McConathy among 2019 NSU N-Club Hall of Fame class

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Graphic courtesy of Northwestern State

Doug Ireland, Northwestern State Sports Information

NATCHITOCHES – Longtime Northwestern State basketball coach Mike McConathy, Louisiana’s all-time winningest college hoops coach, joins two cornerstones of the Demons’ national FCS semifinal football team, defensive backs Mike Green and Kenny Wright, among NSU’s N-Club Hall of Fame induction class for 2019.

Lady Demon basketball star Judy Clark, Demon basketball sharpshooter Wayne Waggoner, soccer standout Missy Payne Howe, and baseball pitcher BobKairis are also part of the Class of 2019. 

Receiving the N-Club’s Distinguished Service Award for 2019 will be Robert “Skeeter” Salim, a tennis player as an undergraduate who has become a nationally-acclaimed attorney while providing pivotal support to the Demon baseball program and other NSU sports.

Also to be inducted will be softball great Brandy Kenney, who was chosen as part of the 2018 class but had to miss last year’s festivities.

They were selected by a combination of voting by members of the N-Club, the association of former athletic letterwinners at NSU, and a committee of N-Club members and NSU administrators.
Enshrinement in the N-Club Hall of Fame is the highest honor Northwestern bestows on its former competitors and staff. Those receiving N-Club Hall of Fame recognition are showcased in the year-old N-Club display in Prather Coliseum.

The 2019 induction ceremony is at 10 a.m. Oct. 19, at the Magale Recital Hall, open to the public free of charge. The honorees will also be recognized that evening in Turpin Stadium during the Demon football team’s game against Central Arkansas.

McConathy and Waggoner will join their late fathers in the N-Club Hall of Fame. Johnny McConathy and Bernard Waggoner were teammates on a 23-5 NAIA semifinalist squad in 1948-49 that held the school record for wins until the 2005-06 Demons finished 26-8, including an NCAA Tournament victory over 15th-ranked Iowa.

McConathy begins his 21st season as the Demons’ coach this November as the winningest collegiate basketball coach in state history (647 in 35 seasons, 20 at NSU). HIs Demons have three NCAA Tournament berths (2001, 2006, 2013), another national postseason tournament appearance (2014 College Insider), two NCAA wins (2001, 2006), and seven Southland Conference Tournament championship game appearances in 12 tournament appearances. In 1999, he took over a program with no postseason history and only five winning seasons in 24 years of Division I competition.

His teams have led the nation in scoring and twice have earned NCAA public recognition for academic performance as well as national acclaim for community service. McConathy received the prestigious National Association of Basketball Coaches Guardian of the Game Pillar Award for Education at the 2012 Final Four.

Green and Wright are Ruston High School products who had long NFL careers after helping coach Sam Goodwin’s Demons to back-to-back Southland championships and FCS playoff appearances in 1997-98.

Green, the 2000 NFL Draft’s “Mr. Irrelevant,” became one of the great success stories in draft history, playing nine years in the pro ranks, most as a productive starting safety for the Chicago Bears. In the NFL he had 426 tackles, 21 pass breakups, 7 forced fumbles, 6 sacks and 4 interceptions in 104 games (48 starts) from 2000-08. Twice, Green made over 100 tackles, 129 in 2002 and 106 in 2004, leading all NFL defensive backs in tackles in 2002.

He was the 254th and final 2000 NFL Draft selection after earning All-America honors as a safety in his final two seasons at NSU, becoming the fifth football player to be a two-time All-America. Green was part of four Southland Conference championships, two in football (1997, 1998) and two in track (1998, 2000), with his stirring anchor leg on the 4×400 relay winning the 2000 Southland title for NSU.

A safety converted to cornerback in 1998, Wright had NSU career totals of 148 tackles, five interceptions and nine pass breakups as a two-year starter after transferring in 1996 from Arkansas following his freshman season. A fourth-round 1999 NFL Draft choice (Vikings), he was also a starter for Houston, Jacksonville and Washington in nine pro seasons, making 245 tackles and seven interceptions.

