Making the toughest choices on the state sports scene

You know that business meeting you dread? The Louisiana Sports Writers Association just held their version Sunday in Scott, the boudin capital of our state, just off I-10 west of Lafayette.

A four-hour discussion that occasionally slipped into a friendly debate ensued. Incredibly, as 40 voters scattered to race storm clouds home around the state, there was boudin from Best Stop left over.

I said voters, as in the members of the selection committee for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Every year, just before football kicks off, the committee finishes a month-long review of roughly 150 candidates by convening to pick the handful who will be inducted the following summer.

Why, you ask, would anyone dread that? A chance to talk sports with friends who are experts, and choose the best of the best to join the legends forever honored in the amazing Hall of Fame museum at 800 Front Street on the bricks in beautiful, historic downtown Natchitoches. Sounds great.

It is. And it’s not.

In a couple of weeks, you’ll see the announcement heralding the election of nine people from the “competitors’ ballot” to be the cornerstone of the LSHOF Class of 2024.

“What a great class.” That’s the reaction the announcement always solicits. That’s how each of the 40 selection committee members feel in the aftermath of voting.

Yet, every one of them (I’m one, along with local pals Teddy Allen, J.J. Marshall, Roy Lang III and Shreveport native Kent Lowe) leaves with an equal, if not bigger, sense of remorse. As deserving, as worthy, as the new inductees always are – and the 2024 class will at the very least hold its own with its predecessors – there’s regret and frustration about those incredible candidates who don’t make the cut.

They roll over to next year’s ballot – at least, the 46 finalists considered Sunday will, along with most of those others who didn’t get enough support in the semifinal round of online voting earlier this month.

But staying power is no guarantee they’ll ever get elected. Every year, roughly 50 new candidates are nominated, and 20 or so survive vetting and make their first appearance on the full ballot.

Some of those are absolute locks – I am not betraying any secrets by telling you Drew Brees is in his first year of eligibility, having been retired for three years as of 2024. The “Future Hall of Fame Candidates” list – not a complete one, but just a compilation of some of the prominent possibilities – is included in each year’s commemorative program, a full-color 108-page publication that each guest receives at his seat for the induction ceremony.

It’s a challenge for voters to not succumb to the “new and shiny” urge and give first-year candidates more consideration than those who are repeaters on the ballot. Some of those holdovers, though, have been strong contenders in previous years, and many of them are unquestionably impressive enough to take a place in the Hall.

Many are names you know. Others aren’t. The full 2024 ballot listed nominees from 27 – yes, that’s right – different sports categories, including chess, sailing, shooting, swimming, athletic training and women’s boxing, along with more mainstream pursuits.

There are world champions, Olympic gold medalists, multiple Pro Bowlers, and pro bowlers. Voters compare apples to Corvettes. Is that outdoorsman more remarkable than the world top 10-ranked tennis pro, or are the All-Star Game participants in baseball and basketball better than a four-time USA Olympian  who won a silver medal in one of his appearances?

The choices are brutal, and personal. The standards are not absolute, they’re subjective for each voter.

But in rounds of voting, like the political conventions used to have, there’s ebb and flow. That comes after a robust discussion of each sport, with committee members touting their favorites and weighing compelling points about others.

The toughest part? In each round, voters can list only five picks, in descending order, in a point system. By design, dating back to the words of Otis Harris, the Shreveport Journal sports editor of the 1950s: “only the state’s immortals in the sphere of athletics will be enshrined.”

I can’t tell you who got picked – yet. But I can tell you, that credo was honored once again with a star-studded, diverse and fascinating Class of 2024. Mid-September, I think you’ll agree. Next year, I hope you come see for yourself at the Induction Celebration.

Check for tickets. They’ll go fast.

Seven-horse field set for Super Derby 41, Asmussen entry favored

(Photo courtesy Louisiana Downs)

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

How Did He Do That, under the schooling of the nation’s all-time winningest thoroughbred trainer, has been tabbed as the 2-1 morning line favorite for Super Derby 41 presented by Lip Chip, LLC, next Saturday, September 2, at Louisiana Downs.

As the Journal first reported Friday morning, Steve Asmussen committed to bringing the Iowa Derby winner to Bossier City for the $200,000, non-graded race over a-mile-and-an eighth on the dirt.

Post positions were drawn Friday, with the favorite slotted for the number 5 post in the seven-horse field.

At second-best odds is Promise Me A Ride (5-2), trained by Brad Cox. This year, Cox is the country’s leading trainer in money earned (18.8 million). Asmussen is second.

The Super Derby is returning for the first time since 2019. Asmussen-trained horses have won the last two.

Two of the top eight jockeys at Louisiana Downs’ current meet have Derby mounts — Joel

Dominguez (How Did He Do That) and J.P Vargas (Donegal Arrow).

The seven-horse field (from 32 nominations) is scheduled to break from the gate just before 5 p.m. next Saturday. 


  1. Machine Gun Man (6-1)
  2. Tiz Donegal (15-1)
  3. Donegal Arrow (15-1)
  4. Big Data (9-2)
  5. How Did He Do That (2-1)
  6. Promise Me a Ride (5-2)
  7. No White Flags (8-1)

 Contact Tony at 

Country’s winningest horse trainer commits to Super Derby

(Photo courtesy Louisiana Downs)

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports 

Steve Asmussen, North America’s all-time leading thoroughbred trainer with more than 10,000 wins, has committed to running one of his horses in next Saturday’s Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.

Thursday afternoon, Asmussen told the Shreveport-Bossier Journal he plans on running How Did He Do That in the $200,000, mile-and-an-eighth, non-graded stakes race for three-year-olds on Sept. 2.

How Did He Do That is capable of winning the Super Derby, but has been inconsistent,” Asmussen said. “He needs to run the same race as in the Iowa Derby to win this.”

In the July 8 race at Prairie Meadows, How Did He Do That pulled off the upset. At odds of 48-1, the colt finished in a dead heat with One in Vermillion. However, the Judy and J. Kirk Robison-owned horse,  bumped in deep stretch, won by way of disqualification. How Did He Do That has run once since, a sixth-place finish in the Ellis Park Derby August 13.

In six starts this year, How Did He Do That has a first and second place finish, while earning $208,745. For his career, How Did He Do That has 12 starts — with three first and one second place finishes, earning more than $300,000.

How Did He Do That will be a first-time starter at Louisiana Downs. Joel Dominguez — who leads the Downs’ jockey colony with 50 wins in 261 starts — will get the mount.

Post positions for Super Derby 41 will be drawn today.

Contact Tony at

Doing what was necessary to become a City tennis champion

It’s getting to be late August and people of a certain age all have this “I can’t believe they start school this early” feeling when that happens. For me, not being in school at this time is a reminder of that horrific ritual of football two-a-days – a friend recently reminded me that he can still remember the “smell of cut grass and fear” — but even before that, there was another August event that marked my calendar.

This marks the time when the City Tennis Tournament was played. A great part of my pre-teen summers were spent at Querbes Tennis Center. No lessons or personal instruction; just go out there and play.

I wasn’t any good, but it was something to do. We’d play challenge matches or hit against the backboard or anything we wanted as long as we kept the tomfoolery to a minimum. Upstairs, they had the world’s greatest Slushes for a couple of quarters.

But there at summer’s end, it was always capped off by The City. And you had to play in it, because everybody else did.

I don’t think I have ever been so nervous as the first match I ever had in the 12-and-under boys singles. I was still a few weeks away from turning 10, but I was thrown into the bracket with kids who were about to start shaving.

They stuck me with the top seed – let’s call him “Scott” – and I got dusted. It was Men against Boys, only both of us were boys. Not only did I not win a game, I’d bet I didn’t win a total of 10 points the entire match.

But Scott was The Dude and everybody knew it. It was my first year to play tennis and he was probably born with a racquet in his hand.

The next year, I avoided Scott in the draw and actually won a match in the 12s. Even at age 11, Scott coasted to the title that year.

Which brings us to the next year, when I was in my final year of the 12-and unders. My high hopes were quickly dashed on the opening day of the tournament. Not by Scott, but by another kid (who would also go on to become a sports writer), 6-1, 6-1.

I didn’t enter the doubles, so that was it for me in the tournament. I had looked forward to it all summer and after one day, I’m done.

Until …

Two days later, I get a phone call. It’s Scott, who wants to know if I wanted to be his partner for the 12-and-under doubles. There were only two teams entered and because Scott was ranked so high, we would have a bye to the finals.

I’m pretty sure Scott didn’t know who I was (and still doesn’t), so it was a complete trophy-grab for him. But I was a willing participant.

