by Doug Ireland
Nationally-known sports stars, their families and friends converge on Natchitoches June 23-25 for a fun-filled three-day 2022 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration, with plenty of opportunities for you to participate.
A full event schedule, with online purchasing available for ticketed events, is available at LaSportsHall.com. Free events include a kickoff reception at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum on June 23, a free riverbank concert Friday evening, June 24; and the Junior Training Camp for kids on Saturday morning, June 25.
The concert includes a fireworks show over Cane River.
The party comes to Cenla on Friday, June 24 for the Surf’s Up Celebrity Bowling Bash presented by BOM at Four Seasons Bowling Center in Alexandria.
The 2022 Induction Celebration will kick off Thursday, June 23, with the La Capitol Federal Credit Union Kickoff Reception, free to all, at the Hall of Fame museum. After the Bowling Bash Friday, the Rockin’ River Fest Presented by Rapides Regional Medical Center provides free music, games, fireworks, and fun on the banks of Cane River Lake in downtown Natchitoches in the evening hours. There’s a VIP Taste of Tailgating party presented by Hancock Whitney on Front Street overlooking the stage at Mama’s Oyster House and Blues Room.
Saturday starts with the Junior Training Camp presented by Natchitoches Regional Medical Center and featuring staff from the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans. At midday, there’s the exclusive Round Table Luncheon presented by the Tiger Athletic Foundation at the Chateau Saint Denis Hotel.
The Induction Ceremony presented by State Farm Agents of Louisiana is Saturday evening, beginning with a reception with plenty of food and refreshments at the museum from 5-6:45, and continuing with the Purple Carpet party presented by Northwestern State University at the nearby Natchitoches Events Center from 6-7, with a silent auction, before the induction activities begin promptly at 7.
A pair of six-time Pro Bowl NFL linemen, New Orleans Saints’ offensive guard Jahri Evans and Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams, join the late Tony Robichaux, No. 1 on the wins list for state college baseball coaches, and pro rodeo great Steve Duhon among a star-studded group of nine 2022 competitive ballot inductees.
The Class of 2022 also includes two of the greatest women athletes in LSU history, three-time national champion gymnast Susan Jackson and two-time first-team All-America softball pitcher Britni Sneed Newman. Williams, who helped the Tigers’ football team win the 2003 national championship, is joined by another of LSU’s all-time great linemen, the late Eric Andolsek, among the 2022 inductees.
Baton Rouge-Episcopal High School track and field/cross country coach Claney Duplechin enters the Hall next summer still active, with his teams owning an astounding 63 LHSAA crowns in his career. Rounding out the Class of 2022 competitors roster is the late Dr. Eddie Flynn, who as a Loyola-New Orleans student won the 1932 Olympic welterweight boxing gold medal for the USA, the last gold medal for an American boxer for 20 years.
Also to be spotlighted will be three other Hall of Fame inductees. Jay Cicero, CEO of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, is the winner of the 2022 Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award.
Widely-acclaimed writers Teddy Allen and Garland Forman are recipients of the 2022 Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism presented by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, the parent organization of the Hall of Fame.
The complete 12-person Class of 2022 will swell the overall membership in the Hall of Fame to 468 men and women honored since its founding in 1958.
Evans will become the 18th former Saints standout, coach (Jim Mora) or administrator (Tom Benson, Jim Finks) inducted, and will be only the fourth New Orleans player from this century so far to join the LSHOF ranks, along with receiver Marques Colston, running back Deuce McAllister and Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Willie Roaf.
Duhon is the second rodeo competitor elected to the Hall, following Leesville’s T. Berry Porter in 2019.
Six of the inductees – Andolsek, Duhon, Duplechin, Jackson, Sneed Newman and Williams – competed at LSU. Jackson and Sneed Newman will become the second set of women competitors enshrined in the same induction class, preceded by LSU track great Esther Jones and UL Lafayette and WNBA star Kim Perrot in 2007.
The 2022 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.
The nine new competitive ballot inductees will raise the total of Hall of Fame members to 367 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.
The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame includes 27 Pro Football Hall of Fame members, 18 Olympic medalists including 11 gold medal winners, 12 members of the Basketball Hall of Fame, seven of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, seven National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, 41 College Football Hall of Fame members, 15 Black College Football Hall of Fame inductees, 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 members, seven College Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, 10 College Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinees, four NBA Finals MVPs, four winners of major professional golf championships, five National Museum of (Thoroughbred) Racing and Hall of Fame inductees and two Super Bowl MVPs.
Biographical information on all 456 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.
Photos and additional information on this year’s inductees may be found right here on 318Central.com, please follow this link: