Grateful 2021 LSHOF inductees enthrall audience

Whether in person or via video, the 11 members of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2021 expressed many of the same sentiments Saturday night.

First and foremost among them was gratitude – for teammates, for family and for each other.

Emotions flowed freely throughout, shaking the normally unflappable.

New Orleans broadcasting icon Ro Brown was one of three Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism winners honored Saturday. Praised as a barrier-breaking, trustworthy broadcaster, Brown paused for at least 30 seconds before answering his first question.

“I’m on TV for a living, I’ll be able to do this,” Brown cracked when he finally gathered himself.

A product of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward who praised that area’s “village” mentality to helping raise him, Brown’s career and personality meshes perfectly with the distinguished title of the award bestowed upon him.

The familial feel of Natchitoches and Northwestern State University provided Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism honoree Doug Ireland with a place to call home and a family tree that spread its limbs throughout the sports information profession.

Ireland’s role as the chariman of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame came with it the drive to construct the award-winning museum in downtown Natchitoches, a relationship that has given him a giant extended family that marks the sporting eras of the state of Louisiana.

“When I hear Hall of Famers talk to Doug, it’s like they have had this relationship for 30 years when in reality, he’s only been talking to them for six to eight months,” said Northwestern State men’s basketball coach Mike McConathy, who worked with Ireland for nearly two decades. “He has so much knowledge and the ability to recall things about them as people. They become part of his family because they are now Hall of Famers.”

After nearly three decades serving as the Hall’s chairman, Ireland took his place among the numerous figures he has delivered to whom he has delivered the call to for years.

“I’m here on the shoulders of so many people,” Ireland said. “I didn’t do something. We did something. I was just lucky to help steer it in a couple of directions.”

While Natchitoches adopted Ireland as a native son, it celebrated the Hall entry of one of its own born and raised citizens as 1980 Bassmaster Classic champion Villis “Bo” Dowden joined his hometown’s shrine Saturday.

From a child who enjoyed fishing with his grandfather to winning the Super Bowl of bass fishing by “showing us we could fish in the wind,” according to fellow competitor Bobby Murray, Dowden quickly espoused the values of his hometown and his family.

“(My childhood) was quite a fun time as far as I was concerned,” he said. “I didn’t worry about anything. I didn’t have too many big chores in the backyard, so I went fishing.

“I fished out here in Black Lake and Saline Lake and Sibley Lake and Cane River. Natchitoches is just full of fishing holes if you know where to look for them.”

Group:  L to R): Rickie Weeks, Sheldon Mickles, Terry McAulay, Pat Henry, Doug Ireland, Bo Dowden, Glenn Dorsey, Ro Brown and Courtney Blades Rogers.

Photo:  Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services


Northwestern State offense steps up in overtime loss at No. 23 Rice

Through the offseason and leading into the 2021 season, the Northwestern State soccer team has placed an emphasis on dialing up their offense and creating more opportunities to score.

Despite walking away with a loss on Sunday, the Lady Demons (0-3-1) found some of that rhythm and took No. 23 Rice (4-0) to overtime. In the 95th minute, Rice’s Vyviene Spaulding made good on an assist from the right corner and scored the golden goal, securing a 2-1 victory.

Rice took an early lead after scoring the opening goal in the 19th minute. Although being down a goal, possession between both teams was an even affair through the opening period. At half, NSU led Rice in total shot attempts 4-3.

Rice held control through the majority of the second period and tested the capabilities of the NSU defense. Despite taking seven shots to NSU’s three in the final 45 minutes of regulation, NSU defenders – along with a seven save outing from senior goalkeeper Acelya Aydogmus — held Rice to zero goals in the second period and allowed the Lady Demons a chance to tie the match late in regulation.

In the 71st minute, sophomore midfielder Kyle Nolen found the net for NSU off a throw in by Caroline Hilliard, sinking the shot high right to tie the match at one apiece.

“I thought we bounced back really well and made life difficult for the 23rd ranked team in the country, head coach Stuart Gore said.

“We created some good opportunities, and Kyle’s finish was first class.” I’m looking forward to seeing how we can build off of this experience.”

