Kemp Smith Law Firm

Secretary                                                Tammy Gladkowski                  WestStar Bank

Treasurer                                               John Aranda                                  UTEP – Institutional Advancement

VP Community Relations                Brooke Underwood                   Destination El Paso

VP Marketing                                        Richard Dayoub                          Thunderbird Management Consulting

VP Legal Affairs                                   Scott Mann                                     Kemp Smith Law Firm

VP Public Relations                            Wayne Thornton                        El Paso Parks & Recreation

VP Volunteers                                       Michael Guerra                            Guerra Investment Advisors

Chairman Basketball                         Barry Kobren                                Sanders Partners

Chairman CBS Host                            Asher Feinberg                            Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC

Chairman Coronation                       Linda Smith                                   St. Mark’s School

Chairman Football                             John Folmer                                  RJL Real Estate

Chairman Golf                                      Mark Pelletier                              El Paso Country Club

Chairman Parade                                Jim Lawrence                               Quality Property Management

Chairman Special Events                Art Munoz                                      Independent Contractor

Chairman Provisions                        Allen Rystad                                  Splash and Dash

Member                                                  Amen Ayoub                                 Radisson Suites

Member                                                  Bill Coon                                         YMCA

Member                                                  Michelle Kaip                                Elevation Hotel Management

Member                                                  Victor Salazar                               GCC Sun City Materials, LLC

Member                                                  Michelle Hays                               Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare

Member                                                  Rebekah Wierson                       HFA (Harrison French & Associates)

Member                                                  Travis Hughes                              Hughes Financial Group

Member                                                  Richard Limas                              Academy Sports + Outdoors

Member                                                  Tony Valtier                                  Texas Workforce Commission

Annual Sun Bowl Art Exhibit Set to Open Thursday, Will Run Through January

Once again the International Museum of Art will be playing host to the the annual Sun Bowl Art Exhibit.

In addition to the opening of the exhibit, awards will be presented by the Sun Bowl Association Executive Director during the night’s festivities.

Sun Bowl officials say, “This is a great opportunity to showcase the great artists that are in El Paso. ” Admission to the event, and the exhibit is free.

The Sun Bowl is the Southwest’s longest running art exhibit. Originally dubbed the Sun Carnival Art Exhibit at its inception in 1949, the International Museum of Art continues the long El Paso tradition of the integration of artistic and athletic excellence.

The exhibit will run from November through January.

The event starts at 5 p.m. with refreshments and hors d’oeuvres being served.  The awards ceremony starts at 6 p.m.

Date: Thursday, November 8

Time: 5-7 p.m.

Place: International Museum of Art, 1211 Montana Street

Winner Selected in 2018 Sun Bowl Parade Poster Contest

On Monday, the Sun Bowl Association and FirstLight Federal Credit Union announced the winner of the 82nd Annual Sun Bowl Parade poster contest.

Parade officials selected Julian Vidales, of El Paso as the winner.

“When looking through the entries, we determined that Mr. Vidales’ design had everything we were looking for in a FirstLight Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl Parade poster,” said Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas.

“We want to thank and congratulate Mr. Julian Vidales for his great work.”

Artists from all across the El Paso region were given a unique opportunity to make a name for themselves while being given a chance to win some nice prizes. The contest ended last week, and the judging was done by various employees and board members from the Sun Bowl Association and FirstLight Federal Credit Union and was based on creativity, clarity and relativity to the parade theme, which is “Amazing Feats.”

As the winning entry, Vidales’ poster design is the official 2018 FirstLight Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl Parade poster and is now in the process of being printed for distribution.

Vidales also receives four tickets to the parade breakfast, which is held before the parade on Thanksgiving Day, as well as a pair of tickets to the Hyundai Sun Bowl football game, which will be held on December 31, 2018.

“We invite everyone to pick up a copy of the poster at any FirstLight Federal Credit Union branch or at the Sun Bowl Association office,” Olivas said.  “They should be ready for distribution by Monday, October 8.”

FirstLight FCU, Sun Bowl Association Team Up to Feed the Hungry in the Borderland

The Sun Bowl Association and FirstLight Federal Credit Union have teamed up with the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank, Road Runner Food Bank of New Mexico and Town Square Media to feed the hungry in the Borderland.

“FirstLight Federal Credit Union and the Sun Bowl Association recognized the need in our communities and have joined forces with Townsquare Media, the El Pasoans Fight Hunger Food Bank and Road Runner Food Bank of New Mexico to help satisfy that need,” said Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas.

