There are football legends, a women’s basketball great, four baseball icons, a two-time USA Olympian, a world-renowned weightlifting champion with an amazing life story, and five LSU Tigers.
They – and a fun-filled slate of events — are among the reasons to be in Natchitoches Thursday, Friday evening, and Saturday, to enjoy the 2023 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration.
Festivities include three free events and four others which require admission charges. Only the grand finale, the Saturday evening Induction Reception and Ceremony presented by State Farm Agents of Louisiana, is a dress up affair.
Two – the Friday lunchtime Bowling Bash presented by BOM, in Alexandria at Four Seasons Bowling Center, and the free Saturday morning New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Junior Training Camp on the Northwestern State campus – are activity-filled.
Another – the free Friday night Rockin’ River Fest Concert featuring Rockin’ Dopsie and The Zydeco Twisters, and rising country artist Jason Ashley, along with a 10-minute fireworks show over Cane River – is activity-optional, dancing encouraged.
The concert also features a free kids zone presented by Louisiana Propane Dealers with football, basketball, golf and science fun on the Natchitoches riverbank.
Tickets for the Bowling Bash, the Friday night VIP Taste of Tailgating party at the concert, and the big finale, the Induction Reception and Ceremony, are available at LaSportsHall.com or by calling 318-238-4255. The Saturday noon Round Table Luncheon is already sold out.
Advance registration at LaSportsHall.com for kids 7-17 is required for the free Junior Training Camp, which will feature many of the 2023 inductees participating as coaches in football and basketball.
Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning (from New Orleans) joins four-time WNBA All-Star Alana Beard (a Shreveport native with Natchitoches roots) and College World Series champion LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri in a star-studded 12-member induction class.
The Class of 2023 also includes New Orleans native and resident Ron Washington, who managed the Texas Rangers to a pair of World Series appearances and in 2021 helped the Atlanta Braves win the world’s championship (and is still the Braves’ third base coach); two-time LSU track and field USA Olympian and world champion Walter Davis from Arnaudville; and Slidell native, Tulane great and Chicago Bears two-time Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte.
Also set for induction are All-American LSU pitcher Paul Byrd, a 14-year Major League Baseball veteran who made the 1999 All-Star Game; Shreveport native Wendell Davis, who shattered LSU football receiving records before heading to the NFL; multiple national champion and world class weightlifter Walter Imahara, a Baton Rouge florist and UL-Lafayette legend who as a child spent 2 ½ years in a Japanese American internment camp in California; and retired Baton Rouge-Parkview Baptist baseball coach M.L. Woodruff, whose teams claimed 11 state championships.
Two south Louisiana sports journalists, Bruce Brown of Lafayette and longtime New Orleans Times-Picayune high school reporter Lori Lyons, will also be honored.
The Class of 2023 will be enshrined Saturday night at the Natchitoches Events Center to culminate the 64th Induction Celebration.
The Thursday reception at the museum, the Friday evening River Fest and the Junior Training Camp are free. As noted above, camp participants need to register online in advance.
The 2023 Induction Celebration will be hosted by the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, the support organization for the Hall of Fame. The LSHOF Foundation was established as a 501 c 3 non-profit entity in 1975 and is governed by a statewide board of directors.
For information on sponsorship opportunities and other participation, contact Foundation President/CEO Ronnie Rantz at 225-802-6040 or RonnieRantz@LaSportsHall.com, or Greg Burke, Director of Business Development and Public Relations, at 318-663-5459 or GregBurke@LaSportsHall.com .