by Doug Ireland

The names belong to icons in Cenla sports.

Coach Charles Smith, a role model still making great things happen on the basketball court and in the mathematics classroom at Peabody High School.

Billy Allgood, the now legendary Louisiana College coach and the epitome of the servant-leader approach.

Sheila Thompson Johnson, an All-American basketball player, a tremendous coach, a trailblazing athletic director at LC, and an All-American person who quietly keeps impacting the community.

Janice Joseph-Richard, a spectacular star at Peabody, another LC Lady Wildcat All-American basketball player and championship coach, lost far too soon after two valiant battles with cancer.

The late Bobby Lowther, the only two-sport All-American in LSU history, whose delightful persona charmed generations.

Russ Springer, the Pollock pitcher who starred at LSU and was a difference-maker in 17 Major League Baseball seasons.

Marie Gagnard, a Bolton High alumnae who played tennis at LC and emerged as one of the most respected officials calling lines in major tennis championships – 34 straight years at the U.S. Open, in fact.

Sports media and community influencers Lyn Rollins, Bob Tompkins, Philip Timothy, and fondly-remembered Bill Carter and Al Nassif.

They all (and some others from nearby) are worthy members of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, recognized for their epic impact not only locally, but around Louisiana and far beyond in some cases.

Now we all can be, in one way, members of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame … Team. We can help assure their stories will always be told, their legacies will always shine brightly, at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame museum in Natchitoches – and its extended reach across the state and around the nation, and even, the world. You’d be surprised to see where folks are from who
visit the museum, and who browse

But back to the newly-formed Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Team.

The first-ever Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame “Join the Team” membership drive has been initiated to secure resources which can be used to update and upgrade the museum. State funding underwrites basic operating costs for the museum but there are often inadequate funds to enhance the museum, vital as technology zooms forward.

Who thought of AI only a few years ago, unless it was a discussion of NBA stars and Allen Iverson came up?

While today’s technology comes at a cost, the “asking price” for Hall of Fame membership can be as little as $10 per month. Member benefits include official Hall of Fame team member gear, the opportunity to win monthly drawings, discounts on merchandise and other amenities.

Log on to and click the “Join the Team” button or text LSHOFTEAM to 41444 to “Join the Team.” Checks can be mailed to 500 Front Street, Natchitoches, LA 71457

Just-enshrined Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductee Alana Beard, who has Natchitoches roots (south Natchitoches Parish, actually, where her parents grew up) and is a Shreveport (Southwood High School) product, starred at Duke University, and in a 15-year WNBA career. She’s an honorary co-chair of the Team Drive along with two-time LSU national champion and 14-year Major League Baseball pitcher Paul Byrd, now a brilliant broadcaster for the Atlanta Braves.

Anyone who signs up by December 31 of this year will be entered in a January 1 drawing for the “Ultimate 2024 Hall of Fame Weekend Experience,” which includes two tickets to all induction weekend events, a photo with your favorite 2024 Hall of Famer (Drew Brees…Seimone Augustus … Daniel Cormier … or another inductee … your choice!) and exclusive access to some events. The value of that package is roughly $1,000.

As noted earlier, you can help for as little as $10 a month. That’s in today’s prices, one less glass of wine or two less beers … a big bag of popcorn at the movies … or whatever, a month.

Your help, helps. This museum is showcases our Cenla sports pride and joy, people who are role models, people who made a difference here. The museum is a legacy locker room for its greatest sports figures, celebrating excellence from all 64 parishes, from Ida to Grand Isle, from Lake Providence to Lake Charles.

If you want to know more, reach out to Greg Burke, who is Director of Business Development and Public Relations for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation. He was formerly Director of Athletics at Northwestern State University for 26 years. Burke can be contacted at, or by voicemail at 318-238-4255.






Cunningham Copiers
Generac Banner Ad for Affiliate Link
Bayou Mosquito Licensed to Kill Banner 12.14.20