Donations of non-perishable food items will be accepted at various locations throughout El Paso and Las Cruces from September 10 through November 5, 2018.

Collection bins are located at all FirstLight Federal Credit Union branches in El Paso and the Sun Bowl Association office (4150 Pinnacle Street, Suite 100).

There are also collection bins located at the three FirstLight Federal Credit Union locations in Las Cruces.

“It’s a privilege to give back to the communities that we serve, and by partnering with the Sun Bowl Association and Townsquare Media, we want to collect as much food as possible,” said Natalia Flores, Marketing Manager for FirstLight Federal Credit Union.  “As we get closer to the holidays, we are asking the community to come together and donate to the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank and Road Runner Food Bank of New Mexico, so they can give directly to those in need.”

Those donating can register to win a prize pack of four tickets to the FirstLight Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl Parade breakfast and four tickets to the 2018 Hyundai Sun Bowl football game on December 31, 2018 at noon (MT).

Donors can register at any of the FirstLight branches as well as the SBA Office.  The last day to donate and to register to win is November 5.

FirstLight and the SBA encourages donors to “give the good stuff,” meaning that donations should include the type of food that have the most impact at a pantry—such as peanut butter, canned tuna fish, and canned vegetables—rather than less nutritious snack items or even simply those foods from the back of the cabinet that rarely get eaten.

Supporters and donors can keep up with the efforts of all participants by following on Social Media via Facebook – Hyundai Sun Bowl & FirstLightFCU; and via Instagram: @HyundaiSunBowl and @firstlightfcu).

List of acceptable donations:

*Non-perishable items only,  Please, NO fresh fruit, vegetables or glass containers Out dated, opened or damaged products are not accepted

Canned Meat (ham, tuna, meat spread)

Peanut Butter

Chunky Soups & Beef Stew

Macaroni & Cheese


Spaghetti Sauce (in a can)

Dry Cereal & Oatmeal

Rice & Beans

Canned Vegetables & Fruits

100% Fruit Juice (cans or plastic bottles)

“Sugar Free,” “Low Sodium,” & “No Salt” Items

List of drop off points:

FirstLight El Paso Branches

5050 N. Desert Blvd.

9993 Kenworthy St.

1555 N. Lee Trevino Dr.

1635 Pike Rd.

20727 Constitution Ave.

2200 N. Zaragoza Rd.


Sun Bowl Office

4150 Pinnacle St., Suite 100, 79902


FirstLight Las Cruces Branches

300 E. Foster Rd., Las Cruces, N.M.

3105 Del Rey Blvd., Las Cruces, N.M.

3791 E. Lohman Ave., Las Cruces, N.M.

YMCA Hyundai Sun Bowl Challenge Returns for the 2018 College Football Season

The Sun Bowl Association is teaming up with the YMCA of El Paso to give football fans around the country another chance to win a $1,500 Sun Bowl Game Package for the Hyundai Sun Bowl by participating in the YMCA of El Paso Hyundai Sun Bowl Challenge.

“The YMCA has always enjoyed being a part of the events that the Sun Bowl Association puts on,” said Bill Coon, CEO/President of the El Paso YMCA. “The community has been very generous to us and other organizations such as ours, so we are more than happy to partner with the Sun Bowl Association to do this.”

The contest starts this week as the 2018 college football season is now underway. Each week contestants will attempt to predict the winners of 10 predetermined Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Pac-12 games, the Hyundai Sun Bowl conference affiliates.

The first game for contestants to predict is set for Friday, August 31.

With each game valued at one point, a weekly winner will be determined by the individual who accumulates the most points. In addition, contestants will be asked to estimate the total points scored by both teams of a predetermined game.

In case of a tiebreaker, the contestant with the most accurate prediction of total points scored will be the weekly winner.

“Fans from around the country continue to have a great time with this promotion and we want to continue to make the college football experience a fun and exciting one so once again we are teaming up with the YMCA of El Paso,” said Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas.

“We would like to thank Bill Coon and the YMCA of El Paso for the continued support, and hope the contest makes the college football season more exciting for everyone that participates.”

The 13 weekly winners will win two 2018 Hyundai Sun Bowl tickets along with one month free adult membership to the YMCA of El Paso. Weekly winners will automatically advance to “Championship Week,” in which they will once again predict the winners of each college football conference championship game.

