Creek’s Moore presses forward for national powerlifting championship

Courtesy photo of Emma Moore at Thursday’s USA Powerlifting High School and Teen National Powerlifting Meet. (Courtesy photo)

By T. Scott Boatright

Cedar Creek’s Emma Moore garnered notice by becoming the 2021 Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Division V 114-pound Powerlifting State Champion earlier this spring.

But Moore had, well, more in store to cap off her freshman year as a Cougar.

On Thursday, Moore became the 2021 57 Kg Women’s Equipped High School Junior Varsity and Women’s Equipped Teen National Champion at the USA Powerlifting High School and Teen National Powerlifting Meet in Aurora, Colorado.

Moore finished the day with a 633-pound total and a new personal record on the bench press.

New RHS head baseball coach addresses players, families

New Ruston High School head baseball coach Zack Smith addresses the crowd during Thursday’s press conference at the RHS Auditorium. (Photo by T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT/LPJ)

By T. Scott Boatright

New Ruston High School head baseball coach Zack Smith was introduced to RHS players and their families on Thursday during a press conference at the RHS Auditorium.

“When we opened this position up after Coach White decided he was going to retire, we knew we were going to draw a lot of interest, and we did,” said RHS Principal Dan Gressett in opening the press conference. “There were a lot of very qualified candidates from all over the state. We interviewed several good candidates. And at the end of the day a coach who’s been on our staff for five years, a coach that won four state championships as a head coach before coming to us, and a coach that can build on the success that Toby White had was our man.

“This guy is obviously invested in the Ruston community. He’s invested in Ruston High School and we’re excited to have him as our next baseball coach.”

Smith, who has been an assistant for Bearcats baseball for five years and is the former head coach at Forest High School, where he won four state championships and was runner-up another year, then took the microphone to address those in attendance.

“This opportunity means a lot to me and my family and I’m going to make this program the highest standard we can at Ruston High School,” Smith said. “I want to thank Coach White for allowing me five years ago to be a part of his staff and instilling the Christian values and beliefs in his program that I truly believe in. I truly want to build on that success he’s laid here at Ruston High School.”

Smith admitted there will be some nuances he’ll add to the RHS baseball program.

“I want to say to the parents and players there’s going to be some change,” Smith said. “I pray that you welcome the change. I also believe that I’m going to make you be your best. I’m going to make you accountable. I’m going to make sure you have energy and enthusiasm. And I’m going to make sure you’re selfless and that you’re going to show toughness. Those are going to be the principles here for the Ruston High baseball program.”

And he left no doubt what his ultimate goals are as the new head baseball coach at Ruston High.

“It’s been since 1967 — 54 years ago, that this high school has won a state championship in baseball,” Smith said. “My coaching staff and I are going to do everything we can to change that. … I can’t wait to get to the work of accomplishing our mission of serving the young men of Ruston High School.”

After the press conference Smith explained his plans in more detail.

“I definitely wanted this job — it’s something I’ve worked for since I got into coaching,” Smith said of coaching at the Class 5A level. I thought the process went well. I thought I had a good plan coming in and I presented that plan and I’m looking forward to helping develop players from the junior high through the varsity level. I just want to serve the kids here at Ruston High School.”

Smith thanked White for the opportunity to join the RHS staff five years ago.

“Toby is a guy who’s really disciplined and believes in the weight room and wants the kids to be accountable,” Smith said. “He’s a family guy — a very good guy and I truly do appreciate him and the success he’s had here. I’m just looking to build upon it.

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work — a lot of time, a lot of sacrifice from the players and from the coaching staff and a lot of energy,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to trying to make that happen.”

And he explained some of the changes he has planned for the RHS baseball program.

“I just think I need to put my stamp culturally on the program,” Smith said. “Toby did things his way. And I’m going to add some new ideas and new ways of doing things.

“Forest was a great experience and taught me that you have to develop from the sixth-grade level all the way up to the 12th-grade level. We didn’t have the athletes 1-9 like we might have here at Ruston High, so I had to learn how to develop each kid in order to be successful. We’ve implemented a Cats organization where we do instructional practices for the younger kids. And I want to get involved with the junior high and implement my plans to them also.”

