The Class of 2020 for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame has a slightly different look as the run-up begins for the annual Induction Celebration Tuesday, Dec. 15 through Thursday, Dec. 17.
After recently being elected for the LSHOF Class of 2021, two championship coaches, former LSU track and field coach Pat Henry and retired Monroe-Richwood High School football coach Mackie Freeze, will be inducted in December as part of the 2020 class.
Eight-time world bodybuilding champion Ronnie Coleman, a Bastrop native and Grambling graduate, was elected for induction in 2020, but will go into the Hall next June 24-26 with the Class of 2021. This year’s traditional June induction was postponed to December due to the coronavirus pandemic, while at the same time, Coleman’s biggest annual event, the Mr. Olympia competition, shifted from its planned September timetable to conflict with the Hall’s dates in December.
Freeze and Henry step into a star-studded Class of 2020. It includes outdoorsman Phil Robertson, recognized internationally as the Duck Commander, and former LSU football coach Nick Saban, who won 75 percent of his games and the 2003 national championship in five seasons with the Tigers, along with Sweet Lou Dunbar of the Harlem Globetrotters and Pro Bowl football standout Chicago Bears cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman, a star at UL Lafayette.
The Class of 2020 also showcases two extraordinary basketball players: New Orleans native Kerry Kittles, a two-time All-America guard at Villanova who averaged 14 points in an eight-year NBA career, and Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters basketball legend Angela Turner, a Bienville Parish native who helped the Techsters to four straight national championship game appearances including wins in 1981 and 1982.
Inducted as winners of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism will be LSU sports publicist Kent Lowe and Baton Rouge Advocate prep sportswriter Robin Fambrough.
Opelousas native Joan Cronan, one of college sports’ most influential administrators in her career as athletics director at the University of Tennessee, will be inducted as the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award winner.
Enshrined as the first recipient of the Louisiana Sports Ambassador Award will be Shreveport-based broadcaster Tim Brando, whose pride in his home state has been evident throughout his four decades among the best in his business around the country.
They will be honored in a series of events culminating with the annual Induction Dinner and Ceremonies presented by State Farm Agents of Louisiana on Thursday evening, Dec. 17, at the Natchitoches Events Center.
The 2020 Induction Celebration begins Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 15, with a nationally-televised (Cox Sports Television) afternoon press conference.
The press conference and a free public reception from 5-7 at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, located at 800 Front Street, are presented by La Capitol Federal Credit Union.
The Wednesday, Dec. 16 schedule begins around lunchtime with the LSHOF’s Celebrity Bowling Bash, presented by BOM Bank, pairing 2020 inductees and more sports celebrities, including past inductees, with patrons at Four Seasons Bowling Center in Alexandria.
Wednesday evening, the third annual Rockin’ River Fest presented by Rapides Regional Medical Center will feature bands and fireworks over Cane River Lake in historic downtown Natchitoches in a free concert. The 2020 induction class will be introduced just before the fireworks show. The Taste of Tailgating Party, presented by Hancock Whitney Bank, will be held in Mama’s Oyster House and Blues Room on Front Street, overlooking the riverbank stage.
Thursday morning, Dec. 17, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Junior Training Camp, presented by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office, will be held on the Northwestern State campus with 300 youth participating at no charge. Hall of Fame inductees will be the featured instructors for drills in football and basketball while healthy living initiatives and other positive lifestyle messaging will be presented to boys and girls.
Social distancing and other preventive measures will be practiced throughout the celebration per local and state government policies.