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Steve Gleason joins LSHOF 2018 induction class as Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award recipient

Steve Gleason joins LSHOF 2018 induction class as Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award recipient

NATCHITOCHES – Steve Gleason, whose place in New Orleans Saints history is now secondary to the impact he is making on ALS research and in the lives of thousands of victims of the disease, is the 2018 winner of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award presented by the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Gleason, whose pro football career ended in 2007, turns 41 on Thursday. The announcement of his honor is timed to coincide with an evening event in New Orleans celebrating his birthday. On June 30 during the Hall of Fame’s 2018 Induction Dinner and Ceremony in Natchitoches, he will become the 18th recipient of the Dixon Award since its inception in 2005.

He earned a permanent place in Saints lore on Sept. 26, 2006, when he blocked a punt early in the first game back in the Superdome since Hurricane Katrina. The play resulted in a Saints touchdown that triggered an emotional victory over their heated rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, on Monday Night Football. The Saints later commissioned a statue of Gleason’s play that stands outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Two years after retiring from the Saints, Gleason, then 34, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Gleason, along with his friends and family, started Team Gleason which is designed to generate public awareness for ALS, raise funds to help those fighting the disease, and ultimately to find a cure. His continuing efforts and his indomitable lifestyle have made national and global impact.

The Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award has been presented annually by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s 35-member Hall of Fame selection committee to an individual who has played a decisive role as a sports leader or administrator benefiting Louisiana and/or bringing credit to Louisiana on the national and international level.

Dixon Award winners are enshrined as Hall of Fame members and are featured in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum in Natchitoches.

Gleason will be among the 2018 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Class to be spotlighted in the annual Induction Dinner and Ceremonies on Saturday evening, June 30, at the Natchitoches Events Center. The Induction Dinner and Ceremonies are the highlight of the 2018 Induction Celebration beginning Thursday afternoon, June 28, with a press conference at the Hall of Fame museum at 800 Front Street in Natchitoches.

Six-time Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne, 18-year Major League Baseball pitcher Russ Springer,  NBA champion and two-time Grambling All-American Larry Wright, and 15-year NFL receiver and two-time Super Bowl champion Brandon Stokley are among the eight 2018 competitive ballot inductees chosen for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

The class also includes championship coaches Lewis Cook (high school football, still active at Notre Dame of Crowley) and Jerry Simmons (LSU, UL Lafayette tennis), along with 1975 Bassmasters Classic champion Jack Hains and the late Paul Candies, a member of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.

Also honored with enshrinement in the Class of 2018 will be Pineville broadcaster Lyn Rollins and Lake Charles sportswriter Scooter Hobbs, the winners of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism.

The 2018 Induction Class will be showcased in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum, operated by the Louisiana State Museum system in a partnership with the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. The striking $23 million, two-story, 27,500-square foot structure faces Cane River Lake in the National Historic Landmark District of Natchitoches and has garnered worldwide architectural acclaim and rave reviews for its contents since its grand opening during the 2013 Hall of Fame induction weekend.

The selection of Gleason was jointly announced by Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland and LSWA president Paul Letlow. Last year’s Dixon Award recipient was NCAA women’s basketball administrator Sue Donohoe, a Pineville native and Louisiana Tech graduate.

NATCHITOCHES – Steve Gleason, whose place in New Orleans Saints history is now secondary to the impact he is making on ALS research and in the lives of thousands of victims of the disease, is the 2018 winner of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award presented by the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.Gleason, a Washington state native who now is a longtime New Orleans resident, came to the Saints as a practice squad player in 2000. He played in 83 games on special teams and in the secondary at safety. When the team won Super Bowl XLIV following the 2009 season, even though he was retired, he was awarded a Super Bowl ring by the team, and at the same ceremony, a key to the city of New Orleans by Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

The statue “Rebirth” was dedicated in July 2012, when a local news report said the play that inspired it “etched Steve Gleason into Saints lore and became symbolic of New Orleans’ resilience in the face of disaster.” It also was reflective of Gleason’s approach to his life.

In 2013, Team Gleason held the first Team Gleason Summit for a Cure in New Orleans where scientists and people living with ALS, their loved ones, advocates, and other came together to establish a roadmap for new treatments.

A year later, Team Gleason received donations from over 18,000 people and raised more than $1 million during the Ice Bucket Challenge. The foundation has continued to raise money in the years since with the challenge.

Also in 2014, the Team Gleason House for Innovative Living was created. The Gleason House is a residential facility, located at St. Margaret’s Skilled Nursing Residence in New Orleans, that is designed to help people with ALS live more independently. It has seven single occupancy rooms, one double occupancy room, and all rooms are equipped with PEAC technology, and other amenities.

In 2015, Gleason was selected for the George Halas Award from the Pro Football Writers Association, which is given to a player, coach or staffer who overcomes the most adversity to succeed.

Also that year came the release of the critically acclaimed documentary “Gleason” that showcased Gleason’s fight against ALS. The film received top honors from the National Board of Review and selection for the Sundance Film Festival.

In 2016, President Obama signed into law the Steve Gleason Act which allows speech generating devices, like the one Gleason uses, more accessible for patients with ALS and other neurological disorders.

Seventeen people have previously been presented the Dixon Award since its inception in 2005.

The first winner in 2005 was Randy Gregson, a New Orleans native/resident and former president of the United States Tennis Association. In 2006 the winner was Emmanuel “Boozy” Bourgeois, president of Louisiana Special Olympics since 1972.

The 2007 recipients were Don Landry, a longtime collegiate administrator and basketball coach, and Doug Thornton, the executive director of the Superdome.

In 2008, the Dixon Award went to world-renowned orthopedic Dr. James Andrews, a Homer native, LSU graduate and SEC champion pole vaulter.

The 2009 recipients were George Dement, a Bossier City boxing and youth sports activist; and “Mr. Softball” Benny Turcan, a New Orleans native and long-time state ASA softball commissioner.

In 2010 the Dixon Award winner was Gerald Boudreaux, the longtime City of Lafayette recreation director best known as one of the country’s top college basketball referees in the last three decades.

A year later, the committee honored Elmo Adolph, an Olympic and professional boxing official, and Billy Montgomery, who as a highly-regarded state legislator championed sports causes including construction of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame museum.

In 2012, the Dixon Award went to Marksville physician Dr. L.J. Mayeux, the former national president and chairman of the board for Ducks Unlimited renowned for his efforts to restore duck habitat across the nation.

