It’s almost showtime for the Class of 2021 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration kicking off Thursday in Natchitoches, including three free events, and running through Saturday night’s induction ceremony.
There’s another star-studded group of inductees, traveling to Natchitoches from six different states, including California, Florida and New Jersey. The hospitality they will experience while in town will create an extraordinary experience like the recently-inducted Class of 2020 (shown above) experienced.
Due to last summer’s pandemic limitations, the Class of 2020 enshrinement was delayed for a year until this June, thus the induction of the Class of 2021 shifted to the end of August.
All state protocols, notably masking and social distancing, will be observed during the upcoming indoor events.
There’s a free event each day, starting with Thursday’s La Capitol Federal Credit Union Welcome Reception from 5-7 p.m. at the Hall of Fame museum, located at the traffic circle on Front Street.
Friday’s freebie is a big one – the Rockin’ River Fest concert on the downtown Natchitoches riverbank, with no admission charge. Music starts at 6 p.m. Friday from iconic local rockers Billy O’Con and BaDD Apple, with the red-hot Baton Rouge-based country band Parish County Line taking the stage from 8:30-10:30. After the 2021 inductees are introduced a little after 9 o’clock, a 10-minute sports-themed fireworks show will explode over Cane River, followed by more PCL tunes.
Saturday morning brings the free Junior Training Camp presented by Natchitoches Regional Medical Center for kids 7-17, hosted by Northwestern State at the WRAC. Football and basketball instruction along with basic sports skills will be taught. Parents need to take a couple minutes before Saturday to register their kids and execute a waiver form on the LaSportsHall.com website. Kids should check in beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
For information on all events and to purchase admission to the four ticketed events, visit the LaSportsHall.com website or call 318-238-4255.
The 2021 LSHOF inductees are headlined by New Orleans Saints star receiver Marques Colston, Major League Baseball All-Star Rickie Weeks from Southern University, and three of LSU’s greatest competitors – basketball’s Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, football stalwart Glenn Dorsey and 27-time national champion track and field coach Pat Henry.
The LSHOF Class of 2021 also spotlights Natchitoches native and 1980 Bassmaster Classic champion Villis “Bo” Dowden, chosen as one of the 35 greatest pro anglers of all-time in a joint ESPN Outdoors/BASS package in 2004. Former Northwestern State sports information director (1989-2019) and longtime Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland is going into the Hall as a recipient of the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism.
Baton Rouge ties connect six members of the LSHOF Class of 2021.
Baton Rouge native Courtney Blades Rogers, considered one of college softball’s best pitchers of all time at Nicholls and Southern Mississippi, joins the trio of LSU competitors, along with LSU alumnus Terry McAulay, a Hammond native who in a 20-year NFL officiating career refereed three Super Bowls. Now the NBC Sports officiating analyst for Sunday Night Football and Notre Dame football, McAuley is the 2021 winner of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award.
Other recipients of the journalism award are trailblazing New Orleans television sports anchor Ro Brown, and Baton Rouge Advocate sportswriter Sheldon Mickles.
Cox Sports Television live coverage will be provided at 3 p.m. Thursday for the opening press conference, and from 6-10 Saturday for the induction activities, including a Purple Carpet Special presented by NSU.