When our match arrived, there on the other team was the same future sportswriter who had just dominated me in singles a few days earlier. Revenge!

We start playing and I’m acting like I’m John Newcombe or Rod Laver. Going after every shot, serving as hard as I can, working on my spin game. The only problem is that none of it worked. I would have been better off playing left-handed.

We lost 2-6 in the first set. Scott’s trophy was in real jeopardy and I could sense that he knew he could have called anybody else and done better than this.

So let me tell you what happened next. I remember it so vividly that I could take you to the exact spot at Querbes Tennis Center on Court 2 where it happened.

Scott walked over to me and whispered in my right ear these fateful words:

“Just stay out of the way from now on.”

And let me assure you that I did just that. I did the minimum I had to do – no double faults and somehow managed to return any serve that came my way – and after I did that, I might as well have been on the next court over while Scott finished the point.

How did that strategy work out for us? Second set — 6-0. Third set – 6-1 (I’m sure I had something to do with us losing that one game.)

I was – and am – happy to remind people that I was once a City Tennis Champion. Yes, I still have the trophy.

Until today, there were only four people who knew this story. And I can assure you, Scott isn’t one of them. 

Contact JJ at

Racing commission proposes longer 2024 Louisiana Downs thoroughbred meet

(Photo courtesy Louisiana Downs)

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

A 76-day Louisiana Downs thoroughbred meet, consisting mostly of Sunday-Wednesday racing, will be proposed Sunday by the Racing Days Committee of the Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC).

If adopted, the Downs’ schedule would start May 19 and end September 24. Racing would begin some three weeks later than this year, and not tie in opening day to the Kentucky Derby (May 4), which it has done in years past, including this year. Racing would end 12 days later than in 2023.

The 76-day meet would be 15 days more than this year’s meet. There would be seven days which overlap with racing at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas. The committee has been focused on limiting the number of times state tracks race on the same day.

The committee will also recommend that there be a minimum of 8-9 races each day.

The meeting is scheduled one day after a meeting of the Infrastructure Compliance Committee. Each of the state’s four tracks are expected to give progress reports and projected timelines on infrastructure plans previously approved by the LSRC.

Both meetings will take place at Evangeline Downs.

Contact Tony at

Crappie bite is on in hot weather

“Hot enough for you?’ That’s something we are hearing a lot these days as our temperatures have been consistently in triple digits. I suppose you can just forget about fishing when temperatures are baking our brains, right? Hold on; in case you don’t know it, you can catch crappie, big slab crappie, when temperatures are as hot as what we’re experiencing.

Most perch jerkers know that crappie tend to bunch up in deep water in winter and lots are caught by anglers willing to brave the cold. However, what about the blistering days of July and August? Do anglers seriously fish for them while risking heat stroke? You bet your best Bobby Garland Electric Chicken jig they do.

I had the privilege of fishing with a crappie expert, Bill Pettit, several years ago and came away with a tackle box full of valuable information about summertime crappie fishing from this dyed-in-the-wool perch jerker.

I met Pettit on Ross Barnette Reservoir just out of Jackson, Miss., where I was fishing as a guest of the B&M Pole Company. Pettit, a retired postal employee in Jackson, was a veritable walking encyclopedia of crappie knowledge and while we caught fish, he shared tidbits of lore that has helped me over the years to know a bit more about these popular and sought-after fish.       

One thing that stood out in my mind was Pettit’s comments about fishing for and catching crappie in the heat of summer.                                                                                            

“In spring, you can find crappie on most any lake in shallow water where spawning takes place. However,” Pettit noted, “once hot weather gets here, you can forget about fishing for them in skinny water. They’re going to be suspended in deep water and it takes some searching to locate them. Once you locate them, you can catch one big old slab after another, provided you can stand the heat.              

“Lots of times, I’ll get so hot sitting out there under the broiling sun that I’ll quit fishing for a while, crank my big motor and tear out across the lake at full speed with one purpose in mind, and that is to cool off. After I cool down a bit, I’ll go back and start catching crappie again.”                                                    

As Bill Pettit and others attest, crappie fishing can be downright super in summer, provided you know where to locate the fish. In general, once the spawn is over and the weather begins heating up, crappie head for cooler water, which is usually deep water. Being school fish, once you catch a crappie this time of year, chances are excellent that plenty more are where that one came from. 

In big open water bodies, such as rivers and reservoirs like Toledo Bend and Ross Barnette, crappie congregate in or near channels.  The moving water will attract pods of shad that the crappie will follow for easy feeding opportunities.                                               

In most deeper lakes in Louisiana, crappie will gather around structure that is located next to deep water.  Drop-offs that lead to deep water that has structure near its edge are prime target areas. 

In the heat of summer, one of the most productive areas to find the crappie stacked up is around the deeper piers and bridge pilings that may dot the lake you’re fishing.       

When fishing bridge pilings, it helps to know where the bridge crosses the channel or the bayou or river. The pilings nearest the deep channels are where you’re more likely to find the fish bunched up because likely as not, schools of shad will have taken a liking to the cooler depths as well. When you find shad, no matter the time of year, you’re likely to find crappie as well.

It’s August and I don’t have to remind you that the heat is on. However, if you follow this expert’s advice and if you can handle the hot sun beating down on your head, you stand a good chance of bringing in a box of slabs.

Contact Glynn at

I-Bowl lands LSU baseball ace Paul Skenes as featured guest for Oct. 3 dinner

PERFECT PICK:  Patriotic Paul Skenes, holding the College World Series Most Outstanding Player trophy after LSU won the national championship in June, is Shreveport-bound Oct. 3 for the Independence Bowl’s Kickoff Dinner. (Photo courtesy LSU Athletics)


Paul Skenes gave LSU one of the most dynamic single-season performances in college baseball history while leading the Tigers to this summer’s College World Series championship.

His admiration and support of the U.S. military, and his prior seasons as an All-American star at the Air Force Academy, are additional factors that made him an ideal choice to be the star attraction for this year’s Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl Kickoff Dinner.

Skenes is the featured attraction Tuesday, October 3 at the Shreveport Convention Center. The College World Series Most Outstanding Player and 2023 first-overall pick in the Major League Baseball Draft is the featured speaker for the bowl’s signature non-bowl season event.

In his one season in the LSU baseball program, Skenes racked up the hardware, helped lead the Tigers to their seventh national championship in program history, and positioned himself to be taken No. 1 overall in July’s MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He received a record-setting signing $9 million signing bonus from the Pirates and has been lights out in a few brief minor league outings this month.

“I am honored to be speaking at the Independence Bowl kickoff dinner,” said Skenes. “I am proud to be at an event that supports the people of the great state of Louisiana and our military. I am looking forward to seeing you all there and raising money for Folds of Honor.”

Doors will open at 6 p.m. for a cocktail hour; dinner buffets will open at 6:15 p.m. and the program emceed by Patrick Netherton will begin at 7 p.m. with a Q&A to conclude.

Individual tickets to the event are on sale for $50 apiece. A table of eight is $400. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling the bowl office at 318-221-0712 or toll-free at 888-414-BOWL.               

The Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl will be running a social media campaign leading into the event to help raise money for Folds of Honor – a nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to spouses and children of military and first responders who have passed or been disabled. During his 2023 season at LSU, Skenes pledged $10 for every strikeout he recorded to Folds of Honor and has raised over $50,000 for the organization to this point.

“Paul [Skenes] and the LSU baseball team rallied our state around them this past season, and we are so excited to hear that story and his own personal journey,” said I-Bowl executive director Missy Setters. “His story is so interesting, and everything he represents and his work with the military embodies what the Independence Bowl Foundation is about. We look forward to welcoming him to Shreveport-Bossier and enjoying a great event with him.”

After transferring to LSU from the Air Force Academy, this spring Skenes went 13-2 with a 1.69 earned run average and struck out an SEC single-season record 209 batters in 122.2 innings. He was named the Dick Howser Trophy Winner, National Player of the Year by D1 Baseball and Collegiate Baseball, SEC Pitcher of the Year, National Pitcher of the Year by the ABCA, College World Series Most Outstanding Player and a consensus First-Team All-American. Skenes became just the second LSU player to win the Dick Howser Trophy, awarded to the country’s best NCAA Division I player.

A California native, Skenes began his collegiate baseball career at Air Force, earning first-team All-America recognition during his freshman and sophomore seasons in 2021 and 2022. He also received the 2022 John Olerud Award as the best two-way player in college baseball. In 2021, he was voted as the National Co-Freshman of the Year by Collegiate Baseball alongside his future LSU teammate, Dylan Crews.