The 2013 recipient was New Orleans businessman and sports benefactor Milt Retif, whose influence has been especially significant for American Legion baseball and Tulane baseball in his hometown.

In 2014 there were two recipients: Tynes Hildebrand, a coach and later athletics director at Northwestern State who served a decade as one of the NCAA’s top basketball officiating administrators, and Wright Waters, the longtime Sun Belt Conference commissioner.

Paul Hoolahan, the executive director and chief executive officer of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Classic since 1996, was presented the 2015 Dixon Award.

The 2016 winner was world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Julian Bailes, a Natchitoches native and LSU graduate who has become a leading figure in the field of sports-related concussion research and treatment. Donohoe was last year’s recipient.

The 2018 Induction Celebration will kick off Thursday, June 28 with the press conference and an evening reception. It includes three receptions, a youth sports clinic, a bowling party and a Sunday, July 1 golf scramble at Oak Wing Golf Course in Alexandria. Tickets for the Induction Dinner and Ceremonies, and golf entries, along with sponsorship packages, are available through the LaSportsHall.com website.

Adding the 334 sports competitors currently enshrined, 17 previous winners of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership award and 60 prior recipients of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism, there are 411 members of the Hall of Fame prior to this summer’s ceremonies.

The 2018 Induction Celebration weekend will be hosted by the LSWA and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, the support organization for the Hall of Fame.  The LSHOF Foundation was established as a 501 c 3 non-profit entity in 1975 and is governed by a statewide board of directors.  For information on participation and sponsorship opportunities, contact Foundation President/CEO Ronnie Rantz at 225-802-6040 or RonnieRantz@LaSportsHall.com.  Standard and customized sponsorships are available.

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Lagniappe: Recent LSHOF inductee honors and losses

Lagniappe: Recent LSHOF inductee honors and losses

We reflect on the moments where are enshrined greats were recognized elsewhere for their career accomplishments while also noting the passing of a trio of Hall of Famers.

Honors:

Harold Carmichael (Class of 1989) and Everson Walls (Class of 1998) – inducted in Black College Football Hall of Fame Feb. 11 in Atlanta

Aeneas Williams (Class of 2008) opened The Spirit Church in St. Ann, Missouri, in the St. Louis metro area in late January.

Kevin Faulk (Class of 2015) joined the LSU football staff as Director of Player Development Jan. 24.

Larry Hymel (Class of 2011, Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism) honored with a retirement party Jan. 20 in Hammond.

Ed Reed  (Class of 2017) chosen for 2018 College Football Hall of Fame induction class

Alan Faneca (Class of 2014), Kevin Mawae (Class of 2013) and Everson Walls (Class of 1998) were among 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018.

Billy Allgood (Class of 1999) was honored before the tipoff of the NSU Cenla Classic basketball event Dec. 9 at the Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria.

Warrick Dunn (Class of 2012) was enshrined in the Atlanta Falcons Ring of Honor Dec. 7.

Marshall Faulk (Class of 2009) was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame Dec. 5.

Official Hall of Fame Artist Chris Brown did artwork commemorating the 2018 Allstate Sugar Bowl, featured on billboards and in publications and on graphics for the BCS Playoff Semifinal Dec. 31.

Pete Boudreaux (Class of 2014) led Catholic High of Baton Rouge to the state Class 5A cross country championship Nov. 14, the 17th under his tenure to go with almost three dozen indoor and outdoor track state titles.

ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi visited the Hall of Fame museum in Natchitoches on Sept. 27.

Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism and LSHOF inductee Keith Prince (Class of 2004) entered the Louisiana Tech Athletic Hall of Fame in late September.

Basketball great Joyce Walker (Class of 1997) enshrined in the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame in September.

Kevin Mawae (Class of 2013) was inducted in the New York Jets Ring of Honor Oct. 1.

Vaughan Johnson (Class of 2011) was inducted in the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in August.

The Media Room in the remodeled press box at Louisiana Tech’s Joe Aillet Stadium was named for 2009 inductee O.K. “Buddy” Davis, a Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism winner, at a preseason luncheon in the facility.

The dynamic D-D Breaux, a Class of 2017 inductee, was named the state’s Outstanding College Coach in 2016-17 in July by the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

RIP:

Charlie Hennigan (Class of 1978), Dec. 20

Y.A. Tittle (Class of 1972), Oct. 8

Mel Didier (Class of 2003), Sept. 10

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Larry Wright to be honored in Celebrating Our Legends appearance at Grambling-Southern basketball game

Larry Wright to be honored in Celebrating Our Legends appearance at Grambling-Southern basketball game

GRAMBLING – Grambling State University is hosting a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame “Celebrating Our Legends” recognition Saturday when the Tigers host arch-rival Southern, with a halftime event spotlighting one of Grambling’s greatest basketball stars, Larry Wright, a member of the Hall’s Class of 2018.

The Grambling-Southern men’s game is set for a 5:30 start Saturday at the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center. Hobdy is one of 20 Grambling greats who already have been enshrined in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Wright will be among 11 inductees going into the Hall of Fame on June 30 in Natchitoches to culminate the 2018 Induction Celebration. A schedule of events and opportunities to participate can be found at the LaSportsHall.com website.

The Tiger great will be celebrated in a halftime ceremony Saturday evening including Ronnie Rantz, the CEO/president of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation.

Wright, who teamed with 1988 LSHOF inductee Elvin Hayes on the Washington Bullets’ 1978 NBA Champion squad, was a prep and college standout in Louisiana who played six NBA seasons, and later served as the head coach at Grambling State, his alma mater. A sharp-shooting 6-1 guard, he was a prep All-American at two schools, Richwood of Monroe and Western High School in the Washington, D.C. metro area, then was a two-time NCAA Small College All-American (1975-76) at Grambling.

After being the SWAC Player of the Year as a junior with a 25.4 scoring average for the Tigers’ only SWAC Tournament championship team, he declared for the NBA Draft and was a first-round NBA Draft pick of Washington. In four seasons with the Bullets, he scored 2,489 regular-season points in 297 games (8.4 points a game), averaging between 9.3 and 7.3 points a game each season.

After playing a season for Detroit (7.4 ppg), Wright went on to play in Europe, leading Banco DiRoma to the Italian championship in 1982-83, winning Italian Player of the Year honors in 1983. One publication named him the European Player of the Year in 1983-84 when he led the team to the European title.