The contestant with the most correctly chosen conference title games will receive two Captain’s Club level tickets to the 2018 Hyundai Sun Bowl, two VIP Pre-game tent party tickets, one parking pass and one-year family membership to the YMCA of El Paso.

Football fans must register for the Hyundai Sun Bowl Challenge by logging into the contest website. For complete rules and regulations click here.

Week One Games:

Colorado vs. Colorado State

Friday, August 31 at 7:30 PM (MT)

Washington State vs. Wyoming

Saturday, September 1 at 1:30 PM (MT)

No. 6 Washington vs. No. 9 Auburn

Saturday, September 1 at 1:30 PM (MT)

UNLV vs. No. 15 USC

Saturday, September 1 at 2:00 PM (MT)

North Carolina vs. California

Saturday, September 1 at 2:00 PM (MT)

No. 14 Michigan vs. No. 12 Notre Dame

Saturday, September 1 at 5:30 PM (MT)

Louisville vs. No. 1 Alabama

Saturday, September 1 at 6:00 PM (MT) –

BYU vs. Arizona

Saturday, September 1 at 8:45 PM (MT)

No. 8 Miami vs. No. 25 LSU

Sunday, September 2 at 5:30 PM (MT)

No. 20 Virginia Tech vs. No. 19 Florida State

Monday, September 3 at 6:00 PM (MT)

Gallery+Story: Mckenna Hitter Crowned as 2018 Sun Queen, Sun Court Announced

On Saturday, August 4th, the Sun Bowl Association announced the 2018 Sun Court that includes a new Sun Queen, Lady-in-Waiting and Sun Princesses.

The 2018 Sun Queen is Mckenna Hitter and the new Lady-in-Waiting is Stephanie Paz.  Both Hitter and Paz were Sun Princesses in 2017.

“All these wonderful women are natives of El Paso and have amazing backgrounds,” said Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas. “Our Sun Queen and Lady-in-Waiting will be great leaders for this great group of Sun Bowl and El Paso ambassadors.”

Coronation has been part of the Sun Bowl since the first-ever college Sun Bowl game was played in 1936. Coronation played a huge social role in the “Sun Carnival”, the week-long pageantry associated with the Sun Bowl.

According to the 1938 Sun Bowl game program, “The social side of the Sun Carnival centers around the Coronation of the Sun Queen with Lady-In-Waiting and her Royal Court of Princesses from all the cities of the Sun Empire and the Grand Ball tendered by the Association in honor of Her Majesty and Court.”

The 10 young ladies selected as Sun Princesses were selected after applying and going through an interview process.

The selection was based on poise, appearance, communication and interpersonal skills, while also having the ability to demonstrate knowledge of El Paso and the Sun Bowl Association.

The Sun Court serves as ambassadors for the city of El Paso. They volunteer at various community events and make appearances at the Andeavor All-America Golf Classic, FirstLight Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl Parade, WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, Hyundai Sun Bowl Game, Academy Sports + Outdoors Sun Bowl International Soccer Tournament, the Helen of Troy Sun Court Charm Camp and other community events throughout the year.

The 2018 Sun Court was crowned at the El Paso Country Club on Saturday evening, August 4.

Mckenna Hitter is the daughter of Gerald and Linda Hitter. Hitter is a 2016 graduate of Eastlake High School where she graduated as the class Salutatorian with a 4.0 GPA. Hitter is currently a junior at the UTEP, where she is majoring in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering. While at UTEP, Mckenna has maintained a 3.50 GPA in her engineering studies and has also been named to the dean’s list.

She has been a member of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority since her freshman year. As a member she has held the position of marshal and has been a member of the public relations council as well. The Alpha Xi Delta philanthropy is Autism Speaks and you will also find Hitter partaking in the various activities that the sorority promotes to raise money for this cause. Also, during her years at UTEP Hitter did participate in the excel program associated with the student government association. Hitter also worked in the Engineering Department as the Metallurgical and Materials Engineering peer advisor.

Away from UTEP, Hitter has volunteered her time in the Socorro Independent School District at her own Elementary School, Horizon Heights. There, Hitter has volunteered to help coach the destination imagination team alongside her mom for the past two years. Their team has placed first at the regional level and has advanced to state back-to-back years.

Hitter also volunteers in the classroom tutoring students in math and reading and helps work elementary at summer camps. She is also working on becoming a substitute teacher. Mckenna has also volunteered some time in visiting the children at the children’s hospital and has helped collect toys for them during the holidays.

