Polls, surveys and ratings are no more than a reflection of other people’s opinions, but the entire community has to take pride in the national No. 1 ranking the Howard Payne University Lady Jackets have won this week.

Last year’s talented team reached the “Elite Eight” last season, and ignited a firestorm of excitement in Brown County as the Lady Jackets hosted the American Southwest Conference Tournament and then a playoff game. Attendance records for Division III NCAA women’s basketball were set as Brownwood residents packed the Brownwood Coliseum.

Saturday’s game against ASC foe, the University of the Ozarks, will be the first for the Lady Jackets as the nation’s top squad, and it should again be standing-room-only. The university had previously decided to make admission free as improvements to the coliseum designed to enhance the basketball environment are dedicated.

Congratulations to the Lady Jackets. As head coach Chris Kielsmeier said Tuesday night, the No. 1 ranking you want to have is the one posted at the end of the season. But coming this early in the year, it shows the respect others have for the team. And that says volumes about the program the HPU athletic department is building.

Brownwood Bulletin