Doug Ireland, Chairman, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame
NATCHITOCHES – The 2020 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration slated June 25-27 has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 15 through Thursday, Dec. 17.
LSHOF Foundation CEO/President Ronnie Rantz, Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland and Louisiana Sports Writers Association president Lenny Vangilder made the announcement Friday morning. The LSWA founded the Hall in 1958 and has been its parent organization since.
The move follows the rescheduling of the LSHOF Foundation’s annual Golf Classic presented by Relief Windows to Oct. 4-5 at the Golden Nugget casino and golf course in Lake Charles. That event was initially slated for April, but consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic forced a delay.
“Due to the uncertain times we are facing, it’s in the best interest of the 2020 inductees and all of their supporters to move the events until late this year,” said Rantz. “Although we are disappointed in having to delay celebrating this fantastic class during the normal summer weekend, we are very excited about hosting the three days of festivities in the middle of December, when Natchitoches truly shines brightest as the City of Lights.”
Rantz and Ireland expressed appreciation to city and parish officials, Louisiana State Museum personnel, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, and leadership and staff at Northwestern State University, along with other local partners and volunteers who make the induction events possible each year.
“Thanks to those who are vital to making our Induction Celebration so spectacular every summer, we’re captivated by the unprecedented chance to bring the Christmas beauty and charm of Natchitoches into our celebration,” said Ireland. “We forsee that the holiday joy that our guests will encounter can more than compensate for the disappointment of having to postpone our traditional dates on the last weekend of June.”
The 2020 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Class will be celebrated with the usual three-day slate of events culminating in the annual Induction Dinner and Ceremonies presented by State Farm Agents of Louisiana on Thursday evening, Dec. 17, at the Natchitoches Events Center.
The 2020 Induction Celebration begins Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 15, with a nationally-televised (Cox Sports Television) afternoon press conference.
The press conference and a free public reception from 5-7 at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, located at 800 Front Street, are presented by La Capitol Federal Credit Union.
Wednesday’s schedule begins around lunchtime with the Hall’s Bowling Bash pairing 2020 inductees and more sports celebrities, including past inductees, with patrons at Four Seasons Bowling Center in Alexandria.
Wednesday evening, the third annual Rockin’ River Fest presented by Rapides Regional Medical Center will feature bands and fireworks over Cane River Lake in historic downtown Natchitoches in a free concert. The 2020 induction class will be introduced just before the fireworks show.
Thursday morning, Dec. 17, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Junior Training Camp, presented by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office, will be held on the Northwestern State campus with 300 youth participating at no charge. Hall of Fame inductees will be the featured instructors for drills in football and basketball while healthy living initiatives and other positive lifestyle messaging will be presented to boys and girls.
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, join eight-time Mr. Olympia world bodybuilding champion Ronnie Coleman and another global sports figure, Sweet Lou Dunbar of the Harlem Globetrotters, among a star-studded group of competitive ballot inductees.
The LSHOF Class of 2020 also includes Pro Bowl football standout Chicago Bears cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman, a star at UL Lafayette, along with 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, a Bienville Parish native who helped her teams to four straight national championship game appearances including wins in 1981 and 1982.
Inducted as winners of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism will be LSU sports publicist Kent Lowe and Baton Rouge Advocate prep sportswriter Robin Fambrough.
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 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 2020 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 $23 million, 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 museum reopens Saturday after closure during this spring’s shelter-in-place phase concluding Friday. It is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. with admission prices $6 and under.