In 1972, he led Richwood to the state Class 3A championship, averaging 28.9 ppg. A year later at Western High School, he led the team to the Inner City championship and the Knights of Columbus championship, earning a spot on the Parade Magazine Super 13 All-American team in 1973.

The list of Tigers inducted in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame includes Willie Brown, Buck Buchanan, Willie Davis, Ralph Garr, James “Shack” Harris, Hobdy, Bob Hopkins, Aaron James, Gary “Big Hands” Johnson, Charlie Joiner, James Jones, Ernie Ladd, Albert Lewis, Frank Lewis, Willis Reed, Eddie Robinson, Rosey Taylor, Everson Walls, Doug Williams and Tank Younger.

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Ragin’ Cajuns in Class of 2018 honored at Cajundome

Ragin’ Cajuns in Class of 2018 honored at Cajundome

LAFAYETTE – There’s going to be a heavy Ragin’ Cajun flavor to the 2018 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction festivities this summer.

Last Thursday night, the spotlight was on three Cajun greats who are heading into the hall on June 30 in Natchitoches. The trio was recognized during a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame “Celebrating Our Legends” recognition at halftime of UL-Lafayette’s basketball victory over South Alabama at the Cajundome.

Former tennis coach Jerry Simmons, former football assistant coach and alumnus Lewis Cook, and Cajun football receiving great Brandon Stokley were saluted by fans in the arena. Stokley, who lives in Denver, was represented by another UL great, 2004 LSHOF inductee Hollis Conway, the two-time USA Olympic high jump medalist.

Ronnie Rantz, the CEO/President of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, led the “Celebrating Our Legends” recognition honoring the Cajun greats.

For information on tickets and participation in the 2018 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration June 28-July 1 in Natchitoches, visit LaSportsHall.com or contact Rantz at RonnieRantz@LaSportsHall.com or at 225-802-6040.

Cook has led three different high schools to 30 state playoff appearances in 33 years as a head coach with 24 district and four state titles, three at Notre Dame of Crowley. After the 2017 season, Cook had a 344-83 career record, ranking him third in Louisiana history among active coaches and fifth all-time in the state with each of the coaches ahead of him already inducted into the LSHOF (J.T. Curtis, Jim Hightower, Red Franklin and Don Shows).

His .806 winning percentage, which is fourth-best in state history, includes a playoff record of 75-27 with four state titles, 12 trips to the state championship game and 18 semifinal berths.  His 1989 Crowley team won the 3A state title, and he followed with state crowns at Notre Dame in 2000 and 2009 in 3A and 2015 in 2A.  Cook has won 24 district titles — including 11 in a row — and has been the state coach of the year six times in three different classes.

He also was the head coach at Rayne High, his alma mater, from 1977-80. Cook spent eight seasons on the offensive staff at UL (1981-84, 1992-95) and coached six eventual NFL players — including Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member Jake Delhomme, and Stokley.

The winningest tennis coach in UL Lafayette, LSU and Louisiana history (career record of 492-197-2 in 26 years), Simmons is one of the top 10 winningest NCAA Division I coaches of all-time.

In 1998, Simmons was the youngest coach ever inducted into the ITA Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame, and is also in the Louisiana Tennis Hall of Fame. He was the first person to introduce corporate sponsorship to collegiate tennis with the USL Rolex Tennis Classic in 1977.  He organized ESPN’s first televised college tennis match in 1979, served as tournament director of the Nokia Sugar Bowl tennis event from 1994-98 and is tour director of 2013 LSHOF inductee Chanda Rubin’s American ITF.

His record at LSU was 278-105, and at UL Lafayette he was 214-92-2 in 11 years.  Along with the 1988 NCAA title match, his LSU teams advanced to the NCAA Final Eight in 1987-89-91-92, the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1984-85-86-90-93-95-96-97 and made NCAA appearances in 1984-85-86-87-88-89-90-91-92-93-95-96-97.

A record-setting Ragin’ Cajuns star, Stokley played wide receiver for five NFL teams over a 15-year career, appearing in 152 games, and had 397 catches for 5,339 yards (13.4 yards per catch) and 39 TDs. His best season was in 2004 with the Colts, when he teamed with Manning for 68 receptions, 1,077 yards and 10 TDs. Stokley added 46 receptions for 647 yards and seven TDs in 15 postseason games, helping the Baltimore Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV. That night, he caught seven passes for 91 yards in a 34-7 rout of the New York Giants, scoring the first points of the game on a 38-yard TD grab from Trent Dilfer in the first quarter.

Stokley entered the NCAA football record book while playing for the Ragin’ Cajuns from 1995-98, becoming the first Division I player to average 100 receiving yards a game in three different seasons (101.9 in 1995, 105.5 in 1996 and 106.6 in 1998).  As a freshman, his 1,121 receiving yards was an all-division NCAA freshman record — even though he didn’t start a game that year because his father, head coach Nelson Stokley, didn’t want to show favoritism.

With the Ragin’ Cajuns, he had 241 catches for 3,702 yards and 25 TDs despite playing in only four games as a junior because of a torn ACL.  At the end of his career, he ranked ninth all-time in Division I-A in career yardage (3,702) and 10th in catches (241). At Comeaux High in Lafayette, Stokley was a basketball and baseball standout who only played football in his senior season, but made the Class 5A all-state team after leading the state with 80 receptions for 946 yards.

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Class of 2018 legends Springer, Simmons, Rollins recognized during LSU basketball game

Class of 2018 legends Springer, Simmons, Rollins recognized during LSU basketball game

BATON ROUGE – LSU’s sports tradition is second to none, and that’s reflected with a long honor roll of inductees in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

That number will grow by three this summer.  A Tiger baseball great, Russ Springer, along with LSU tennis coaching legend Jerry Simmons and broadcaster Lyn Rollins, who has called hundreds of LSU games in several sports, will be enshrined June 30 in Natchitoches. The trio was recognized last Tuesday during a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame “Celebrating Our Legends” recognition at halftime of LSU’s Southeastern Conference basketball win over Texas A&M.

Simmons, who coached LSU to 13 NCAA postseason berths, and Rollins, a four-time state broadcaster of the year, were atypically in the spotlight in front of a cheering crowd at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Springer, who had family obligations, was represented by LSU baseball coach Paul Maineri.

Ronnie Rantz, a two-time national championship pitcher for the Tigers a few years after Springer, is the CEO/President of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation and led the “Celebrating Our Legends” recognition honoring the LSU inductees.

