Tech students present research at Federal Reserve

Two Louisiana Tech University College of Business students recently participated in the 15th annual undergraduate research conference for the Economic Scholars Program (ESP) at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Senior economics major Patrick Miller, of Mandeville, served as a judge, while senior economics major Paycen Brouillette, of St. Francisville, was a judge and presented his original research titled “The Effect of Real Broad Effective Exchange Rates and Inflation on Middle Eastern Conflict.”

“Opportunities like the Economic Scholars Program provide students with a unique and uncommon avenue to display their academic passions through research and statistical analysis,” said Brouillette. “The chance to present research you have worked countless hours on to such a prestigious audience like the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is a tremendous honor, and a strong motivator to continue pursuing innovative research.”

Students developed their research as part of the ECON 451 “Research Methods for Economics” course taught by Assistant Professor of Economics Dr. Patrick Scott. Miller and Brouillette are also members of the team that produces the Regional Economic Analysis of Louisiana (REAL) Report, a quarterly publication designed to provide insight into recent economic developments in Louisiana.

“As a judge, the Dallas Federal Reserve System trained candidates to score papers based on quality of research,” said Miller, who noted opportunities like this are invaluable for young professionals to learn how to evaluate an academic paper in preparation to present their own original research. “My favorite part of being a judge was reviewing the papers my peers from around the country submitted. I was able to explore new and developing economic topics through the perspective of young economist.”

The conference offers students the opportunity to share and gain feedback on high-quality undergraduate research. It is also designed to inspire other students to undertake their own projects. Since 2007, student scholars and faculty from institutions across the U.S. and Canada have come together to share undergraduate student-initiated or student-faculty coauthored works, ideas about the role of undergraduate research in the curriculum, and the challenges and concerns of undergraduates who conduct research.

“It was a bit nerve-racking at first to present my research to some of the brightest minds in undergraduate economic research,” said Brouillette. “The most impactful part of presenting was explaining to the audience the nuanced connections between the broad body of previous literature and the findings of my research in an approachable way. Being able to truly portray the heart of my research and its impact on future studies was an extremely rewarding experience.”

Both Miller and Brouillette plan to purse master’s degrees in economics following their graduations from Louisiana Tech, a route that will allow them to grow, as Brouillette said, “their passion for finding logical and approachable solutions to complex issues.”

For more information on the Economics Scholars Program, visit

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Roadside reminders

Photos and story by Wesley Harris

“There’s a cross on the side of the road
Where a mother lost a son
How could she know that the morning he left
Would be their last time 

She’d trade with him for a little more time
So she could say she loved him one more time”
     -Lyrics from “We Live” by Superchick

Roadside markers denoting the sites of tragic deaths are a relatively new cultural phenomenon. They signify the deep human need to memorialize the death of loved ones. While the components of a memorial are usually rather simple—crosses, flowers, stuffed animals—they can be quite symbolic: a bicycle marking the place where a dedicated cyclist was killed; American flags and red, white and blue bunting denoting the site where a veteran died. The builders of these memorials seek to honor the lost one and ease the searing pain haunting those left behind.  

Some markers are simple white crosses. Others are rather elaborate shrines where friends and family have deposited tokens of remembrance. While transportation officials in many states have discouraged roadside memorials as distractions to motorists and directed their removal, roadway workers in the field rarely disturb the sites. No one wishes to add to a family’s grief by hauling off a hand-lettered cross or a bundle of teddy bears.  

With the proliferation of these memorials, one can travel but a few miles on any highway without passing one. They remind us that life is fleeting, and death rarely announces its approach. Our days are numbered but who knows God’s mysterious calculations? We can only live in the moment. As the lyrics from “We Live” remind us:

     ”We live we love
     We forgive and never give up
     ‘Cause the days we are given are gifts from above
     Today we remember to live and to love.”

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Prep Hoops Roundup

By T. Scott Boatright

CADEVILLE — The Ruston High School boys basketball team took control early Friday night as the Bearcats roared on the road to race past West Ouachita 72-42.

RHS built a 22-8 advantage by the end of the opening stanza and led 33-16 at halftime.

The Bearcats, who hit on 49 percent of their shots from the floor, hit on 10-of-27 3-point shots and also connected on all eight of their free throw attempts.

