Inaugural McGaha Memorial Scholarship awarded

Haden Smith accepts the Lane McGaha Endowed Scholarship

Louisiana Tech University Construction Engineering Technology major Haden Smith, a senior from Benton, has been named the first recipient of the Lane McGaha Memorial Scholarship. McGaha’s family presented the scholarship June 15 in the Marbury Alumni Center on Louisiana Tech’s campus.

McGaha, ’06-Sociology, was the late coach of the University’s Bass Fishing Team, a club sport organized through the Lambright Sports and Wellness Center. Smith is a veteran member of the team and will serve as the group’s president for the 2021-22 academic year.

“The kids on the team just wanted to find a way to honor Lane,” said Fred McGaha, the late coach’s father. “This is such an appropriate way to do that. He would want the team to continue to excel, and we want this scholarship to continue to grow.”

Smith has gone “above and beyond in a challenging year,” McGaha said. “He’s the hardest working member of the team, and he has given so much of his personal time to keep this team going in the past year – no matter how hard it’s been on the team.”

Fred McGaha, who took over coaching the Fishing Team after his son passed away, said the team has been a blessing to him and Lane McGaha’s family.

“I hope this scholarship will help us reach out to other prospective members of the team,” he added.

Smith said he was honored to receive the scholarship, which will help him with school expenses over the next year.

“Fishing teaches us so many things,” Smith said. “It shows us how to prepare for life and how important the responsibility of representing Louisiana Tech is. We also learn humility and how to handle both success and failure through our competitions.”

Fishing also teaches students to concentrate on ensuring the little details are complete, Wade McGaha, Lane’s brother, said. “You have a plan A and a plan B, and when you take care of the little things, the big things fall in line.”

Support for extracurricular and co-curricular activities is important, said Kane Allen, Associate Director of Recreation at Louisiana Tech.

“Financial support for our students involved in recreation is vital to keep our programs moving in the right direction,” Allen said. “Participation in recreation increases both physical and mental health, and groups like the Bass Fishing Team provide a support network for many of our students.”

The scholarship also allows the McGaha family to continue to share Lane’s dedication to the students on the team, his mother, Lesa Henderson, said. “Lane loved every kid on that team.”

To contribute to the Lane McGaha Memorial Scholarship, visit latechalumni.org/give and search for Scholarship Fund.

Pictured are (from left) Kane Allen, Haden Smith, Fred McGaha, Annie McGaha, Lesa Henderson, Wade McGaha, (front) Macy McGaha, and Layla McGaha.


Grambling State University Computer Science Student Interns at Rock Central

Shiloh Williams, a junior at Grambling State University (GSU), is completing a virtual internship with Rock Central. The Detroit-based professional services company focuses on human resources, accounting, technology, and more.

Williams, of Houston, Texas, is earning a degree in computer science with a minor in mathematics at GSU. He is interning in Rock Central’s software engineering department this summer. The section focuses on such areas as programming and systems design, implementation, and administration.

“I started May 21, 2021 and will conclude August 17, 2021,” Williams said. “I hope to learn the process of engineering a product and pushing it out for public use. So far, I have been learning a lot and I have implemented a lot within the company., I am very excited to continue my development as a programmer.”

He said the skills and processes that he is learning are helping to prepare him for a career in computer science.

“When I graduate, I would like to switch between machine learning and software engineering,” Williams said. “During the internship, I’ve learned a lot such as how to use Git (version control system used to store code), three more languages to program in, and backend and UI (User Interface) development.”

About Rock Central
Rock Central is a professional services company that supports the growth within its Rock Family of Companies and it provides the services that its clients need to evolve while allowing them to focus on their business. The company’s expertise encompasses human resources, accounting, technology, legal services and more. From helping companies who are just getting started to working with experienced industry veterans, Rock Central’s teams partner with enterprises to help them go further.

About Grambling State University
Grambling State University, located in Grambling, Louisiana, is a historically black university founded in 1901. The University has been accredited by 13 accrediting associations and holds accreditations in all programs required by the Louisiana Board of Regents. The 590-acre campus offers 43 undergraduate and graduate academic programs. Grambling State University is a member of the University of Louisiana System.

 


Ponderings — June 18, 2021

Blue Bell Ice Cream, am I right?