For information on tickets and participation in the 2018 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration June 28-July 1 in Natchitoches, visit LaSportsHall.com or contact Rantz at RonnieRantz@LaSportsHall.com or at 225-802-6040.

The winningest tennis coach in LSU, UL Lafayette and Louisiana history (career record of 492-197-2 in 26 years), Simmons is the second winningest coach in Southeastern Conference history behind only the legendary Dan Magill of Georgia.  He is one of the top 10 winningest NCAA Division I coaches of all-time.

Simmons led LSU to 13 NCAA appearances, all of which were at least to the Round of 16, in 15 years. He was named National, Regional, SEC and Louisiana Coach of the Year in 1988, when he led LSU to a school-record 27 wins (only 2 losses) and to the National Championship match. LSU was ranked No. 1 in the nation for four weeks in 1988, a first in school history.

He coached Donni Leaycraft to the 1989 NCAA Singles title, the first Grand Slam victory in school history. Simmons coached Johan Kjellesten to the 1989 Clay Court Singles title, the second Grand Slam victory at LSU. Tiger players earned 24 All-America honors and 34 All-SEC honors in 15 years under Simmons, and he had players earn 23 Academic All-SEC honors. His teams won 138 SEC dual matches in career, second in league history to Magill.

In 1998, Simmons was the youngest coach ever inducted into the ITA Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame, and is also in the Louisiana Tennis Hall of Fame. He was the first person to introduce corporate sponsorship to collegiate tennis with the USL Rolex Tennis Classic in 1977.  He organized ESPN’s first televised college tennis match in 1979, served as tournament director of the Nokia Sugar Bowl tennis event from 1994-98 and is tour director of 2013 LSHOF inductee Chanda Rubin’s American ITF.

His record at LSU was 278-105, and at UL Lafayette he was 214-92-2 in 11 years.  Along with the 1988 NCAA title match, his LSU teams advanced to the NCAA Final Eight in 1987-89-91-92, the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1984-85-86-90-93-95-96-97 and made NCAA appearances in 1984-85-86-87-88-89-90-91-92-93-95-96-97.

A right-hander from Grant Parish, Springer was a standout pitcher at LSU who played 18 major league seasons – from 1992-2010 (minus 2002) with 10 different teams. Only 73 pitchers in MLB history have more appearances than Springer (740), who also set an SEC strikeout-per-nine-innings record (14.5) as a freshman at LSU.

Springer played on three teams that went to the World Series – the 1999 Atlanta Braves, 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks and 2005 Houston Astros. He was the winning pitcher for Atlanta Game 6 of the 1999 NLDS against the Mets, which clinched the National League pennant.

The Grant Parish native played for LSU from 1987-89, compiling a 19-10 career record with a 3.39 ERA and 313 career strikeouts in 252 innings pitched for the Tigers. A seventh-round pick of the New York Yankees in 1989, he made his big-league debut in 1992 with the Yankees. He logged 755 strikeouts in the big leagues in a shade over 856 innings. Springer, mostly a reliever through his career, was 36-45 overall with a 4.52 ERA, but his best two seasons were late in his career – 2007 and 2008 with the St. Louis Cardinals, when he went 10-2 with an average ERA of 2.25 and registered 111 strikeouts. In 2007 (8-1, 2.18 ERA) he was given the Darryl Kile Good Guy Award, presented annually to the Cardinals (and Astros) player who best exemplifies Kile’s traits of “a good teammate, a great friend, a fine father and a humble man.”

Of all the baseball players in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, only three — Baseball Hall of Famers Mel Ott (22 years), Ted Lyons (21 years) and Lou Brock (19 years) — played for more seasons in the major leagues.

 

Rollins, who has a master’s degree from LSU, is a four-time Louisiana Sportscaster of the Year in his 45th year of sports broadcasting in Louisiana. He is believed to have called more televised college baseball games than anyone in the country, beginning as the primary play-by-play man for Jumbo Sports Network’s groundbreaking telecasts of LSU baseball in 1994, and has done a wide array of college sports including football, basketball, baseball, softball, gymnastics, soccer and volleyball, and many high school football radio broadcasts.

Rollins, a 1973 Northwestern State graduate, is a protégé of the late Norm Fletcher, the Natchitoches broadcaster who won the Distinguished Service Award in 2010. He succeeded Fletcher as the voice of the Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremony and has been a co-host of the long-running CST Hall of Fame Showcase recap of each summer’s inductions.

Rollins was the Demon Sports Network play-by-play radio broadcaster from 1993-2003 and had also called games for Grambling and the Alexandria Aces minor league baseball team. He began working for Cox Sports Television in 2003 doing LSU football game replays and has more recently done LSU game telecasts for ESPN3 and the SEC Network, along with CST.

He has done state high school football game of the week telecasts, hundreds of prep football radio broadcasts and still hosts a weekly sports talk radio show in Alexandria. Rollins worked in public relations at Louisiana College and in the private sector, winning multiple Addy Awards for advertising and marketing production and campaigns.

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LSWA names Scooter Hobbs, Lyn Rollins as 2018 Distinguished Service Award recipients

LSWA names Scooter Hobbs, Lyn Rollins as 2018 Distinguished Service Award recipients

For immediate release– contact Doug Ireland, 318-288-6388 or DougIreland@LaSportsHall.com

NATCHITOCHES – Colorful, award-winning Lake Charles sportswriter Scooter Hobbs and widely-acclaimed Pineville broadcaster Lyn Rollins have been selected as 2018 recipients of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

The honor, to be made official June 30 in Natchitoches, means Hobbs and Rollins will join the elite 11-person Class of 2018 being inducted in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Hobbs and Rollins were selected from a 22-person pool of outstanding nominees for the state’s top sports journalism honor.

The Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism is the most prestigious honor offered to sports media in the state. Recipients are chosen by the 35-member Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame selection committee based on nominees’ professional accomplishments in local, state, regional and even national arenas, with leadership in the LSWA a contributing factor and three decades of work in the profession as a requirement.

Distinguished Service Award winners are enshrined in the Hall of Fame along with the 411 current athletes, sports journalists, coaches and administrators chosen since 1959. Just 60 leading figures in the state’s sports media have been honored with the Distinguished Service Award since its inception 36 years ago in 1982.

Hobbs, a Springhill native, is best known for his insightful coverage of LSU sports for the Lake Charles American Press since 1979. He is one of the most decorated sportswriters in state history, collecting nearly 200 LSWA writing awards in the organization’s annual contest while also claiming a couple national honors from the Associated Press Sports Editors.