Bulldogs fall to No. 19 Southern Miss in C-USA Baseball Tournament

Louisiana Tech starter Jonathan Fincher threw 102 pitches and struck out four Golden Eagles in his 15th start of the season on Thursday night. (Photo by DARRELL JAMES)

Staff report

Four shutdown innings from Second Team All-Conference USA reliever Ryan Och helped Southern Miss notch a 4-1 victory on Thursday night in the second round of the 2021 Air Force Reserve Baseball Championship at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.

The No. 2 seed Bulldogs (37-17) will now play in an elimination game against No. 6 seed WKU. The projected start time for the matchup is 6:30 tonight. The Hilltoppers knocked off No. 7 seed Texas-San Antonio in extra innings to avoid elimination and advance to the third day of the tournament.

With the bases loaded and just one out, Southern Miss brought in Och after LA Tech chased Conference USA Pitcher of the Year Walker Powell off the mound in the bottom of the fifth. Och’s first batter was Bulldog cleanup batter Manny Garcia. Garcia fouled off five pitches in the 10-pitch at-bat before Och dropped in a breaking pitch for a called strike three on a 3-2 count. The left-hander then recorded another strikeout to strand three Diamond Dogs in the fifth.

Facing a 4-1 deficit in the bottom of the ninth, right fielder Philip Matulia and catcher Jorge Corona smacked back-to-back singles off Och to bring the tying run to the plate with nobody out. Och recorded the first out before handing it over to Hurston Waldrep for the final two outs of the game. Och moved to 7-0 after allowing just two hits with seven strikeouts over four scoreless innings before Waldrep nailed down his second save.

LA Tech left 10 runners on base in Thursday night’s defeat. The Bulldogs were held to just a single run for the first time since a game against No. 1 Arkansas on March 13.

“We’re playing really good defense, and I thought Taylor made a really good play tonight,” said Tech coach Lane Burroughs. “In the outfield, our guys have been playing well.

“Phil threw the guy out trying to stretch out the double. Our guys will be ready to play, and we will get some rest and then come out ready to play. We haven’t faced Western (Kentucky), and they haven’t seen us either. I’m excited about playing tomorrow already, and I know our guys will be ready.”

LA Tech tallied its only run of the ballgame behind Hunter Wells’ RBI single through the right side in the fifth. Shortstop Alex Ray, who helped turn two double plays for the Bulldogs, trotted on home from second base after recording a single to left center earlier in the inning.

Left-hander and Bulldog ace Jonathan Fincher battled all night long, allowing four runs over seven innings to take LA Tech deep into the game. Fincher hurled 102 pitches and struck out four Golden Eagles in his 15th start of the season.

Matulia tallied his 12th multi-hit game of the season after tallying a pair of singles. Leadoff batter Taylor Young recorded his 16th double in Thursday night’s defeat.

Southern Miss (37-17) scored all four of its runs behind RBI singles, two of which came from seven-hole hitter Will McGillis. Southern Miss scored a single run in the third, fourth, seventh and eighth innings to notch the tournament victory.

Ponderings — May 28, 2021

Did you know that tattoos move?

I don’t mind a well-located provocative tattoo. I think folks who are trying to turn themselves into green avatars by virtue of tattoos need to go on a cruise. One cruise is enough to keep anyone from getting a tattoo. The silly things relocate themselves. I was noticing tattoos that might have been well placed when the person was in their 20s.

Now in their 50s or 60s, that thing has gone and relocated. A tattoo on the bicep will fall and hang off the end of the flabby upper arm. Tattoos once located on the abdomen end up in all sorts of very strange places. I saw one guy that had one that had moved to his side, or he was really drunk when he received the original ink.

Others had outgrown their tattoos. This one guy had “born to raise hell” tattooed on what once was his chest. He was not very threatening with his beer gut walking around on that walker. If you are considering a tattoo that describes you, you’d better hope that description is apt in your golden years!

I met one guy who was engaged once to a girl named Alicia. Her name was tattooed on his right upper chest. His pecks, I believe they are called. Alicia broke up with him and broke his heart. He said he had three options regarding his tattoo.

He could have it removed over the course of a couple of years. That would separate him from a big chunk of money. He could find a girl whose name would allow him to transform “Alicia” into the name of the new girl.

His tattoo would look funny and his new girl would probably have a very strange name. He could find another Alicia. I suggested the best course of action was reconciliation with Alicia. By the look on his face, I could tell he had not considered that option. Sometimes we preachers can see other options for folks!

I have two points for you to ponder.

