O.J.’s local roots bring him back for golf, family

JUICE BREAK: After a round of golf at Huntington, O.J. Simpson shared his thoughts on football, the presidency, and his family.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

I don’t know what it was that made me drive the golf cart across the fairway and introduce myself. Curiosity, I imagine. It’s not like I put a lot of thought into it. In fact, I had no idea what I was going to say when I got to his golf cart.

There I was, in the middle of the 17th fairway at Huntington Park golf course, introducing myself. “Hi. I’m Harriet Prothro Penrod. I’m with the Shreveport-Bossier Journal, and I was wondering if I could do a short Q&A with you after your round.”

He looked me right in the eyes, held out his hand, smiled, and said, “Are you related to (College Football Hall of Fame coach) Tommy Prothro?”

“No,” I said, “but it is spelled the same way.”

He said sure, he’d be happy to sit down and visit after the round. “Well, okay,” I replied. “I’ll meet you in the clubhouse.”

It was on this same course two years ago – playing in the Ebony Golf Tournament – that I saw O.J. Simpson. Actually, I heard him first and recognized that voice. There was no doubt about the identity of the large man bending over to find his golf ball in the high grass on the other side of the 15th green.

He hung around the clubhouse after the tournament, but I had no desire to go up and talk to him. Perhaps now – two years later — that I was writing for the SBJ (which didn’t exist then), I felt the journalistic urge to interview the (in)famous individual. Maybe people would be interested to know what he was doing in Shreveport.

Think what you may about him.

Growing up, my favorite sport was football. I spent endless days in the front yard – in pads and helmet – playing with my cousin, younger brother, and any of the boys from the neighborhood who wanted to play. When my cousin, who was “all-time QB,” wasn’t playing, that meant I got to be quarterback. When Jeff was there, I’d play wide receiver.

More than once, there would be a knock on our front door and my mom would answer to hear a young boy say, “Can Harriet come out and play quarterback?”

Believe me, that’s not what my mom wanted to hear. But I digress.

I say all that to say this: I loved football – playing it and watching it. And I grew up watching O.J. Simpson play football – at USC and for the Buffalo Bills, where his quarterback was Shreveport’s own Joe Ferguson.

Maybe that’s what made me want to talk to him. Whatever the reason, last Sunday I cut my own round short and waited in the clubhouse at Huntington, wondering if he was actually going to come in and sit down to talk.

If he did, what would I ask him? I hadn’t prepared a “Q&A” or anything else to ask him. I’d just wing it – bring up some topics and see what he had to say.

And in he walked . . .

And so I said . . .

“I saw you at the Ebony tournament here a couple of years ago. How often do you get to Shreveport?”

 Every two to three years, I come for a family reunion. We’re having our reunion this weekend. We own property in Greenwood – it was deeded down to our family. My kids didn’t make it this year. My two younger kids both have kids under one (year old).

“How are you spending your time these days?”

Between golf and fantasy football, I stay pretty busy. Golf has kept me sane through the years. It gets me up, keeps me moving. I just turned 75. I’ll usually play Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday (in Las Vegas). Sometimes people in town want to play, so I’ll play more. We’ve got a golf group in Vegas called “In the Cup.” There are about 12-13 guys from the Shreveport area who come play. Eventually, we’re all going to come down here and have a tournament – maybe at Squire Creek (outside of Ruston in Choudrant).

“What do you do when you’re not playing golf?”

I’m on Twitter. I’ve had over 900,000 followers. I try to stay out of politics, but that’s almost impossible. I try to keep it in sports and history.

“Who do you think are the best running backs in the NFL today?”

King (Derrick) Henry (Tennessee Titans) and Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts). And Saquon Barkley (New York Giants) is definitely in the top 5 – he just can’t stay healthy.

O.J. talked some more about football – how he and (Pro Football Hall of Famer) Eric Dickerson would be attending, and had a bet on, this year’s opening NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams. He talked some more about politics – how he thought either California Governor Gavin Newsom or Florida Governor Ron DeSantis would be the next President of the United States.

Before leaving, I told O.J. I had one last question: “So, generally, how do people treat you out in public?”

Generally, very well. Rarely do people say something out-of-line.

It was then that a gentleman walked across the clubhouse and asked O.J. if he could have his picture taken with him. You see, as a 10-year-old, he had watched Simpson play in Buffalo and had even gotten O.J.’s autograph after the game.

A football fan . . . like me.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

Photo by GINA WOODWARD


‘New’ Southwood focusing on physical, mental toughness

TAKING CHARGE: Southwood coach Jesse Esters says Corinthian Walters (front right) has gained a lot of ground as leader of the Cowboys, who are looking to improve on last season’s disappointing record.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

Corinthian Walters and Sean White stood in the middle of the practice field at Southwood High School just as the sun was coming up one morning this week when the two seniors were asked about goals for the Cowboys this season.

“We’re gonna play the way we practice,” said White, a 6-1, 260-pound offensive lineman, “and we practice hard. We’re going to prove people wrong about us. We’re going to show them a new Southwood.”

Walters, an incredible talent (6-1, 200) who will be used all over the field – quarterback, running back, wide receiver, defensive back, and linebacker – was a little more specific.

“Our goal is (to get to) the playoffs,” he said.

Meeting that goal would mean a turnaround of enormous proportions since Southwood is coming off an 0-10 season (including a forfeit to Captain Shreve in the fourth game because of Covid issues on the team).

It is evident these two guys believe that can be done. And, given the effort and excitement shown by both the players and coaches during this early morning practice, that feeling seems to be contagious.

Excitement, yes. But also realism.

