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WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU WERE ELECTED TO THE LOUISIANA SPORTS HALL OF FAME’S CLASS OF 2024?

by Doug Ireland

Daniel Cormier shouted with joy. Wilbert Ellis paused, then softly cried. Seimone Augustus and her mother Kim were obviously excited. Perry Clark chuckled gleefully.

That was some of the behind-the-curtain reaction when the newest members of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame fielded phone calls recently to inform them they were chosen for the Class of 2024.

What did Drew Brees say? You’ll have to join the party next year to find out.

Brees, the New Orleans Saints’ NFL record-setting passer and Super Bowl XLIV MVP, brings incredible credentials to this remarkable group announced Wednesday, Sept. 27 by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

He’s not alone at the top of his game: joining him in the Class of 2024 are the homegrown women’s basketball superstar, Augustus, and Cormier, the Lafayette born-and-raised Olympic wrestler who became and remains one of the top figures in mixed martial arts.

They headline a star-studded nine-member group of 2024 competitors ballot inductees selected by a 40-member LSWA panel. Dates for next year’s Induction Celebration will be announced soon.

The Class of 2024 also includes 1992 Olympic wrestling gold medalist Kevin Jackson, a former LSU All-American, along with Perry Clark, who guided Tulane basketball to unprecedented success in the 1990s, and McNeese football great Kerry Joseph, who had a 19-year pro career.

Also elected for induction next year are high school football coach Frank Monica, who won state titles at three different south Louisiana schools, and Ray Sibille, a Breeders’ Cup-winning thoroughbred jockey from Sunset who ranks among the nation’s elite riders.

The class also includes Grambling’s Ellis, who becomes the second-ever recipient of the Louisiana Sports Ambassador Award. During his 43-year baseball coaching career and since, Ellis has made local, statewide and national impact not only in his sports field but also in other endeavors. He is the elder statesman of Grambling – not just the university, but the community – except that in his late 80s, he hasn’t really slowed down much.

Appropriately, the Class of 2024 will be enshrined in an Olympic year. Augustus helped Team USA win three Olympic gold medals, coupled with Jackson becoming the first Black man in the world to capture gold in wrestling. Jackson was Cormier’s coach when the future MMA star made the USA wrestling team for the 2004 and 2008 Games.

The Ambassador Award was created by the Hall’s parent organization, the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, and was first presented to network broadcaster Tim Brando of Shreveport as part of the LSHOF Class of 2020. The award honors long-term exemplary contributions to the perception of Louisiana by an individual who has ties to the state’s sports landscape. The Ambassador Award carries membership in the Hall of Fame. The award is not presented annually, but occasionally, as the Selection Committee chooses, said LSWA president Raymond Partsch III.

Brees was a 13-time Pro Bowl pick in a 20-year career. He was a two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year, the 2006 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year, a Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year and an Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year. Brees led the Saints to three NFC championship games (2006, 2009, 2018) after the franchise had none in its first 39 years of existence. They claimed their only Vince Lombardi trophy with a 31-17 win over the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV as he earned MVP honors.

Brees once held NFL passing records for yards (80,358), TDs (571), completions (7,142) and attempts (10,551) – all marks that have been surpassed by Tom Brady, who played in 48 more games than Brees.

Augustus played point guard/forward while starring at high school, college and professional levels. The Baton Rouge native was part of three gold medal-winning USA Olympic teams and four WNBA title teams.

Foreshadowing her incredible career, Augustus was on the cover of Sports Illustrated for Women as a high school freshman. At LSU, Augustus was the USBWA National Freshman of the Year in 2003 and swept National Player of the Year awards (Wade, Naismith, Wooden and Honda) in 2005 and 2006.

She was the WNBA’s No. 1 draft pick in 2006 by the Minnesota Lynx and was its Rookie of the Year in 2006. She won WNBA titles with the Lynx in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. The 2011 finals MVP, she made the WNBA’s 20 th anniversary and 25 th anniversary teams.

Cormier is revered as one of the most heralded wrestlers and mixed martial artists ever. He first made a name for himself as a wrestler at Lafayette’s Northside High, winning three consecutive LHSAA Division I state titles (1995-97). Following collegiate and international success, he transitioned to mixed martial arts and after a transcendent career, is a member of the UFC Hall of Fame (2022) and currently is a combat sports analyst with ESPN and is a commentator for UFC events.

Ticket information and lots more biographical background on the Class of 2024 is available at www.LaSportsHall.com, where you can sign up to be informed immediately when the 2024 induction dates are set. That way, you can be sure you get tickets before events sell out. With this class, that’s a virtual certainty.

For updates on the 2024 Induction Celebration, use this link:

lasportshall.com/InductionInfo

or text “InductionInfo” to 41444

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