The 1998-99 Southland Conference Player of the Year, Clark ranks among the most dynamic guards in school history. A former state player of the year at Singer High School, she scored 1,616 points in 112 games (14.4 average), seventh all-time in program history at the end of her career. Clark also finished her career second all-time at NSU in assists (609, 5.4 average) and sixth in steals (238, 2.1 average). She twice led the team in scoring and topped Coach James Smith’s clubs in assists and steals in each of her four seasons.

Waggoner, a 6-2 point guard for the Demons from 1980-982, was an NBA Draft pick (1983, 6th round) who made it to the last cut with the Dallas Mavericks. He was All-Trans America Athletic Conference both years he played for the Demons. Waggoner averaged 16.8 points per game in his 56-game NSU career with two of top scoring totals in school history in his two seasons (446, 15.9 ppg in 1980-81; 493, 17.6 ppg for a 19-9 squad in 1981-82). Waggoner led the 1981-82 Demons with 111 assists and 38.5 minutes per game and shot an incredible 57 percent overall.

Payne, only the second N-Club Hall of Fame inductee from her two-decades-old sport, was a three-time All-Southland Conference selection, twice second team (1999, 2001) and first team as a junior in 2000 when the Lady Demons made their first NCAA Tournament appearance. The midfielder played in 58 games, starting 57, and scored 35 points with 8 goals and nine assists. She had game-winning goals in consecutive conference games to help NSU win the 2000 Southland regular-season and tournament championships.

Kairis, who pitched for NSU in 1987-88, set a school single-season strikeout record in 1987 (102, now sixth all-time) and topped that by one (103, fifth all-time) as a senior. His 205 Ks tied the then-school career record, set in four years. He played in all but two games in 1987, pitching (3-6, 5 saves in 21 appearances, 9 starts) while also being a starting centerfielder (hit .304, tops on the team, with 45 hits, 11 doubles), and struck out 11 LSU batters in a 1987 game. Kairis was a first-team All-Southland Conference pick as a pitcher in 1988 who was drafted by Cleveland (23rd round, 1988) and was the Indians’ minor league player of the year in his first year as a pro.

A tennis letterman from 1968-72 who has become a highly successful attorney with offices in Natchitoches and Houston, Salim’s support of Demon baseball has been pivotal for over two decades, resulting in significant facility enhancements and more. Also a significant supporter of men’s and women’s basketball through the years, Salim’s engagement with Demon baseball began in the John Cohen era and his involvement was vital to the renovations of Brown-Stroud Field led by Cohen in 2000, and improvements large and small since.

Salim, who has been actively involved in youth baseball in Natchitoches as well as with the Special Olympics, has been selected as one of the 100 Top Trial Lawyers determined by the American Trial Lawyers Association, and named to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.

Softball star Kenney was a three-year All-Southland Conference third baseman and designated player who ranks among the best hitters in Lady Demon history. She helped NSU win three straight Southland Conference championships in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Co-Hitter of the Year in the Southland in 1998 (.305, 4 HR, 33 RBI), she was All-Southland Tournament in 1997, 1999, 2000.


2019 N-Club Hall of Fame Induction Class

Judy Clark (women’s basketball, 1996-2000) – The 1998-99 Southland Conference Player of the Year, Clark ranks among the most dynamic guards in school history … she scored 1,616 points in 112 games, 14.4 per game, 7th all-time at the end of her career, and  finished her career second all-time at NSU in assists (609, 5.4 average) and sixth in steals (238, 2.1 average) … she twice led the team in scoring and topped Coach James Smith’s clubs in assists and steals in each of her four seasons … Clark led the Lady Demons to the 1998-99 Southland championship and a WNIT appearance (loss at Arkansas) … NSU was 63-24 in her final three seasons, including a 24-6 record in her senior year  … one of only four Lady Demons selected first-team All-Southland in multiple years, and only the third to do it in successive years, as a junior and senior … also twice All-Louisiana first-team … Southland Conference Freshman of the Year in 1996-97 when she led a rebuilding team in scoring (13.6), assists (6.2) and steals (1.9).