“With our schedule, there are no easy roads,” said Jesse Esters, who is starting his third season as Southwood head coach. “Green Oaks (Sept. 2) has made improvements, Woodlawn (Sept. 9) beat us last year and will be looking to do it again, and Carroll (Sept. 16) is a tough Monroe team that has put together a good staff with young, quality coaches.”

Following those three season-opening games, the Cowboys will enter District 1-5A play against Natchitoches Central, Haughton, Parkway, Benton, Shreve, Byrd, and Airline.

“Every week is a fight for us,” said Esters. “The question is: once we experience success, can we maintain it?”

The Cowboys, who will be fielding 25 seniors and 32 juniors this season, are returning everyone on offense except one tailback. In addition to Walters and White, the strong cast of seniors includes defensive lineman Jaydan Stevenson (6-0, 280), defensive back Harold Mitchell (5-11, 180), wide receiver Javien Markray, and defensive back/wide receiver Corinthian Nicholson (6-2, 175).

The key to success for Southwood, according to Esters, is two-fold.

“First, we have to physically improve,” he said. “We have to get bigger, faster, stronger. Then we have to develop mentally, to have an attitude change. We have to develop good habits that define a winning team.”

To that end, the Cowboys have spent the summer concentrating on conditioning.

“Out of the 49 weekdays we were out of school (this summer), 47 of those were dedicated to strength conditioning and working out,” said Esters. “And 20 out of 25 players made it 40 days or better. That speaks to the character of the group we have.”

Taking advantage of the opportunity, Walters participated in all but one of the days (46 out of 47).

“The one day he missed, he overslept,” Esters said of Walters. “He showed up about 20 minutes late, but I didn’t let him stay. That was part of getting the picture – learning what you have to do to develop winning habits.”

“Corinthian has gained a lot of ground as a leader. He participated in powerlifting and ran track to get in better shape. He can play anywhere. He has the skills to play corner; recruiters who have seen him play say he would probably play safety.”

While Esters sees improvement throughout his squad, he says the Cowboys “still have a way to go.”

“The criticisms about the past are deserved, but that is in the past,” he said. “I’ll tell you this: nobody in Shreveport works like we work.”

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 Photo by HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD

Southwood replaces two non-district opponents

Southwood LB Walters has next-level talent

Southwood’s Stevenson likely a force up front this fall

Southwood has a late bloomer in Markray

Southwood DBs Mitchell, Nicholson back strong after missing junior seasons


Green Oaks ready for changes in upcoming season

NEW SEASON, NEW DISTRICT: With just three opponents remaining on their schedule from last season, the Green Oaks Giants will be lining up against some new teams this season.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

Green Oaks head coach Chadwick Lewis wasn’t surprised when the Giants were moved down to District 1-2A this season after reclassification by the LHSAA. Actually, it was something he saw coming.

“We kind of knew we would reclassify,” says Lewis, who is entering his second season as head coach. “Our numbers have dropped. We were able to play up the past few years and it worked out for us.”

You’ve heard it said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Sometimes, they actually change quite a bit.

First, the Giants’ schedule looks quite different as the only teams remaining on the schedule from last season are Carroll (Monroe), former 1-3A opponent Loyola, and long-time rival Booker T. Washington – who Green Oaks will play in the annual “Soul Bowl” on Sept. 17.

“Our schedule is kind of heavy those first five (non-district) games,” says Lewis. “We’ll be going up against mostly 4(A) and 5A teams. We should be able to compete. That will get us ready for district.”

That’s the next change for the Giants, who will now be in the district with Calvary Baptist (which moved up to 1-2A), D’Arbonne Woods, Lakeside, Loyola (which moved down to 1-2A), and North Caddo.

What will remain the same for Green Oaks this year will be youth. “We’re going to be young,” says Lewis. “Last year we only had seven seniors – we played a lot of freshmen and sophomores. And we’ve got only seven seniors this year.”

One of those seniors is 6-foot-1, 265-pound Kashaun Green, who will play all over the defensive line for the Giants. “In the four-man front, he’ll play tackle,” says Lewis, “and in the three-man front, he’ll play on the end.”

Green, who Lewis calls “one of our top guys,” will also play on the offensive line this season – a move that will hopefully create some big holes for the Giants’ running backs.

“We’re going to be running back by committee,” says Lewis. “We’re hoping that Christopher Hicks (5-4, 145, junior) comes out and makes that jump for us.”

Top wide receiver Delarrious Marshall will also see playing time at running back. “He’s pretty much our ‘do everything kid,’” Lewis says of the 5-8, 165-pound junior who has already received his first offer to play college ball. “He’ll play in the slot, on the outside and he is one of our top defensive backs.”

Lewis is hoping quarterback Tovoras Lee, who started as a freshman last year, continues to show improvement. “He’s still a year away from being ‘that guy,’” says Lewis, “but he’s more settled and is making better reads.”  

So, what will it take for the Giants to be successful this season? According to Lewis, that requires three things – listening, focusing, and remaining disciplined. Yes, they want to improve on last season’s 1-9 record.

“But it’s more so about making sure we’re competing every single game,” he says.

And that’s when things can really change.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

Photo courtesy of Green Oaks HS

Green Oaks sports a mostly new slate for 2022 football season

Green Oaks’ Green: Big-time sleeper on DL

Don’t sleep on these talented local WRs 


We’re lucky to relive our good old days of covering football – and soon

We’ve been preparing for this for a couple of months now.

Actually, we’ve been talking about it and planning for it longer than that. Almost everything we have been doing the past eight weeks has been in preparation for it – timely features by Lee Brecheen of Louisiana Football Magazine on local players; John James Marshall’s excellent summer series on prominent retired local coaches; team-by-team schedules by Lee Hiller.