Rollins, a four-time Louisiana Sportscaster of the Year, is in his 45th year of sports broadcasting in Louisiana. He is believed to have called more televised college baseball games than anyone in the country, beginning as the primary play-by-play man for Jumbo Sports Network’s groundbreaking telecasts of LSU baseball in 1994, and has done a wide array of college sports including football, basketball, baseball, softball, gymnastics, soccer and volleyball, and many high school football radio broadcasts.

Hobbs and Rollins will be among the 2018 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Class to be spotlighted in the annual Induction Dinner and Ceremonies on Saturday evening, June 30, at the Natchitoches Events Center. The Induction Dinner and Ceremonies are the highlight of the 2018 Induction Celebration beginning Thursday afternoon, June 28, with a press conference at the Hall of Fame museum at 800 Front Street in Natchitoches.

Six-time Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne, 18-year Major League Baseball pitcher Russ Springer, NBA champion and two-time Grambling All-American Larry Wright, and 15-year NFL receiver and two-time Super Bowl champion Brandon Stokley are among the eight 2018 competitive ballot inductees chosen for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

The class also includes championship coaches Lewis Cook (high school football, still active at Notre Dame of Crowley) and Jerry Simmons (LSU, UL Lafayette tennis), along with 1975 Bassmasters Classic champion Jack Hains and the late Paul Candies, a member of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.

Also honored with enshrinement in the Class of 2018 will be the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award winner, to be announced next month.

The 2018 Induction Class will be showcased in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum, operated by the Louisiana State Museum system in a partnership with the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. The striking $23 million, two-story, 27,500-square foot structure faces Cane River Lake in the National Historic Landmark District of Natchitoches and has garnered worldwide architectural acclaim and rave reviews for its contents since its grand opening during the 2013 Hall of Fame induction weekend.

The selection of Hobbs and Rollins was jointly announced Friday by Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland and LSWA president Paul Letlow.

Hobbs has been LSWA Sportswriter of the Year five times (2003, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2013) and Columnist of the Year eight times (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015). He has won 87 first-place honors in LSWA writing contests, along with 51 seconds and 35 thirds.

In the Mississippi-Louisiana Associated Press writing contests Hobbs has claimed six wins, six seconds and five thirds. Nationally, he has won third and fourth places in APSE contests despite entering only sporadically during his career.

He’s also been a statewide columnist with the LSU fan publication Tiger Rag. Hobbs, hired by 2015 Distinguished Service Award winner Bobby Dower at the American Press, succeeded Dower as sports editor in 1992 and has retained that role since. In recent years, he’s also been co-host of a weekly sports talk cable television show in Lake Charles.

A former LSWA president, Hobbs has been a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame selection committee for over 30 years.

Rollins, a 1973 Northwestern State graduate, is a protégé of the late Norm Fletcher, the Natchitoches broadcaster who won the Distinguished Service Award in 2010. He succeeded Fletcher as the voice of the Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremony and has been a co-host of the long-running CST Hall of Fame Showcase recap of each summer’s inductions.

Rollins, who has a master’s in journalism from LSU, was the Demon Sports Network play-by-play radio broadcaster from 1993-2003 and had also called games for Grambling and the Alexandria Aces minor league baseball team. He began working for Cox Sports Television in 2003 and has done game telecasts for ESPN3 and the SEC Network.

He has done state high school football game of the week telecasts, hundreds of prep football radio broadcasts and still hosts a weekly sports talk radio show in Alexandria. Rollins worked in public relations at Louisiana College and in the private sector, winning multiple Addy Awards for advertising and marketing production and campaigns.

Rollins also worked as a baseball umpire on the high school and college levels until the mid-1990s. He recently joined the 35-person Hall of Fame selection committee and also serves on the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation board of directors.

The 2018 Induction Celebration will kick off Thursday, June 28 with the press conference and an evening reception. It includes three receptions, a youth sports clinic, a bowling party and a Sunday, July 1 golf scramble at Oak Wing Golf Course in Alexandria. Tickets for the Induction Dinner and Ceremonies, and golf entries, will be on sale this spring through the LaSportsHall.com website.

Adding the 334 sports competitors currently enshrined, 17 previous winners of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership award and 60 prior recipients of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism, there are 411 members of the Hall of Fame prior to this summer’s ceremonies.

The 2018 Induction Celebration weekend will be hosted by the LSWA and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, the support organization for the Hall of Fame. The LSHOF Foundation was established as a 501 c 3 non-profit entity in 1975 and is governed by a statewide board of directors. For information on participation and sponsorship opportunities, contact Foundation President/CEO Ronnie Rantz at 225-802-6040 or RonnieRantz@LaSportsHall.com. Standard and customized sponsorships are available.

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Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame 2018 induction class

Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame 2018 induction class

NATCHITOCHES –  Six-time Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne, 18-year Major League Baseball pitcher Russ Springer,  NBA champion and two-time Grambling All-American Larry Wright, and 15-year NFL receiver and two-time Super Bowl champion Brandon Stokley are among eight 2018 competitive ballot inductees chosen for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

The class also includes championship coaches Lewis Cook (high school football, still active at Notre Dame of Crowley) and Jerry Simmons (LSU, UL Lafayette tennis), along with 1975 Bassmasters Classic champion Jack Hains and the late Paul Candies, a member of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.

Hains is only the second outdoorsman elected to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, preceded by Grits Gresham (1988). Candies is the second motorsports great ever chosen for enshrinement, along with three-time world motorcycle racing champion Freddie Spencer (2009).

Cook and Hains will become only the third set of inductees from the same Louisiana high school to enter the Hall of Fame in the same year. They were classmates and baseball teammates at Rayne High School.

Wayne and Stokley were NFL teammates from 2003-06 with the Indianapolis Colts, catching passes thrown by likely 2019 LSHOF inductee Peyton Manning. They helped the Colts win Super Bowl XLI.

The Class of 2018 will be enshrined Saturday, June 30, in Natchitoches to culminate the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration June 28-30.

The 2018 Induction Class will be showcased in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum, operated by the Louisiana State Museum system in a partnership with the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. The striking two-story, 27,500-square foot structure faces Cane River Lake in the National Historic Landmark District of Natchitoches and has garnered worldwide architectural acclaim and rave reviews for its contents since its grand opening during the 2013 Hall of Fame induction weekend.