When they weren’t firing up long-range shots, the Bearcats took the ball to the basket, scoring 32 of their points in the paint.

Freshman guard Aiden Anding had a career night to lead Ruston with 29 points, including a nine-of-16 performance from 3-point range.

Anding also had seven rebounds on the night.

Freshman Joran Parker added nine points for the Bearcats while Braylan McNeal and Jackson Pilgreen added eight points for RHS.

The Bearcats (17-3) next play host to Richwood tonight.

Lady Bearcats 61, West Ouachita 37

CADEVILLE — Alexis Foster led the way with 15 points as Ruston girls earned a road win at West Ouachita Friday night.

Zaccheya Jackson added nine points for Ruston, which also received eight points Jaliah McWain and seven points each from Mariah Hintze, Kiona McAllister and Emerald Parker.

Cedar Creek 44, Delta Charter 42 (Boys)

Hayden McClusky poured in 18 points Friday to lead Cedar Creek in a win at Delta Charter.

The Cougars held off the Storm after a strong start that saw Cedar Creek outscore Delta Charter 13-4 in the first quarter.

Carter Hill chipped in with 10 points while Davis Walsworth added nine for Cedar Creek, which will next play host to St. Frederick tonight.

Cedar Creek 51, D’Arbonne Woods 40 (Boys)

Carter Hill led the way with 17 points as Cedar Creek powered past D’Arbonne Woods.

Brian Osborne added 10 points for the Cougars, who also received eight points from Davis Walsworth.

Cedar Creek 67, Tensas 25 (Girls)

St. JOSEPH — Cedar Creek senior Sarah Adams took over early Friday night at Tensas as she and the Lady Cougars won by 42 points.

Adams, who finished with 34 points, poured in 19 in the first quarter, helping Cedar Creek to a 30-3 advantage by the end of the stanza.

 Millie Venters added 12 points for the Lady Cougars while Allie Furr added nine.

Lincoln Prep 64, Plain Dealing 28 (Boys)

Lincoln Preparatory School moved to 19-3 overall and 3-0 in District 1-1A as the Panthers raced out of the gates and never looked back against Plain Dealing Friday night.

Stephen Burks III connected on four-of-six 3-point attempts and led Lincoln Prep with 15 points along with three rebounds and three assists while 

Darrell Jackson hit on all four of his long range attempts to finish with 12 points while adding two assists and a steal.

Bralyn Mayfield led the Panthers on the boards with 10 rebounds while adding seven points, two steals and an assist while Dmitry “Meci” Payne chipped in with seven points, six assists and a steal.

Lincoln Prep 55, Glenbrook 29 (Boys)

MINDEN — The Panthers roared out to a 25-point halftime advantage as Lincoln Prep raced past Glenbrook on the road.

Bralyn Mayfield and D’Mitry Payne hit for 11 points each to lead the Panthers while Brandon Heard chipped in with 10.

Mayfield also totaled seven steals, six rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot while Payne added three assists and a pair of steals.

The Panthers also received seven points from Stephen Burks III and six points, 10 rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals from Emanuel Bryant.

St. Paul’s 60, Simsboro 54 (Boys)

COVINGTON — The Simsboro Tigers suffered a rare loss Saturday afternoon, falling on the road to Class 5A foe St. Paul’s.

Simsboro, now 20-2 on the season, led 14-11 at the end of the first quarter before St. Paul’s battled back for a 30-26 halftime advantage and held on for the win over the Tigers.

Nick Maryland led Simsboro with 22 points.

Simsboro 63, Lakeside 44 (Boys)

SIBLEY — Eleven different Tigers lit up the scoreboard Friday night as Simsboro won on the road at Lakeside.

Sismboro pulled its starters in the second quarter and led 38-3 at halftime.

Nick Maryland topped SHS with 12 points while T. Smith added nine, Chilaydrien Newton chipped in with seven and Brandon Williams, Kalep Wright and Itavus Brown hit for six points each.

Simsboro 63, Jonesboro-Hodge 32 (Boys)

JONESBORO — Lee Abney double-doubled and three other Tigers scored in double digits as Simsboro won the clash between Tigers at Jonesboro-Hodge.

Abney totaled 10 points and pulled down 16 rebounds for Simsboro, which also received 18 points from Jordan Crawford, 14 from Newton and 10 from Shamarian Brantley. 

