Eddie Kennison rounded a bend of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, which mimics the meandering Cane River Lake, catching the eye of fellow Hall of Fame inductee Juan Pierre.
“THE Eddie Kennison,” Pierre said after doing an interview Thursday as part of the Hall of Fame’s introductory press conference. “I had speed and maybe could of hung with Eddie for 10 yards, but this guy was fast.”
Pierre, an Alexandria native, is 18th in career stolen bases in Major League Baseball history. Kennison, a Lake Charles native who was an All-American sprinter at LSU before a 13-year NFL career as a receiver, smiled and said “baseball fast” and “football fast” are two different things. He admitted that he’d pull every muscle in his body if he raced Pierre now.
Nearly all of the eight inductees and three other honorees, who will be officially inducted Saturday night at 6 p.m. in the Natchitoches Events Center, spoke about how they were fans of each other throughout their careers.
Hard-hitting Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed, now an avid golfer, wanted lessons from David Toms, who won 13 PGA Tour events.
Toms, an LSU alum who cheers for the Tigers in every sport, mentioned the connection he felt to fellow LSU inductees Kennison, legendary gymnastics architect D-D Breaux and football/baseball skipper Ray Didier.
Breaux listed Skip Bertman as a mentor as she built a prominent LSU gymnastics program that turned the corner to make six Super Six appearances with two national runner-up championships in the last 12 years.
“The word ‘relevant’ is truly a special word because when young coaches ask me for advice, I tell them you have to be relevant on your campus,” said Breaux, who also shared that she swam across the Mississippi River as a teenager. “That happens when you’re in the community. It’s not just about being ranked in the top 10 or the wins and losses, it’s about what you give back to the community and the university.”
Sue Donohoe knows a thing or two about relevance. The Pineville native made her national television debut in 1982 as a barefoot Louisiana Tech graduate assistant running to the scorer’s table every minute to report the time remaining to coach Leon Barmore during the first women’s basketball NCAA championship to directing both the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball championships until 2010.
Most inductees spoke of how they carried Louisiana with them to various playing fields.
Daughter Chelsea Core described how she carried her father, deceased Southeastern Louisiana basketball great C.A. Core, with her.
Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel will join Breaux, Core, Didier, Kennison, Pierre, Reed and Toms as 2017 inductees.
Longtime sports information director Dan McDonald and legendary radio broadcaster Jim Henderson each received the Distinguished Service Award.
Photo Credit: Candace Cole Photography