First, the Apostle Paul said, “And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen…” That is from I Corinthians 12 if you want to read the rest of the passage. People on cruise ships have no modesty. There were some folks who simply should not be seen outside in a bathing suit. They did allow me to see their tattoos though. My eyes have been damaged by people on that ship whose parts should never be seen except by medical professionals! You can bet all my preacher parts were covered. If those “less honorable parts” bother you, then stay off the beach and cruise ships!

Second, there were some young folks who had overtly Christian tattoos. Because of their youth, the tattoos were properly located and hadn’t moved; yet! They had Jesus and His symbols tattooed all over their bodies. I hope they wear “Him” faithfully. It would not be good if someone with a Jesus tattoo was seen doing something un-Jesus like.

Come to think of it, we have all been spiritually tattooed. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “… I bear on my body the marks that show I belong to Jesus.” When we decide to follow Jesus, we carry His “mark” in our hearts and on our lives.

You have been tattooed by the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Now go and live out YOUR tattoo faithfully. Remember that tattoo is where everyone can see it!

Broadband access bill passed by state Senate committee

By T. Scott Boatright

Broadband internet access could become easier to find in the future thanks to ongoing discussion in the Louisiana legislative session.

LSU’s Manship School News Service said that a bill to establish a grant program to create broadband access for state communities passed through a Senate committee on Wednesday.

If fully passed, the Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) program plans to use more than $180 million in federal funds to provide broadband and internet access to 400,000 households in Louisiana.

The FCC released the Emergency Broadband Benefit Fund in early May, and it will give eligible low-income households stipends for monthly internet fees. Since last year the Louisiana Legislature has created a Louisiana Office of Broadband and Connectivity while also granting tax-exemptions on broadband equipment and supplies.

Private and public service providers would apply to the GUMBO program to receive funding for the creation of broadband infrastructure in unserved communities around the state.

Earlier this month Ruston’s Board of Aldermen passed a motion to hire a national consulting firm to continue moving forward with the potential project that if it works out could offer internet service for city Ruston residents and businesses.

Boys & Girls Club recognizes Tech COB students for academics

Pictured at left is Lauren Manuel while at right is Katie Morgan. (Courtesy photos)

Press release

The Boys & Girls Clubs of North Louisiana has announced that two of its Americorps VISTA employees are now part of the 2020-21 Outstanding Senior Scholars in the College of Business at Louisiana Tech University.

Lauren Manuel and Katie Morgan both assist The B&G Club of North Louisiana’s Resource Development team while also pursuing their undergraduate degrees in marketing and their masters degree in Business.

The two of are part of a group of 20 to be selected as Outstanding Senior Scholars, which is considered one of the highest scholastic honors that the college of business awards to undergraduate students.

Manuel, a native of Zachary, currently holds a 3.8 GPA and will graduate with her undergraduate degree is August.

Morgan grew up in Florida but later moved to Argyle, Texas, where she graduated from high school. Originally determined to attend the University of Florida, Morgan said she changed her mind after falling in love with Louisiana Tech on her official campus visit as a high school senior. She currently holds a 3.7 GPA and will graduate in November. Both are on schedule to also graduate with their MBAs in August 2022.

Log Cabin’s Garriga, Gaudet double down on Chamber Banquet honors

Pictured are Johnny Gaudet (left) and Chris Garriga (left) receiving the Business of the Year Award from Chamber of Commerce President Judy Copeland (Photo by T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT/LPJ)

By T. Scott Boatright

Ruston entrepreneurs Chris Garriga and Johnny Gaudet hit the “daily double” Tuesday night as the duo picked up a pair of awards during the Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce’s 101 annual Awards Banquet held at the Lincoln Parish Library Events Center.

Garriga and Gaudet, owners and operators of both Log Cabin Grill and Market and Ponchatoulas, were presented with the Business of the Year from the Chamber of Commerce as well as the Hospitality Award from Experience Ruston (the Ruston-Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau).

The Business of the Year Award went to Log Cabin Grill and Market.

Originally a log cabin home, the building was converted to a restaurant more than 30 years ago and was purchased by Garriga and Gaudet in November of 2005.

The restaurant also features a market offering ready-made to heat and eat “grab and go” meals as well as other specialties.

Chamber of Commerce recognizes young leaders

Pictured are the Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce’s Top Young Business Leaders to Watch. From left to right are Missy Russell-Gibbons, Amanda Quimby Carrier, Daniel Dupuy, Rebecca Lewis Smart and John Cowling. (Photo by T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT/LPJ)

By T. Scott Boatright

The Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce recognized its Top Young Business Leaders to Watch during its 101st annual Awards Banquet held Tuesday night at the Lincoln Parish Library Events Center.