When my father in law was alive, the tradition was to serve Blue Bell Butter Crunch Ice Cream promptly at 8:30 pm. Almost immediately after finishing his ice cream, my father in law would announce his toddling off to bed for the evening. Since his death, we have kept the tradition going with my bride and my mother in law. What, your in-laws don’t live in your house? I have all kinds of stories, but that is another article.

I am not a fan of Butter Crunch Ice Cream. I discovered that trying to change the holy flavor to something else would be like changing the Sunday morning order of worship at your local Methodist church. It might happen, but the natives will not like it.

We have extra freezer capacity thus I began purchasing other flavors of Blue Bell ice cream. Besides, Blue Bell only makes Butter Crunch sometimes. The tradition became to ask the ladies what flavor they wanted and then provide them with their desired dish of ice cream delight. I always had three or four flavors available.

My bride longed for Cherry Vanilla. Previously we found it only at the Chinese Restaurant in Minden. I have relatives in Arizona who found it in their grocery stores. For nearly two years I have searched for the elusive Blue Bell Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream. I have never seen it in any grocery store in Louisiana.

I need to chase one rabbit here. Since my mother in law is visiting a daughter in Arkansas my bride and I thought this to be a good time to be a little more disciplined in our eating habits. One of the causalities is the 8:30 Blue Bell ritual. It has gone very well for the last week or so. We are eating lots of veggies and few calories.

Guess what I found in the grocery store yesterday? There it was Blue Bell Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream. For two years I have looked for the elusive delight. Now, when we are no longer eating Ice Cream, I find it. I’m wondering what the theological insight of this could possibly be.

This reminded me of what James wrote, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”
What is tempting you?


All is Wells for Tech third baseman named first-team All-America

The third time was a charm for Louisiana Tech third baseman Hunter Wells Thursday.

Wells became the third different Bulldog to earned All-America honors this season when he was named a Baseball America First Team All-American on Thursday morning, making him the ninth All-America selection in program history.

Wells joins teammates Taylor Young and Jonathan Fincher as the trio of Bulldogs to earn All-America honors in 2021. Young was named a Collegiate Baseball Third Team All-American on June 3, while Fincher received NCBWA Third Team All-American honors Wednesday.

Wells, who ranks second in the nation with 101 hits, adds the All-American honor to a long list of individual accolades from a historic 2021 season. The third baseman earned First Team All-Conference USA honors, Conference USA All-Tournament Team accolades and Ruston NCAA Regional All-Tournament honors in his final season as a Diamond Dog.

The Katy, Texas native led Conference USA in batting average (.385), hits (101) and total bases (169). Wells also led the Bulldogs in slugging percentage (.645) and home runs (14).

The third baseman set four records in his final season in Ruston, two of which were Bulldog career records. Wells set the all-time Bulldog hits record with 279 base hits across his LA Tech career, breaking his own single-season hits record on the same swing. He became the first Tech player in program history to reach and then surpass 100 hits in a single season with a home run and an infield single in his final game in a Bulldog uniform.

Wells’ infield single in the bottom of the ninth in the Ruston NCAA Regional final also helped him break the single-season total bases record with his 169th total base of the 2021 season. A triple in the Conference USA Tournament against WKU helped him notch the 10th three-bagger of his career, another LA Tech Baseball career record.

PHOTO:  by Emerald McIntyre.


United Way of Northeast Louisiana launches Ready4School Uniform Drive

United Way of Northeast Louisiana is excited to launch Ready4School, a partnership with local libraries across four parishes to gather school uniforms for elementary school children!

Beginning on Monday, June 21 and ending on Friday, July 2, children’s gently used uniforms, new shoes, socks, belts, and backpacks are requested from the community and can be donated at the locations listed in the graphic below.

After drop offs are completed on July 2, United Way volunteers will sort the donated items and assist with delivery to area schools for the 2021-22 school year.

For more information, call 211 or text your zip code to 898-211.


He earned it: Tech baseball boss Burroughs gets rewarded

Lane Burroughs and his Bulldogs baseball team delivered in 2021.

On Thursday, Louisiana Tech VP and Director of Athletics Eric Wood announced the University has rewarded the Bulldog skipper with a contract extension through the 2025-26 season.