Skenes is the second consecutive non-football player to speak at the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl Kickoff Dinner – following LSU Women’s Basketball head coach Kim Mulkey last August – further demonstrating that the organization’s mission represents more than just a football game. The annual Kickoff Dinner is the final public event of the year before bowl week – following community events such as the Youth Football Clinic, 1st & Give Charity Flag Football Tournament, Annual Member Crawfish Boil, Fish N’ Football and others.

The parallels between fishing and football 

Today we’ll look at the correlations between tournament bass fishing and the greatest game in America, football.

As a former coach and player, and a longtime angler, I can say nothing comes close to matching what football and tournament fishing gives you. Football is a team sport that has 11 guys on the field working together as one. But if only one guy does not do his job, the other team will make you pay. Bass fishing, on the other hand, is all about one guy — the angler holding the rod!

No other sport requires the emotional level that football does but tournament bass fishing is a close second. There are just as many emotional highs and lows on tournament day as there are in a four-quarter football game. One play or one cast can completely change the outcome.

Another word that describes both sports and is often overused: momentum. One minute you have everything going your way, scoring on every possession, but then your quarterback throws an interception, and everything goes south. Same goes for bass fishing as you get an entire school of fish fired up catching fish on every cast, when for some unforeseen reason, they quit biting. Momentum can even carry over from one tournament/game to the next.

No football game or bass tournament can be won without one important detail — a game plan. Your football game plan can change not just on every series but on the result of only one play. An angler’s game plan can change on the very next cast. You spend hours preparing for your next opponent or tournament and all of a sudden, you have to punt and regroup. Then there are days that everything you planned works like a charm and your game plan pays off with a championship win or collecting a check on tournament day.

There are times as athletes or anglers that are a grind, those days when nothing you planned goes right. Everything you thought would work, does not. Every play/cast is a struggle, and the game/tournament seems like it will never end. Just trying to get a first down or catch that fifth fish for a limit seems to take forever and some cases you can’t get it done. This is where heart, grit and determination come into play and the player/angler that has the most of those qualities will usually prevail.  

In football, they say defense wins championships. The same can also be said for tournament bass fishing. With football, you scout an opponent to gain an advantage. In bass fishing sometimes you catch fish in areas you know you’re not going to fish on tournament day because you don’t want to beat up your own fish. It’s not something you do to intentionally hurt a specific angler, but it’s a strategy anglers employ in order to play defense. Every once in a while, you’ll find an area by accident simply by fishing defensively in areas you otherwise might not have fished.

The final comparison between football and tournament bass fishing that just might be the biggest difference between winning or losing: decision making. At some point during a football game a coach has to make a decision to go for it on fourth-and-goal or kick a field goal. One is the safe play while the other is a huge gamble. Anglers must also make major decisions during a tournament day, like “do I make the long run for bigger fish and hope they’ll bite, or do I stay where I’m at and wait them out?” One has high risk while the other is a safer play. Anglers will most always take the risk because it has the highest reward.

There’s no better time of year as football season kicks off and it’s also when most tournament trail championships take place. Football and tournament bass fishing; two sports that have so much in common and appeal to so many fans. Now you have an angler’s perspective on how these two awesome sports parallel each other.

‘Til next time, good luck, good fishing, apply your sunscreen and drink plenty of water. 

Contact Steve at

Select definition cornerstone of judge’s injunction scrambling LHSAA playoff plan  

COLLISION COURSE:  Athletes from schools like Northwood (white) and Captain Shreve, who scrimmaged last Friday, may have new paths to the state playoffs after Monday’s court ruling against the LHSAA. (Photo by KEVIN PICKENS, Journal Sports)

By BRET H. MCCORMICK, Journal Sports

A Baton Rouge judge issued a temporary injunction on Monday that could have major implications on the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s playoff brackets this school year. 

Nine high schools – including Tioga, Buckeye, Glenmora, Rapides, Northwood-Lena and Plainview in Rapides Parish – filed suit against the LHSAA after its executive director, Eddie Bonine, and executive committee changed the definition of what a “select” school is in the summer of 2022. 

Also joining the lawsuit were Monroe City Schools Neville, Carroll and Wossman.

Before last season’s football playoffs, Bonine and the LHSAA executive committee changed the definition of a “select” school to include any school that offered a magnet program, all charter schools, and all schools in a district that offers open enrollment. 

That move expanded the amount of select schools and produced playoff brackets that were more evenly distributed with teams. However, it also created hard feelings because the move was not ratified by a vote of the entire LHSAA body.

The LHSAA consists of more than 400 member schools, while the executive committee consists of 26 representatives, including principals and other appointees. 

After hearing testimony Monday afternoon from witnesses on both sides of the issue, including Bonine and former Tioga principal Alan Lacombe (who now works at the Rapides Parish central office), Judge William Jorden of Baton Rouge’s 19th Judicial District ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. 

The schools argued that being classified as “select” caused them undue harm and damage during the postseason of multiple sports. 

All Caddo Parish public schools are now in the “select” division, but Monday’s injunction means they may be reclassified as “non-select” as all Bossier Parish schools are.

Northwood High principal Shannon Wall, who has been an outspoken critic of the LHSAA’s playoff policy change and how it was enacted just over a year ago, was the only person testifying in the hearing not directly affiliated with the lawsuit. 

“We finally got to a courtroom – which we didn’t want to do except as a last resort – and what we’ve been saying all along won the day, so we’re excited. We’re willing to go with what a majority of the principals around the state decide, but that vote never happened.

“We don’t want divisions where there’s small number of teams in the playoffs. We want the select division to have full brackets, we want their kids’ experiences to be worthwhile, but the only way that’s going to happen is to allow the principals to have a voice. That’s what we’ve been fighting for, and that’s what we haven’t had,” said Wall.

In the LHSAA’s plan adopted last summer, Northwood was among schools around the state sent into divisions in which they faced much larger schools in postseason play in 2022-23. Wall said Northwood was wrongly classified as “select” due to a clerical error identifying it as a magnet school on the Louisiana Department of Education website.

“What we’re trying to do is what’s right for all the kids playing high school sports in Louisiana. I don’t want another group of kids to lose their senior years competing in situations that are simply unfair,” said Wall.

State Rep. Michael T. Johnson, R-Pineville, who is the attorney for the Rapides Parish School Board, served as the co-counsel for the plaintiffs while the lead counsel was Baton Rouge attorney Brian Blackwell – a graduate of Shreveport’s Woodlawn High School.

Blackwell argued that Bonine’s changing of the definition of “select” in the LHSAA glossary affected every amendment that included that word and that Bonine did not have the authority to change amendments. Johnson said Blackwell used the LHSAA’s own constitution against the organization, and he was pleased that Jorden sided with the plaintiffs.

“It was a thing of beauty to watch,” Johnson said.

The LHSAA has the right to file an appeal of the injunction, but Johnson said he’s hopeful the organization will do what it should have done all along – bring the issue before all of the principals for a vote. 

The principals deferred a vote at the regular LHSAA meeting this past January believing it might have an unwanted negative impact on the basketball playoff brackets, which were to be released soon, and those of spring sports. Many principals believed the issue would be addressed at a meeting this past June, but that meeting never occurred. 

Attempts to reach representatives of the LHSAA were unsuccessful Monday evening. 

Johnson said he hopes the LHSAA can call a special meeting within the next few months – before the football playoff brackets are released in November – to address the issue.

“I just appreciate that we (in Rapides Parish) have a group of principals, a school board and a superintendent who were willing to step up and do what’s right,” Johnson said.

Wall praised all the plantiffs in the suit.

“Alan Lacombe in Alexandria, and Mickey McCarty from Neville were very essential to all this, because they’ve been catalysts and their parishes were willing to put up the money and hire the attorneys,” he said.

Monday night, Wall echoed Johnson’s hope that the LHSAA will not pursue legal action and all of the state’s principals will be included in developing a system that gains majority approval from the entire group, not just the LHSAA’s executive committee.

“Hopefully we’ll be included in the process. We’ll see,” he said. “We’ll get together to hopefully work on proposals to keep this from happening in the future.”

  • With reporting by Doug Ireland

Contact Bret at or Doug at

Super Derby nominations show promise of high caliber field for Sept. 2 showcase

(Photo courtesy Louisiana Downs)

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

The nation’s top two trainers could have entries in Super Derby 41 at Louisiana Downs September 2.

The track received 32 nominations (which closed last Saturday) for the $200,000, non-graded stakes race, which returns after a four-year absence. Among them are 10 horses trained by Brad Cox, and one horse trained by Steve Asmussen.