Choudrant 74, D’Arbonne Woods 49 (Boys)

Chris Williams led the way with 22 points as Choudrant started pulling away from D’Arbonne Woods in the second quarter to cruise past the Timberwolves.

The Aggies led only 15-12 at the end of the opening stanza but built a 38-23 advantage by halftime.

Parker Batterton added 18 points for Choudrant, which also received 12 points from Mike Jones.

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Bryant takes helm as director of HR at Grambling State

 By T. Scott Boatright 

Wayne Henry Bryant brings more than 20 years of proven experience in both the public and private work sectors as he takes over as Director of Human Resources at Grambling State University. 

Most recently, Bryant has served in the same role at Southern University at Shreveport. 
His responsibilities included supervising all personnel actions including recruitment, appointments, promotions, upgrades, training, performance evaluations and disciplinary actions such as suspensions and terminations, developing and enforcing organizational policies and procedures, serving as Equal Employment Opportunity Officer, completing annual Affirmative Action plans, reviewing sexual/harassment complaints, overseeing grievance procedures and coordinating staff development workshops. 

“I am honored to serve as Human Resources Director for the great Grambling State University,” Bryant said. “The GramFam has been exceptionally receptive to me in my transition. I look forward to working with everyone to ensure a successful pathway to serving our students, faculty, and staff.” 

Some of Bryant’s key accomplishments at SUSLA included creating a plan to give all eligible employees a one-time $1,000 payout that led to regular annual increases after those employees went several years without merit increases, revising the onboarding process to include a completely new hire orientation program, developing new performance evaluations for SUSLA faculty and unclassified staff, initiating and completing the first dedicated Human Resources office area in school history, and structuring benefit fairs with vendors to offer more retirement options to employees. 

Bryant, who received his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Northeast Louisiana University (now known as the University of Louisiana at Monroe) and his master’s degree in Human Relations and Supervision from Louisiana Tech University, has also served as an adjunct professor teaching general, abnormal, social and developmental psychology courses while helping students improve their human resource skills. 

GSU Chief Operating Officer Penya Moses, JD, LL.M. said Bryant will play a key role not only for the university’s faculty and staff but also its students. 

“Mr. Bryant’s experience in a university setting in human resources will be invaluable to Grambling State University as we streamline processes that impact our brand and maximize experiences for the faculty, staff, and students,” Moses said. “He is a proven leader that is intricately familiar with promoting and implementing human resource values by planning and managing programs, training, and directing staff for better customer service for the institution. I am excited to add him to the operations team, as we continue to connect our organization in the spirit of excellence.” 

Bryant, who also previously served as human resources director/manager at Comcast Cable and Time Warner Cable in Shreveport, began his career as a Human Resources Development Specialist III for the Northwest Louisiana Developmental Center in Bossier City, Louisiana. 
He then became a university counselor at SUSLA before serving his first stint as Human Resources Director at SUSLA from 1997-2000. 

Bryant has also served as vice president for the Christian Service Board, a member of the Louisiana State Personnel Council, a member of the Louisiana College and University Personnel Administrators, an Advisory Board member for Ayers Career College, President/Commissioner for the Greater Shreveport Human Relations Commission, Board Member, Louisiana State Personnel Council and as a board member for the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program. 

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Origin Bank pesents LA Tech Football signing day event

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

RUSTON – Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Cumbie and his coaching staff will provide an in-depth look at the Bulldogs 2022 signing class during a signing day event on Wednesday, Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. at the Davison Athletics Complex.

The event is sponsored by Origin Bank.

Tech signed 11 recruits in the early period in December and will sign additional student-athletes prior to the event on Feb. 2 during the late signing period.

This event is a great opportunity for Bulldog fans to get a chance to meet the new coaching staff and find out detailed information on the newest Bulldog signees.

In addition to the presentations of the Bulldogs signees – including video – by Coach Cumbie and his staff, Louisiana Tech Director of Athletics Eric Wood will address the crowd.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. for a cocktail hour including a cash bar followed by a buffet dinner and the programming starting at 6:30 p.m.

Individual tickets are $45 per person ($40 for LTAC and T-Club members). Tables of eight which include dining with co-OC Jake Brown, co-OC Scott Parr or DC Scott Power are available for $1,500 (7 tickets). Regular tables of eight (7 tickets) are also available for $500 as a member of the Tech coaching staff will be seated at every table.