Hitter said that growing up in El Paso she was introduced to many of the traditions El Paso has to offer. Whether it’s UTEP sports, chihuahuas baseball games, viva El Paso, Fort Bliss or the Sun Bowl, Hitter has seen the traditions and has learned what our community is about. The Sun Bowl puts El Paso on a national stage and what better way to spread the Goodwill of El Paso and the Sun Bowl by being a part of the Sun Court.

Stephanie Paz is the daughter of Juan and Yvette Silvas-Paz. A graduate of Harmony Science Academy in El Paso, Stephanie is now a senior at The University of Texas at El Paso where she is a Psychology major, minoring in Biology.

Paz is a Native American woman from El Paso’s very own Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tigua tribe. She is a member of the women’s fraternity Zeta Tau Alpha at UTEP where she has held leadership positions on the fraternity’s Executive Committee as Historian-Reporter, Membership Chair, and New Member Coordinator.

She is currently the fraternity’s President where she delegates her committee and directs the fraternity. Through ZETA she has been able to participate in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Cancer Run and many events that support the fraternity’s Breast Cancer Education & Awareness Philanthropy.

Paz served as Vice President of Recruitment for the College Panhellenic Council in 2017 where she organized Formal Recruitment and promoted Panhellenic Sorority Life at UTEP. She was awarded the “2017 Greek Woman of the Year” title after representing and promoting Greek Life on campus in the most positive manner and works with all the chapters.

From 2016 to 2017, Paz served as a Senator-at-Large for the university’s Student Government Association. As a Senator-at-Large, representing one thousand students, she voiced student concerns at the local college level and created “special projects” for the student body to benefit. Her platform focused on raising awareness on dating violence and sexual assault among college students and campuses by moderating films followed by open discussions.

In Paz’s Native American community, she is an advocate for Native American youth and health. She currently works at the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Department of Tribal Empowerment as a Student Success Advisor. As a Student Success Advisor, she advocates for and assists in higher education in Tribal high school students and serves as a mentor.

Paz was the first female governor for her tribe’s Tigua Youth Council where she and her council created a skate park in her tribal community to promote and foster healthy lifestyles for tribal youth. As an active member, she advocates not only for her tribe but for the Indian Country in all aspects regarding physical, mental, and spiritual health. Paz sat on the National Indian Health Board’s Tribal Youth Health Advisory Board in 2017 where she assisted in Native American health on both the local and national level.

Paz is humbled and honored to be the El Paso Sun Court’s 2018-19 Lady-In-Waiting as she takes a great amount of pride in being a woman, a minority, and an El Pasoan. As a Sun Princess, she appreciated the empowerment of her follow Sun Court and young women in El Paso. As Lady-In-Waiting, she intends to empower the Sun Court and proudly represent El Paso through the title.

The following women were selected to Sun Court this year: Kristen Ahumada, Courtney Chesanek, Daisy Colon, Ayla Lopez, Diana Martinez, Tomiko Reyes, Kirsten Stephenson, Elizabeth Vega, Alina Ward and Sydney Ward.

Sun Princesses

Kristen Ahumada is a senior at the University of Texas of El Paso majoring in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Medicine. Ahumada is a graduate of Coronado High School and is the daughter of Michael and Aida Ahumada. After graduation, she plans to become a physician, specializing in pediatrics, and working in the El Paso del Norte region.

Ahumada has been heavily involved in various organizations. This past academic year, she served as UTEP’s student body President where she represented over 25,000 students on a local, state, and national level. She has taken the position of President for the university honors council, served as a Senator-at-Large in the Student Government Association, and assisted as Vice-President of the Phi Kappa Phi honors society.

Other honors for Ahumada include being a Dillard scholarship recipient, a 21st century scholar, and being named Who’s Who among students in American universities and colleges. In addition, she has been involved with various places such as the center against sexual and family violence. Ahumada has also traveled to Spain and Morocco and conducted service abroad to help global preservation by constructing refuge hutches for libre de monte rabbits.

She mentioned that with her previous community service experience and her understanding of the importance of giving back to the El Paso community, as a part of the 2018 sun court, she could successfully convey the mission statement of the Sun Bowl Association.

Courtney Chesanek is a graduate of Franklin High School and the daughter of Curtis and Birdie Chesanek. She is senior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in Science Biology. Upon graduation, she plans to become a physician’s assistant and work in an underserved community.

Chesanek is involved with various school organizations as she is currently a Miner Ambassador, the Vice-President of the Society for Collegiate Leadership and Success, as well as a member of the Student Government Supreme Court Justice.