It’s almost here, and we can hardly wait.

It’s not unusual to be excited about the start of high school football – not in north Louisiana. But, here at the Journal, the anticipation is exceptionally high for a number of reasons:

  • Since Shreveport-Bossier Journal has been in existence for only six months (it became the 10th Parish Journal to go into publication in January 2022), this will be our first coverage of high school football season
  • While some of our writers have been in the broadcast booth for football games over the years, this will mark the first time in almost 30 years that this group will be back together again actually covering high school football games in print
  • It’s high school football. Enough said.

The past two Thursday nights have been special as Origin Bank hosted appreciation suppers at its downtown Shreveport location for high school football coaches and related personnel from Bossier and Caddo Parishes. These events, coordinated by SBJ, provided an excellent atmosphere for our online publication to let the schools know about our plans for comprehensive coverage of local high school football. First and foremost, we’ll be expanding to daily editions seven days a week in the fall.

As I walked around the meeting room at Origin Bank during those events, I recognized a few faces in the crowd. Then it hit me: the last time I covered high school football, some of these people hadn’t even been born yet.

They have no idea how different it will be for us this time. With smart phones, we can now sit in the press box and get real-time scores. We can hook into the school’s wifi to send our stories over the internet to our publication.

No more Radio Shack computers (I use that term loosely) or land-line hookups to try to send in your story (I can still remember that sound of dial-up – if it worked).

There weren’t many females covering football back then – whether it was at the high school, college, or professional level. I’ve been fortunate to write about many sports, but nothing compares to covering football.

My fondest memories include:

  • High school: getting in the car on Friday evening, driving east on I-20, cutting off into the woods and driving in the pitch dark – looking for the stadium lights through the trees and following them to the dirt parking lot, parking and walking up the stadium steps to the tiny press box, and keeping play-by-play stats before heading down to the field and chasing down the head coaches to get a quick quote.
  • College: on Dec. 16, 1989, Oregon defeated Tulsa 27-24 in the Independence Bowl. It’s not the score I remember, that it was the final I-Bowl without sponsorship, or that quarterback Bill Musgrave (Oregon) and defensive back Chris Oldham (Oregon) were the MVP’s. No, what I remember is that it was bitter cold (29 degrees) and the press box was open at our feet. My legs got so cold that, at halftime, I informed the other sports writers that I was going home to get my electric blanket and return for the rest of the game. I’ll never forget the looks on their faces when I actually returned to the game deep into the third quarter. I think they had a bet going as to whether I would return. It never occurred to me to stay home once I got there.
  • Professional: the first step I took into the New Orleans Saints locker room after covering a game and a team employee yells, “Female in the locker room.” That was a loooong time ago, but I can still feel a little embarrassed when I think about it.

Yep, those were the good old days. I can’t believe we get to live them all over again. And soon.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com


Teachers answer some interesting questions as they prepare for new school year

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD

It’s that time of year . . . again. Teachers, parents, and students are getting ready to start a new school year. Caddo Parish gets an early start this week while Bossier Parish will get underway next week.

Today and tomorrow, teachers in Caddo Parish will undergo professional development and welcome elementary and middle school students on Wednesday. PD days for Caddo high school teachers is August 8-9 with students starting Wednesday, August 10.

All summer, we have been inundated with all the negatives regarding education these days – teacher shortages all around the country, violence taking place on school campuses, and underpaid teachers trying to make ends meet both at home and in the classroom.

Over the past couple of weeks, the Journal has focused on some of the important issues facing public school administrators by conducting Q&A’s with Bossier Parish Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey and Caddo Parish Schools Superintendent Dr. T. Lamar Goree.

Today, we are highlighting teachers by getting a little insight into how they spent their summer vacation (traveling/working), what supplies they seem to always need during the school year (teachers always run out of something – I know because I was a teacher for 18 years), and their favorite classroom memories (there are many).

For this fun Q&A, we talked to an elementary, a middle, and a high school teacher in Caddo Parish: Brittany Nelson, who teaches fifth grade math at Eden Gardens, is starting her 12th year in education; LaDon Gaines, a seventh grade ELA teacher at Youree Drive Middle School, is entering her 28th year; and Stephanie Springer, a 10th grade English teacher at Byrd High School, is going into her 20th year.

Thank you, teachers, for taking part in the Q&A. More importantly, thank you for your dedication to the teaching profession.


SBJ: How did you spend your summer?

BN: My summer was spent soaking up the sunshine and enjoying as much family time as possible! I went on a moms’ beach trip with a group of 10 teachers, which was very relaxing. My family and I also went camping, out on the lake, to the pool, had play dates with friends, and ended our summer with a trip to the beach.

LG: Working! My summer job is at a law office. I enjoy the work and love to stay busy. Also, I need the extra income!

SS: I began the summer by taking Byrd students to Iceland for an education tour. It was a fabulous trip and a welcomed escape from this Louisiana heat! I’ve spent the rest of the summer spending time with family and friends. I even got to enjoy seeing my former student Jordan Davis in concert when he opened for Brooks and Dunn.


SBJ: What’s the one thing you always run out of during the school year?

BN: As a fifth-grade math teacher, I run out of dry erase markers every year. During my lessons each day, my students use dry erase boards and markers to practice problems with me.

LG: It’s a tie between Kleenex and pencils!

SS: I always run out of the basics – pens, paper, and TISSUE! There is always a mad dash to the store for more tissues and germ-x.

 

SBJ: What is your favorite teaching memory?