A 35-member Louisiana Sports Writers Association committee selected the 2018 inductees. The panel considered a record 134 nominees from 28 different sport categories on a 30-page ballot, said Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland.

The eight new competitive ballot inductees will raise the total of Hall of Fame members to 342 competitors honored since the first induction class —  baseball’s Mel Ott, world champion boxer Tony Canzoneri and LSU football great Gaynell Tinsley — were enshrined in 1959 after their election a year earlier.

Also to be enshrined next summer will be three other Hall of Fame inductees, the winner of the 2018 Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award and the recipients of the 2018 Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism presented by the LSWA. Those contributor ballot inductees will be announced later this year.

The complete 11-person Class of 2018 will bring the membership in the Hall of Fame to 422 men and women, including 18 Dixon Award winners and 62 sports journalists.

 

The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame already includes 18 Pro Football Hall of Fame members, 18 Olympic medalists including 11 gold medal winners, 10 members of the Basketball Hall of Fame, seven of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, six Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, 37 College Football Hall of Fame members, nine National High School Hall of Fame enshrinees, jockeys with a combined 16 Triple Crown victories, six world boxing champions, seven Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinees, seven College Baseball Hall of Fame inductees,  10 College Basketball Hall of Fame members, four NBA Finals MVPs, four winners of major professional golf championships, four National Museum of (Thoroughbred) Racing and Hall of Fame inductees and two Super Bowl MVPs.

Wayne, a New Orleans native and John Ehret High School product, teamed with another New Orleans native, Manning, to become one of the NFL’s most productive wide receivers, especially when it came to finding the end zone. The 30th overall pick in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Colts, Wayne had 82 touchdown catches in his career, 69 of them from Manning from 2001-10.

Wayne was a six-time Pro Bowl pick (making it five years in a row from 2006-10) and an AP first-team All-Pro selection. For his 14-year pro career, all with Indianapolis, he caught 1,070 passes for 14,345 yards (13.4 average) and 82 TDs despite sharing the ball for his first eight seasons with Pro Football Hall of Fame wideout Marvin Harrison. Going into the 2017 season, Wayne ranked 10th in NFL history in receptions and receiving yards after ranking seventh in catches and eighth in yards when he retired after the 2014 season.

Wayne, who played in two Super Bowls (winning against the Chicago Bears and losing to the Saints in 2009), started 197 of 211 regular-season games. He caught at least 75 passes nine seasons in a row (2004-12) and had at least 100 receptions four times (104 in 2007, 100 in ’09, a career-high 111 in ’10 and 106 in ’12 at the age of 34). Wayne had at least 1,000 receiving yards in eight of 14 years in the league with career-high 1,510 in 2007 and topped the 1,300-yard mark four times.

He had a career-best 12 TD catches in 2004 and recorded 10 in 2007 and 2009. Wayne added 93 catches for 1,254 yards and nine TDs in 21 career playoff games, catching a 53-yarder for the Colts first score in a 29-17 win over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI in Miami, where he attended college. He caught 173 passes for 2,510 yards and 20 TDs in four seasons with the Hurricanes, where he was college teammates with 2017 LSHOF inductee Ed Reed.

A right-hander from Grant Parish, Springer was a standout pitcher at LSU who played 18 major league seasons – from 1992-2010 (minus 2002) with 10 different teams. Only 73 pitchers in MLB history have more appearances than Springer (740), who also set an SEC strikeout-per-nine-innings record (14.5) as a freshman at LSU.

Springer played on three teams that went to the World Series – the 1999 Atlanta Braves, 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks and 2005 Houston Astros. He was the winning pitcher for Atlanta Game 6 of the 1999 NLDS against the Mets, which clinched the National League pennant.

The Grant Parish native played for LSU from 1987-89, compiling a 19-10 career record with a 3.39 ERA and 313 career strikeouts in 252 innings pitched for the Tigers. A seventh-round pick of the New York Yankees in 1989, he made his big-league debut in 1992 with the Yankees. He logged 755 strikeouts in the big leagues in a shade over 856 innings. Springer, mostly a reliever through his career, was 36-45 overall with a 4.52 ERA, but his best two seasons were late in his career – 2007 and 2008 with the St. Louis Cardinals, when he went 10-2 with an average ERA of 2.25 and registered 111 strikeouts. In 2007 (8-1, 2.18 ERA) he was given the Darryl Kile Good Guy Award, presented annually to the Cardinals (and Astros) player who best exemplifies Kile’s traits of “a good teammate, a great friend, a fine father and a humble man.”

Of all the baseball players in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, only three — Baseball Hall of Famers Mel Ott (22 years), Ted Lyons (21 years) and Lou Brock (19 years) — played for more seasons in the major leagues.

A record-setting UL Lafayette star, Stokley played wide receiver for five NFL teams over a 15-year career, appearing in 152 games, and had 397 catches for 5,339 yards (13.4 yards per catch) and 39 TDs. His best season was in 2004 with the Colts, when he teamed with Manning for 68 receptions, 1,077 yards and 10 TDs. Stokley added 46 receptions for 647 yards and seven TDs in 15 postseason games, helping the Baltimore Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV. That night, he caught seven passes for 91 yards in a 34-7 rout of the New York Giants, scoring the first points of the game on a 38-yard TD grab from Trent Dilfer in the first quarter.

Stokley entered the NCAA football record book while playing for the Ragin’ Cajuns from 1995-98, becoming the first Division I player to average 100 receiving yards a game in three different seasons (101.9 in 1995, 105.5 in 1996 and 106.6 in 1998).  As a freshman, his 1,121 receiving yards was an all-division NCAA freshman record — even though he didn’t start a game that year because his father, head coach Nelson Stokley, didn’t want to show favoritism.

With the Ragin’ Cajuns, he had 241 catches for 3,702 yards and 25 TDs despite playing in only four games as a junior because of a torn ACL.  At the end of his career, he ranked ninth all-time in Division I-A in career yardage (3,702) and 10th in catches (241). At Comeaux High in Lafayette, Stokley was a basketball and baseball standout who only played football in his senior season, but made the Class 5A all-state team after leading the state with 80 receptions for 946 yards.

Wright, who teamed with 1988 LSHOF inductee Elvin Hayes on the Washington Bullets’ 1978 NBA Champion squad, was a prep and college standout in Louisiana who played six NBA seasons, and later served as the head coach at Grambling State, his alma mater.  A sharp-shooting 6-1 guard, he was a prep All-American at two schools, Richwood of Monroe and Western High School in the Washington, D.C. metro area, then was a two-time NCAA Small College All-American (1975-76) at Grambling.