Apart from being a member of various school organizations, Chesanek also helps the El Paso community as much as she can. She has volunteered for Project Move, the student organization retreat, and even teaching weekly classes at her alma mater, Roberts Elementary School, to students from the age of 6-years-old to 11-years-old. Chesanek also serves as an EMT and uniform chair for the Franklin High School marching band.

She expressed that by being a Sun Princess, she will represent the city that she loves and hopefully show people the hospitality, warmth, history, and culture the El Paso area has to offer.

Daisy Colon is a Texas State University student majoring in Mass Communications and Electronic Media while minoring in Spanish. She is the daughter of Juan and Sadie Colon and is a graduate of Eastwood High School. Daisy is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and currently holds an internship at ABC7-KVIA.

She is also a member of the Delta Gamma, Zeta Eta chapter where she has helped raise more than ten thousand dollars as a volunteer at the Texas School for Blind and Visually Impaired. Colon is a sports reporter for University Star where she puts out weekly features of athletes, conducts post-game interviews with coaches and players, as well as live updates for Texas State Athletics.

Sports have always been a part of her life, which is why she is working hard to one day become an analyst for the MLB network, where she wishes to shine a light on international players that predominantly speak Spanish. Colon says she cherishes her family and friends even more, now that she resides in San Marcos, Texas. She says that to her, representing El Paso as a Sun Princess means that she will be able to give back as much as she can to her community, in gratitude to the city that she holds near and dear to her heart.

Ayla Lopez is a graduate of Franklin High School and currently a junior at Texas Tech University. Lopez is the daughter of Manuel and Sylvia Lopez. Majoring in Kinesiology with a minor in Psychology, she is studying to become an Occupational Therapist.

Lopez has maintained a 4.0 GPA, earning multiple scholarships and a spot on the Texas Tech’s President’s honor list. Lopez is involved with many clubs such as the Tech Pre-Occupational Therapy Club, Health Occupation Students of America, and Love Your Melon (a campus crew that brings awareness to childhood cancer).

Over the past few summers, Lopez has returned to El Paso to help as a volunteer coach for the USA track & field team, which is the grassroots to the USA Olympic team. She has also volunteered at the nursing supporting services in her university’s medical center. Moreover, Lopez found her passion to help people with mental illnesses while as an intern at the sunrise canyon psychiatric hospital. After graduating from Texas Tech, Lopez plans to return to El Paso and give back to her community.

As a Sun Princess, Lopez wants to become a role model for all young girls in El Paso by demonstrating to young girls that excelling in school and giving back to your community can give you the confidence to overcome obstacles and make a name for yourself and your city. According to Lopez, El Paso is “a hidden jewel with great people.”

Diana Martinez is a graduate of Hanks High School and currently a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso. She is the daughter of Daniel and Gabriela Martinez. Upon graduation, she will have earned a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology with minors in Biology and Spanish. Ultimately, her goal is to become a physical therapist to help the elderly along with athletes in rehabilitation.

Diana is a Presidential Excellence Scholarship recipient, which is awarded to students with exceptional leadership skills. She has also been on the Dean’s List for three consecutive years. Adding to her scholastic achievements, she is the Social Media Coordinator for the Kinesiology Club in UTEP.

Besides her involvement in school, Martinez also takes the time to volunteer. She has also volunteered at El Paso Orthopedic Surgery Group where she gained extensive experience in rehabilitation and therapy from the therapists she worked under.

Being part of the Sun Court is a significant accomplishment for Martinez because she feels that the Sun Court displays the grace and forte of a group of educated women and what they have to offer future generations.

Tomiko Reyes is the daughter of Rose Reyes. She is a sophomore studying Digital Media Production at the University of Texas at El Paso and a former graduate of El Paso High School. When she graduates, she plans to pursue a career as a television and film writer before eventually producing her own work in television, film or print.

During her time at UTEP, Reyes has been involved with the Gamma Gamma chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha. Being part of this organization has landed her the position of vice president where her job is to teach her chapter how to focus on values of young women. While associated with this organization, it has given Reyes the chance to attend the Officer Leadership Academy for ZTA where she gained valuable leadership skills with other chapter leaders.

Equally, Reyes also spends her time volunteering and giving back to her community. She has volunteered in locally, which includes several schools throughout the years. Reyes has also made strides against breast cancer.

Reyes is a strong advocate for women and stated that being part of the Sun Court will not only allow her to showcase the importance for women to empower other women, but also allow her to be a voice for the El Paso area and represent the Sun Bowl Association.

Kirsten Stephenson is the daughter of Jerry and Kim Stephenson. She is a junior at the University of Texas in San Antonio, majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with a certification in Early Childhood to Sixth Grade Education. She attended Burgess High School and graduated in the top 10% of the 2016 class. During her time in high school, Stephenson was freshman class president, sophomore class vice president, a member of the volleyball team, amici chorea dance group, National Honor Society, Student Council and participated in UIL Social Studies.

Stephenson has volunteered at several organizations including Special Olympics, Make-a-Wish Foundation, the YMCA of El Paso, Toys for Tots, the Sun Bowl Association and Work Out-Help Out. Currently, she is a UTSA Ambassador and the President of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. Stephenson feels that the Sun Bowl Association and the City of El Paso are her home, which is why her favorite quote by Malala Yousafzai is “If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home.”

Elizabeth Vega is the daughter of Angela Olivas and Manuel Vega. Vega is a graduate of Coronado High School and currently a junior at UTEP majoring in Marketing with a minor in Marketing Analytics. Vega holds a 4.0 GPA and was on the dean’s list at both UTEP and the University of Arizona, where she first started her college education. There, she was the Facebook Manager for the Pace Program, Brand Director for the Social Media Club, and Vice President of IT for the Eller Dean’s Council.

She did an internship at UTEP with the Athletics Media Relations Department, where she gained professional experience as part of her career goals. Vega also joined Zeta Tau Alpha as the Recruitment Prep Secretary, where she participated in multiple events targeted towards breast cancer education and awareness.

Vega mentioned that as a child she would picture herself wearing the tiara and sash, waving to the crowd from the float during the Sun Bowl Thanksgiving Day parade, and walking down the field before the start of the Sun Bowl game. Vega is honored to represent the Sun Bowl Association and the City of El Paso on this year’s Sun Court.

Alina Ward is the daughter of Brook and Cecilia Ward. Ward is a graduate of Coronado high school and now a senior at Sam Houston University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in psychology. upon graduation, she plans to guide individuals and help them resolve any problem they might be facing whether that be through counseling or social work.

Ward is looking to enroll at fuller theological seminary school that will not only help her gain a solid foundation of theological education but will also equip her with a license to be a counselor. Her interest in Psychology, is one of the main reasons for choosing fuller.

During her time in college, Ward has served on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes leadership team where she has had the chance to grow as a leader, going as far as visiting the Dominican Republic on a mission trip. She completed an internship with the cultural district of Huntsville at the Wynne Home Arts Center where her job was to implement art classes for families and children.

Ward enjoys engaging with her community, she respects and adores the diversity that thrives here in the borderland and is honored to be a Sun Princess.

Sydney Ward is a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma, pursuing a degree in Accounting. She is a graduate of Coronado High School and the daughter of Brook and Cecilis Ward. Ward has been involved in various organizations including the Hispanic American Student Association, CRU, a Christian organization also known as Campus Crusades for Christ, and Traction, another Christian program.

For her upcoming school year, she plans to get involved in the Women in Business Association, as well as the Beta Alpha Psi. Ward has also volunteered in a couple of community service activities throughout her high school years and her time at the university. Ward volunteered at the Braden Abound Foundation shoe giveaway, Sunrise Rotary Golf Tournament, El Paso Spring Foot Marathon, Dia de Los Ninos, Dia de Los Libros, Diabetes Association Run/Walk, Mothers Against Drunk Driving Walk, and vacation bible school at St. Matthews Catholic Church.

Ward considers herself a woman of faith, family oriented, and simply lucky to call El Paso her home. She wants to continue to serve her community and give back as often as she can. As a Sun Princess, Ward wants to be an ambassador for El Paso, fulfilling every duty that Sun Princess must carry out with great honor and passion.

Gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald-Post

Sun Bowl Association Announces WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational Line Up

On Wednesday, the Sun Bowl Association and WestStar Bank announced the match-ups for the 57th Annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.

The four-team tournament includes two top-100 (RPI) teams and a former UTEP-conference rival from the Western Athletic Conference. Wyoming returns to El Paso for the holiday tournament and joins East Tennessee State, Norfolk State and home team, UTEP on the hardwood.

“We appreciate all the hard work that the Sun Bowl committee puts into hosting this tournament and finding quality opponents to compete in it year in and year out,” said UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry.