BN: During my 11 years teaching math, my goal has been to foster a love for learning. My favorite teaching memories are watching students grow from starting the year with no confidence and not fans of math to loving and excelling in math by the end of the year. Seeing their lightbulbs go off throughout the year and smiles come across their faces as they start to comprehend the material during my class keeps me motivated as a teacher!

LG: When I was teaching fifth grade and a student presented his DARE paper telling drugs: “Forget you, Forgot you, Ain’t ever thought about you!” . . . with great passion. But there are so many memories for many different reasons.

SS: This is my 20th year in the classroom so naming a single “favorite moment” feels impossible. Though it can be daunting, teaching is an amazing job. More than a job – it’s a calling. I just love seeing my kids (they are always “my” kids) learn and grow.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

SBJ conducts Q & A with Bossier Schools Superintendent

SBJ conducts Q & A with Caddo Schools Superintendent


YMCA to host panel discussion for Shreveport mayoral candidates

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD

All 10 candidates who have qualified to run for mayor of Shreveport are expected to be at the BHP Billiton YMCA of Northwest Louisiana for the Mayoral Forum this Thursday from 6:30-8 p.m.

The event, which will be held in the gymnasium at the BHP YMCA (3455 Knight Street), is free and open to the public.

“This is the third panel discussion we have had like this,” said Jeffrey Goodman, Director of Marketing and Development for the YMCA of Northwest Louisiana. “The last one, we had close to 100 people in attendance. We expect even more for this one – we could have anywhere from 100-500.”

The purpose of the event is to give the public the opportunity to meet and hear from the candidates. Qualifying candidates include incumbent Mayor Adrian Perkins (Democrat), local attorney and former Shreveport City Councilman Tom Arceneaux (Republican), District 10 Caddo Parish Commissioner Mario Chavez (Independent), Louisiana state Sen. Greg Tarver (Democrat), Shreveport City Councilwoman LeVette Fuller (Democrat), Darryl Ware II (Democrat), Tracy Mendels (Democrat), Melvin Slack (Republican), Julius Romano (Independent), and Lauren Ray Anderson (Libertarian).

The primary elections will be held Nov. 8 while the general elections will take place Dec. 10.

This is not a debate. The format includes two-minute introductions by each candidate followed by seven questions from the moderators (each will respond to the same question and have one minute to respond; order in which each answers will change with each question). The forum will conclude with each candidate being given one minute to talk about why they should be mayor.

Once the forum ends, each candidate will have a table where they can speak with attendees and answer any further questions.

Questions will not be accepted from the audience. If anyone has a question they would like the YMCA to consider as one of the questions for the candidates, email the question to jgoodman@ymcanwla.org.

While the panel discussion is a new initiative for the YMCA of Northwest Louisiana, it follows in the tradition of YMCAs around the world that – since the late 1800s – have sponsored lecture series similar to those of the lyceum.

“The YMCA of Northwest Louisiana plans to organize a number of community-focused discussions over the next year,” said Goodman.

In its new initiative called “Shreveport-Bossier: My City, My Community, My Home,” the YMCA is conducting weekly interviews with a wide cross-section of individuals in the community. The goal is to highlight the positive aspects of Shreveport-Bossier to foster more engaged and hopeful thinking in the community.

New episodes of the podcast interviews are published every Thursday. This week’s episode will be the 19th in the series. To locate the interviews that have been published to date, visit the YMCA’s YouTube channel, YMCA of Northwest Louisiana.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

Photo by HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD


English finishes nationals as reserve world champion in pole bending

RIDING HIGH – Landan English of Bossier City came home with the title of 2022 Senior Girls Pole Bending Reserve World Champion from the NLBFR recently held in Guthrie, Okla.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

When the English family left Guthrie, Okla., a few days ago to make the drive back to Bossier City after the National Little Britches Finals Rodeo, their trailer was a little heavier than when it left home.

There were quite a few awards to bring back, most notably the buckle that read, “2022 Senior Girls Pole Bending Reserve World Champion.”

When the national finals began on July 4, 17-year-old Landan English was leading the world rankings in pole bending. The champion would be determined by the average of three go-rounds to be held over the seven days of competition.

After placing ninth in the 1st Go, English won the 2nd Go and collected $931.50 – setting up the all-important Short Go. After she finished third in the Short Go and the results from all three rounds were averaged, English finished in second place – making her the reserve champion.

When all was said and done, the awards loaded into the trailer included: the reserve world champion buckle, spurs for third place in the Short Go (and $918), the buckle for second place in the reserve average, the buckle for winning the 2nd Go (and $931.50), and a $700 NLBRA Scholarship Award. English also finished 13th in the all-around competition.

While closing out the rodeo season as the reserve world champion was “a great feeling,” it also gave English a little incentive.

“It makes me want to push harder to win next year,” said English. “I need to do the same thing, but just be more consistent with the poles – and not hit any. Also, in the Short Go the string came undone on my hat and got in my face.”

There won’t be much time for the English family to rest after their successful trip to Oklahoma. On Thursday, they’ll load up the horse trailer (with live-in quarters) and make the 19-hour drive to Gillette, Wyo., for the High School Finals Rodeo. Held from July 17-23, the event is billed as the largest outdoor rodeo in the world with over 1600 contestants.

Having her family travel with her is an extra bonus for Landan, the 2022 Louisiana High School Rodeo Association Champion All-Around Cowgirl. Her mom Bobbiann is a four-time high school champion (1993-96) and her sister Katie (10) also competes nationally.

“It’s really fun traveling with my family,” said Landan, whose dream is to be a professional barrel racer. “They calm my nerves.”

