By JERRY BYRD Jr., Journal Sports
When LSU head football coach Brian Kelly came to Shreveport this spring, he encouraged the women in attendance to attend his Golden Cleats Combine and help the Tigers raise money for breast cancer research. He didn’t have to twist Dr. Karen Peace’s arm.
In football recruiting terminology, Peace was a blue-chip, five-star prospect as president of the LSU Caddo-Bossier Alumni Association and teacher recruiter for Caddo Parish Public Schools.
Being the president of the alumni association and possessing recruiting expertise, Peace had something else going for her. She had experience on her side after attending a similar event when the Tigers were under the direction of Les Miles.
Peace used her talents to recruit a camp companion, her friend Alli Walsh, who is the catering manager for Shreveport’s Jimmy John’s sandwich shop.
“She was unsure at first,” Peace said. “After I explained it to her, she had a better perspective. I told her she would be able to meet the coaches and players. Not only that, it was for a really good cause.”
Following the event last Tuesday and Wednesday in Baton Rouge, Walsh posted about the experience on Facebook.
“I’m sore,” Walsh wrote. “My body hurts everywhere, but I had the time of my life. Thank you to my sweet friend for encouraging me to go.”
And Peace’s assessment of her Golden Cleat rookie?
“She did great,” Peace said. “She made some of the TAF (Tiger Athletic Foundation) videos with her silly self. She is so outgoing, she could talk to a goalpost.”
If Walsh really could talk to the goalpost, Peace would get her friend to tell it to move down a few feet. That was the hardest part of the camp for Peace.
“They make it look so easy on TV,” Peace said.
Not all of the Golden Cleat rookies performed as well as Walsh.
“You could tell that some didn’t realize there would be drills,” Peace laughed. “They were there more for the shopping and the tailgate party.”
Not Peace, who was assigned to a team led by new defensive line coach Jamar Cain, who comes to the bayou from Oklahoma where he served as the Sooners’ outside linebackers and defensive ends coach for the past two seasons.
Cain, Peace believes, is able.
“I like the fact that he didn’t dumb it down for us,” Peace said. “If there were women in there who didn’t know much about football, they were probably lost when he was explaining some of the terminology and techniques. He was very knowledgeable and very personable. I got the sense that he has great rapport with his players.”
After the combine, if Cain needs to make a call to the skybox and tell Peace to come down and switch from a 3 technique to a 2 against Bama, she will be his guy…er, gal.
As far as the season goes, Peace cannot wait.
“I think if we can get past Florida State, the rest of the season will go pretty well,” Peace said. “The back half of the schedule is always tough with SEC powers, but I’m optimistic. Listening to Coach Kelly and the other coaches and the players, I’m excited.”
The 350 Golden Cleat Combine participants did get to hear from the LSU players, and in doing so Peace thinks there has been a positive change in the LSU Football Operations Building.
“You can tell from listening to them talk that there is a real chemistry there,” Peace said. “They are all working toward the same goal.”
Peace hopes she can recruit some more Golden Cleat Combine rookies in the future.
“If you love LSU and you love football, it’s a great experience to go to meet other women who share the same passion and learn some football at the same time.”
Photo courtesy LSU ATHLETICS