By JASON PUGH, Written for the LSWA
NATCHITOCHES – Kyle Williams was proud to represent Ruston in the Class of 2022 introduced Thursday at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
And beyond appreciative of following former New Orleans Saints All-Pro guard Jahri Evans in the speaking order, having shared the NFL field of battle with Evans.
“It was really important for me to represent Ruston, Baton Rouge and the LSU community,” Williams said. “When I moved to western New York, it was really important for me to represent the state of Louisiana well. I’m extremely honored and excited. If you’re someone like me, I’m a back-page guy. I’m going through the list of inductees and saying, ‘I remember seeing him or I remember seeing her play,’ but there’s one name that stands out.
“I’m really excited to go in with so many talented, driven people, but especially going in with Jahri, who is a contemporary, is really special.”
Williams was a known commodity going from Ruston High School, which he helped lead to a state title-game appearance as a freshman in 1998, to LSU, but it was in Baton Rouge under the watchful eye of a college coaching legend where he felt his career “go vertical” for the first time.
“The foundation of my career was laid before that, but LSU is where it started to go vertical,” Williams said. “Look at the quality of coaches we had. One who sticks out as I look back it is (former LSU strength and conditioning coach) Tommy Moffitt and the challenge he threw at you every day. Everyone knows coach (Nick) Saban, but the engine that drove that team and challenged us every day was Tommy Moffitt. The mental toughness, how to go about your day, what is required of you to be at your best, that was all learned in Baton Rouge.”
Louisiana Tech grad and staff member Teddy Allen, a wordsmith with a knack for a homespun phrase and an everyman persona, kept the press corps and other inductees chuckling during his time behind the podium – as usual. But he did speak from the heart as he reflected on his path to the Hall.
A love for sports – and a trip to a South Carolina-Clemson football game at age 10 – led one of the two Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism winners to his chosen craft.
“I come from a town of 750 people in South Carolina,” Allen said. “We got The State (newspaper) from Columbia on Sunday. There’d be a picture of Wake Forest or Clemson or The Citadel, and it would be in color. I couldn’t believe this stuff was happening.
“I was 10 years old and these guys in town took me to the Clemson-South Carolina game in 1970. South Carolina clocks the Tigers, and we’re standing on the hill in the stadium, which is enclosed now. These guys are 24, 25, 26 years old. Why they took a 10-year-old kid? I don’t know. I’d never seen so many colors. I didn’t know there were that many people in the world. It immediately captivated me.”
Whether it has been his award-winning game stories or his columns that involve a dose of daily life in the South to interviewing the headless woman at the state fair – “That was a tough quote,” Allen quipped – Allen has brought that sense of wonder and joie de vivre to readers across the state and the country.
The 12 inductees in the Class of 2022 officially will take their place alongside their fellow state legends Saturday night at the induction ceremony at the Natchitoches Events Center. The ceremony begins at 7 p.m. and will air live on YurView TV and via web stream at www.lasportshall.com and on YouTube.