“We are building something special at Louisiana Tech,” said Burroughs. “This year was historic in so many ways, but we want it to become the norm in Ruston. That’s the goal of our players and coaches. I also know it is the goal of our administration, fans, alumni, donors and stakeholders. We are excited about 2022 and beyond.”

In his fifth season in Ruston, Burroughs guided the Bulldogs to one of their most successful years in program history. Tech won 42 games, captured the Conference USA West Division title, advanced to the C-USA Championship game and earned one of 16 national seeds and the opportunity to host the school’s first NCAA Regional.

“Lane has done an outstanding job with this program over the past five years,” said Wood. “He did an unbelievable job during a very difficult stretch.”

Although details of the extension were not released, Burroughs is now signed through the next five seasons in Ruston.

“I can’t thank Dr. (Les) Guice and Dr. Wood enough for their commitment to me, and their belief in me to be the head coach of this program,” said Burroughs. “It is an honor and one I don’t take for granted. We will continue to be relentless in our pursuit and work as hard as we can to build a program that Bulldogs everywhere can be proud of.”

The Bulldogs were one of the feel good stories of the 2021 college baseball season. Following the April of 2019 tornado that destroyed J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park, Burroughs and Co. were nomads for the majority of the next 22 months – practicing at the Ruston Sports Complex south of town, many times having to schedule workouts around Ruston High School and even little league games and practices.

However, with the return of six Covid-19 seniors and a never-say-die attitude, Burroughs and his blue-collar Bulldogs returned to campus in February with the re-opening of the newly-redesigned and rebuilt “Love Shack” and took the college baseball world by storm. Early March wins over No. 1 Arkansas and No. 4 Ole Miss sent notice to both Conference USA and the nation that Tech was for real.

“I think this year’s team epitomized their head coach’s toughness,” said Wood. “They competed relentlessly and represented our institution in a first class manner. Not only did Lane keep this program afloat during the past two challenging years since the tornado, but he led it to new heights. We wanted to show a commitment to Lane and the program, and I am grateful for Lane’s desire to remain at Louisiana Tech.”

Tech finished 42-20, including a 22-8 mark in Conference USA action – the most league wins in program history.

LA Tech earned the No. 16 national seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, marking its ninth NCAA Regional appearance in program history. The Diamond Dogs made it to the Regional final after defeating Rider 18-2 and SEC foe Alabama 10-8. LA Tech’s win over the Crimson Tide secured its third win over a different SEC opponent in a single season (Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss) for the first time since 1987.

Burroughs also guided LA Tech to its first division title since 1992 by winning the Conference USA’s Western Division title on the final day of the C-USA season.

PHOTO:  Lane Burroughs in the Tech dugout – LA Tech Athletics.


Tech adds softball pitching coach, veteran soccer coach exits

New Louisiana Tech head coach Josh Taylor announced the first addition to his Lady Techster softball coaching staff Thursday while athletic director Eric Wood announced the departure of Techster soccer head coach Kevin Sherry and named assistant Steve Voltz as interim coach.

Taylor was full of praise for his new pitching coach, former Arkansas standout Chelsea Cohen.

“As a pitching coach she brings five years of international experience, pitching and coaching in countries such as Argentina, Austria, South Africa, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Australia and Italy.

“In her time overseas, she worked with and helped develop future and current Olympians. As a former student-athlete at Arkansas, she brings a tremendous amount of experience to our program. She is a confident and well-spoken coach who will no doubt be a fantastic teacher and mentor for all the current and future LA Tech Softball student athletes.”

Cohen was a two-year team captain at Arkansas during her four-year playing career with the Razorbacks (2009-13). During her days in Fayetteville, Cohen finished in the top 10 in wins, innings pitched, games started, appearances, complete games, shutouts and strikeouts.

She struck out a career-high 13 in a win over Saint Louis and earned a win over No. 1 ranked Cal during the 2012 NCAA Regional. She also teamed up with Hope McLemore to toss a combined no-hitter against Kentucky on April 20, 2013. Cohen earned First Year SEC Academic Honor Roll in 2009-10.

Following her playing days at Arkansas, Cohen spent a number of years as a player and a coach on the international level, including time with Sestese Softball Club (Italy, 2018), Kenfac Phillis (South Africa, 2017-18), Zurich Barracudas (Switzerland, 2017), Legnano Softball Club (Italy, 2016), Walkerville (South Australia, 2015-16), Dornbirn Sharx (Austria, 2014) and Buenos Aires (Argentina, 2013).