When this past Sunday’s racing began, Cox’s entries had won $18.7 million, and had finished in the money 61 percent of the time. Asmussen’s horses had won $17.4 million, and had a win-place-show finish of 46 percent.

Louisiana Downs’ leading trainer, Shane Wilson, has two horses nominated (Calibrachoa KidHe Gots to Go). When this past Sunday’s racing began, Wilson-trained horses had won more than $656,000.

The Super Derby — presented by Lip Chip — will be limited to 14 three-year-olds going a mile-and-an-eighth on the dirt. The field will be determined this week with first preference given to highest lifetime earnings in graded stakes races. Second preference will be given to highest lifetime earnings.

The drawing for post positions will be Friday.  Racing on Super Derby Saturday will start at noon. The race has not been staged since 2019, but in its heyday last century annually attracted top names and horses in the industry.

Contact Tony at

McMillian retires with years of memories

She finished with one more soccer win (715) than Babe Ruth had home runs (714) and in many ways, Shelley McMillian has been every bit the trail blazer that the New York Yankees slugger was.

No one hit home runs before Ruth came along until he ushered in a new era. Before McMillian, high school and club soccer was on the fringe of just being a fringe sport. Now it is part of the athletic landscape 12 months a year.

Simply put, it’s hard to imagine local soccer without Shelley McMillian in it, but we’d better start getting used to it. After four years at Parkway as girls coach – and 33 years coaching both boys and girls at Loyola and Calvary – she’s calling it a career.

“I loved, loved, loved my relationships with my players,” she says. “And I loved competing.”

So many games, so many players, so many memories. That’s why it wasn’t easy to get McMillian to choose her most memorable moments for her career.

But here we go, in her own words:

  1. Being 20 years old, starting the men’s program at Parkway with 13 players going 2-13 the first year and then the next four going 67-13-3. Those guys worked so hard and had a huge hand in jump-starting my career!
  1. In 1996, my first year at Loyola, and the boys won the state championship, although the greater of the memories was us never being ranked and having to face some adversity in the semifinals. Oh, and we were a 2A school who won the 4A state championship, being the first team north of Lafayette to ever win a state championship!
  1. In 1998, the Loyola girls knocked off No. 1 Newman Catholic in the first round of the playoffs and made it to the state finals, losing in sudden death OT. What we learned about believing in each other and ourselves that year was second to none!
  1. The 2009-2010 Calvary season. The girls team had never won a playoff game. We made the playoffs as the final wild card and knocked off the No. 12 team, the No. 3 team and the No. 5 team and lost to the eventual state champions in the semis! We battled so much adversity and did things we should never have been able to do! (We even started three seventh graders.)
  1. In August, 2010. I lost one of my players, Will Mathews, to a brain-eating amoeba. It was one of the most devastating moments of my life, much less my career. The memorable part is that still today Will is impacting so many of us by the way he lived his life and the amazing young man he was!
  1. Getting my 700thwin, not because of the number of wins, but because my family was there and for me there were so many emotions it represented of what this game has done to impact my life!
  1. While at Calvary, my guys were playing an opponent that was less than sportsmanlike! Several of my players had been Injured so at halftime I had some words with the referees and the opposing coach. When walking back to my bench, my guys had formed this arc with their arms crossed, like “try messing with our coach.” As I got close to my bench I heard Chance Hester say to the opposing bench, “my coach can beat up your coach and she’s a girl!” We won the game and after the game I was standing in the parking lot and the police officer that night came up to me and was like “Coach, can you please get in your car, the other coach is scared to walk into the parking lot until you’re gone.”
  1. Coaching against former players and the camaraderie and conversations that happened before the games started and at the midway mark during those games.
  1. Taking over the Parkway girls in the middle of the season in December 2019! They were 2-6-2 and they didn’t believe in anyone to lead them. I had to work my butt off to get them to buy into believing that I was only there to boost moral! They finally bought in and we finished the second half of the season 10-2-2, won the district and lost in the state quarterfinals.
  1. When at Calvary, one night I was sitting on the bench with one of my male players. He was tying his shoes and the opposing coach walks up to us and says, “where is your coach?” And the player sitting next to me stands up to jog out to warmups and turns back and looks at the guy and says, “clearly you haven’t read the sports section in the last 20 years!” (On the guys side, most of the opposing coaches through I was the athletic trainer.)
  1. In 2015, I lost one of my Calvary players, Nick Anderson, to a car accident, and once again realized that not everything is really about winning and losing! Most of the time it’s about getting through adversity!

Contact JJ at

State prep football career coaching wins list has legendary names

LOCAL LEGEND:  Lee Hedges, who passed away this summer, had a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame coaching career at three local schools, starting programs at Woodlawn and Captain Shreve, and taking all three to state championship games.


As the 2023 prep football season approaches, it’s a good time to appreciate the most successful coaches in state history.

The Louisiana Sports Writers Association annually updates the list of coaching wins. Headlining the group locally is the late, great Lee Hedges, the only coach in Louisiana high school football to guide three different schools to the state finals:  Byrd, Woodlawn and Captain Shreve.

Noteworthy this season:  J.T. Curtis needs seven wins to become America’s most successful prep football coach of all time. There’s not much doubt that his John Curtis Patriots will pass that milestone late this year.

LSWA’s Louisiana Prep Football’s All-Time Wins List
Prior to 2023 season
Coach Last school coached W-L-T
J.T. Curtis * John Curtis 615-77-6
Jim Hightower * St. Thomas More 460-133-1
Lewis Cook * Notre Dame 392-92-0
Alton “Red” Franklin Haynesville 365-76-9
Don Shows ** West Monroe 345-78-0
Dale Weiner Catholic-BR 317-109-0
Vic Dalrymple Oak Grove 312-102-0
Racer Holstead ** Tallulah Academy 310-155-8
Hank Tierney Shaw 309-123-0
Dick McCloskey ** Hanson Mem. 286-141-6
Frank Monica St. Charles 284-91-0
George “Dee”   Faircloth Vidalia 274-197-6
Dutton Wall ** Sacred Heart-VP 273-153-2
Johnny Buck ** Opelousas Cath. 271-132-7
L.J. “Hoss” Garrett   ** Ruston 270-122-19
Tim Detillier Lutcher 266-112-0
David Currier Bowling Green 264-112-0
Charlie Brown ** Neville 263-66-6
Joe Keller ** Reserve 262-73-15
Lewis Murray ** Bowling Green 259-123-7
Donnie Perron Port Barre 257-93-0
Jack Salter ** Covington 256-110-8
Donald Currier Amite 254-111-1
Wayne Reese ** McDonogh #35 252-188-0
Carroll Delahoussaye St. Martinville 246-92-1
Jimmie Morris ** Loranger 243-136-0
Steven Fitzhugh * Ouachita Christian 240-78-0
Jimmy Shaver Barbe 238-100–0
James Waguespack ** Beau Chene 238-158-0
Bobby McHalffey ** Plain Dealing Acad. 237-127-2
Paul Trosclair Eunice 237-107-0
Travis Farrar ** Springhill 236-110-9
Don Jones Patterson 236-146-3
Dennis Dunn * North DeSoto 234-74-0
Henry Crosby ** Douglass 229-93-0
Larry Dauterive Opelousas 228-85-1
Raymond Peace ** Sicily Island 228-58-5
Jay Roth Rummel 228-58-0
Laury Dupont Vandebilt Cath. 227-101-0
Roman Bates ** Christian Life 225-158-6
Tommy Minton * Vandebilt Cath. 225-116-0
Lee Hedges ** Captain Shreve 216-92-10
Parry Lalande South Cameron 215-101-1
Rudy Phelps Jennings 214-146-0
Woody Broyles ** River Oaks 210-83-10
Max Caldarera ** Westlake 210-165-0
David Franklin * Haynesville 207-62-0
Charles baglio Independence 206-61-0
Elton Shaw Valley Forge 206-109-5
Lucas “Buddy”   Marcello South Terrebonne 205-105-12
Charles “Hoss”   Newman ** Trinity Heights 205-119-7
Keith “Moose” Munyan LaSalle 204-93-6
Bobby Conlin ** Brother Martin 203-100-5
Tony Reginelli Newman 203-63-0
Kirk Crochet Loreauville 201-122-0
Robert Hannah River Oaks 201-113-0
Mike Mowad Breaux Bridge 200-98-0
* – Active coach; ** – Deceased

Hearing loss for real for hunters

There is a one-word question with which I too frequently respond when my wife tells me something. That one-word question?


It all started for me several years ago when I was attending an outdoor writer’s conference in Tennessee. One of the features of each annual conference is to visit the firing range for some hands-on experience with the newest firearms on the market for that year.