Tables of eight (7 tickets) sitting with Tech President Les Guice or Director of Athletics Eric Wood are available upon request for $2,500.

To purchase tickets, tables or to find out more event information, go to Fans can also contact Director of LTAC Taylor Cross at or at 318-295-4919 for more information.

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Chamber announces ambassadors

The Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce has announced its 2022 Ambassadors.

Fifteen individuals were chosen to volunteer their time to be more active within the chamber and within the Ruston-Lincoln business community.

Ambassadors also work with the Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce staff and Board of Directors to increase membership, improve member retention, strengthen awareness of Chamber benefits, volunteer their time to assist with various Chamber events, as well as being a part of the decision making of our business community.

This year’s ambassadors are:

Hannah Bowman, Michael Brooks Family Clinic
John Cowling, Rolling Hills Ministries
Jenifer Daily, Century Next Bank
Tami Davis, Northern Louisiana Medical Center         
Missy Gibbons, Skip Russell State Farm
Thomas Graham, The Lincoln Agency
Rick Greene, Moxey NeLA
Kristi Greer, Centric Federal Credit Union
Kathy Hall, Northern Louisiana Medical Center
David Long, Ensure, The Insurance Agency
Oliver Neal, Meyer Meyer LaCroix
Stacy Scheer, The Arbor and Terrace
Anthony Tchakounte, Ruston Cleaning Services
Ron Veitch, Anti Pest & Veitch
Janet Wilson, Boys & Girls Clubs of NLA

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Notice of death — Jan. 24, 2022

Rebecca (Becky) Wood Whalen 
Date of Death: January 7, 2022 
Interment: 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, Kilpatrick Memorial Garden, 1270 LA Highway 544, Ruston 
Graveside service: 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, Kilpatrick Memorial Garden, 1270 LA Highway 544, Ruston 
Louisiana Memorial Celebration: 4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 6, at Calvary Baptist Church Chapel, 5011 Jackson Street, Alexandria 

Jerry Dee Nugent 
September 28, 1949 – January 22, 2022 
Visitation: Saturday, Jan 29, 2022, 1:00 PM-2:00 PM, First Baptist Church in Farmerville 
Memorial Service: Saturday, Jan 29, 2022, 2:00 PM, First Baptist Church in Farmerville 

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Sound of success — A look at Tech’s new band director Chris Heidenreich

By T. Scott Boatright


Louisiana Tech University’s newest music man, Chris Heidenreich, let his love of playing trumpet while growing up in Brunwick, Ohio, about 20 miles south of Cleveland, eventually lead him on his journey to become the director of The Band of Pride last September.

His hiring came after the retirement last summer of Jim Robken, a Tech music education graduate and leader of Tech’s bands for 30 years.

“My father, who is deceased now, and my mother both grew up in Cleveland, so I’m a sad Browns fan, Indians fan — a fan of all things Cleveland because that’s where I grew up,”  Heidenreich said. “And in high school, there was just something about the marching band in particular that told me as a sophomore in high school that I wanted to be a band director.”

But while Robken grew up in nearby El Dorado, Arkansas, Heidenreich had much more acclimating to do after agreeing to make the move south after working at the University of Michigan-Flint since 2009. 

“I really enjoy the weather,” Heidenreich said of his new home in Ruston. “On Sunday, my pastor said he was disappointed that we didn’t get any real snow a few days earlier. I wanted to tell him afterwards that snow is a little bit overrated. I don’t mind the nicer temperatures.

“Our adjustment has been great. The community’s been very welcoming. The students have been fantastic. They give me a hard time about not saying ‘y’all’ enough. It’s been a real transition. The way people talk about band — not just Louisiana Tech’s band, but bands in general —has been a real big surprise for me. Bands here are important to communities, not just universities. It’s a big part of high school communities here. And that’s great. I love it.” 

Heidenreich said he was attracted to Tech because of the opportunity to oversee an entire program and to get back into marching band as well as orchestral, or concert bands.

“It’s just a love that I have of bands, whatever style,” Heidenreich said. “There is a sound I look for. But it’s the same sound for marching band and concert music. The biggest thing about concert bands is what we play. I’ve had teachers who have been very good at picking music that appeals to both styles. Just picking good music is so ingrained in me thanks to the great teachers I’ve had over the course of my career.”