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

Photo by BOBBIANN SCOTT ENGLISH


Moss wins another, local boys contend at state junior am

MOSS REIGNS: Port Allen’s Maci Williams looks on as Shreveport’s Sydney Moss (front) hits a shot during the 56th Louisiana Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship at East Ridge Country Club Friday afternoon.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

When the state’s top junior golfers completed three days of play in the blistering heat at East Ridge Country Club last Friday afternoon, there were familiar faces hoisting the winners’ trophies.

Shreveport’s Sydney Moss, the 2020 champion, posted a three-day total of 9-over (72-75-75-222) to capture the 56th Louisiana Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship while Lafayette’s Kale Fontenot finished at 11-under (67-71-64-202) to successfully defend his title in the 65th Louisiana Junior Amateur Championship.

Benton’s Noah McWilliams finished in second place after posting 7-under (68-67-71-206) while Shreveport’s James Holtsclaw made (arguably) the shot of the tournament on the 54th hole to grab third place.

Holtsclaw entered the final round at 3-under, but bogeys at Nos. 6, 9, and 14 put him at even par going into the 18th hole. When his tee shot on the last hole found the back of the fairway bunker, the Byrd sophomore-to-be was 160 yards from the pin.

An unlikely up-and-down from there would give Holtsclaw not only his lone birdie of the round, but a birdie that would move him into third place.

“I decided to club up and move the ball back in my stance,” said Holtsclaw, who hit a beautiful bunker shot that rolled eight feet past the pin on the back of the green. He sank the birdie putt, unaware just how important his lone birdie of the day would prove to be.

Holtsclaw played in the final group with Fontenot and McWilliams, who battled it out all three days. McWilliams entered the final day with a three-shot lead over the defending champion, but Fontenot played a flawless round – shooting a tournament-low 7-under 64 to finish four shots ahead of the Benton standout.

“Overall, this past week was really good,” said McWilliams. “I am proud of the way I played, but a little disappointed that I didn’t get the win.”

The only other local player to finish in the Top 10 was Shreveport’s Grant Reagan, who overcame a quintuple bogey on the par 5 11th with five birdies in the final round to tie for ninth place at 5-over (77-70-71-218).

The girls’ tournament wasn’t as close as the boys’, with Moss leading wire-to-wire before capturing the title with a 10-stroke victory over Sarah Meral of Abita Springs.

“I left a lot of shots out there,” said Moss, who had four bogeys in the final round. “I knew I had a lead, and I put pressure on myself to hit perfect shots. I learned from that – that I don’t have to be perfect. It’s more about hitting quality golf shots.”

Hitting quality golf shots is exactly what Moss has been doing this summer. In addition to reclaiming the title of top junior amateur golfer in the state, the recent Byrd graduate also won the Louisiana Women’s Amateur Championship last month.

Next up – after a stop for new student orientation at the University of Memphis, where Moss will play golf next year – is the 73rd U.S. Girls’ Junior Championships at The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green, Ky., July 18-23.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

Photos by HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD

LOCALS IN PURSUIT: Local junior golfers James Holtsclaw (far left) and Noah McWilliams watch defending champ Kale Fontenot hit a tee shot.


LA Junior Amateur Championships begin today at East Ridge CC

CONFIDENT ON THE COURSE: Byrd’s Grant Reagan tees off at 12:09 today in the first round of the 65th Louisiana Junior Amateur Championship at East Ridge Country Club.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

Over the next three days, players from all over the state will compete for the title of top male and female junior amateur golfer in Louisiana.

The 65th Louisiana Junior Amateur Championship and the 56th Louisiana Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship begin today at East Ridge Country Club.

While Lafayette’s Kale Fontenot returns to defend his 2021 title, he will be challenged by a host of local players. One of those, Shreveport’s Grant Reagan, has a few reasons to feel confident going into the tournament.

“My game feels solid,” said Reagan. “I took a little break after (a tournament in) Canton (Texas), but I have been playing a lot of golf since then and am ready to go. East Ridge is my home course and I feel super confident about playing well.”

Reagan deserved a little break after the Canton tournament, which included 36 holes on the first day. The day before (June 19), the junior-to-be at Byrd High School became the youngest winner of the Championship Flight of the Shreveport City Amateur Match Play Championship.

“Winning the city amateur is definitely a confidence booster going into the event this week,” added Reagan. “Having that win under my belt definitely gives me the confidence to know that I can compete with anyone in the state.”

The boys’ tournament will include an Overall Championship conducted over 54 holes for juniors ages 10-18 wishing to compete for the Junior Amateur Championship. Age-group championships are also available for those wishing to compete only against juniors their own age and will be conducted over 36 holes.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers in the age-group championships. The Overall Championship will be divided into a minimum of two flights, and the top three finishers in each flight will receive prizes.

The girls’ tournament includes 2020 champion Sydney Moss, who is coming off her recent victory in the Louisiana Women’s Amateur Championship. Moss, a recent Byrd graduate who will play golf at the University of Memphis, finished third in last year’s Louisiana Junior Amateur.

The girls’ tournament is open to junior golfers ages 12-18 and will be conducted over 54 holes. Prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers.

The boys’ and girls’ overall champions will receive invitations to the 2022 Junior River Cup, Sept. 17-18 at the Cleveland Country Club in Cleveland, Miss., in addition to gift certificates at the East Ridge Country Club Golf Shop.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

Photo by JOHN PENROD


TENNIS NOTEBOOK: Katy Build tournament continues tradition of giving back

A FAMILY AFFAIR: The annual Katy Build Tennis Tournament, which was held at Bossier Tennis Center over the weekend, raises money for the Katy Build Project to help provide additional housing in Bossier City for first-time veteran homeowners.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

The annual Katy Build Tennis Tournament has always been a win-win event –for the Bossier community and its local veterans, and also for the players who participate over the weekend. Held over the past weekend at the Bossier Tennis Center, the tournament was another success for everyone involved.