Veterans Nicole Henry and Olivia Draguicevich led the charge for NSU, both tallying three shot attempts at the net with two on target. The Lady Demons logged ten total shot attempts on the match, five of which were saved in the net — a marked improvement from Friday’s five shot performance at Prairie View A&M. Rice finished the day with 17 shots and nine shots on goal.

Wrapping up its first road stretch of the season, NSU returns home for its home opener Wednesday night at the Lady Demon Soccer Complex against Louisiana Tech.

Photo:  Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services


Many High School Teacher and Coach Arrested

MANY, La – On Wednesday, August 24th, Many High School teacher and coach Luke Hall was arrested for alleged sexual conduct with a student. According to the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office, a former student came forward an alleged that Hall previously made sexual advances toward her at his home in 2019. At the time, the victim was a 17 year old student of Hall’s. 

The Sabine Parish School Board released the following statement regarding the allegations and the arrest; “The Sabine Parish School Board has been made aware of the arrest of Luke Hall, Many High School teacher and coach. Mr. Hall has been placed on leave pending the results of the investigation.”

Currently, Hall teaches Special Education, Algebra II, he is the Head Track Coach, and an Assistant Football Coach at Many High School. 

Hall has been booked into the Sabine Parish Detention Center on his charges. No bond has been set at this time by the 11th Judicial District Court. 


Magnolia Bend Academy to Hold First Meeting at New Many Location

“We are thrilled to announce we are expanding and offering a new campus in Many, LA,” said Crystal Cummins of Magnolia Bend Academy.  She added, “It will be located at First Baptist Church in Many, LA.”

Cummins posted on social media that K-6th Grade will attend Monday-Wednesday 

7th-12th will attend Monday-Tuesday 8:30-2:30.  First day of School is September 13. Last day is May 18. Thanksgiving Christmas and Spring break included.

The first meeting in Many is scheduled tonight.  Magnolia Bend Academy is located on Catfish Bend Road in south Red River Parish.

Original: 

MANY, La – Red River Parish private school, Magnolia Bend Academy, has announced the opening of a new location in Many, Louisiana with a tentative opening date set for next month. 

The Sabine Parish Journal reached out to Crystal Cummins, founder of the Magnolia Bend Academy, to ask what led to her decision to expand the school into Sabine Parish. Cummins was quoted saying;

“Over the past year I have received countless calls, emails, and visits from parents who are looking for an alternative to traditional public school. Here at Magnolia Bend, we offer a Christian curriculum where parents can have an input into the student’s education. We have had an outpouring of requests from the parents of Sabine Parish wanting this type of education for their children. After careful consideration and countless prayers, we have decided to heed this call and move forward with establishing an Abeka based homeschool program in Many. We are all excited to expand with this satellite location and providing this opportunity to the parents and students in Sabine parish.”

This news comes after a rise in unrest and disagreement regarding the recent mask mandate implemented by the Governor. Parents within the parish have recently expressed their concerns publicly with the mandated masks for school aged children, and  feel as though their rights to determine the best course of action regarding the medical and educational needs of their children has been infringed upon by the Governor within the past year. Because of this growing concern by parents, one local mom, Kresha Matkin,  has become somewhat of a voice for these parents. In fact, Matkin made the announcement of the new location in a Facebook group originally created to connect parents who have felt uneasy through COVID restrictions and mandates they feel have been forced on schools by the Governors office. 

The opening of the new satellite location for Magnolia Bend Academy will provide students and parents of all circumstances additional options when it comes to their education. 

For full details of the tuition costs, class dates, school breaks, and with any questions, parents can email the school at Magnoliabendacademy1@gmail.com


FFA Leadership Camp

By Katie Bedgood

This summer I had the opportunity to attend an FFA leadership camp that was held in Woodworth, La at the Wesley Center. The purpose of the leadership camp is to teach FFA members how they can be a leader in their home and community. We not only learned important skills to bring back home to our schools and FFA Chapters, but we also socialized with other FFA chapters, area and state officers.

At leadership camp we had many different activities to participate in. We had general sessions where the State officers taught us different ways you can be a leader. We also had free time where we could play games like corn hole or basketball. We participated in workshops that encouraged healthy living such as not drinking and driving, swimming, and zip lining. On the last day of camp there was a scavenger hunt all over the campgrounds. The last thing we did at Leadership camp was an award ceremony where my team and I won the campers vs Advisors wiffle ball tournament.