I was standing at a station preparing to try out a new muzzleloading rifle. Standing next to me was a fellow writer with a high caliber rifle; I believe it was a 30.06.

I had a pair of foam ear plugs in my hand and was preparing to insert them but just before I did, the guy next to me fired his rifle. What I experienced next was not only ringing in my ears but a roaring sensation hard to describe. From that day until now, I have limited hearing in my right ear as a result of the absence of protection from that rifle blast.

Dr. Jerrilyn Frasier Vaughan is an audiologist with an office in Ruston, who recently posted a column in the Lincoln Parish Journal that addresses the vital importance of proper hearing protection for hunters.

“When you’re in the wild, you’re focusing on the thrill of the hunt, not on your ears. The truth is that noise from a single gunshot at close range can harm them, even leading to permanent hearing loss.

“Noises of 85 decibels or more are known to harm your hearing. A gunshot measures between 120 and 130 decibels, making it extremely hazardous to your ears,” she wrote.

She explained just how your ears are designed to do what they’re supposed to do and how one event, such as the one I experienced in Tennessee, can seriously damage your hearing.

“You rely on tiny hair cells in your inner ear to help you hear. A one-time exposure to an extremely loud noise or listening to loud sounds over time can damage and even destroy these cells, leaving you with hearing loss,” she continued.

One study she mentioned found that men over the age of 48 who hunt regularly are more likely to experience high-frequency hearing loss, the kind that often results from damage caused by sudden loud noises. The risk of having a marked high-frequency hearing loss increased by seven  percent for every five years a man had hunted.

What suggestions did the doctor offer to prevent hearing loss before it’s too late?

“Hunting ear plugs are usually made of foam and fit tightly in the ear canal. They reduce gunshot noise but not gunshot vibrations,” she said. “Hunting earmuffs minimize the majority of sounds, even at close range. They have a snug fit and enclose the entire ear, making them highly effective at blocking sound.

“Electronic hunting earplugs and earmuffs include technology that suppresses loud noises while still allowing you to hear quieter sounds, such as animal movement. The earplugs are custom molded to your ears for a precise and comfortable fit.”

Although the temperatures have been high and hunting may be the last thing you’re thinking about now, hunting seasons are right around the corner. Follow the advice of this hearing expert to be sure you won’t be having to respond to comments from your wife with that one word that makes her face turn red as she chinches her teeth.


Contact Glynn at

Nominations of elite senior prep football scholar-athletes sought for preseason NFF Watch List

FOOTBALL ROYALTY:  Ten area 2022 senior scholar-athletes and four accomplished adults were honored by the local S.M. McNaughton Chapter of the National Football Foundation at the organization’s annual dinner in March at East Ridge Country Club. (Photo by ROBERT FREDERICK, for the McNaughton NFF Chapter)


Before the 2023 high school football season kicks off with regular-season games, some of the elite senior football scholar-athletes in Bossier and Caddo parishes will begin a season in a very special spotlight. 

The National Football Foundation, S.M. McNaughton Chapter Preseason Scholar-Athlete Watch List will be released just before the kickoff to the 2023 regular season. It will include remarkable high school seniors in the Ark-La-Tex who have been nominated by their coaches. These young men will have at least a 3.2 grade point average, have won all-district honors, and are involved in extracurricular activities. 

Nominations – a maximum of two seniors per school —  can be submitted by head coaches via email to or by text to 318-471-2086. No transcripts or recommendation letters are needed; it’s a very simple process. 

Nominations are due by midnight Sunday, Aug. 27 in order to make the Preseason Scholar-Athlete Watch List.

This Watch List will be updated throughout the season as more nominations are received.  

Following each season since 1980, the NFF’s S.M. McNaughton Chapter solicits nominations for its scholarship program, and as many as eight senior scholar-athletes are honored in the spring at a banquet in Shreveport.

This Watch List is designed to provide in-season recognition for not just the ultimate scholarship winners, but all of the young men in the Ark-La-Tex, including Louisiana’s entire 318 area code and Vernon Parish, who are high-achieving senior football players. 

The NFF McNaughton Chapter is led by president Leo Sanford, a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member and former All-Pro linebacker for the Chicago Cardinals, and a center on the 1958 NFL champion Baltimore Colts.  Other board members are Dennis Bamburg, Jerry Byrd Jr., Toni Goodin, Doug Ireland, Curt Joiner, Bill McConathy, Tag Rome and Terry Slack. 

Additionally, KTBS Channel 3 in Shreveport continues honoring the memory and legacy of former NFF Board member Bob Griffin, the iconic sportscaster at KSLA and then KTBS for over 50 years, by weekly presentations of a Griffin’s Game Ball to one of the players on the NFF Scholar-Athlete Watch List. The winners will be featured weekly in  KTBS’s Tuesday sportscasts and the station’s Friday Night Fever scoreboard show, and will be eligible for a separate Griffin’s Game Ball Scholar-Athlete Scholarship at the close of the 2023 season, presented by KTBS. 

Griffin, a 2009 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductee as a sports journalist, covered Ark-La-Tex high school football in an incredible six decades before he passed away early in 2020. That fall, Griffin’s family members traveled around the area throughout the season presenting Griffin’s Game Balls to winning teams in the “Griffin’s Game of the Week” as he did for years. Because of Griffin’s commitment to the NFF Scholar-Athlete program, the S.M. McNaughton Chapter of the NFF and KTBS have created this partnership to celebrate these outstanding seniors. 

My perspective has changed

Now that I’m in my early 60’s, I’ve often wondered what kind of person I would have become without the people who mentored me, the people who influenced my thoughts and the things I believe in. I am a believer that each of us has a destiny that only the Big Man above knows who we will become. Every day growing up we were exposed to people around us like teachers, coaches, preachers, aunts, uncles, family friends and more importantly, our parents. 

Each of the above had a big impact on me in so many ways, but my coaches probably had the biggest impact because I was around them more than anyone else. During my generation, coaches were tough and, in most cases, feared. You respected them because they demanded respect. They taught you what it meant to commit to a task and complete that task. They taught mental toughness and how to overcome what the mind was telling the body when the going got tough.

They taught the concept of being a team player and how to work together to conquer an opponent. Team building, as they called it, was a crucial ingredient in the recipe for team success. No one was bigger or better than the team itself. If you thought you were special, my coaches had a way of bringing you back down to earth. How did they do it, you ask? A few examples would be 100-yard bear crawls or barrel rolls, “up-downs” for what seemed like hours but really was only for a few minutes, or maybe they just ran you until you either threw up or just couldn’t go any further. They pushed you to limits you thought you could not achieve.

Today, the ways my coaches got your full attention would be called child abuse and would not be tolerated. More than likely, you’d end up in court dealing with a lawsuit.

Even though my days of competing on the football and baseball fields are long gone, fishing bass tournaments has replaced that competitive fire that I still have. Over the years and now into my early 60’s, my mindset has changed. No longer do I pre-fish from daylight ‘til dark five days straight before an event. I’m just not that mad at the fish anymore and my competitive fire is not as strong as it used to be.

Today, you have to fish smarter, not harder, and utilize your time on the water more effectively. With today’s high-tech electronics that bass boats possess, searching for bass is a lot easier. We used to spend all day casting to find fish, but now all we must do is idle around looking at a screen in order to mark and locate schools of bass.

There a few other things you can do to help prepare for an event — like having good line on each reel and making sure your hooks are sharp. Another thing that can help give you a slight advantage: adding your favorite scent to every bag of worms can sometimes make a difference in the number of bites you get in a day. Does it really work? As any professional angler would tell you, if YOU believe it works and gives you more confidence, use it!  

Don’t mistake my lower level of commitment being a form of weakness. My desire to win still burns and it hurts just as bad today to lose as it did 20 years ago. All anglers play armchair quarterback on the drive home and question what they could have done differently that might have resulted in a higher place or better finish. No one plays devil’s advocate more than bass fishermen!

Tournament bass fishing is not so much about what bait or color you’re throwing, it’s about the decisions you make on tournament day. Making the right move to a different location at the right time is the difference in catching fish or not. TIMING IN BASS FISHING IS EVERYTHING! The anglers that make the right moves at the right time are usually cashing a check.

‘Til next time, good luck, good fishing and make sure you wear sun protective clothing and sunscreen. Melanoma is the number one killer of all the cancers and it’s one that can be prevented.