“It’s one of my favorite tournaments because juniors can play,” said Dana Hicks. “It’s good family fun for a wonderful cause.”

All proceeds from the tournament benefit the Katy Build Project, which provides additional housing in Bossier City for first-time veteran homeowners. When Katy Watkins, Molly Reed, and Emily Purdue lost their lives in a car accident in 2006, the community came together to create the project in honor and memory of the girls.

“This was our seventh year to host the event,” said tournament director Angela Pfanner, “and this was definitely our largest one. We had 312 players and 56 teams.”

The numbers aren’t yet in about the amount of money raised, and Pfanner said she can’t wait to see amount of money that will go to the project.

“We started out with a goal in mind, but we expanded it,” she said. “Our goal is to build more houses. We’ve done a total of five already and we have four more lots.”

For the second year, the tournament included a junior event that was held on Thursday to kick off the weekend’s activities and add a “family” element to the festivities.

“It was a very special weekend,” said Pfanner. “The tennis community has really embraced it.”

Harrison forced to withdraw – Shreveport native Christian Harrison had to withdraw from his second-round men’s singles match at Wimbledon on Wednesday due to a foot injury. No. 32 seed Oscar Otte of Germany was leading 3-1 in the first set when Harrison was forced to stop.

Harrison, who won three matches in the qualifying tournament last week to earn a spot in the main draw, defeated Jay Clark of Great Britain 7-6, 6-1, 7-6 in the first round in a match that began on Monday but was halted because of bad light. When the match resumed on Tuesday, Harrison was up two sets to one with the third set tied 5-5.

Southern Trace hosting exhibition – If you want to see some great tennis in a fun atmosphere, head out to Southern Trace Country Club tomorrow night. Two of the Cliff Drysdale Tennis professionals at Southern Trace will play a best-of-three-sets doubles match against two guest players.

Southern Trace pros Adam Brownlow and Anya Coerver will play against Pierremont Oaks pro Judit Castillo Gargallo and Alex Quinones, the head tennis coach at John Tyler High School in Tyler, Texas.

The match begins at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children. For tickets, go to cliffdrysdale.regfox.comThere is a $5 discount for Southern Trace members. There will be a courtside cash bar with beer, wine, and other beverages.

High school tennis coach needed – Caddo Magnet High School, which has eight hard courts on campus and approximately 40 players, is looking for a tennis coach.

Anyone interested can contact Julie Anderson, CMHS athletic director, at 318-771-3860.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

Photo by SUSIE NECTOUX


Moss makes incredible comeback, captures state Amateur crown

A RECORD-SETTING COMEBACK: Shreveport’s Sydney Moss won the 94th Louisiana Women’s Amateur Championship as the No. 15 seed in the 16-player match play competition at Le Triomphe Golf and Country Club in Broussard.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

The 94th Louisiana Women’s Amateur Championship at Broussard’s Le Triomphe Golf and Country Club didn’t start that well last week for Shreveport teenager Sydney Moss.

After shooting an 8-over 81 in Friday’s stroke play qualifying, the recent Byrd graduate barely made it into the match play bracket.

Just how close did she come to not making it to match play? Moss entered the 16-player field as the No. 15 seed.

Not exactly a sure bet – if you’re talking about anyone other than Sydney Moss, the 2021 Division I state champion, 2022 Division I state runner-up, 2020 Louisiana Girls’ Junior Amateur champion, and soon-to-be college golfer at the University of Memphis.

In other words, don’t ever bet against her.

When Moss walked off the 15th green at Le Triomphe on Sunday afternoon after a 4 and 3 victory over Madison Bates of New Orleans, she had made perhaps the biggest comeback in tournament history to become the 2022 Louisiana Women’s Amateur champion.

When asked if she is the youngest to win the championship, Moss replied, “No, but they told me I did set a record by being the lowest seed to ever win.”

Moss didn’t let her play (which she called “terrible”) in the qualifying round affect her over the weekend.

“I just took it with a grain of salt,” she said. “I told myself: ‘Just go win all of your matches.’ I didn’t worry about it. After that (qualifying) round, I grabbed a bite to eat and went out to work on my game.”

It did take her a little while to get going Saturday morning against first-round opponent Liza Lapeyre of New Orleans, one of the top-ranked junior golfers in the state. After falling 3-down through four holes, Moss battled back to tie the match on the 13th hole and eventually defeated Lapeyre on the fourth hole of sudden death.

“I just wasn’t relaxed, but after three holes I didn’t panic,” Moss said of her opening match. “I just told myself I was going to ease my way back into it.”

In the quarterfinals Saturday afternoon, Moss defeated Shreveport’s Kaitlyn Montoyo 5 and 3 to set up a semifinal match against a familiar opponent.

Moss and Sarah Meral of Abita Springs battled for the past two Division I state high school championships – with Moss winning the 2021 title by seven strokes over Meral, and Meral taking the 2022 title by two shots over Moss.

In Sunday morning’s semifinal match, Moss was once again paired against Meral, the 2021 Louisiana Women’s Amateur runner-up. By the time the two golfers reached the 18th tee, Moss held a 1-up lead but started feeling “a little tight and nervous” with the cameras and gallery surrounding the hole.