East Tennessee State, who is making its first appearance in the oldest collegiate holiday basketball tournament in the nation, will open against Wyoming at 5 p.m. (MST) in the Don Haskins Center.  Wyoming is making its second appearance in the tournament. The first time the Cowboys played in the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational was in 2007, going 1-1 that year.

UTEP will open the tournament against Norfolk State, which is making its third appearance in the Invitational after making it to the championship game in 2015.

The Miners have played in every tournament since it began in 1961.

In 2009, the tournament was renamed to honor former UTEP head coach and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Don Haskins. “The Bear” coached at UTEP from 1961 to 1999, winning 719 games and making 14 postseason appearances. Haskins famously led the Miners to victory in the 1966 National Championship game over Adolph Rupp and the heavily favored Kentucky Wildcats.

Officials added, “The Sun Bowl Association would like to thank WestStar Bank for supporting the nation’s oldest holiday basketball tournament as it has been the title sponsor for 10 consecutive years.”

The tournament will be held in the Don Haskins Center, Friday and Saturday, December 21-22.

Friday, Dec. 21, 2018

5 p.m. (MST) – East Tennessee State vs. Wyoming

7 p.m. (MST) – Norfolk State vs. UTEP

Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018

5 p.m. (MST) – Consolation Game

7 p.m. (MST) – Championship Game

FirstLight FCU, Sun Bowl Association Announce Parade Poster Contest

Artists from all across the El Paso region have a unique opportunity to make a name for themselves and win prizes via the recently-announced “FirstLight Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl Parade Poster Contest.”

“We wanted to continue to find ways to keep the community involved with our parade and wanted to find a way to give back,” said Bernie Olivas, Executive Director for the Sun Bowl Association.  “We have some of the best artists around and we know we will receive some amazing entries.”

An entry can be submitted starting on Tuesday, July 17 with the final entries being accepted on Saturday, Sept. 15.  Entries can be submitted at digitally via email at or can be dropped off at the Sun Bowl Association office, which is located at 4150 Pinnacle Street, Suite 100.

The poster must be 11” x 17” and must be original art. Any mixed media is suitable for reproduction, including computer-generated graphics. Copyrighted artwork and photos on a poster will automatically disqualify an entry.

The winning entry will be the official 2018 FirstLight Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl Parade poster and will be printed for distribution. The artist and winning poster will also be featured on the FirstLight Federal Credit Union and Sun Bowl websites along with their social media pages.

In addition, the winner will receive four tickets to the FirstLight Sun Bowl Breakfast, which is held before the parade on Thanksgiving Day, as well as a pair of tickets to the Hyundai Sun Bowl football game, which will be held on December 31, 2018.

“We look forward to seeing the entries we will receive,” Olivas said.  “I am sure it will be fun and challenging to judge and pick a winner.”

The judging will be done by various employees and board members from the Sun Bowl Association and FirstLight Federal Credit Union.  Judging will be based on creativity, clarity and relativity to the parade theme, which is “Amazing Feats.”

“We are excited to see the wealth of talent in the community produce something unique for this year’s parade,” said Natalia Flores, Marketing Manager, FirstLight Federal Credit Union. “It will be amazing feat in itself, having a local artist produce the winning poster.”

The winner will be announced via press release on or before Oct. 1, 2018.

For more information and a complete list of Rules and Regulations of the contest, please go to or call Sun Bowl Executive Director Bernie Olivas at 915-533-4416.

Sun Court Now Accepting Applications for 2018

The Sun Court has been around since the first Sun Bowl game in 1935 and the tradition continues for 2018.  Now area young women can apply to take their place among the Sun Court Royalty.

“We are hoping that getting the application out earlier will allow those interested in applying to look at their schedules so that they can be a part of all the events we have,” said Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas. “This is a great tradition for the Sun Bowl and for El Paso. We tend to get some of the best women in the community to represent the Sun Bowl Association and the City of El Paso.”

In order to be eligible applicants must meet the following criteria. All Sun Princesses must be within the ages of 18-22 as of September 1, 2018. Applicants must be enrolled as a full-time student, with a minimum of 12 credit hours and must hold a GPA of 2.5 or better on a 4.0 grading scale. Applicants may not hold any other title, as well as never being married and have not had any children.

If the applicants meet these requirements they must submit their application, official transcript, professional resume, a 5×7 color head shot, and an essay by Friday, June 15, 2018. Applications are available online.