Mike Green (football, track & field, 1997-2000) 
– The NFL Draft’s 2000 “Mr. Irrelevant” became one of the great success stories in draft history, playing nine years in the pro ranks, most as a productive starting safety for the Chicago Bears …426 tackles, 21 pass breakups, 7 forced fumbles, 6 sacks and 4 interceptions in 104 games (48 starts) from 2000-08 … twice over 100 tackles, 129 in 2002 and 106 in 2004 … led all NFL defensive backs in tackles in 2002 …  was the 254th and final selection after earning All-America honors in his final two seasons at NSU, becoming the fifth football player to be a two-time All-America  … part of four Southland Conference championships, two in football (1997, 1998) and two in track (1998, 2000) … his stirring anchor leg in the 4×400 relay won the 2000 title for coach Leon Johnson’s Demons … voted 1999 All-Louisiana Defensive Player of the Year … first-team AP and AFCA All-American as a senior  after 99 tackles, 14 pass breakups, two interceptions, and a blocked punt that he returned for a TD … with 11 tackles, chosen Defensive MVP for the Gray team in the Blue-Gray All-Star Classic … career: 33 games. 266 career tackles, 4 interceptions, career-best 18 tackles at Missouri (1998) … chosen among the Top 100 Demon Football Players selected in the 2007 centennial celebration of NSU football.

Missy Payne Howe (soccer, 1998-2001)
  — Three-time All-Southland Conference selection, twice second team (1999, 2001) and first team as a junior in 2000 when the Lady Demons made their first NCAA Tournament appearance … the midfielder played in 58 games, starting 57, and scored 35 points with 8 goals and nine assists … had game-winning goals in consecutive conference games to help NSU win the 2000 Southland regular-season and tournament championships … her senior class never had a losing season despite being in a young program that began in 1996 … also competed in cross country, a sport whose season was concurrent with the soccer season.

Bob Kairis (baseball, 1987-88)
 – Set Demons’ single-season strikeout record as a pitcher in 1987 (102, now sixth all-time) and topped that by one (103, fifth all-time) as a senior … his 205 Ks tied the then-school career record … won 7 games in 1988, going 7-4 with a 3.72 ERA and walked 24 in 81.2 innings …  played in all but two games in 1987, pitching (3-6, 5 saves in 21 appearances, 9 starts) while also being a starting centerfielder (hit .304, tops on the team, with 45 hits, 11 doubles) … struck out 11 LSU batters in a 1987 game … tied for 10th all-time with 6 career saves … was a first-team All-Southland Conference pick as a pitcher in 1988 … drafted by Cleveland (23rd round, 1988) and was the Indians’ minor league player of the year in his first year as a pro.

Brandy Kenney (softball, 1997-2000) – A three-year All-Southland Conference third baseman and designated player who ranks among the best hitters in Lady Demon history … helped NSU win three straight Southland Conference championships in 1998, 1999 and 2000 … started a school-record 225 games from 1997-2000, a figure that now ranks fourth … her 216 career hits, which broke All-American Rhonda Rube’s school record, now ranks fourth … she still holds the school record for career doubles (62), breaking Rube’s mark by 17 (it ranks second) … Co-Hitter of the Year in the Southland in 1998 (.305, 4 HR, 33 RBI) … All-Southland Tournament in 1997, 1999, 2000 … honorable mention All-Southland as a freshman in 1997 … career .313 batting average (3rd in school history at end of her career), 22 home runs (2nd then), 120 RBI (2nd), .509 slugging percentage (2nd), set school record with 352 total bases … elected in 2018, to be enshrined in 2019.