Contact Steve at

Two-hour special debuts tonight on LPB spotlighting Louisiana sports legends

Tonight at 7 on Louisiana Public Broadcasting (KLTS-TV Channel 24 in Shreveport), viewers statewide can enjoy a two-hour special, “Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame: 2023 Celebration,” recapping the July 27-29 induction festivities for the LSHOF’s Class of 2023.

LPB programming is also available live at and also with the LPB App.

Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, four-time WNBA All-Star Alana Beard, LSU football record-shattering receiver Wendell Davis and College World Series champion baseball coach Paul Mainieri are part of a star-studded 12-member group of honorees recently inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.  Beard and Davis are Shreveport natives.

This LPB sports special, produced in partnership with the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, features highlights from the July 29 induction ceremony and many of the festivities surrounding it. Also included are the induction interviews and profile stories on each of the honorees, plus a look at  the newly-added memorabilia to the Hall of Fame Museum in Natchitoches.

“As LPB serves as Louisiana’s storytellers, audiences are used to seeing LPB programs featuring our state’s people, history, and culture,” says Clarence “C.C” Copeland, LPB President and CEO.

“A walk through the Sports Hall of Fame Museum will show you that our state’s contributions to the world of sports is another story worth telling! We are excited to expand our sports programming efforts and what better opportunity than this.”

Along with tonight’s premiere, LPB will encore the show on Thursday, August 17 at 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, August 20 at 5 p.m. After the night of the broadcast premiere, the program will be available for on demand streaming for members with LPB PASSPORT – an extended membership benefit.

Along with Manning, Mainieri, Davis and Beard, the LSHOF Class of 2023 also includes New Orleans native Ron Washington, who managed the Texas Rangers to a pair of World Series appearances and helped the Atlanta Braves win the world’s championship; two-time LSU track and field USA Olympian and world champion Walter Davis; and Slidell native, Tulane great and Chicago Bears two-time Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte.

Also inducted were All-American LSU pitcher Paul Byrd, a 14-year Major League Baseball veteran who made the 1999 All-Star Game; multiple national champion and world class weightlifter Walter Imahara, a UL-Lafayette legend whose story began in a Japanese American internment camp in California during World War II; and retired Baton Rouge-Parkview Baptist baseball coach M.L. Woodruff, whose teams claimed 11 state championships.

Rounding out the Class of 2023: two transformational and highly decorated figures in Louisiana’s sports journalism field, Lafayette writer and editor Bruce Brown and longtime New Orleans Times-Picayune prep writer Lori Lyons.

Visit for more information on the Class of 2023 and all 479 people enshrined in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame since 1958, along with information on past and upcoming LSHOF activities.

Naming a hunting spot? No problem

As long as I’ve been a hunter, I have hunted on areas that have special names. The “Cocklebur” stand? It’s located in the middle of a patch of – you guessed it – cockleburs.

One in particular is one I named myself because of my lack of skill in carpentry. I called it the “Shanty”. It was propped up on all sides to keep it from tumbling over.

On the adjoining hill, a buddy with expert skills at carpentry had constructed one that was plumb and square that totally put my stand to shame. We gave our approval when he named it the  “Chateau” stand.

It didn’t have to be a deer stand; it could be a certain patch of woods that when you mentioned that’s where you would be hunting, every club member knew exactly where you were talking about. Here’s how one such hunting spot earned its name.

It was a cool, clear October afternoon with little or no wind, a perfect time to be in the woods after squirrels. When I finished what I had to do at work for the day, I took the afternoon off with plans to head for my favorite squirrel hunting spot.

Changing into hunting clothes and gathering up my shotgun and gear, I jumped in my truck, turned off onto the dim little road that I had traveled many times that led to my squirrel woods a mile down the road.

Ordinarily, I drive up and around the little road to a hill where I park my truck only a couple hundred yards from the woods. This time, however, there was something blocking my way. There was a car parked in the middle of the road.

I thought it odd since I didn’t recognize the car as belonging to any of my hunting club member friends. The land was privately owned with only our group having permission to hunt there.

I was puzzled, not only at the presence of the strange vehicle but also frustrated by the fact that it was blocking the narrow woods road I had to travel to reach my hunting spot.

While pondering the problem, I noticed that there were some small pines on either side of the little road and if I could remove a few of them, I might be able to ease around the car and make it to my hunting spot in time for an afternoon hunt.

I always keep an axe behind the seat of my truck in case I might need it in such an emergency. In addition, I never head for the woods without my camera because you never know when a photo op might present itself.

Reaching behind the seat, I picked up the axe and with my camera hanging around my neck, it was my intension to remove enough of the small pines to allow me access. That’s when I noticed movement in the parked vehicle that was blocking the road. I realized that there were people in the car as I saw two faces appear in the side window.

The faces turned ashen in color with eyes wide as they watched a guy dressed in camo walk up behind them with a camera and an axe.

It was not rocket science to figure out that I had happened upon a secret venture of a couple who only wanted time alone and what better way to find such special times than to drive down a dim woods road in the middle of the day to insure their privacy.

Long story short, I backed my truck out of the way so the couple could drive away, shielding their faces as they passed me.

I was able to drive on in and enjoy my afternoon squirrel hunt. I don’t recall if I got any squirrels but I now had the name of my favorite hunting spot.

To this day, that fine scope of woods is known by a special name I gave it that day.

Hanky Panky Hill.

Contact Glynn at

Is it the bait, or the angler?

As an angler, there’s one question that I’ve always wondered about when it comes to catching bass: “Is it the bait, or the angler” to understand why people catch bass.

Ever since I started bass fishing back in the late 1960s on our farm ponds in east Texas, having the right bait has been important — or so I thought. Just like other sports, some people are just more gifted than others. They have natural ability that only the good Lord above can give. They might be faster, stronger, or just mentally tougher than their competition. Some people just have a higher level of determination and refuse to lose. So, “Is it the bait or the angler” is similar to the age-old question — which came first, the chicken or the egg? 

The man who is considered the greatest bass angler of all time is Kevin Van Dam, a man who has amassed over $7 million in winnings since arriving on the professional bass fishing circuit in the mid-1990s. I had the chance to talk with Kevin’s brother, Randy, and we discussed what makes him so great. Randy stated that ever since Kevin could pick up a rod, he possessed skills and instincts other anglers don’t seem to have. He said it was commonplace for them to be on the lake fishing when Kevin — for no apparent reason — would switch to a different bait and start catching fish immediately while everyone else in the boat could not even get a bite. That’s called instinct and it’s something you can’t teach; that’s God-given.

During a recent interview I had with KVD, I asked him what was the No. 1 bait in his tackle box. I’m anticipating something earth-shattering, but without hesitation he responded with an answer I was not expecting. His number one bait in his tackle box is — confidence! I was looking to hear something like a homemade spinnerbait, a secret crankbait or maybe a special-colored jig. But to my surprise, it was not a specific bait or color at all.

After this interview I began to wonder once again: when catching bass, “Is it the bait or is it the angler?” If confidence is the most important tool in an angler’s tackle box, then the bait nor color must be as important.

Over my years of fishing the BFL’s, Toyota Series and ABA events, I’ve heard that the many different colors that bait companies offer are designed to catch anglers instead of bass. It’s amazing how there are hundreds of different colors, especially when it comes to the soft plastics side of fishing. I’ve seen colors like bubblegum (pink) that catches fish and I’ve always questioned, “What does a bass think that is?” It looks nothing like anything natural in the bait fish world. But I have caught a lot of fish with that particular color. So it’s not the color, but how you fish it!

Many pros that I’ve interviewed over the years have all said that color doesn’t matter as much as the ability to fish the bait properly. This is where KVD says the confidence part comes into play. If you believe and have confidence in a bait and the color you’re using, you’ll fish it differently than you would a bait and color you don’t believe in. From this angler’s perspective, I do have one color trickworm that I have a ton of confidence in. If I’m struggling in an event and having trouble putting fish in the livewell, I will and have always turned to my confidence bait. It is a black emerald trickworm with a 3/16th-ounce tungsten weight with a Gamakatsu 2/0 Skip Gap hook. This combination has saved the day for me several times and helped me earn a check in many events when I was struggling. 

When I get the opportunity to speak to a group of young up-and-coming anglers today, the one thing I tell them is how they need to figure out early in their career what their “confidence” bait is when the fishing is tough. What can you tie on that gives you the most confidence to catch fish?  For some it might be a certain colored jig or spinnerbait or maybe it’s a specific crankbait. But whatever it is, make sure you believe in it!

‘Til next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook. Also make sure to wear your sunscreen and good UV protective clothing. 

Contact Steve at

Super Derby on course to return for first time in four years

(Photo courtesy Louisiana Downs)

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports 

Conditions for Super Derby 41, Louisiana Downs’ signature race which was last held in 2019, are now official.