Earning 2020 honors as top young business leaders were:
• Amanda Quimby Carrier, Experience Ruston

• John Cowling, Rolling Hill Ministries

• Daniel Dupuy, Louisiana Tech University

• Missy Russell-Gibbons, Skip Russell State Farm

• Rebecca Lewis Smart, Junior Auxiliary of Ruston

Two Lady Techsters earn All-Louisiana hoops honors

Louisiana Tech sophomore and Ruston native Anna Larr Roberson has been named a second-team selection to the All-Louisiana Women’s College Basketball Team. (Courtesy photo)

LA Tech Athletics Communications

Louisiana Tech junior Keiunna Walker and sophomore Anna Larr Roberson both earned all-state honors announced Thursday by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association and voted on by members and state SIDs.

Walker was voted to the first team while Roberson, a product of Ruston’s Cedar Creek High Sshool, was voted to the second team as a total of 15 student-athletes earned first, second or third team accolades.

LSU senior guard Khayla Pointer was named the State Player of the Year and UL-Lafayette head coach Garry Brodhead earned the State Coach of the Year. Tulane’s JerKaila Jordan was voted the state Freshman of the Year while Loyola-New Orleans Sandra Cannady was voted the Newcomer of the Year.

Walker averaged 16.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game while shooting 38 percent from the field and 71 percent from the free throw line. She recorded 21 double digit scoring games, including seven 20-plus point performances as she was named second team all-Conference USA. She scored a season-high 26 points in an overtime win over Marshall and 25 points in a road victory at UAB. All five of her 20-plus efforts in C-USA play came on the road. The Lonoke, Arkansas, native ranked among the league leaders in free throws made and free throws attempted.

Roberson earned her award after averaging 11.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 48 percent from the field and 87 percent from the free throw line. The Ruston native recorded 14 double digit scoring games and led the team with five double doubles. She scored a career-high 22 points and added 14 rebounds in Tech’s 50-49 win over Marshall in the Conference USA Tournament. She had 19 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Sun Belt regular season champion UL-Lafayette. In C-USA action, Roberson hit 33 of 34 free throws.

Walker, Porter and Jordan were joined on the 5-person first team by UL-Lafayette forward Ty’reona Doucet and Nicholls State guard Chelsea Cain. The second team consisted of LSU-Eunice guard Alona Washington, Loyola-New Orleans guard Taylor Thomas, LSU-Alexandria guard Kelsey Thaxton, Tulane forward Krystal Freeman and Roberson.

The third team is comprised of Tulane guard Arsula Clark (11.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg); Bossier Parish forward Faith Robinson (14.0 ppg, 11.2 rpg), LSU forward Faustine Aifuwa (11.0 ppg, 8.9 rpg), UL-Lafayette guard Brandi Williams (11.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg) and Loyola forward Sandra Cannady (10.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg).

Kierra Brimzy (ULM), Ciera Daniels (LSU-Alexandria), Addy Tremie (Centenary), Nia Bishop (Xavier), Skyler Goodwin (UL-Lafayette), Alex Harrison (Louisiana College), Anna McKendree (Nicholls State) and Morgan Carrier (Southeastern LA) were named all-state honorable mention.

Tech hurdler Young advances NCAA Regional quarterfinals

Ahmad Young photo courtesy of C-USA

LA Tech Athletics Communications

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Louisiana Tech’s Ahmad Young shattered his previous personal best in the men’s 110-meter hurdles on Wednesday with a time of 13.76 seconds to advance to today’s quarterfinals at the NCAA East Regional Championships.

Young, a fourth-place finisher at Conference USA Outdoor Championships earlier this month, shaved off more than 25 hundredths of a second from his previous best to record a 13th-place finish out of 44 competitors. His time at Hodges Stadium on Wednesday helped him become one of 24 student-athletes to advance to yoday’s quarterfinals.

Young will compete at 5:45 p.m. in today’s quarterfinals.

Fellow Bulldog Henry Terral made his first NCAA appearance in the men’s javelin throw, posting a mark of 61.74 meters (202′-07″). Terral’s mark placed 39th at the NCAA East Regional Championships after placing fourth at the C-USA Outdoor Championships with a mark of 66.33 meters (217′-07″) earlier in May.