Her international career was highlighted by championships in Austria and South Africa, European Cup appearances in the Czech Republic and Netherlands, and MVP honors in multiple countries.

Cohen also served as a volunteer assistant at Nevada in 2014-15 and Reed High School in the spring of 2014.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in human environmental sciences from Arkansas in 2013 while being selected by the coaching staff to participate in the Razorback Leadership Academy, designed to cultivate and enhance leadership in athletics. She earned her certificate in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace in May (issued by the University of South Florida Muma College of Business).

SOCCER: Louisiana Tech VP and Director of Athletics Eric Wood’s announcement only acknowledged Sherry wouldn’t return, and did not specify whether it was a resignation, a firing or a non-renewal of a contract. The timing likely rules out the latter possibility.

“We want to thank Kevin for his hard work with our soccer program during his tenure at Louisiana Tech, and we wish him the best in the future,” said Wood.

Voltz will serve as the interim head coach for the upcoming fall season, said Wood. A search for the permanent head coach will occur following the 2021 fall season.

PHOTO/GRAPHIC:  Courtesy LA Tech Athletics.


North Central Louisiana Arts Council offers in person and at home Summer Arts Camp in July

The North Central Louisiana Arts Council is excited to welcome in-person campers back for the 2021 Summer Arts Camp with small class sizes and social distancing.

Rising 2nd- Rising 7th Grade
July 12-16
$70 per session – $5 NCLAC Member discount
Must wear masks and social distance.

NCLAC is still offering a “stay-at-home” version of the Summer Arts Camp for those that enjoyed the option of activities and supplies that show up at your door!
(*Think of it as a subscription service like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh)

Ages 6-14
July 5-26
$40 per session – $5 NCLAC Member discount

Must be located within Lincoln Parish.

For more information and to register go online to https://www.nclac.org/art-camps.


Grambling great Mackie Freeze’s determination produced champions

By PAUL LETLOW
Written for the Louisiana Sports Writers Association

What does it take to kick off a high school football dynasty?

For Louisiana coaching legend Mackie Freeze, the answer was a $300 budget, an assortment of hand-me-down equipment — and a unique brand of tough love that molded the willing into warriors.

“I taught them about intestinal fortitude and the will to win,” the former Richwood High School coach said. “That old never-say-die attitude is what you have to teach kids. You teach them that if anybody can do it, you can too, if you try hard enough. Don’t give up. Ever.”

Now decades after coaching his last game in 1967, Freeze has been selected for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Freeze becomes the oldest living person inducted at age 94 next Saturday night in Natchitoches.

“Better late than never,” Freeze said.

Another Grambling hero, eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman, is in the Class of 2020, along with Louisiana Tech icons Phil Robertson and Angela Turner Johnson. For participation opportunities in the LSHOF Induction Celebration June 24-26 and information about the Natchitoches-based festivities, visit LaSportsHall.com or call 318-238-4255.

The late Mary Frances Goins hired Freeze, a former Grambling baseball star, to start an athletics program in 1954. Principal Goins challenged Freeze to mold something that would enhance the student experience at the rural north Louisiana school. He was tasked to perform with a tiny budget, but a grassroots effort brought donated shoulder pads, shoes, pants and jerseys from area high schools and the local college program.

Over the next 13 years, Freeze produced a 116-23 record (.834) and fielded teams that won 56 straight games on the field while claiming four consecutive state titles from 1961-64. More than 65 of Freeze’s former players earned college scholarships and 11 were drafted or signed professional football contracts. Freeze never coached a losing season.

Before he became a coaching legend, Freeze enjoyed a noteworthy baseball career at Grambling. As a pitcher, he helped Grambling win its first-ever national NAIA title under the late coach R.W.E. “Prez” Jones. Freeze never lost a game on the mound at Grambling and even subbed as a guard on the football team under the great Eddie Robinson. The Brooklyn Dodgers signed Freeze out of college. He participated in training camp with Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and Roy Campanella.