Heading south also gave Heidenreich the opportunity to include new songs and sounds into the bands he leads.

“I think there are different tastes on both the West and East Coasts,” Heidenreich said. “Here you have that ‘second-line’ sound and attitude. There’s a part of me that wants to say music is music. But I do think that there’s a sound that I think people associate with New Orleans and Louisiana just like there’s a sound people associate with Chicago, or with New York. 

“For example, The Band of Pride has been invited to march in the Rex Parade in New Orleans on Mardi Gras day. And we’re going to play a song that has a real New Orleans sound to it called ‘Do What You Want’ by the Rebirth Brass Band. That’s an exciting opportunity you don’t get at other places.”

Heidenreich admits the first thing he noticed about Tech band students is the love they show.

“The biggest thing I found out is how dedicated our band members are, and that’s just a big tribute to Jim Robken and the legacy he’s left behind,” Heidenreich said. “It’s a genuine feeling the band members have about him, and it extends into the university. They just love Louisiana Tech.” 

Heidenreich said his love for his job comes from his love of some the nation’s top bands like Grambling State and Ohio State.

“I haven’t seen the Grambling band in person yet, but I’ve followed them for years,” Heidenreich said. “It took a while, but the Bayou Classic telecasts finally figured that the halftime shows are as exciting and fun as the game. 

“And I’m the kind of person who likes stealing ideas. So I’m always paying attention to Ohio State. I follow Michigan. My roots are Big 10 schools, so that’s usually where I go to first, but I follow the Clemson band, the Alabama band, the Arkansas band. Any and all of them honesty. And I’ll grab anything — any idea or sound — I like from all of them.”

Heidenreich said love of music has led him to many different sounds over the years.

“One of the things I loved about teaching in my last position is that I had to teach a music appreciation course,” Heidenreich said “One of my projects with that class was to turn my students loose and let them show me the music they enjoyed. I’ll always go back to the ’80s because that’s when I grew up, but I’ll listen to anything. In my previous position I conducted the orchestra for a couple of years, and while I had previously had exposure to the big pieces, there’s so much music for strings in small orchestras that I enjoyed when I had to dive into that. I’ve already played trumpet with a jazz ensemble here. I just love music and finding out things I have not heard before.”


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Tech’s School of Design prepares for Louisiana Biennial

By Sophie Puljak

Louisiana Tech University will host the Sixth Louisiana Biennial: National Juried Exhibition Jan. 25 through Feb. 15 in the F. Jay Taylor Visual Arts Center Galleries. A Juror Talk with independent curator Rebecca Hart will be held from 5-6 p.m. Jan. 25, followed by an opening reception from 6-7 p.m. 

The exhibition features artists from throughout the United States, including two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and video works. 

The exhibition’s overall gallery winner will receive $500 and the opportunity to host a solo exhibition at Louisiana Tech. A juror’s choice, receiving $300, and two Honorable Mentions, each receiving $100, will also be recognized. 

Brooke Cassady, Assistant Professor and Gallery Director in Louisiana Tech’s School of Design, said the exhibition offers an unparalleled opportunity for Tech students. 

“It’s an extraordinary opportunity for our students to be exposed to professionals of this caliber with extensive resumes and experiences in the art world,” Cassady said. “This gives our students an insight into what curators are looking for and a better understanding of the jurying process, which is crucial for artists getting exposure in the art world.” 

In addition to familiarizing students with the jurying process, Master of Fine Arts students are granted the opportunity to learn from experts in their field. 

“The jurors also spend time on campus, demonstrating their art-making process via workshops and visiting individually with our MFA students to give them personal feedback during critiques,” Cassady said. 

The exhibition serves as an opportunity for students, faculty, and the public to see emerging contemporary work from around the country in local galleries. 

“Typically, in a visit to an out-of-town art museum or private gallery, we have only a few minutes to look at individual pieces in an exhibition,” said Karl Puljak, Director of the School of Design. “By hosting this national juried exhibition in our galleries, our students will have an extended amount of time to visit, observe, and think about the exhibited work over a few weeks. The opportunity to hear from our juror and learn about how the work was selected for the exhibition and who will be selected for the awards, will be equally interesting, because it will provide student access in the thought process of an important art curator.” 

