NATCHITOCHES — The induction dates have been set in late June and late August to stage the 2020 and 2021 Induction Celebrations for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
The Class of 2020’s enshrinement was originally set for last summer, then December, and postponed both times due to COVID-19 protocols. The Class of 2021’s induction was targeted for this June, but has been shifted back two months to allow the 2020 inductees to be honored.
The 2020 LSHOF Induction Celebration is June 24-26. The Class of 2021 will be enshrined Aug. 26-28, with festivities taking place in Natchitoches, the home of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum. Both Induction Celebrations begin on Thursday and wrap up with the Saturday night induction ceremony at the Natchitoches Events Center.
Announcement of the dates was made by Ronnie Rantz, CEO/president of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, and Doug Ireland, chairman of the Hall of Fame and executive director of the foundation. The Louisiana Sports Writers Association has been the parent organization of the LSHOF since its creation in 1958.
“We are very hopeful that the recent progress with pandemic abatement will continue and we will stage our Induction Celebrations as we always have, with few or no limitations on capacity,” said Ireland. “We’re three months away from the 2020 events and five months out from the 2021 inductions, and all indications are trending positively as vaccinations expand and people continue to be vigilant following virus protocols.”
Headed for induction in June: Eight-time world bodybuilding champion Ronnie Coleman, a Bastrop native and Grambling graduate, outdoorsman Phil Robertson, recognized internationally as the Duck Commander, and former LSU football coach Nick Saban, who won 75 percent of his games and the 2003 national championship in five seasons with the Tigers, along with Minden native Sweet Lou Dunbar of the Harlem Globetrotters and Pro Bowl football standout Chicago Bears cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman, a star with the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.
The Class of 2020 also showcases two extraordinary basketball players: New Orleans native Kerry Kittles, a two-time All-America guard at Villanova who averaged 14 points in an eight-year NBA career, and Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters basketball legend Angela Turner Johnson, a Bienville Parish native who helped the Techsters to four straight national championship game appearances including wins in 1981 and 1982. Monroe-Richwood High School football coaching icon Mackie Freeze, unbeaten as a pitcher on Grambling’s baseball team, will become the oldest-ever inductee when he is enshrined at 93.
Opelousas native Joan Cronan, one of college sports’ most influential administrators in her career as athletics director at the University of Tennessee, will be inducted as the 2020 Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award winner.
Enshrined as the first recipient of the Louisiana Sports Ambassador Award will be Shreveport-based broadcaster Tim Brando, whose pride in his home state has been evident throughout his four decades among the best in his business around the country.
The Class of 2021 to be inducted in August features Marques Colston, the all-time leading receiver for the New Orleans Saints, joining two of LSU’s greatest competitors, basketball’s Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and football’s Glenn Dorsey, along with former LSU track and field coach Pat Henry and Southern Jaguars and MLB baseball star Rickie Weeks.
The 2021 inductee list also includes Baton Rouge native Courtney Blades-Rogers, considered one of college softball’s best pitchers ever as a phenomenal player at Nicholls and Southern Mississippi. North Louisiana is represented by Natchitoches native Villis “Bo” Dowden, the 1980 Bassmaster Classic champion.
Inducted in August as winners of the LSWA’s Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism will be trailblazing New Orleans television sports anchor Ro Brown, longtime Hall of Fame chairman Ireland, also sports publicist at Northwestern State from 1989-2019; and Baton Rouge Advocate sportswriter Sheldon Mickles.
Hammond native and LSU alumnus Terry McAulay, a 20-year NFL official who refereed three Super Bowls, is the 2021 winner of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award.
“We truly appreciate the patience and understanding of our 2020 class, and the willingness of the 2021 inductees to shift back a couple of months so we can get back on track. We can’t thank our partners and sponsors enough for standing with us and adjusting to assure everyone involved has the ultimate experience as we celebrate these inductees,” said Rantz.
Ticket purchases are available through the LaSportsHall.com website. Sponsorship packages and information about events can be discussed with Rantz at 225-802-6040 or RonnieRantz@LaSportsHall.com.