The latest condition book released Sunday lists the Saturday, Sept. 2 Derby as a mile-and-an-eighth stakes race on the dirt for three-year-olds.

The purse will be $200,000. According to Equibase, that equals the smallest purse (2017) in Derby history. According to Equibase, five times in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the purse was $1 million. For the last two Super Derby runs (2018, 2019) before the race went on hiatus, the purse was $300,000.

This year’s Derby is not graded. From 1983-2001, it was a Grade I race which drew some of the country’s top horses. The Derby eventually dropped to Grades II and III before losing its graded status in 2017.

A maximum of 14 horses will go to post in Super Derby 41, each carrying 124 pounds.

This year’s Derby will be sponsored. The condition book refers to the race as “Super Derby Presented By Lip Chip, LLC.” According to its website, Lip Chip, based in San Antonio, deals in the microchipping and identifying of horses.

When Premier Gaming Group bought the Bossier City track early last year, the company’s founder and president, Kevin Preston, said the Derby would be held last September. However, less than a month before the race was to be run, it was cancelled. The change in plans came after the Downs — during its meet — reduced daily purse payments. Local horsemen voiced displeasure that a $300,000 Super Derby purse would be offered for one race. Track management acquiesced and reallocated that money to daily purses.

Entries to this year’s Derby, scheduled as the ninth race of the day, close Aug. 25.

Contact Tony at

The heat is on as prep practice begins

As the legend goes, they once asked Greg Maddux about his fastball, which wasn’t exactly Nolan Ryan-esque, wondering about the effect it had when he would hit a batter.

“If you get hit by a bus going 90 miles an hour, does it hurt any more than a bus going 85 miles an hour?” he asked.

Point being: When you get hit by a pitch, it hurts. Period.

Which brings us to the current atmospheric conditions, which seem to be a little on the warm side.

Triple digits are nothing new is these here parts, but it will always be a point of conversation when the thermometer reaches that level.

As someone not named Greg Maddux might say, “If it’s 102 degrees, is it really that much hotter than 98?”

And it might not have as much impact if we had just gone to that Celsius thing a few decades ago. After all, the difference in 36.7C (98F) vs. 38.9C (102F) doesn’t sound all that intimidating.

Point being, hot is hot. If we are going to take precautions, then take them. Don’t wait for some magic number to tell you to do so.

The great impact it is having is with high school football, which has just begun its in-season practicing. The increase in artificial turf fields has made hot even hotter, but thankfully most schools have a natural grass field as a backup.

But it’s not exactly Ice Station Zebra on the sod either.

Coaches are having to make adjustments – and these are a group of people who don’t like making changes on the fly – because they feel the need. Or have been told to. Or both.

Don’t be surprised if you see mandates from people in offices that are set to 72 degrees about altering practice times. (One, in fact, has already done that.)

For example, practice windows might be allowed only if they conclude before 7:30 or 8 a.m. (depending on the start of the school day) or begin after 7 p.m.

It’s not as if nobody will sweat at 8:30 at night, but it’s at least something. Bossier Parish schools start the school year before their Caddo counterparts, so it could be a moving target for a while as everyone tries to adjust.

Hey, at least it’s not two-a-days!

It doesn’t matter how old you are or how tough you were when you went through it without water breaks, having two practices in the same day does seem unimaginable these days.

I was in a text conversation last week with a former coach, who wrote “I don’t regret it as a player or coach, but (I) don’t know about today. Times have changed with all the knowledge that has come out since our days.”

And he’s right on both points. At the time, it was the right thing to do. Precautions were taken, just not at the same level as today. Nobody’s fault; we just didn’t know any better.

Many of us also lived in homes without central air (let’s hear it for the attic fan!). We weren’t conditioned to air conditioning, and we couldn’t just set the thermostat to “Arctic” and take a nap or go play video games.

Along with that, everyone spent more time outdoors, so the heat wasn’t a complete shock to our systems.

But no matter what the generation or the technology or the preventative measures, one thing remains the same.

Hot is hot.

You don’t need a phone app to tell you that.

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Recent lawsuit by nine schools, none local, seeks LHSAA playoff revamp


In the latest round of strife about the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s select/non-select playoff system launched last summer, nine north and central Louisiana high schools have filed suit against the governing body of Louisiana high school athletics. 

But no local schools took action. Notably uninvolved in the suit is Northwood, whose principal, Shannon Wall, has been a prominent critic of the current setup.  

The group is seeking to overturn the select/non-select playoff system for all sports and all schools, citing what they perceive as an abuse of power by LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine. The group claims Bonine did not have the authority to revise a glossary definition in the organization’s handbook — which enabled the change of the playoff system, expanding it to all sports and encompassing all schools. 

The group claims the term “select” is defined in the glossary and was changed unilaterally by Bonine based on issues impacting a majority of LHSAA schools. 

The LHSAA disagrees, saying the change last summer was made by the organization’s Executive Committee for the good of the organization. The new definition stated that any school with magnet components, all charter schools, and schools located in open enrollment parishes would be considered select schools.  

Filing suit were three Monroe schools and six in Rapides Parish. Rapides, Glenmora, Northwood-Lena, Plainview, Tioga, and Buckeye are the Rapides Parish schools involved in the suit. Neville, Carroll, and Wossman are the Monroe schools participating in the 11-page complaint.  

Northwood was making plans to join the suit before a Caddo principals meeting this summer produced the directive that no parish school would be involved in litigation against the LHSAA.  

 Wall began making preparations to join the suit  — going so far as to solicit community support on social media for potential litigation — before his initiative halted. 

“Like every school in the parish, we are part of the Caddo Parish School Board,” Wall told the Shreveport-Bossier Journal. “So as an individual school, we cannot be a part of a lawsuit.”  

Baton Rouge attorney Brian Blackwell, who filed the suit, told Baton Rouge Advocate prep editor Robin Fambrough the group is seeking a court date before August 31 — when the LHSAA regular season begins for football.  

“I have a letter that states that Mr. Bonine made the change and that’s the problem,” Blackwell told Fambrough. 

The complaints from the group mirror those that Wall expressed to Aaron Dietrich on the Monroe TV and radio personality’s Morning Drive radio show way back on January 24.  

“I asked Mr. Bonine in our last meeting, if this is a principals’ organization, we want to know the group of principals who went to them and asked them to do this for us,” Wall said in that interview. “His answer was that no principal went to him to implement this action. They (the LHSAA Executive Committee) thought it was best.”  

The executive committee includes principals representing all regions of the state. 

The plan issued last summer was to be reconsidered in last January’s LHSAA business meeting, but was deferred for discussion after the school year so as not to disrupt ongoing seasons. Principals and athletic directors opposed to maintaining the new plan could not marshal a substantial number of administrators to take part in an in-person meeting or even a Zoom session in the last two months, with only about 30 attending a summit at Tioga. 

Unless the lawsuit is upheld, next January’s LHSAA meeting seems to be the upcoming opportunity for opponents to successfully instigate some changes.

Saturday’s Louisiana Cup Day brings state’s best to LaDowns

PREP WORK:  Final Quest, a four-year-old filly, runs in the second race of Saturday’s Louisiana Cup Day at Louisiana Downs. (Submitted photo)

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports 

Trainer Brett Brinkman is looking forward to watching how his four-year-old filly, Final Quest, runs in Saturday’s second race of Louisiana Cup Day at Louisiana Downs, against the state’s best Breds.

But he won’t be leaving the track once the horses cross the finish line.

Brinkman will stay for the third race. Not because a horse he trains will be running, but because of a horse Brinkman bred — Fort Polk.

“For me, I take more pride in the fact that I bred one of that caliber,” Brinkman told the Shreveport-Bossier Journal. “I know it sounds weird coming from a licensed trainer, but I think there’s a lot more that goes into breeding, raising and developing a horse. I had her for her first couple of wins and was happy to have her. I got offered a substantial amount of money and moved her on, because I’m in the business.”

Final Quest and Fort Polk are two of the horses that will run on a nine-race card exclusive to Louisiana Breds, with a total purse of $450,000 ($150,000 contributed by the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association, or LTBA). Six of the nine races will each have a purse of $75,000. Saturday is one of the Cup days held throughout the year at each of the state’s four major tracks.

“It’s like four Breeders’ Cups for Louisiana Breds,” said Roger Hetizmann, secretary/treasurer of the LTBA. “People around the country will be watching. The races are all stakes races. Who doesn’t like to sit down and watch and wager on a card of all-stakes races, instead of cheap horses? It draws attention to the racetrack, it draws attention to the Louisiana horsemen, and I think that all works hand-in-hand with each other.”

