by Doug Ireland
Reactions are reflections of who we are.
They’re a ubiquitous part of covering sports, especially visually. If you’re watching a contest on TV, in the moments as the competition ends, you see the joyful reaction of the winners, and quickly, the dejection of the losers – and their fans.
It goes all the way back to the weekly opening montage of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” when Jim McKay would intone, “the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.”
Fortunately, during Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductions, the focus is on the thrill of victory. We’ll have plenty of that Aug. 26-28 during the LSHOF’s Class of 2021 Induction Celebration.
You can join the party – including the BOM Bowling Bash at Four Seasons Bowling Center in Alexandria on Friday, August 27. Visit LaSportsHall.com or call the Hall of Fame Foundation office at 318-238-4255 for participation opportunities and information.
Some events are free, highlighted by the Friday night Rockin’ River Fest in downtown Natchitoches, presented by Rapides Regional Medical Center; others, culminating with the Induction Ceremony, require ticket purchases that can be made online or over the phone.
The New Orleans Saints won well over 100 times in the 10 seasons Marques Colston was the favorite target of Drew Brees. Those wins included Super Bowl XLIV over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
Colston, one of the star attractions in the upcoming induction class, was studious and skilled, vastly underrated as a sixth-round NFL Draft pick from Hofstra. He was never flashy or self-centered with the Saints, just classy and extremely productive.
He also had one of the most unique reactions to news of his inductions that Hall of Fame officials have ever experienced. And that’s covering a lot of territory.
His fellow Class of 2021 inductee, LSU football great Glenn Dorsey, was delighted, and shocked, and full of laughter. He lives on the West Coast. His mother, back in Gonzales, had helped arrange the call and told him don’t dare to miss it. He and his wife relished in the moment.
One of the greatest pitchers in collegiate softball history – recently ranked among the top 11 ever in an NCAA.com column – was stunned to silence. Courtney Blades Rogers, a Baton Rouge native who played her first two years at Nicholls before pitching Southern Mississippi to the Women’s College World Series, couldn’t muster words for a few moments as she realized her home state was going to place her among its legendary sports heroes.
The former consensus college baseball player of the year, Southern University’s Rickie Weeks, handled the news like he gobbled up ground balls at second base during his 13-year Major League Baseball career, including an All-Star Game appearance with the Milwaukee Brewers. Weeks was in Natchitoches two years ago to cheer on his coach at Southern, Roger Cador, who was in the LSHOF Class of 2019, so he knows what awaits him at the end of August.
Going back through the years: Grambling football great Doug Williams was polite but taken aback. He asked if he could pull over on the side of the road to take in the news. Later he admitted asking his older brother to call friends to check out the legitimacy of LSHOF officials, because he thought a friend was playing a joke.
Another Grambling icon, giant football and wrestling star “Big Cat” Ernie Ladd, spent several minutes asking why other Grambling greats weren’t inducted yet. But after listening, he relented and proved to be one of the most gracious inductees ever.
Colston is well on his way to fitting that description.
After they’re elected, inductees get the happy news in a phone call that involves LSHOF officials and a sports media member who has covered that inductee, to provide a comfortable reference that Williams lacked back when he got his call in 1993. If, as is often the case, the call rolls to voicemail, a message is left that says there’s good news to share, but it doesn’t detail specifics, just a commitment to call back until a conversation can occur.
Colston replied with a text, asking if the call could take place in the late afternoon a couple days later, and the arrangement was set – with no further explanation.
When the call was placed, Marques answered on the first ring, and said he hoped nobody minded that he had his wife and children gathered around and he was going to put his phone on speaker mode, so they could hear whatever the news was, alongside him.
There was applause and cheering all the way from New Jersey, giggles of joy from the children.
He shared the moment with his loved ones.
Just as Hall of Famers inevitably share their time in the spotlight during the Induction Celebration with their families, their teammates, colleagues, coaches, and friends. We’ll see plenty of that at the end of August in Natchitoches.
If you’ve not seen it for yourself, get it on your calendar. Be ready for lots of laughter, inspiration, magnificent memories rekindled, and new ones created.
For MORE Information Visit the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Website: https://lasportshall.com/