“My father was a baseball player,” said Freeze, who graduated from Grambling in 1950 with a degree in elementary education. “The material he showed me sitting on the porch one day put me in camp with Jackie Robinson. He sat me down and taught me to throw a curveball, a screwball and a sinker with a tennis ball. When I went to Grambling, I was demonstrating (pitching) and Coach Prez asked me what I played. I said I was a second baseman and he hit one or two out there to me. He said he’d heard I could make a ball curve. I threw the ball and he said, “Mackie, you’re a pitcher.’ Prez was something.”

He was primarily a basketball player in high school and had never seen a football game until he reached Grambling. The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame coach Robinson liked his potential and invited him to join the team.

“When I got to Grambling, Coach Rob saw me out catching passes one day and I asked me who I was,” Freeze said. “He said he’d heard about me. He’d heard I was a basketball player but he told me I was a football player.”

Freeze spent a couple of years in the military after pro baseball didn’t pan out. Given his chance to coach, greatly influenced by Coach Rob and Prez Jones, Freeze molded winners and pioneers.

PHOTO:  Portrait of Mackie Freeze by Chris Brown, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame artist


Notice of Death – June 17, 2021

Ronnie Whitehead
August 31, 1941 – June 12, 2021
Service: Providence Baptist Church, Friday, June 18, 2021, 2:00 pm
Cemetery: Acree Cemetery, Friday, June 18, 2021

Cindy Stanfield Conville
April 19, 1959 – June 15, 2021
Visitation:  Kilpatrick Funeral Homes – West Monroe; Friday, June 18, 2021, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Service:  Kilpatrick Funeral Homes – West Monroe; Saturday, June 19, 2021, 10:00 am
Cemetery:  Driskell Cemetery; Saturday, June 19, 2021

J. T. “Tiny” Goodwin
February 21, 1931 – June 15, 2021
Visitation:  Kilpatrick Funeral Homes – West Monroe; Saturday, June 26, 2021, 9:00 am – 10:00 am
Service:  Kilpatrick Funeral Homes – West Monroe; Saturday, June 26, 2021, 10:00 am
Cemetery:  Hasley Cemetery;  Saturday, June 26, 2021

Mary “Cookie” Harris Grant
November 18, 1951 – June 15, 2021
Service:  Dubach United Pentecostal Church; Friday, June 18, 2021, 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Cemetery:  Pine Grove Cemetery in Bernice;  Friday, June 18, 2021, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm


Partnership connects Morehouse Parish students with robotics, STEM

A high school robotics’ summer learning camp is now available through funding provided by Louisiana GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) through the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance’s Field Outreach Services Division of the Louisiana Board of Regents.

The collaboration includes Morehouse Parish Schools, Louisiana Tech’s Science and Technology Education Center (SciTEC), UTeachTech, the department of curriculum, instruction and leadership; and the National Science Foundation’s Noyce CyberTeach program.

In addition to the Louisiana GEAR UP-supported event, there will also be a middle school effort launched by the district. Through the partnership, approximately 128 students will be served during the sessions taking place June 6-24 and July 7-22 at Bastrop High School, Morehouse Magnet, Delta Elementary and Morehouse Elementary.

“This work matters because we’re providing our students the experience that most of them missed due to the pandemic, the opportunity to do hands-on, minds-on STEM activities that not only promote critical thinking but also helps build their communication skills, creativity, and collaboration among their peers,” said Maria Yabut, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) project director and district testing and accountability coordinator with Louisiana GEARUP.

Students who wanted to participate were able to apply and then choose which enrichments and month they wanted to attend.

Yabut said supplemental support to make this opportunity a reality for both middle and high school students was provided by the STEM Collective for Innovative Louisiana Stakeholders (SCILS) which is an initiative funded by the Louisiana Board of Regents, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund, and the 21st CCLC through the Louisiana Department of Education.

“Kids in rural parishes almost never get these types of opportunities. We are thrilled to be part of bringing this work directly to them this summer,” said project director and UTeachTech master teacher, Glenn Larson.

Additional instructional leads for the robotics efforts will engage through service as Louisiana GEAR UP counselors and Noyce CyberTeach interns.

“Programs that allow the intersection of STEM educational opportunities for secondary and post-secondary students are incredibly valuable, and we are pleased to be part of this effort to facilitate such rich learning experiences,” said Dr. Laura Bostick, principal investigator for the CyberTeach effort.