After being the SWAC Player of the Year as a junior with a 25.4 scoring average for the Tigers’ only SWAC Tournament championship team, he declared for the NBA Draft and was a first-round NBA Draft pick of Washington. In four seasons with the Bullets, he scored 2,489 regular-season points in 297 games (8.4 points a game), averaging between 9.3 and 7.3 points a game each season.

After playing a season for Detroit (7.4 ppg), Wright went on to play in Europe, leading Banco DiRoma to the Italian championship in 1982-83, winning Italian Player of the Year honors in 1983. One publication named him the European Player of the Year in 1983-84 when he led the team to the European title.

In 1972, he led Richwood to the state Class 3A championship, averaging 28.9 ppg. A year later at Western HS, he led the team to the Inner City championship and the Knights of Columbus championship, earning a spot on the Parade Magazine Super 13 All-American team in 1973.

Cook has led three different high schools to 30 state playoff appearances in 32 years as a head coach with 23 district and four state titles, three at Notre Dame of Crowley. At the outset of the 2017 season, Cook had a 333-81 career record, ranking him third in Louisiana history among active coaches and fifth all-time in the state with each of the coaches ahead of him already inducted into the LSHOF (J.T. Curtis, Jim Hightower, Red Franklin and Don Shows).

His .804 winning percentage, which is fourth-best in state history, includes a playoff record of 73-26 with four state titles, 11 trips to the state championship game and 17 semifinal berths.  His 1989 Crowley team won the 3A state title, and he followed with state crowns at Notre Dame in 2000 and 2009 in 3A and 2015 in 2A.  Cook has won 23 district titles — including 10 in a row — and has been the state coach of the year six times in three different classes.

He also was the head coach at Rayne High, his alma mater, from 1977-80. Cook spent eight seasons on the offensive staff at UL Lafayette (1981-84, 1992-95) and coached six eventual NFL players — including Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member Jake Delhomme, and Stokley.

The winningest tennis coach in LSU, UL Lafayette and Louisiana history (career record of 492-197-2 in 26 years), Simmons is the second winningest coach in Southeastern Conference history behind only the legendary Dan Magill of Georgia.  He is one of the top 10 winningest NCAA Division I coaches of all-time.

Simmons led LSU to 13 NCAA appearances, all of which were at least to the Round of 16, in 15 years. He was named National, Regional, SEC and Louisiana Coach of the Year in 1988, when he led LSU to a school-record 27 wins (only 2 losses) and to the National Championship match. LSU was ranked No. 1 in the nation for four weeks in 1988, a first in school history.

He coached Donni Leaycraft to the 1989 NCAA Singles title, the first Grand Slam victory in school history. Simmons coached Johan Kjellesten to the 1989 Clay Court Singles title, the second Grand Slam victory at LSU. Tiger players earned 24 All-America honors and 34 All-SEC honors in 15 years under Simmons, and he had players earn 23 Academic All-SEC honors. His teams won 138 SEC dual matches in career, second in league history to Magill.

In 1998, Simmons was the youngest coach ever inducted into the ITA Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame, and is also in the Louisiana Tennis Hall of Fame. He was the first person to introduce corporate sponsorship to collegiate tennis with the USL Rolex Tennis Classic in 1977.  He organized ESPN’s first televised college tennis match in 1979, served as tournament director of the Nokia Sugar Bowl tennis event from 1994-98 and is tour director of 2013 LSHOF inductee Chanda Rubin’s American ITF.

His record at LSU was 278-105, and at UL Lafayette he was 214-92-2 in 11 years.  Along with the 1988 NCAA title match, his LSU teams advanced to the NCAA Final Eight in 1987-89-91-92, the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1984-85-86-90-93-95-96-97 and made NCAA appearances in 1984-85-86-87-88-89-90-91-92-93-95-96-97.

A crop-duster from Rayne, Hains was one of the early champions of competitive bass fishing. In 1975, he captured the fifth annual Bassmaster Classic, the Super Bowl of fishing tournaments, in Currituck Sound, North Carolina. Hains, a rookie angler on the circuit, caught 18 bass weighing 45 pounds, 4 ounces and collected a check for $15,950. He went on to qualify for seven Bassmaster Classic tournaments.

Hains, who competed in the late 1990s on the Walmart Fishing League Worldwide Tour, piled up earnings of $318,061 in 152 career tournaments. Hains finished in the Top 10 a total of 24 times and also had 35 top-20 showings.

Candies, a des Allemands resident and Southeastern Louisiana alumnus who died in 2013, won five International Hot Rod Association championships, two National Hot Rod Association titles, and had nine top-five seasons. Away from racing, he was longtime chairman of the long-running Grand Isle International Tarpon Rodeo, the world’s biggest fishing tournament, and became known as the “Granddaddy of the Tarpon Rodeo.”

He was one-half of the formidable drag racing partnership of Candies & Hughes, which began in 1964 when Leonard Hughes, who’d been racing Chevrolet stockers, wanted to go faster. The man to help him achieve that goal was Candies, his longtime friend. By 1968, they were part of the fledgling Funny Car class in the National Hot Rod Association and set the national record of 7.87 seconds in LaPlace.

The next year, they had low e.t. and top speed at the U.S. Nationals with a national speed record and also won at the Winternationals. The Candies & Hughes team won 45 major events — including 28 NHRA titles in the Funny Car (18) and Top Fuel (10) classes between 1970 and 1994. The first two of those breakthrough wins came with Hughes at the wheel in the 1970 Gatornationals and 1971 Summernationals in the Funny Car class. They later became the first team to win NHRA and IHRA Winston championships in the same year and were enshrined in the IHRA Hall of Fame in 1999.

Biographical information on all 411 current Hall of Fame members is available at the LaSportsHall.com website, with a steady stream of info available at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Facebook page and the @LaSportsHall twitter account.

The 2018 Induction Celebration will kick off Thursday, June 28 with a press conference and reception. It includes three receptions, a youth sports clinic, and a Friday, June 29 golf scramble at OakWing Golf Course in Alexandria. Tickets for the Induction Dinner and Ceremony, and golf entries, along with congratulatory advertising and sponsorship opportunities, will be available through the LaSportsHall.com website.

Anyone can receive quarterly e-mails about the 2018 Induction Celebration and other Hall of Fame news by signing up on the LaSportsHall.com website.