“Despite an arm injury, Henry threw over 200 feet in the javelin,” said Tech head coach Gary Stanley. “Ahmad had a monster PR in the 110-meter hurdles, and it’s one of our fastest times we’ve had here in quite a few years.

“I’m very proud of both these young men.”

Following Young’s performance on today, Leah Scott will close out LA Tech’s trio of NCAA competitors on Saturday when she competes in the women’s triple jump beginning at 2:15 p.m. Scott finished fifth in the triple jump at the C-USA Outdoor Championships with a leap of 12.65 meters (41′-06″).

LA Tech Athletics Department announces spring quarter graduates

Louisiana Tech University graduation photo by EMERALD MCINTYRE/University Communications

LA Tech Athletics Communications

It was a big weekend for Louisiana Tech University as the colleges celebrated a large graduating class from the spring quarter with four commencement ceremonies.

Among those celebrating were 39 LA Tech student-athletes who received their degrees as they walked across the stage inside the Thomas Assembly Center

Louisiana Tech’s spring quarter graduates were

Baseball (7)
Kyle Crigger (sociology), Jonathan Fincher (biology), Cade Gibson (sociology), Kyle Griffen (master of business administration), Steele Netterville (biology), Shemar Page (biology) and Alex Ray (biology

Women’s Basketball (2)
Raizel Guinto (kinesiology and health sciences) and Brianna Harris (psychology)

Soccer (5)
Klesha Darroux (communication), Elizabeth Doll (nutrition and dietetics), Gabrielle Parent (kinesiology and health sciences), Amber Posthauer (exercise and health promotion) and Valeria Rios (sociology

Volleyball (7)
Emily Boyal (biomedical engineering), Morgan Currie (architectural studies), Abigail Hildenbrand (biology), Natalie Honore (pre-professional speech-language pathology), Mia Prostran (psychology), Marie-Helene Verlinden (kinesiology and health promotion) and Alyssa Zucco (biology

Football (4)
Jacob Adams (geographic information science), Willie Baker (sociology), Abraham Delfin (construction engineering technology) and Noah White (health and physical education grades K-12

Softball (3)
Kara Goff (psychology), Madie Green (sociology) and Bre Hernandez (sociology

Bowling (1)
Ashley Channell (pre-professional speech-language pathology

Men’s Basketball (1)
Kalob Ledoux (sociology)

Women’s Track and Field (5)
Sydney Anderson (computer science), Dominque Anderson (chemical engineering), Taylor Shaw (kinesiology and health sciences), Aliyah Ballott (construction engineering) and Rhea Thompson (kinesiology and health sciences)

Men’s Track and Field (1)
Riley Finnegan (sociology)

Women’s Cross Country (1)
Elise Bordlee (communication

Men’s Cross Country (2)
Austin Ballow (mechanical engineering) and John Barham (mechanical engineering)

In addition to the 39 graduates, LA Tech saw 200 student-athletes meet the academic requirements for the Dean’s List honors and 53 of those made the President’s List with a perfect 4.0 GPA during the spring quarter.

The spring term cumulative grade point average for the 16 LA Tech athletic programs was a 3.05.

Earlier this month, Louisiana Tech had 54 student-athletes receive the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal during the 2020-21 academic year. The 54 Bulldogs and Lady Techsters was the second highest total to earn this award. It was also the second-highest percentage of all LA Tech student-athletes at 15.6 percent

A total of 199 Louisiana Tech student-athletes earned Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll recognition during the 2020-21 academic year. A record-high 57.3 percent of all LA Tech student-athletes received this honor, the largest percentage since joining C-USA in 2013. The 199 total student-athletes earning this distinction was the second most, trailing only the 206 from the 2018-2019 academic year.

Grambling military science professor talks importance of Memorial Day

Courtesy photo of Col. Mason Moore

Press release

Lt. Col. Mason Moore, professor of military science at Grambling State University (GSU), said observing Memorial Day is important because “we couldn’t enjoy the freedoms that we have without the sacrifices of the men and women who have served this great nation.”

People across the country will be observing the day on Monday. Grambling State University will be closed Monday in observance of the holiday.

“For me, Memorial Day is a time for remembrance of all of those who have made the final sacrifice for our country and its way of life,” he said. “Personally, it is a time where I reflect back on my five combat deployments and remember those who I have known.”