We not only had fun at camp but also learned lessons that will help us all throughout life and not just FFA. In one of our general sessions, they went into detail about Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) and Leadership Development Events. The State Officers explained that when you are participating in your SAE it is giving you some type of job experience. A Leadership Development Event helps you develop skills needed to seek employment. They also explained to us different ways FFA can help you get scholarships for certain colleges.

Attending Leadership Camp was a good experience because I was able to interact with other FFA members and learned skills to help my FFA Chapter throughout the year. Meeting the State FFA Officers has inspired me to run for an Area office next year and eventually a state FFA office. I will definitely encourage other FFA members to attend Leadership Camp in the future.


MISTER participant awarded scholarship

Kyle Scott of Bossier City is this year’s recipient of the Big Al’s Rock It Scholarship. An education major at Northwestern State University, Scott is vice president of the Call Me MISTER program, which aims to increase the pool of available teachers from a broader and more diverse background, shortening the percentage of minorities in the classroom.

“We serve the community by going to a local elementary schools volunteering, helping teachers and students,” said Scott, who is majoring in health and physical education and plans to teach K-12.

The scholarship was created in 2017 by the Rev. Eric Williams, pastor of The Rock Church in Shreveport. Eligible recipients must maintain a 2.5 or better grade point average with preference given to a student from the Shreveport-Bossier City area.

Scott is part of the first cohort of MISTER students. The initiative seeks to recruit African American males to become teachers and mentors at low-performing schools. MISTER is an acronym for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models. As a Call Me MISTER campus, NSU is part of a highly acclaimed recruitment and support program that includes a national network of universities.

Prospective MISTERS must be a minority male and come from an underserved, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and/or educationally at-risk community. They must major in early childhood education, elementary education, health and physical education or music education and demonstrate a record of high scholastic achievement and participation in extra-curricular and community service activities.

Applications for Call me MISTER are reviewed on a competitive basis each spring for consideration for cohorts that begin each fall semester. Preference is given to graduating high school seniors, two-year community college transfers and first-year college freshmen. Eligible candidates are selected based on their potential for teaching and their motivation for participation in the program.

For more information, contact program coordinator Ramona Wynder at (318) 357-4549.


Roblow looks to build on Freshman All-American campaign

NSU 46 Scotty Roblow

When Scotty Roblow arrived at Northwestern State, he did so having handled all the kicking and punting duties in high school.

In his second season as a Demon – the truncated six-game spring slate – Roblow found his collegiate calling as a punter. Roblow opened his true freshman season of 2019 as the Demons starting place kicker, appearing in four games before an injury sidelined him for the final eight games.

Handling punting duties for the first time as a collegian in the spring, Roblow became a Freshman All-American, averaging 41.7 yards per punt and dropping 11 of his 29 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. The move from kicker to punter went smoothly for the Shreveport product.

“It was going to be a slow transition,” said Roblow, who will join his teammates for their annual mock game at 6:30 p.m. Thursday inside Turpin Stadium. “I had to get comfortable. Once I started playing, it came easy to me.”

Easy and effective.

Eight of Roblow’s 29 punts traveled at least 50 yards, helping him rank 17th nationally in punting average. In the battle of field position, Roblow gave the Demons a solid, consistent weapon in terms of flipping the field.

“Football is so big on field position,” fourth-year head coach Brad Laird said. “He was able to flip field position in those situations. It was very positive moving forward in the spring and hope to see the same thing in the fall.”

Never did he do so more than against eventual national champion Sam Houston. Roblow said he felt he truly arrived as a punter against the Bearkats, averaging 50.5 yards per punt on four attempts, including a career-long 56-yard boot.

“I always took it one punt at a time,” Roblow said. “If I had a bad punt, I’d shake it off and go on to the next one. The Sam Houston game was probably my best, given I won the (Southland Conference) Special Teams Player of the Week award.”

Aided in part by Roblow’s field-flipping abilities, the Demons limited the Bearkats to 24 points, Sam Houston’s lowest regular-season output.

Having handled all three aspects of the kicking game may have helped Roblow find a home at Northwestern State, but focusing on punting allowed him excel.

“You go back to the fall of 2020, and we brought in Eddie (Godina) to be our kicker,” Laird said. “Coach (Jake) Olsen, at the time had Scotty strictly work on punting. He had done everything before and never really had the ability to hone in on one particular area and focus his skillset on that. Fast forward to the spring, and I think you saw the work he did in that area show up in competition.”

Roblow’s comfort level grew on the field and within the special teams room.

In addition to bonding with Godina over the technical aspects of kicking, Roblow formed a deeper bond with snapper Evan Gibson, a fellow Shreveport native.

“We’re all like brothers,” Roblow said of the specialists. “Off the field, we do our thing. I’m always on (Gibson) about Calvary. My cousin, Will (Derrick), is a wide receiver at ULM and played at Calvary with Evan. I didn’t know Evan at the time, but I knew he was going to Northwestern. Now we live together and we’re buddy-buddy. We’re basically brothers.”

Photo: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services


The Most Fun I Ever Had Fishing

I’ve been fishing tournaments since 1990 and have loved every minute with most of the guys or gals I’ve had the pleasure to fish with. I’ve participated in team and pro/am events and each format is unique unto itself. But one question I’ve been asked over the years, is what have I enjoyed the most? Well, my experience with team trails has been awesome and I have had the best partners an angler could ever ask for. Nothing is more fun than you and a buddy (team partner) going out and putting a pattern together and doing well. And nothing is more rewarding than crawling into the back of a touring pro’s boat and catching fish. Fishing at the highest level certainly has its rewards but it can also be your worst nightmare if you draw the wrong pro.
 
Some pros are super nice and will do whatever they can to help a co-angler catch fish. Then there are some who won’t give you the time of day even if they’re wearing a watch. But the majority of the pros are great guys who want to see their co-anglers succeed. I’ve always tried to make sure my co-anglers catch fish because I’ve been a co-angler myself before and know what’ it’s like to be ignored or even recognized that you’re in the boat. I’ve always looked at it like this… the co-angler that’s fishing in my boat has paid his hard-earned money to fish just like I have. But the difference is that my entry fee is double what the co-angler pays and that’s why you’re at the mercy of the pro/boater in a pro/am event as the pro/boater has complete control of the boat at all times.  
 
But to answer the question of my most rewarding year; was fishing as a co-angler on the FLW Tour in 2004. What an awesome experience that was to get in the boat with some of the best anglers on the planet and watch them work their magic. But the one thing I figured out real early, was that there is no magic…professional bass fishermen are on another level when it comes to skills like reading the water, understanding their electronics, not to mention their ability to cast and put baits in places average anglers would not even attempt. The skill level of the B.A.S.S. Elite and Major League Fishing (MLF) Series guys is off the chart and amazing to see in person. In 2004, I had the pleasure to fish with some of the best to ever wet a hook like former FLW and Basmaster Classic Champion Dion Hibdon, 2020 Elite Series Angler of the Year Clark Wendlandt, Japanese MLF Pro Shin Fukea and Texas MLF Pro Kelly Jordan. All of these guys were not only great anglers, but fine people as well. I learned a lot during my eight hours of fishing with each of these guys.
 
But why was 2004 the most fun I ever had fishing? First of all, I drew some of the top anglers on tour and caught a lot of fish behind these guys as I had three Top 10 finishes that year. But what I really enjoyed the most that year as a co-angler, I did not have to worry about all the details that come with fishing the pro/boater side. Co-anglers don’t have to worry about finding fish, putting gas in the boat, making sure they have enough oil in the reservoir, charging the batteries, or fixing and repairing things on the boat.  Co-anglers don’t have to worry about a blown tire on their boat trailer or the wheel bearings going out. All I had to do was show up, put my tackle in the boat and go fishing with the best anglers in America! Not a bad way to go fishing and enjoy the day while learning from the best in the business.
 
One thing that’s very disappointing to me in 2021, is that MLF (formerly FLW) and the B.A.S.S. Elite Series Pro Circuits have eliminated the co-angler. The Elite Series does have what they call the Marshall program which is where you can apply and pay to sit in the boat and observed all day.  But Major League Fishing (MLF) has not allowed that yet as their pros have a referee (who records each fish they catch) and a camera man. So, in the future when someone asks me “What’s the most fun you ever had fishing?” I’ll always reply 2004!  Till we meet again, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!!!
 

Steve Graf

Owner/Co-host                                                                     
Hook’N Up & Track’N Down
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