Mike McConathy (men’s basketball coach, 1999-present) —
 McConathy begins his 21st season as the Demons’ coach this November as the winningestcollegiate basketball coach in state history (647 in 35 seasons, 20 at NSU) … his Demons have three NCAA Tournament berths (2001, 2006, 2013), another national postseason tournament appearance (2014 College Insider), two NCAA wins (2001, 2006), and seven Southland Conference Tournament championship game appearances in 12 tournament appearances … led a program with only 5 winning seasons in 24 years of Division I competition to winning marks in his first two seasons and five of his first eight (nine overall, plus another at .500) … Demons made the Southland Tournament championship game in his first two seasons after never reaching it before … McConathy led his second NSU squad to 19 wins including the Demons’ first NCAA Tournament appearance and a first-round win (71-67 over Winthrop) … after a rebuild with 12 freshmen, his teams won consecutive Southland regular-season titles in 2005 and 2006 … his Demons of Destiny set a school record in 2005-06 by going 26-8, including the NCAA Tournament win over No. 15-ranked Iowa … regular-season road wins have come over Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, Auburn and Oregon State (neutral site) … McConathy’sDemons are 289-232 (.556) in non-guarantee games and 195-177 vs. Southland Conference foes despite playing without his starting point guard due to injuries in 100 of the last 113 games … his teams have led the nation in scoring and twice have earned NCAA public recognition for academic performance as well as national acclaim for community service … received prestigious National Association of Basketball Coaches Guardian of the Game Pillar Award for Education at the 2012 Final Four.

Wayne Waggoner (men’s basketball, 1980-82) – NBA Draft pick (1983, 6th round) who made it to the last cut with the Dallas Mavericks … All-Trans America Athletic Conference both years he played for the Demons … No. 2 career FT% (85.5) among players with more than 75 career attempts, best all-time until Jalen West topped him 36 years later … averaged 16.8 points per game in his 56-game NSU career, transferring to his father’s alma mater after two seasons at Centenary … two of top scoring totals in school history in his two seasons (446, 15.9 ppg in 1980-81; 493, 17.6 ppg for a 19-9 squad in 1981-82 … with 939 points, just missed NSU’s 1,000 Point Club, where his 16.8 career average would rank 4th … also led coach Wayne Yates’1981-82 Demons with 111 assists and 38.5 minutes per game … shot an incredible 57%  as a 6-2 point guard … his single-season 86.5 free throw aim ranked 18th nationally and is 8thall-time at NSU …  a first-team All-TAAC selection in 1982 … all-conference and All-TAAC Tournament as a junior … was an assistant coach at NSU for six years from 1983-88, noted as a strong recruiter … joined his father, Bernard, on the 100-man “All-Century Team” marking the Demon basketball centennial in 2013 … “Wags” was part of the “Fab 50” list of top players in NSU’s Division I history from 1977-2013.

Kenny Wright (football, 1996-98) –
 A safety converted to cornerback in 1998, Wright had career totals of 148 tackles, 5 interceptions and 9 pass breakups while starting for Southland champion teams in 1997 and 1998 after the Ruston native transferred to NSU in 1996 from Arkansas after his freshman season … a fourth-round 1999 NFL Draft choice (Vikings), he was also a starter for Houston, Jacksonville and Washington in nine pro seasons, making 245 tackles and 7 interceptions … chosen among the Top 100 Demon Football Players selected in the 2007 centennial celebration of NSU football.

Distinguished Service Award recipient

Robert “Skeeter” Salim – A tennis letterman from 1968-72 who has become a highly successful attorney with offices in Natchitoches and Houston, Salim’ssupport of Demon baseball has been pivotal for over two decades, resulting in significant facility enhancements and more … also a significant supporter of men’s and women’s basketball through the years … Salim’s engagement with Demon baseball began in the John Cohen era and his involvement was vital to the renovations of Brown-Stroud Field led by Cohen in 2000, and improvements large and small since … Salim has also rallied other community leaders to become involved with the program … has been actively involved in youth baseball in Natchitoches as well as with the Special Olympics … selected as one of the 100 Top Trial Lawyers determined by the American Trial Lawyers Association, and named to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.