Some of the best things in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration are free, including the event that kicks off the three-day party on Thursday, June 24.
The Welcome Reception is free and open to all from 5-7 p.m. inside the world-class Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, located at the Front Street traffic circle in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
The party features a casual vibe with tasty hors d’ouevres, refreshing drinks, lively music and the chance to meet and mingle with the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 inductees and their family members as they arrive to begin the three-day Induction Celebration June 24-26.
The June 24 reception provides guests the chance to see the new display items honoring the 2020 inductees, while meeting the sports heroes and socializing. There’s no need to dress to impress – this is not a coat-and-tie evening.
It’s the first of seven events. There’s also a free Rockin’ River Fest concert Friday night, June 25 and a free Junior Training Camp on June 26. For information on all the events and registration, visit LaSportsHall.com or call 318-238-4255.
The new inductees are an accomplished and fascinating bunch. There’s massive Ronnie “The King” Coleman, a Bastrop native who played college football for Eddie Robinson at Grambling, and after graduating and relocating to the Dallas Metroplex, began training for competitive bodybuilding. He became world champion, winning Mr. Olympia honors a record eight times, and Mr. Universe as well.
Then you look up and see the smiling face of 6-foot-10 Minden native Sweet Lou Dunbar, who has traveled the world as a legendary player and coach for the Harlem Globetrotters.
Another pair of basketball greats are NBA standout Kerry Kittles and Angela Turner Johnson of the two-time national champion (1981, 1982) Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters. The Bienville Parish (Shady Grove) native was Final Four MVP as a junior and started in the Final Four all four of her seasons. Kittles grew up in New Orleans, starred collegiately at Villanova and helped the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals.
Former Pro Bowl cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman starred at UL Lafayette before 13 NFL seasons. Mackie Freeze becomes the oldest-ever inductee, at age 94, after being an undefeated pitcher for the Grambling Tigers, lining up in training camp with Jackie Robison and the Brooklyn Dodgers, then becoming one of the state’s greatest high school football coaches at Richwood in Monroe.
The most famous member of the class is the Duck Commander, Phil Robertson, who will arrive in time for the Friday night concert on the riverbank. Sports broadcasting legend Tim Brando of Shreveport, LSU graduate and former Tennessee athletics director Joan Cronan, an Opelousas native, join journalists Robin Fambrough and Kent Lowe as special award winners and inductees.
Photo: Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame