Step inside the highlight reel this weekend in Natchitoches

We’re sports fans. We go bonkers when our team or favorite athlete does something special. We treasure some of those memories for a lifetime.

Saints fans, remember where you watched Super Bowl XLIV? How you wanted to personally party with the Lombardi?

What about when the LSU Tigers won their first national championship since 1958? Nick Saban and a gold-standard coaching staff carried the long downtrodden Bayou Bengals to glory in the Sugar Bowl.

Everybody: we all walk a little taller every time an American wins an Olympic gold me0al.

We are extremely impressed when a pitcher throws a no-hitter. How about 10?

And we’re in awe when an individual competitor wins a national championship. Or three, in gymnastics.

Ever ride a horse? How about competitively, in a horse show or a rodeo? Could you imagine winning a world’s championship (three, actually) as a Professional Rodeo Cowboy?

Are you watching the College World Series? Baseball or softball, can you imagine what it was like to be in uniform?

What about being a coach whose program gets on an incredible roll – 10 state championships in a row?Can you believe that coach and his program eventually won 25 straight state cross country crowns among 64 LHSAA championships in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field?

What’s that like?

We all watch the Super Bowl, the Final Four, bowl games, including those in the BCS national championship series. Imagine being at the forefront of pulling off those events in an administrative role.

For those of us who believe the most talented NFL running back in our lifetime was not named Smith or Payton, but Barry Sanders, he who retired at the top of his game, so what was it like to block for Number 20? That space he found was created by some big men. What if I told you one, the very best one, was from LSU?

All of those achievements generated miles of stories in newspapers. Wouldn’t it be extremely cool to be one of the people sitting in the press box watching, writing, and providing everyone else a memorable description of what just happened, and why it mattered?

What if I told you instead of just remembering or reading about all those things, you could meet many of the people who made them happen? Thursday evening. For free. In Natchitoches, at the Welcome Reception at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame museum.

Friday night. For free. On the Natchitoches riverbank at Rockin’ River Fest, a free concert, with fireworks.

If you have a kid, age 7-17, Saturday morning, yes, I’ll say it again, FREE. Get tips from many of these stars at the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Junior Training Camp on the Northwestern State campus.

And you can see these legends of their games enshrined in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, with some of our state’s sports greats on stage with them, at the Saturday evening Kickoff Reception at the LSHOF Museum followed by the ceremony at the Natchitoches Events Center (now that isn’t free; you can buy tickets for that event, or the Roundtable Luncheon with our buddy Timmy B as MC,  at LaSportsHall.com or by calling 318-238-4255).

Talk to Jahri Evans about being in the huddle with Drew Brees, and playing in six Pro Bowls.

Ask Kyle Williams about his three years starting at defensive tackle for LSU, and HIS six Pro Bowls while becoming one of the most admired players in Buffalo Bills history.

Eddie Flynn won boxing gold for the USA 90 years ago, in the Los Angeles Olympics of 1932. His great grandson Cory Martin will be in Natchitoches and knows all the stories.

Britni Sneed Newman fired those 10 no-hitters and led the LSU softball team to its first CWS. On the bigger diamond, the late Tony Robichaux guided the UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns to the 2000 CWS and 14 years later, a No. 1 national ranking. And he won more college baseball games than Skip Bertman.

Susan Jackson owns three NCAA gymnastics titles and is a 12-time All-American for LSU.

Steve Duhon might be the nicest, toughest guy you ever meet. He’s in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and the Cowboy Hall of Fame. He also played linebacker in Tiger Stadium, BTW.

Claney Duplechin’s coaching career began in football, but as a track coach he has become one of the most successful prep coaches in any sport, anywhere.

Eric Andolsek left us too young, but his family and friends are eager to tell you about their Cajun Atlas.

Two local guys are going in – Loyola grad and former Shreveport Captains employee Jay Cicero, and our own, incomparable scribe, Teddy Allen. They’re big timers in our back yard.

Come join their party, starting Thursday evening. You deserve it. They ALL will love to visit with you. And tell you their stories.

Email Doug at DougIreland@LaSportsHall.com