Adding to the 334 sports competitors currently enshrined, 17 winners of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership award and 60 recipients of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism,  there are 411 current members of the Hall of Fame before next summer’s inductions.

The 2018 Induction Celebration weekend will be hosted by the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, the support organization for the Hall of Fame.  The LSHOF Foundation was established as a 501 c 3 non-profit entity in 1975 and is governed by a statewide 25-member board of directors.  For information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Foundation President/CEO Ronnie Rantz at 225-802-6040 or RonnieRantz@LaSportsHall.com.  Standard and customized sponsorships are available.

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Video: LSHOF honors Jim Henderson for 2017 induction

Video: LSHOF honors Jim Henderson for 2017 induction

Jim Henderson was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame earlier this year. However, he was not able to attend the official banquet in Natchitoches this past summer.

Fortunately, a special makeup event was arranged to celebrate and honor Henderson, 2017 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award for Sports Journalism. He will be formally honored at the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation Quarterback Club luncheon for this honor with a video presentation.

A native of Rochester, NY, Henderson arrived in New Orleans in 1978 and served as Sports Director at WWL Television for well 35 years. He moved to WVUE, Fox 8 in 2012. Henderson has been part of New Orleans Saints broadcasts since 1982, serving as the play-by-play voice of the Saints on the New Orleans Saints radio network for most of his 36 years on the job. Henderson has won many National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association awards and New Orleans Press Club awards, including the organization’s Lifetime Achievement award.

Watch the full video from the event on our YouTube channel and the recap by the New Orleans Saints.

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La. Sports Hall of Fame great Charlie Hennigan passes away at 82

La. Sports Hall of Fame great Charlie Hennigan passes away at 82

HOUSTON – Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame 1978 inductee Charlie Hennigan, a Northwestern State graduate who still holds one NFL receiving record a half-century after he played and is in the top six all-time of four more statistics, passed away Wednesday at age 82.

Visitation will be held Friday from 4:30-5 at Darst Funeral Home (796 Russell Palmer Road) in Kingwood, Texas, with a celebration of life at 5 p.m.  A graveside service will be Saturday at 3 p.m. in Bienville at the Campground Cemetery on La. Hwy. 507.

He was the father of seven: sons Chuck, Stephen, James and Taylor, and daughters Jordan, Shalom and Faith. He had two brothers, Ronnie and David Hennigan, and a sister, Rev. Sharon Hennigan Waters.

Hennigan starred for the Houston Oilers from 1960-66 after he and college teammate Charlie Tolar, also a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member, earned roster spots out of an open tryout. Hennigan made the All-Time All-American Football League Team and was along with Tolar chosen by fan vote as a member of the Oilers’ 25th anniversary All-Time Team.

A five-time AFL All-Star, Hennigan caught 410 passes for 6,823 receiving yards for the Oilers, scoring 51 touchdowns. One was the first in Oilers’ history, a 43-yard pass from George Blanda against the Los Angeles Raiders. He helped football and track teams at Northwestern State win a combined five Gulf States Conference championships and was enshrined in the university’s N-Club Hall of Fame in 1973.

A native of Bienville who played football and ran track at Minden High School, he still holds the NFL record with three games of at least 200 yards receiving, in his astounding 1961 season. His  seven consecutive games of at least 100 yards receiving that season ranks second all-time. He set a pro single-season receiving record with 1,746  yards that stood for 34 years and now ranks sixth.

In 1961, Hennigan had 82 receptions and 12 touchdowns in a 14-game season, averaging 21.3 yards per catch and 124 yards per game.

Hennigan is one of only four receivers in pro history to have four or more 200-yard receiving games. He ranks in a tie for second with Rice and Don Hutson, also a Pro Football Hall of Fame member, with four 200-yard outings in their careers. Lance Alworth had five.

For 34 years, he held the NFL record for most games with 100 receiving yards in a season (10), topped only by Pro Football Hall of Fame member Michael Irvin (11) in 1995.

In a column for Talk of Fame Network last year, veteran sportswriter Rick Gosselin noted Hennigan’s impact on pro football.

“You can say Bob Hayes changed the way the game is played with his speed. You can say Charley Taylor changed the way the game is played with his power. And you can say Jerry Rice changed the way the game is played with his precision and grace. But no wide receiver changed the way the game is played like Charlie Hennigan,” wrote Gosselin.

Amy Adams Strunk, controlling owner of the Tennessee Titans, released a statement on Hennigan. Her father, Bud Adams, was the Oilers’ owner.

“He was one of the finest players in our franchise’s history and a key component to our early championship teams, who still holds many of our receiving records. My father was particularly fond of Charlie, and I have enjoyed getting to know him through the years. His contributions to our team will never be forgotten,” she said.

Hennigan helped lead the Oilers to AFL championships in 1960 and 1961, and a championship game appearance in 1962. He had 26 100-yard receiving games in his Oilers career.

Dr. Hennigan earned his doctorate in education in 1967 from the University of Houston. He received bachelors (1958) and masters (1961) degrees in education from Northwestern State.

At Minden, he made the All-North Louisiana team in football and track, and was two-time state champion in the 880-yard run. He signed a track scholarship with LSU and was part of the Tigers’ 1954 Southeastern Conference championship mile relay team.

Hennigan wanted to play football, but wasn’t given that opportunity at LSU, so he transferred to Northwestern. He was an All-Gulf States Conference halfback and also played cornerback, helping the Demons win the 1957 and 1958 GSC championships.

He ran the 100-yard dash in 9.7 and set the school record of 47.2 in the 400-yard dash that stood for 19 years. Hennigan helped the Demons win GSC track and field championships in 1955, 1956 and 1957, falling a half-point shy of another in 1958 under coach Walter Ledet, also a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member.

Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Jackie Smith, a Northwestern product, gives Hennigan much credit for helping him hone his pass catching stills. Smith was a 10th-round 1963 NFL Draft pick who worked with Hennigan at Camp Touchdown for Boys in Bryceland, near his hometown, a live-in summer camp for boys ages 7-14 from 1962-65.

Hennigan was a U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant and a teacher and coach at Jonesboro-Hodge High School after a failed tryout in the Canadian Football League at the end of his college career.

He founded the Hennigan Institute, a learning center, in Houston. Hennigan designed and implemented counseling and educational programs for court-designated delinquent students, edited a phonetic reading program aimed for junior high students, and produced a 10-module self-discovery and goal-setting course entitled “Set Yourself Free.”

He published one book, a work of fiction entitled “Slick,” in 1975.

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