Since April, Brinkman has been training Final Quest for Saturday’s six-furlong Louisiana Cup Filly and Mare Sprint for three-year-olds and up. To be ridden by Thomas (Tommy) L. Pompell, Final Quest’s morning line odds are 15-1. The early 5-2 favorite is Free Like a Girl.

“(Final Quest) got real good at the end of (the Delta Downs meet), and at the beginning of (the Evangeline Downs meet),” Brinkman said. “She’s been kind of a work in progress. Free Like a Girl is the filly which stands out among all those fillies in that spot. I think a lot of my filly. I think she’s got a lot of talent. This is where we were pointing her, and we’re going to try and capitalize and get all we can.”

Brinkman had planned on having another horse (Grunt) run on Cup day. However, the heat took its toll on the colt.

“About two weeks ago when the weather really got hot and we had those consecutive days of 100-degree weather, his thermostat went out on me. He quit sweating. He’s not capable of exercising and training up to it right now.”

Louisiana Cup Day is intended to highlight the Louisiana Bred, which wasn’t always as well-regarded as it is now.

“The Louisiana Bred is a horse that many years ago was considered a lower breed,” Heitzmann said. “Something that no one really looked at or worried about. We’ve been doing everything — with the help of the state legislature, racetracks, and horsemen — to put the Louisiana Bred in the upper echelon of horse racing. We’ve been moving that way.

“We have horses that have been running in and winning graded stakes races around the country. We have top-name stallions coming into the state. We have well-known names in the business moving operations to the state, racing in Louisiana, and buying Louisiana Breds.”

And Saturday, the Bossier City track will be in the state’s racing spotlight.

“We want Louisiana Downs to be successful,” Heitzmann said. “We would love for Louisiana Downs to be the track it once was. In order to do that, you have to offer some better races. A Cup day at Louisiana Downs is good for them. It’s good for us. Everyone in this business depends on each other to make sure this business drives forward.”

In an effort to get young people interested in the sport, the LTBA Saturday will give away two $1,000 scholarships. You must have an ID, be registered for college this fall, and be present to win — the scholarships will be awarded after the fifth race. Registration starts one hour before first post time — which is 1:05 — and closes when Race No. 1 goes off.

“We want them to become interested in the sport,” Heitzmann said. “To me, the pageantry of horse racing is what sells horse racing. The beauty of the horse. The colors. The (post) parade. When you’re there, you can see it, touch it, smell it, feel it. As they run down the stretch, you can feel the ground shaking. To me, that’s what sells the game.”

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Hot dogs need attention in smoldering summer weather

When I listened to the weatherman on the news last night, I know my brow must have furrowed a bit. No, he wasn’t talking more thunderstorms; something else was about to take place.

Every day or two for a couple of weeks, we were blessed with a shower. Most were light, less than a tenth of an inch but getting a dab of rain has kept things in my yard looking green and nice and needing a mowing every week. What the weatherman said last night that put a knot in my stomach was a forecast that read like this; hot, humid and dry.

Sound familiar? No rain anywhere in sight for at least the next week. Even though it’s the dog days of summer and things are supposed to be hot and humid with little moisture, these are conditions that we never like to see.

Since I don’t have a sprinkler system installed, I have to drag out hoses and move them around the yard to keep things from drying up.

As much as I dislike hot dry weather and all it involves, I got to thinking about our pets, dogs especially, that can get into trouble if they stay out too long during the hottest times of year.

What are some basic rules and suggestions that apply to how to take care of your pup when conditions are like what we are experiencing? I called an expert, Lori Seacrist, one of the owners of Petite Paws Pet Hotel whose job is to take care of the dogs in her care. She shared some important tips and suggestions that will be of value in assuring that our fur buddies stay safe and out of danger during these high heat times.       

“It depends a lot on the particular breed and age of dogs. Older dogs and young puppies seem to have more trouble with heat while the ‘smush nosed’ dogs, like pugs and French bulldogs have the most trouble getting enough oxygen to combat the excessive heat. On the other hand, hunting breeds of dogs like Labs and hounds can more easily adapt to these extreme conditions,” Lori said.

It is also important when planning outings with your dog during times when the temperatures are brutal. She suggested that you should plan outings early and late in the day to avoid potential problems.

“If you’re out with your dog during the hottest part of the day, not only the heat but the humidity can affect them just like it does us. Nothing is much worse for dogs and people than to be subjected to high temperatures and high humidity. Be sure your dog’s ‘potty’ breaks are short and in shaded areas,” she said.

“Another thing to consider is the concrete and asphalt like on your driveway. Reach down and touch these surfaces and if it’s hot to your hand, it’s the same on their paws. Walking them on grass or surfaces other than concrete and asphalt is the best bet,” she continued.

What should you do to help your pup should you see that heat is starting to take a toll on the dog’s wellbeing?

“Dogs can be subject to heat stroke and heat exhaustion just like humans can. If your dog seems especially lethargic after being outside awhile in hot conditions, if they seem to drool or you see foam around the mouth, these are red flags.

“Get the dog to a cool spot and refrain from cooling them down too quickly. Definitely don’t expose them to an ice bath. Instead, use a fan, take a cool rag and put on the paw pads and on the snout to slowly bring the body temperature down,” she said.

Remember these tips to protect your fur baby during these brutal summer days.

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Best job I ever had

With zero fishing going on due to the hot weather we have been experiencing, today we’ll look at my working career.

After walking away from my athletic career in the late 1980s, it was time to get a real job. It was time to put my college degree (industrial engineering technology) to good use. One reason I chose this as my major was due to the number of IET graduates the oil and gas companies were hiring out of Northwestern State in the mid ‘80s. This was my original plan, but the oil and gas industry tanked, and they no longer were seeking graduates with this degree. 

One thing I’ve learned over the years from the many different jobs I’ve held was that each job helped prepare me in some way for other positions I’ve held. These included car salesman, supervisory role at CONAGRA Poultry, and high school and college coaching.

Nothing gave me more satisfaction than coaching did. Working with kids at the high school and collegiate level was truly rewarding and enjoyable. But the hours you put in on the college level are insane and was not a good fit for me personally or my family. I was not willing to make those family sacrifices that college coaches make. 

In 1990, I decided to apply for an engineering job at a textile company, Holloway Sportswear, based out of Ohio but with factories in Louisiana. Best job I ever had! It was a company that made athletic outerwear and high school letterjackets. Holloway was the Mercedes of the athletic apparel world; they made the best. If you ever earned a letterjacket in high school, there’s a good chance it was made by Holloway, who was the original letterjacket company. 

After two years with the company, I was promoted to Louisiana Director of Manufacturing, overseeing six factories across the state. The job was demanding, but the people were incredible.  

Around 1998, President Bill Clinton signed what was called the NAFTA agreement with Mexico. This was the beginning of the end for Holloway and all textile companies in Louisiana and across the country.

It was at this point that my boss and I made several trips to Mexico to set up sewing factories. Then one by one we slowly pulled styles out of Louisiana and sent them to Mexico for production. This was the hardest thing I ever went though as an employee. It was my job at this point to tell all Louisiana employees they no longer had a job. 

Many a day after making these announcements, I shed a few tears on the drive home knowing that I had just made life a lot tougher for so many women, many of whom were single moms. Many had no other skills than sewing. Some women were making as much as $14 an hour due to their ability to sew. This was good money back in the ‘90s and there were no other jobs offered in these small communities that paid those kinds of wages. 

All the employees were offered the opportunity to go back to school and learn a new trade. But many were in the age bracket of 40 and above and had no desire to go back to school. Many of these ladies had never done anything else their entire life but work in textiles. 

It was sad to see the impact this had on the people I cared so much about — people with a strong work ethic and dedication to go to work every day. People who took great pride in making Holloway Sportswear the best company it could be were now being sent home, for good. Some locations that had been in operation since the mid-1970s were being shut down. 

The old saying “nothing lasts forever” comes to mind when I think about my Holloway days. Again, this was the best job I ever had, but it came to an end in 2004. Even during those stressful days when I questioned of it was worth it, the people were the reason I stayed. One thing about Louisiana people, they take great pride in doing a good job and are very loyal and dedicated to whatever job they’re doing. 

After walking away in 2004, Holloway was sold and is now under the umbrella of Augusta Sportswear in Georgia. The Holloway standard is still alive and well today as they have retained their name and reputation as the best.  

Next week we’ll get back to more fishing topics as we are now in the hottest month of the year — August.

Until next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to wear your sunscreen and protective clothing. 

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