Moore said he always tells the story of one of his really good friends who lost his life to a “blue on green” incident. It’s where a foreign partner/ally either accidentally or intentionally kills an American service member. His friend, Raymond Estelle, was an Air Force officer on his first deployment in the first week of that deployment.

To learn more, visit

“So, my reflection is usually a combination of wonder, guilt, anger, and thanks – all at the same time,” he said. “Memorial Day is a gut check for me…it motivates me to be the best that I can possibly be knowing that others have sacrificed so that I can be here today.”

Moore likes to make a clear distinction between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

“Memorial Day honors those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while Veterans Day honors those who have or continue to serve,” he said. On Memorial Day, you may visit a cemetery or sit back on the lake with friends and tell stories of the fallen or have your own personal reflections.

“Either way one observes this day, our citizens should realize that someone has paid the ultimate sacrifice for them to enjoy all of the freedoms and liberties that they currently enjoy and are entitled to,” Moore said.

Families, friends, and military service members are affected by those who have lost their lives, he said.

“I just had a Gold Star Family (one who has lost a family member in wartime service) that attended our commissioning ceremony at LA Tech last week,” Moore said. “The mother and father were aunt and uncle to one of my cadets. Their son had perished in Al-Ramadi, Iraq in 2007 while serving in the Marine Corps. So, although less than 10% of the American population even serve in the military), their family and friends are affected by their loss.”

He added that Memorial Day is also a day where Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can affect those who have served in the military.

“With reflection can come grief, guilt, depression, etc.,” he said. “Any loss of life to PTSD is tragic and unnecessary. I hope that our brothers and sisters in arms will reach out for help if they need it or that their friends and families will be there for them to assist in getting them the care that they need.”

For more information about PTSD, visit

Louisiana Tech graduates second-largest class in history

Louisiana Tech University Les Guice (far right) leads the march into the Thomas Assembly Center of the College of Applied and Natural Sciences and College of Education graduation ceremony held last Sunday.

Press release

Last weekend, Louisiana Tech University conveyed degrees on 1,040 graduates, the second-largest class in University history, in four ceremonies.

Each commencement featured a different speaker –- all recognized and distinguished graduates of Louisiana Tech University. All the speakers focused on the impact that a Louisiana Tech education made on their lives.

In his address for the College of Engineering and Science ceremony, Bill Bailey Jr., Electrical Engineering,’87, focused on the three Ps of success – preparation, perspiration, and providence.

“Throughout my career, I have worked with people from every renowned university, and I was always prepared,” Bailey said. “I know you know how to do the grind -– you learned that here -– and do it well. But remember that planning is just a point of departure.

“Give providence a chance. So many things happen you didn’t plan on. You have to change your plans, but providence favors hard work and preparation.”

Boston Scott, Tech’s 2020 Young Alumni of the Year and 2017 graduate in Kinesiology and Health Promotion, advised graduates to be grateful to those who were instrumental in their getting to the finish line with a college degree.

Scott said the Tech Family -– the university’s unique culture –- served as a driver for him and other Bulldogs in their efforts while in college.

“This culture has inspired us to achieve,” Scott said. “That medal you will soon get represents those tenets that are and always should be a part of our lives. Be loyal to those people who deserve and have earned your loyalty.”

Scott went on to advise the graduates to use the Tenets of Tech as their “why” in life.

Alumnae of the Year Cathi Cox-Boniol, ’82, ’83, and ’92 graduate in the College of Education, delivered the second speech for the College of Liberal Arts ceremony. In it, she called Louisiana Tech University “the most transformative force in my life” outside of faith and family.

“Never forget the investment that has been made into your lives through your years at Louisiana Tech University,” Cox-Boniol said. “You have been equipped and you have been empowered to achieve the highest levels of success. You are a Bulldog through and through.”

Dr. Bob Cunningham,’73, ’85, and ’96 graduate, delivered the commencement address for the College of Business. He focused on the changes -– and similarities –- between the Tech of his undergraduate days and the Louisiana Tech of today.

“Race and racism were stories when I went to Tech, and the struggle for equality continues today,” Cunningham said. “But you saw a very different campus than I did. All students come here with hopes and dreams to achieve a better life. As a young man growing up in a segregated environment, I was defined by my race. When I came to Tech, I began to learn this label limited me -– it was only one aspect of my life.

“I refused to be limited by the narrative that I was a victim. I began to see myself as a victor.”