Once Moss gathered herself, she hit an 80-foot putt off the green to within four feet of the hole. After Meral missed her seven-foot putt, Moss got a simple tip from her caddie, Byrd golf coach Meredith Duncan.

“She just looked at me and said, ‘Drain it,’” said Moss. “And I did.”

The 2-up victory over Meral put Moss in Sunday afternoon’s championship match against Bates, who is in graduate school at Loyola University in New Orleans. When Bates took a 1-up lead with a birdie at the par 3 2nd hole, it marked the first time Moss had trailed in a match since her opening Round of 16 match – and it would be the last time she trailed.

Moss made the turn 2-up and then added to her lead by winning the 12th and 14th holes. Moss secured the 4 and 3 victory after both competitors parred the 15th.

By the time the weekend had ended, Moss had played 88 holes of golf in three days. After taking a little time to let her body recover, Moss will prepare for the 56th Louisiana Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship, which will be held July 6-8 at East Ridge Country Club.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

Photo courtesy of the Louisiana Golf Association


Harrison fights through qualifying to make it into Wimbledon men’s draw

MAKING A RACKET: Shreveport native Christian Harrison has qualified for Wimbledon and faces Great Britain’s Jay Clark in the first round of men’s singles today.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

After winning three hard-fought qualifying matches last week, Shreveport native Christian Harrison made it into the men’s singles draw at Wimbledon. This morning on Court 18, he will meet Great Britain’s Jay Clark in the first round.

“As far as my first-round opponent, he’s a local British guy, so I will have to be mentally prepared for the crowd to be against me and just concentrate on the things I can control on my side of the net,” Harrison told the Journal on Sunday.

In the first round of last week’s qualifying, Harrison defeated Anton Matusevich of Great Britain 6-3, 6-4 and followed that with a 0-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory over Dalibar Svrcina of the Czech Republic.

Harrison’s toughest qualifying match came in last Thursday’s third round when he came back from losing the first set to defeat Germany’s Daniel Masur 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 and earn his spot in The Championships.

“Qualies are always tough in Grand Slams because it’s three matches to get into the main draw,” said Harrison, “whereas most of the challengers are now two rounds. Wimbledon is also the only Slam with best-of-five (sets) in the last round.”

Harrison feels like his fitness was a benefit in last week’s qualifying.

In his second-round victory over Svrcina, Harrison was down 6-0, 2-0 and then got down 5-2 in the third set before coming back.

“I worked my way out of it,” says Harrison.

In his last qualifying match against Masur, Harrison had to mount another comeback.

“I was down two sets to one, but I played real solid in the fourth and fifth sets,” said Harrison. “My fitness definitely gave me the edge in that match.”

With a victory over Clark today, Harrison would face the winner of the match between No. 32-seeded Oscar Otte of Germany and Peter Gojowczyk of Germany in the second round.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

Photo courtesy of Susie Harrison


Title IX anniversary takes me back to my LSU days

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the accomplishments of many trailblazing women have been in the spotlight recently.

In her excellent piece in The Advocate this past Sunday, staff writer Robin Fambrough explained what the law meant to so many prominent women in sports in Louisiana – Hall of Fame high school volleyball coach Brenda LeBlanc, LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey, softball coach Yvette Girouard (UL, LSU), and basketball player and coach Janice Walker Charles, to name just a few.

With most of the attention on women’s athletics as we celebrate this anniversary, it is important to note that Title IX does not specifically mention sports.

Signed into law on June 23, 1972, Title IX states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

As a woman and former college athlete, I have spent the past few days thinking about how the law has impacted my life. Without realizing it back then, I was blessed to spend my college days being coached by one of the true trailblazing Title IX proponents.

“In the year we celebrate the 50th year of Title IX and the 40th year of women’s sports joining the NCAA it is appropriate that we also celebrate a true trailblazer for women’s sports at LSU – Pat Newman,” LSU Hall of Fame gymnastics coach D-D Breaux said when Newman passed away earlier this year.

When Newman picked me up at the Baton Rouge airport in August 1978 and dropped me off at Graham Dormitory, I was just beginning my college tennis career at LSU. Little did I know that I was going to spend the next four years in the presence of one of the groundbreaking figures in women’s sports.

Newman, the first women’s tennis coach in LSU history, served in that capacity from 1973 to 1979 and led the Lady Tigers to a top 10 ranking by 1977 – the year LSU hosted the first AIAW national tennis championships.

For my first two years at LSU, I was coached by Newman, who was named Coordinator of Women’s Athletics in 1977 and eventually relinquished her coaching duties in 1980 to take over as Assistant Athletics Director.

Shreveport native Karen McCarter took over coaching duties for my junior year and Betty Sue Hagerman came to LSU to coach my senior year.

It was during my career at LSU that women’s sports joined the NCAA, moving us from the AIAW to the Southeastern Conference. Unfortunately, it took all the recent celebration of the 50-year anniversary of Title IX for me to realize what a big deal that was.

The fact that one of the early SEC women’s basketball tournaments and the AIAW regional volleyball championships were held on the Baton Rouge campus can be traced to Newman’s leadership and determination.

As the LSU tennis coach, Newman was 71-24, led her teams to three straight Louisiana AIAW Championships, and coached the first two singles All-America tennis players in LSU history in Shreveport’s Kay McDaniel and Ebie Taylor of Alabama.

I had the honor of playing with Taylor at LSU and grew up admiring McDaniel during my days of junior tennis in Shreveport.