Hart is the former Vicki and Kent Logan Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art and Department Head of the Denver Art Museum and former Associate Curator and Department Head at Detroit Institute of Arts.

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Student spotlight: RHS’s Kassidy Kelley provides leadership

By Lloyd Bruner

Classes in the agriscience department and membership in Ruston High School’s FFA provided Kassidy Kelley a solid foundation of knowledge and leadership.

Kelley worked hard and learned from others and became the RHS chapter president. Her reputation for excellence and leadership throughout the state led to her ascending to the position of Louisiana FFA state vice president. 

Kassidy has been a tremendous asset to Ruston High School FFA and for this community,” said Landon Wade, agriscience department head/FFA adviser at RHS. “She truly embodies all the qualities a parent or adviser want to see in students today. As chapter president, Kassidy motivates our members, creates new ways to get members involved, and continues to accomplish every goal she has set. She represents the state association and the Ruston High FFA with great class, and it has been a true pleasure serving as her adviser.”

Kelley hosted events and ensured that the RHS agriscience department and FFA chapter ran smoothly. She travelled the state visiting other school FFA members, promoting the organization. Kassidy also supervised running the North Louisiana Ag. Expo in Monroe.

“I gladly look forward to serving the rest of my senior year as chapter president and as Louisiana FFA vice president,” Kelley said.

Her FFA peers at RHS were more outspoken about Kassidy.

“Kassidy is always very responsible and active — a great leader,” said team member Raymond Granger. “Half of the ideas that she comes up with, I never would’ve thought of. It seemed that if we needed something figured out, she already had the answer.”  

Team members Caleb Granger and Carter Gay agreed that Kelley is one of the best presidents they have ever had and is great with communicating what the team needs.

“Kassidy is one of our most dedicated FFA members,” said RHS resident teacher and FFA adviser Caddie Coleman. “She’s always ready for the next big thing and is a great leader for our members.” 

Praise was also found at the state level of the FFA association.

“Kassidy always works with heart, dedication and enthusiasm,” Cade LeJuene, executive secretary of the Louisiana FFA Association, said. “She is always willing to help others, and she contributes great ideas and effort to our FFA projects. Kassidy has been willing to travel across Louisiana this year representing Louisiana FFA, and she even served as a delegate at the National FFA Convention in October. It has been a pleasure getting to know her this year, and I’m proud of how she has represented Ruston High School and our state.”

Kelley was recently awarded a School Based Agricultural Education grant that she will use to repair RHS’s greenhouses, allowing them to begin to sell the produce. She was the only person in the state of Louisiana to be awarded a grant. 

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For one magic moment, a walk-on stands out

By J.J. Marshall Jr.

Being a walk-on is a strange job. You can go from unseen and undervalued to in the spotlight and overhyped in one fell swoop.

I was a basketball walk-on at Louisiana Tech from 2004-2008 and even served as team captain my final year. Early in my career, I saw how “fan-favorite” sometimes translated into “team mascot” effectively, and I often wondered about the implications of having my small successes outshine the efforts put in by teammates with a far greater impact.

I see each generation as an iteration on the last. Evolution. And this current LA Tech squad is certainly the evolved version of my best Bulldog experiences.

Tech is 15-3 and coming off two convincing wins over Southern Miss, the first a blowout capped by an already legendary shot by former Calvary standout and current Tech walk-on Ben Ponder.

With 0:30 left in a 23-point homecourt victory, Tech’s LaDamien Bradford brought the ball up the court with an eye toward Ponder. Usually, this is when the winning team dribbles out the clock. Everyone in the building knew that Tech had other ideas. Bradford found Ponder coming off of a down-screen just at the 3-point line.

“I took a dribble and wasn’t expecting to shoot it,” Ponder said. “But something in me was saying ‘Go for it’ — and I shot it. It was one of those things where I couldn’t even feel the ball in my hands. But once it was in the air, I knew it was good.”

When the ball swished through the net, the Thomas Assembly Center erupted in a collective roar. Naismith Award nominee Kenneth Lofton Jr. and company waved towels from the bench, students hi-fived, and Ponder trotted down court like nothing had happened.

“(Bradford) almost gave me a hug at half court on my way back down,” Ponder said. “I couldn’t help but smile at that point. The crowd was so loud.”