At Tech, Cunningham found support, caring, and passion at a time when racial unrest was happening in the United States, and he said he continues to see this support for students today.

“The challenge we have is to leave this world better than we found it and embrace the inherent worth of all human beings,” Cunningham said. “I challenge you to take control of the narrative you are writing about your life. In this politically charged environment, there are many voices telling you what to think. Politically, socially, and even spiritually, what you come to think is entirely up to you.

“Remember that opportunity is alive and well in America –- not just for black people, but for all people.”

Commencement ceremonies for the College of Applied and Natural Sciences and the College of Education also benefited from the experience of two Tech graduates as their speakers.

Jeremy M. Tinnerello, Nursing, ’98, reminded graduates that they should both listen to and depend on others to deal with trials.

“Creative ideas come from everywhere,” Tinnerello said. “Your team around you can help you achieve your goals, and the Tenets can help you find creative solutions to your goals.”

A College of Education graduate in ’68 and ’72, Jean Hall delivered the second commencement address of the Sunday ceremonies. He built on Tinnerello’s message of collaboration for graduates.

“The goal through my career is to be a positive influence on students; they’ve certainly had a positive impact on me,” Hall said. “I hope that sometime in your career someone will say, ‘You have changed my life.’”

Find Your Own Fish!

With more anglers on the water today than in the previous 20 years, one thing has become very apparent. A lot of anglers cannot find their own fish!

Now let’s address the main problem…overcrowded lakes. It is insane, the number of boats on our area lakes and waterways compared to 20 years ago. The recent pandemic is also a major contributor to this issue as well. Boat’s sales soared in 2020 with many people not working and schools being shut down.

A big majority of Americans all across the country took to the lakes and outdoors which is a great thing! Nothing bad can come of getting folks, old and young alike, out in the great outdoors. I mean what’s the worst thing that can happen?

Well let me give you an idea and a few examples. First, overcrowded boat ramps! It amazes me at how seven days a week, you have to wait in line just to launch your boat. Just two short years ago, you could go to any boat ramp Monday thru Thursday and NEVER have to wait to launch or worry how far you’ll have to park your truck and trailer after you launch your boat.

Many of today’s lakes, especially Sam Rayburn or sometimes at Toledo Bend, it might be necessary to request an Uber just to get back to the ramp after parking your truck and trailer. Several times this past year I’ve seen people parked almost a mile from the ramp they launched at. It’s insane!

Now that we’re on the water and ready to go fishing, now let’s crank our motor and head to our favorite spot. Oh wow… guess what, after you run five miles up the lake dodging jet skiers and pleasure boaters who have not had a boater safety course, you arrive at your favorite spot, and someone is already there.

It’s the same person who saw you yesterday catching fish there. Shocker … but that’s exactly how it is today. There are more people scouting and spying on other anglers like detectives trying to solve a murder mystery. I mean I’ve seen guys using binoculars and watching other anglers at a distance only to wait until they move and then swoop in and mark that location with their electronics so they can return on another day.

Tournament anglers are especially targeted and it’s even worse if you have an advertising wrap on your boat. But one thing I’ve done several times just to throw off would be scouts and detectives, is to fake hook sets and I’ve gone as far as to pretend I just caught a fish by leaning over the side of the boat and acting like I’m releasing a fish. It’s quite amusing to watch who moves into the area I just left. I think anyone who has a pair of binoculars in their boat is pathetic.

Next, are what I call “GPS robbers.” These guys are the worst and most unethical anglers on the water. If they see a well-known angler, guide or pro, they will ride up and down the lake looking for these good anglers and will shut down and idle towards the area they are in and hit their GPS button on their electronic units to mark the spot so they can come back later after the angler leaves. While I have never shot anyone before, this is the one thing that I might consider as a consequence for anglers who practice this technique.

Bass fishing is hard enough today with so many anglers competing for a limited number of fishing spots. It just makes an angler mad when you have people on the lake spying on other fishermen and looking to raid their best spots, especially the guides who work very hard to build a reputation for catching fish. This is how they make a living, and it affects their pocketbook when other anglers pull up on their best spots and catch fish.

If you are one of those who needs help finding fish, hire a guide and let him show you how to read your electronics so you can find your own fish. It’ll be the best money you ever spent and well worth your time.

‘Til next time, find your own fish and don’t forget to set the hook!

Steve Grafs
Hook’N Up & Track’N Down Show
And Tackle Talk Live