The essay may contain no more than 500 words explaining their; community involvement, activities, awards, employment, and simply information on themselves and why they would like to be a Sun Princess.

Interviews will held at 4150 Pinnacle Street, on Saturday, July 7, 2018 starting at 9 a.m.  All applicants will be notified with their interview schedule after the application deadline on Friday, June 15, 2018.

If applicants are selected as a 2018 Sun Princess, they will then be eligible for the Sun Queen competition in 2019. The 2018 Sun Queen will be based on the performance of the 2017 Sun Princesses during the Sun Bowl events of that year.

Any and all questions can be answered by Amber Herrera either by email ( or by phone at (915)-533-4416.

This year’s Sun Court Coronation will be on Saturday, August 1, 2018.

A ‘Sunny’ Future: Sun Bowl Interns Gain Valuable Experience

Pre-employment experience is a must for those wishing to get hired in today’s business environment and the Sun Bowl Association allows college students the opportunity to gain experience through internships each semester.

Sun Bowl Media Relations Director Eddie Morelos accepts applications and interviews many students from UTEP and New Mexico State each semester to assist with all events the Sun Bowl Association puts on.

The SBA interns begin their morning with warm hellos and hot cups of coffee to get their day started.  Media Relations Assistant Ty Stevers, of Las Cruces, New Mexico begins his days bright and early.

“I try to get here by 8 a.m. to get a head start on the day,” Stevers said.

A morning for the interns consists of planning Social Media posts, as well as tasks for upcoming days and events. The interns plan and organize these posts by including trending content such as hashtags, challenges, fun facts, and honoring national holidays.

Media Relations Intern Angela Meyer, who travels to El Paso from Las Cruces three times a week, assists with Social Media planning and has learned how to execute the plans that are created.

“Every day we plan posts and create graphics that use a certain trend while coming up with ways to relate it back to the Sun bowl,” Meyer said.

The interns are expected help with the promotion of all Sun Bowl events in hopes of attracting more people to the Borderland.

Since August, interns have expanded their knowledge in graphic design, although most of them already have previous experience with this. Each intern practices the art of graphic design using different applications such as InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop.

“Using InDesign and Illustrator was a bit of a struggle at first, but coming in we all knew a few tricks,” Stevers said.  “We have been able to teach each other what we already knew and that has been helpful for all of us.”

Whether it’s graphic design, writing, or general office skills everything learned at the Sun Bowl is not only beneficial to the association, but is useful for any future opportunities that might come up for the interns.

UTEP student Elenie Gonzalez, who previously worked for the El Paso Chihuahuas, has grown immensely in many different areas of public relations.

“I have never done Social Media work like this before and it’s so much fun,” said Gonzalez. “Plus, I learn something new every day!”

Social Media posts show support and gratitude towards title sponsors, while simultaneously keeping fans up-to-date with news from the ACC and Pac-12. Weekly posts consist of ACC and Pac-12 football game schedules, Hyundai Sun Bowl game predictions, promotion of ticket sales and much more.

As time grows near for major Sun Bowl events, proofreading manuals and publications ignites a sense of reality for the interns. Tasks assigned to them vary; they take photographs, gather information, roll posters, create graphics and have even been involved in a door decorating contest.

“At the beginning of the internship I spent my days calling local businesses making sales for the association,” said Marketing Assistant Andres Torres. “Now, I bounce between marketing and graphic design. Every day is different.”

Every task given to the interns have one thing in mind; promoting the events.

“The interns that come on board with the Sun Bowl Association bring a new sense of excitement and fresh ideas,” said Morelos.  “It is challenging to get everything done without these interns.”

Due to varied schedules, interns are not able to meet with each other every day throughout the week but do manage to meet every Friday. The interns gather for a lunch break and discuss what is working and what is not.

Friday’s are the most productive days because there is a never-ending flow of new and interesting ideas for the organization to use.

“I enjoy the fact that we can see firsthand what goes behind a college bowl like the Sun Bowl,” said Meyer.

The Sun Bowl Association is currently carrying five interns on staff during the fall of 2017. The association employ’s only seven full-time staff members and depends on the use of dedicated volunteers to make every event a success in the El Paso community. Despite the fact that the most events are during the fall the Sun Bowl Association is in need of interns year-round.


If anyone is interested in becoming an intern for the Sun Bowl Association, they can contact Media Relations Director Eddie Morelos at

Author: Catherine Ramirez, for the Sun Bowl Association            

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