Video of Ponder’s shot has been seen and shared more than 50,000 times on Twitter. It was a special moment for a special player from Shreveport/Bossier who put in the work and has the self-awareness to know his role.

“Actually, it brought tears to my eyes,” Ponder’s high school coach, current Calvary head coach Victor Morris, said. “I know how hard he worked to make it to that level. To see the crowd and his teammates give him that type of reaction is a coach’s dream.”

“I’ve been sent the video by at least 30 different people,” Ponder said. “It was getting a bit out of hand. I mean, it’s just one shot. But, it just shows the type of support that everyone is giving me and I’m so thankful for that.”

Ponder’s career is just starting as a Bulldog. I predict more 3s from Ben in his Tech tenure. Still, there’s nothing like that first basket. Few walk-ons will ever reach the heights he found on his first one.

The roar of the crowd will echo in his mind as he replays his shot over and over for the rest of his life. He can always return to that video clip whenever he needs a dose of confidence. That stage, Division 1, conference play — it takes guts just to take that shot, much less drain it. He’s living the dream of countless teenagers.

Then again, there aren’t many teenagers out there like Ben.

As a walk-on, your most valuable skill is often just knowing your role. Being a glue guy. A player/coach. It’s a unique skillset, and one that usually cannot be taught. The way Ponder has handled this experience is further proof of his bona fides for the job.

People will move on from the shot as Tech continues to win games. New moments will present themselves. Ponder will get more shots. When you don’t revolve around ego, there isn’t the need to cling to accomplishments past their shelf life.

Ponder and company have their eyes on bigger prizes. Moments like his first basket as a Division-1 athlete are part of the bigger picture, albeit one that we in Shreveport/Bossier are particularly fond of.

(This story originally ran in the Shreveport Bossier Journal on Jan. 20)

Photos by TOM MORRIS/courtesy Louisiana Tech

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Support group helps survivors

By Julia Griffin

Ruston’s Domestic Abuse Resistance Team’s weekly Domestic Violence Support Group offers survivors a safe space to learn, grow and heal. Every meeting has a safe and private location and a separate group for anyone out of diapers through 17 years old. 

Erika McFarland, head of the support group, volunteered and interned with DART in college. After she graduated, she became a shelter advocate for the domestic violence survival shelter. 

She returned to DART in 2020 to become the survivors advocate, where she does supportive counseling and holds weekly support group. 

Individuals must be a DART client to attend.

“In order to keep it safe and private, we meet clients here at the office prior to attending the group,” McFarland said. “All members must first be a DART client. You can complete the intake in our office downtown.”

The support group is a peer support group.

“You get to be in a safe place where there are people who have a similar story,” McFarland said.

Group helps to educate survivors on understanding and processing their emotions, while giving them community so they no longer feel alone or isolated.

“The camaraderie and fellowship that the survivors build in a group helps them rebuild trust, which is so important because trust is usually lost not just in people, but also in themselves,” McFarland said.

She said the group is a great place to rebuild trust because it’s confidential, and no one is judging you. 

“It’s a place where you can just be,” she said. “The support group provides so much more than just a safe place; it builds a community.” 

For more information contact McFarland at 318-513-9373.

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Techsters record big road win; Dogs fall at home

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications


Lady Techsters 58, UAB 52

Birmingham, Ala. – Louisiana Tech used a total team effort and timely baskets to come away from Birmingham, Ala. with a 58-52 road conference USA win over the UAB Blazers inside Bartow Arena on Saturday.

The Lady Techsters improve to 10-7 overall and now 2-4 in conference play by taking down the top team in the West. UAB falls to 10-6 overall and 3-2 in C-USA.

The back-to-back wins puts LA Tech right back in the thick of things in conference USA’s West division race.

“I was really proud of this team’s grit and toughness,” said head coach Brooke Stoehr. “We got off to a slow start offensively but defended well and kept battling until we could get our scoring going. We had balance today and got some huge contributions off the bench in some big moments. We were able to get stops at key times and answered offensively each time UAB made a run. It was a great team effort to get an important road conference win.”

Both teams started the afternoon game cold from the floor. LA Tech started just 1-14 from the field over the first seven minutes, but fortunately for the Techsters, UAB didn’t fare much better starting only 1-10 from the field.

