NATCHITOCHES – Deeply influential sportswriter Philip Timothy and iconic Louisiana Tech broadcaster Dave Nitz have been selected for the 2019 Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, and will be inducted in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame June 8.
Timothy, who has won national, regional and state awards as a writer and editor, was greatly influential in the early stages of developing the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame museum during and after his term (1998-2000) as the LSWA president.
Nitz is in his 44th season as the radio voice of Louisiana Tech sports, having called nearly 3,000 football, basketball and baseball contests and events for the Bulldogs and Lady Techsters. He’s done 36 seasons of minor league baseball, including play-by-play for franchises in Shreveport and Baton Rouge.
The honor, to be made official June 8 in Natchitoches, means Nitz and Timothy will be among the elite 11-person Class of 2019 being inducted in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Nitz and Timothy were selected from a 24-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 422 current athletes, sports journalists, coaches and administrators chosen since 1959. Just 62 leading figures in the state’s sports media have been honored with the Distinguished Service Award since its inception 37 years ago in 1982.
Nitz and Timothy will be among the 2019 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Class to be spotlighted in the annual Induction Dinner and Ceremonies on Saturday evening, June 8, at the Natchitoches Events Center. The Induction Dinner and Ceremonies are the highlight of the 2019 Induction Celebration beginning Thursday afternoon, June 6, with a regionally-televised (Cox Sports Television) press conference at the Hall of Fame museum at 800 Front Street in Natchitoches.
Five-time NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning and former LSU football coach Les Miles, who won 77 percent of his games and a national championship in 11 seasons with the Tigers, join five-time USA Olympic volleyball standout Danielle Scott-Arruda among a star-studded group of eight 2019 competitive ballot inductees chosen for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
The LSHOF Class of 2019 also includes championship coaches Roger Cador (Southern University baseball) and Charles Smith (Alexandria-Peabody Magnet high school basketball), Louisiana Tech quarterback and Canadian Football League Hall of Fame member Matt Dunigan, along with LSU football great Max Fugler, an All-American on the Tigers’ 1958 national championship team, and T. B. “T. Berry” Porter, a member of the Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Also honored with enshrinement in the Class of 2019 will be the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award winner, to be announced soon.
The 2019 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 Nitz and Timothy was jointly announced Monday by Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland and LSWA president Lenny Vangilder.
For more than four decades, Timothy has crisscrossed the state covering sports with accomplishment and distinctive style at all levels, and along the way he has also served as mentor to dozens of current and former sports writers. His LSWA leadership was a pivotal factor in gaining and maintaining traction that resulted in the long-awaited museum construction a decade later.
Timothy has won more than 80 national, regional and state awards in categories such as game event, feature writing, spot news, investigative reporting, outdoors, headlines, photography, makeup, special sections and overall sports section. He has won more than 65 LSWA awards including Best Sports Section (three times) and Prep Writer of the Year twice. He placed either second or third three more times. In 1988, he not only became the first LSWA writer to win the LSWA’s Division II Prep Writer of the Year (1986-1987) twice but was also the first to repeat as winner of the prestigious award.
He was named the 2004 Communicator of the Year by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation for his extensive career as an outdoor writer, the 2005 Louisiana High School Athletic Association Prep Journalism Award, and a special honor from the Louisiana High School Athletic Association/Louisiana High School Coaches Association.
Timothy has also long served as a member of the LSWA’s Hall of Fame Selection Committee and the Louisiana High School Athletic Association/Louisiana High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame Selection Committee (12 years). He was the recipient of the prestigious LSWA’s Mac Russo Award in 2004.
The Tioga High School graduate began his career covering youth and high school sports as a sophomore at Northwestern State for The Natchitoches Times, a paper he returned to as its sports editor (1978-1980).
Timothy spent the early part of his career at small weeklies — the Red River Journal (Pineville), The Journal-Enterprise (Mansfield), The Beauregard News (DeRidder), The Centerville Press (Alabama), and at The Bunkie Record/The Marksville Journal.
As a one-man operation in the weeklies, he was called upon to do it all from taking his own photos, developing those photos, keeping stats, writing stories, laying out the sports section, catching the papers as they came off the press and from time-to-time, even delivering them.
His versatility proved beneficial in his work at daily newspapers – Monroe News-Star (1976), The Lafayette Advertiser (1986-1997), and The Alexandria Town Talk (1997-2007).
He rose from a sports writer to executive sports editor for the Advertiser; writer to assistant sports editor at the Town Talk; outdoor writer to editor of Gannett’s statewide GOutdoors & Louisiana Hunt & Fish, and as a writer to an editor of Gannett’s niche products.
For the past 13 years, while working for the statewide Baptist Message newspaper, he has still found time to cover central Louisiana teams as a freelancer for the Bunkie Record, The Town Talk and The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate.
In his 57th season as a broadcaster, Nitz works in a booth named for him at Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston. In 2011, he was a Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame inductee and also was chosen as Louisiana Sportscaster of the Year.
Nitz began his broadcasting career in the early 1960s calling minor league baseball for the Baltimore Orioles farm system in Bluefield in his native state of West Virginia. He began his college broadcasting career at Georgia Southern in 1967, moving to William & Mary in 1970 where he worked for the next three seasons alongside head football coach Lou Holtz. Now, he broadcasts Tech games with Holtz’ son, Skip, as the Bulldogs’ football coach.
After a year at Arkansas Tech, Nitz moved to Louisiana Tech in 1974 when he was hired as the Voice of the Bulldogs as well as the director of promotions and coordinator of the Louisiana Tech Radio Network. He worked with 2004 Distinguished Service Award recipient Keith Prince in the university’s sports information office for more than a decade.
Nitz is the longest-active college play-by-play announcer ever in Louisiana and the third-longest active play-by-play announcer at one university in the country (behind only Washington State and Pitt nationally).
His description of a Louisiana Tech touchdown in the closing seconds for a 29-28 upset of Alabama in 1999 was included in “Heart Stoppers and Hail Mary’s,” a book listing “The 100 Greatest Calls in College Football History.”
He was also the voice of the nationally-acclaimed Lady Techster basketball program in the late 1970s and early 1980s, calling back-to-back national championship games in 1981 and 1982.
He has won first place in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association college broadcaster play-by-play contest three times in the last five years.
The 2019 Induction Celebration will kick off Thursday, June 6, with a press conference and reception. The three-day festivities include two receptions, a youth sports clinic, a bowling party, and a Friday night riverbank concert in Natchitoches. Tickets for the Saturday night, June 8 Induction Dinner and Ceremony, along with congratulatory advertising and sponsorship opportunities, are available through the LaSportsHall.com website.
Anyone can receive quarterly e-mails about the 2019 Induction Celebration and other Hall of Fame news by signing up on the LaSportsHall.com website.
Adding to the 342 sports competitors currently enshrined, 18 winners of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership award and 62 recipients of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism, there are 422 current members of the Hall of Fame before this summer’s inductions.
The 2019 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 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.