The real honor, though, was being at LSU during the tenure of Pat Newman. I only wish I had appreciated it back then.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com


TENNIS NOTEBOOK: USTA sets guidelines to deal with growth of pickleball

A MATTER FOR THE COURTS: Pierremont Oaks has converted two of its existing tennis courts into six permanent pickleball courts to handle the increasing popularity of the sport.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

While the number of tennis players taking up the sport has risen drastically over the past few years, the rise of another sport has put many facilities in, well, a pickle.

Pickleball, the fastest growing sport over the past two years, has seen a 650% increase in the number of players since 2013. The sport, a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, now includes over 4.8 million players nationwide.

Many tennis facilities have turned existing courts into pickleball courts, but there are still some places where the two sports have had to share the same space.

To deal with the situation, the recent USTA National Statement of Guidance for parks and recreation facilities on tennis and pickleball explains the current policy in place for events in the USTA Southern Section:

“Tennis courts eligible for USTA Southern sanctioned competition, including junior and adult tournaments and league, must contain only lines prescribed by the ITF Rules of Tennis, as set out in the USTA Handbook of Tennis Rules and Regulations.”

In other words: courts that include both tennis and pickleball lines are not eligible to host sanctioned events/play in the Southern Section.

In its statement on the issue, the USTA went on to say, “We will continue to explore options to collaborate with facilities and providers who wish to offer pickleball and help advocate for the construction of separate pickleball facilities.”

Just like in other areas of the country, Shreveport has seen an incredible increase in the number of pickleball players. And some facilities have already taken the initiative to construct and/or convert existing tennis courts into pickleball courts.

Last August, Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club converted two of its existing hard courts into six permanent pickleball courts.

“Pickleball has become very popular,” says Grady Wilson, general manager/director of tennis at POTC. “It’s 100 degrees out here and we’ve got 65-plus aged ladies out there on the pickleball courts.”

Wilson travelled to Nashville, Tenn., for a two-day teaching session on pickleball, so he would be able to teach the sport.

East Ridge Country Club has converted one of its tennis courts into three pickleball courts and tennis pro Tom Chicoine offers “101 Pickleball,” which includes week-long packages of pickleball instruction.

Southern Hills Tennis Center, which has recently undergone major improvements, is also looking into installing pickleball courts. You can also find pickleball courts at Querbes Tennis Center.

If the rise of pickleball continues, look for more courts to pop up across the area.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

Photo by HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD


Reagan becomes youngest City Am champion

A VICTORY FOR THE AGES: Patrick Blunt (right) congratulates City Amateur champion Grant Reagan on the 15th green at Huntington Park Sunday afternoon. 

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

When Grant Reagan was handed the trophy after winning the Championship Flight of the Shreveport City Amateur Match Play Championship at Huntington Park Sunday afternoon, the Byrd junior-to-be took a minute to look over the names of the tournament’s past winners.

“Eddie Lyons, Craig Webb, Robby McWilliams, Patrick Blunt,” Reagan said out loud as he scanned the names on the plaques. “Wow.”

Lyons won the event nine times, Webb was the 1991 champion, McWilliams was a three-time winner and Blunt was the City Am champ in 2016.

While Reagan seemed to be in awe looking over the names, he didn’t realize he had something on all the past winners – at 16, he is the youngest champion to hoist the huge trophy.

What surprised Reagan was the fact that he defeated one of those players on the list of past champions. In the sweltering heat Sunday, Reagan captured the title with a 4&3 victory over a foe twice his age, 32-year-old Blunt, who played college golf at Louisiana Tech.

“I felt great out there,” said Reagan, who also won the Greater Shreveport Medal Play Junior Championship in May. “That’s probably the best I’ve felt on the course since (high) school golf. I only had one bad shot out there today.”

That came on the par-5 sixth hole, where Reagan hit his second shot in the water and bogeyed the hole to watch his 3-up lead fall to 2-up. After exchanging pars on holes seven, eight, and nine, he won the next two holes to go 5-up with six holes to play.

Both players’ tee shots came up short and right of the green on the par-4 13th, where Blunt was able to get up-and-down for his birdie and narrow Reagan’s lead to 4-up. Blunt hit a perfect tee shot on the par-four 14th while Reagan’s started down the right side of the fairway and started trickling toward the water.

“I thought it had gone in the water,” said Reagan, “but I knew I just had to win one more hole.”

When he got to where he thought his tee shot had gone in the lake, Reagan found the ball sitting in the dirt just short of the water. With an incredible second shot, his ball landed on the front of the green while Blunt’s was on the left edge of the green.

After both players came away with par, and Reagan held his 4-up lead with just four holes to play. When Blunt was unable to get up-and-down for birdie from behind the green on the par-5 15th, the victory was Reagan’s.

“It’s pretty cool to be the youngest (to win the City Am),” said Reagan. “It took some good golf to do it. My game felt super solid this week. I was able to make putts, and that’s key.”

Reagan will now go for the “amateur slam” when he plays in the 65th Louisiana Junior Amateur Championship July 6-8 at East Ridge Country Club.

Other winners at Sunday’s City Am included Ricky Blair (Presidential Flight), Harold Turner (First Flight), Rodney Orrell (Second Flight), Danny Williams (Third Flight), and Steve Summerlin (Fourth Flight).

Benton’s Noah McWilliams has added another LJGT tour victory to his resume.

McWilliams shot a 9-under to cruise to an 11-stroke victory at the LJGT at Tamahka Trails held last Thursday and Friday at Tamahka Trails Country Club in Marksville. He followed a first-round 67 with a final-round 66 on the tough course.

McWilliams also shot a 9-under when he captured the LJGT at Querbes Park in April.

Photo by JOHN PENROD

Contact Harriet at SBJHarriet@gmail.com