Tech found themselves down 8-4 with 2:30 left in the first quarter when a Salma Bates three-pointer kick started the Techsters offense. Freshmen Kate Thompson and Amaya Brannon added buckets to help the Techsters close the first quarter on a 7-0 run and take a 13-8 lead into the first intermission.

LA Tech found more of a rhythm in the second quarter scoring on five of their next six attempts to extend the lead to 26-18 with 2:23 left in the first half, including six quick points from junior Keiunna Walker who finished with a game high 20 points.

In the final minutes of the half, Bates added another score to give the Techsters a seven-point cushion at the break (28-21).

Sophomore Anna Larr Roberson, the conference’s leader in free-throw percentage at 85 percent, connected on two attempts to start the second half for the Techsters. Roberson has now made 19 straight free throws.

Bates added another three-throw nearly four minutes into the quarter but Tech did not score from the field until Walker hit a jumper with 5:26 left in the quarter.

Tech and UAB finished the third stanza exchanging punches but the combination of Walker, Roberson, and Thompson helped maintain a four-point lead going into the fourth quarter (42-38).

The final 10 minutes was marked by big play after big play by Techsters. Clinging to a four-point lead, Tech was able to generate offense from defense. Sophomore Lotte Sant nailed a three-pointer in transition off a great pass from Bates which was created off a Brannon steal. The shot put the Techsters up 47-40 with 8:34 to play.

UAB responded with a 4-0 run of their own to cut the lead to three, but Tech answered right back with a 9-0 over the next 2:30. Thompson began the run off a beautifully designed out of bounds play which led to a wide-open layup.

Thompson and Roberson both hit jumpers on the next two possessions followed by Bates finding freshman Robyn Lee in the corner for a three. Lee was found wide open off another out of bounds set who drilled the attempt extending the Techsters lead to 56-44 with 3:59 to play.

UAB continued to battle using an 8-0 run over the next three minutes to cut the lead to four when Brannon finished a put-back effort off a Walker miss to seal the 58-52 road win the Techsters.

UAB 83, LA Tech 76

RUSTON – Louisiana Tech had its seven-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday afternoon, falling 83-76 to UAB inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.

“We are obviously disappointed,” said Tech head coach Eric Konkol. “Give a lot of credit to UAB.  They played very well today.  I thought we played well in moments, but the moments we did not they capitalized on.  You never want to feel like you have to outscore somebody and we were struggling to get stops. 

“I thought we played some really good desperation mode there in the end.  We had a hard time stopping them.  We were turning the ball over and that led to easy shots for them.  It comes down to execution and thought they executed a little bit better than us.”

LA Tech (15-4, 6-1 C-USA) committed 18 turnovers, the second most in a game this season.  Four of them came in the opening two minutes, which quickly put the Bulldogs in a hole, down 15-2 early.

They were behind by as much as 15 in the first half, but Amorie Archibald kept the ‘Dogs in it with six three-pointers in the first stanza.  The sixth one from behind the arc came as the clock expired, cutting the deficit down to eight, 41-33, at the midway point.

After UAB (16-4, 6-1 C-USA) made 16 first-half field goals, the Bulldogs came out strong defensively in the second half.  They forced nine misses on the Blazers first 10 field goal attempts.  As a result, LA Tech was able to claw back and grab its first lead of the game at 50-47 with 13:02 to go on an offensive rebound and putback by Kenny Hunter.

UAB’s Jordan Walker quickly answered with a three-pointer.  And that continued as the Tulane transfer sank nine of them from deep in route to a game-high 36 points. 

LA Tech was close to overcoming another double-digit deficit, down 65-55 with eight minutes to go.  Archibald’s seventh three of the game cut the deficit down to three at 76-73 with 2:31 remaining.  That was as close as the Bulldogs would get in the final minutes, missing a trio of free throws while Walker put the game away for the Blazers at the foul line. 

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Anniversary announcements published in LPJ

The Lincoln Parish Journal is now publishing 25th, 30th, 40th, 50th — and above! — anniversary announcements for married couples who reside in the parish, who have relatives in the parish or who were married in the parish. 

Information for anniversary announcements include: 

  • Digital photograph of the couple 

  • The couple’s names 

  • How long the couple have resided in the parish

  • Educational and occupational information
  • Any children and/or grandchildren

  • Ties to the parish 

  • Wedding time, date, and place 

  • An interesting fact about the couple 

To submit information for publication, please email