Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame weekend hosts events for all ages
Trent Friedel | Exclusive to the Times
The 2021 La. Hall of Fame class was inducted last weekend, just a few months after the class of 2020. The 2020 class was postponed like most things due to Covid. Events began Thursday with a welcome reception, golf tournament, celebrity bowling bash, a press conference, Rockin’ River fest, luncheon and induction ceremony Saturday evening. But, probably the most fun event for local youth was the Junior training camp on the NSU campus at the wellness and recreation center and Turpin stadium.
The premier athletes in this year’s class included Saints WR Marques Colston, LSU and NFL Defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey, Southern University baseball great Rickie Weeks who had a 14-year MLB career, LSU standout point guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf AKA Chris Jackson and Softball Pitcher Courtney Blades Rogers. The Junior training camp is held each year on the Saturday morning of the induction. It is open to youth ages 7-17.
Attendees were able to enjoy basketball and football instruction on fundamentals and drills. Moderating the groups were NSU student athletes from the football team and the Lady Demon basketball team. The kids also received instruction and encouragement from inductees Colston, Dorsey and Weeks. Talk about thrilling to have pro-athletes spending time with you!
Several local youth groups attended, and I had the opportunity to talk with one of the Life Skill coaches. She said one of the kids attended last year and had such a good time that he made a point of telling her that the whole group needed to attend. So, they did! I can attest to the fact that the kids were having a ball; it was evident in their eyes. Matt Heinz, a member of the Hall of Fame Foundation attended with his wife and three boys, ages 10, 12 and 14.
This was their first year attending the event and they were beyond impressed. The event is well organized and improves each year. Heinz said the fund raising for the Foundation has been going well and the state really gets behind the Hall of Fame. He has been very cautious approaching small business owners this last year with all they have had to deal with regarding Covid and staying open. That was shifting recently as we were beginning to see some light at the end of the pandemic, but then the Delta variant emerged and now we are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Fund raising is the lifeblood of the Hall of Fame and all the events.
Colston could not stay for the induction due to Ida and the need to return home. I had a few minutes between sets of kids rotating through his skills station to ask him what it meant to give back to the kids. He said, “This is what its all about. People were instrumental in giving me instruction and coaching me, so I enjoy this.” It was evident he did because he even went to lengths to adjust foot position related to the routes; he had them running. Attention to detail.
Ralph Wilson is a local organizer of the event and has nothing but praise for the collaborative effort of so many people to make the camp happen. Sponsors include NRMC, the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s office and Raising Canes. He shared the same statements as many, “It’s a sense of excitement for the kids and a great chance to learn some sports skills from coaches, players and pro-players.” Plus, it should be noted that its free.
Planning is already underway for next year. The organizers also did double duty this summer hosting two of these events, one in June and again this past weekend. Keep an eye out for this great event next year.