NATCHITOCHES — Former LSU and NFL offensive lineman Alan Faneca made plenty of forceful blocks during his career, including one that helped the Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl.
Ultimately, the power of making a dream become reality was a difference maker that helped Faneca become part of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday night at the Natchitoches Events Center.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to turn a dream of playing a game in the biggest stadium into a reality,” Faneca said during his acceptance speech. “I was able to wake up and head down to the stadium and play the game I love in front of 80,000 screaming people, whether they were for me or against me, a game that I used to play in the backyard with my buddies. It’s something that still amazes me.”
Faneca and Catholic High track and cross country coach Pete Boudreaux helped lead the eight-member induction class for the Hall, which began in 1959 and now has 330 members.
Faneca, a two-time All-American at LSU, was selected to nine consecutive Pro Bowls after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1998.
He helped the Steelers win the 2006 Super Bowl with a block that sprung Willie Parker for a 76-yard touchdown run. He later played for the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals.
Boudreaux is the first high school track coach inducted to the Hall. An SEC champion and record-setter in the pole vault for LSU in 1965, Boudreaux has won 41 state titles at his high school alma mater: 16 in cross country, 14 in outdoor track and 11 in indoor track. His teams won Division I indoor and 5A outdoor track titles in 2014.
Boudreaux began his speech by paying tribute to the other inductees. He thanked his family and former athletes and paid tribute to his wife, Pat, before accepting the award on behalf of his family, former athletes and colleagues and Catholic High.
Boudreaux noted, “You may feel like patting yourself on the back for accomplishing all those things: ‘Dang I’m good, I’m so good.’ The truth is (the athletes) made you good. They make you what you are. There are so many of those guys. There is no way I can thank you for the ride you’ve given me.”
New Orleans Saints/Pelicans owner Tom Benson, Tulane/NFL defensive back Lionel Washington, Louisiana Tech and 1996 Olympic basketball standout Venus Lacy and Major League Baseball pitcher Shane Reynolds (a Bastrop native) also spoke during the ceremony and were the other members of the first induction class since the opening of the Hall of Fame museum.
University of Southwestern Louisiana men’s basketball coach Beryl Shipley, who broke down the color barrier in the mid-1960s, and Cottonport native Richard “Moon” Ducote, a pro football pioneer in the 1920s who later coached at LSU and Loyola, were inducted posthumously.
Also honored were Dave Dixon Leadership award winners Wright Waters, the former Sun Belt Conference commissioner and Director of the Football Bowl Association, and Tynes Hildebrand, a former Northwestern State coach, who is a NCAA Division I regional basketball officiating adviser.
The Advocate’s Joe Macaluso received the Distinguished Service award in Sports Journalism.
Benson, a New Orleans native and self-made millionaire, started as a car salesman and built a business empire that allowed him to purchase the Saints in 1985, preventing the team from leaving the Crescent City. He stepped in again in 2012 and purchased the Hornets, now known as the Pelicans.
Washington, a standout in football, basketball and track at Lutcher High, played at Tulane from 1979-82 and was drafted by St. Louis Cardinals in 1983. He went on to play 15 NFL seasons with the Cardinals, Raiders and Broncos and is now an assistant coach at Tulane.
USL’s Shipley was 293-126 in 16 seasons from 1957-73 and led the school, then known as the Bulldogs, to prominence first in the NAIA, then on the NCAA level. His last two teams each finished 23-3 and were ranked in the top 10 nationally.
Lacy averaged 20 points per game and grabbed 1,125 rebounds in three seasons at Louisiana Tech. She was a Kodak All-American and National Player of the Year in 1990. She played professionally for a decade and won a gold medal with the 1996 U.S. Olympic team.
Reynolds pitched for 13 major league seasons with a career record of 114-96. He pitched for the Astros from 1992 to 2002 and later for the Braves and Diamondbacks. He won 10 or more games six times and was 19-8 in 1998 with the Astros.
Ducote played football at Auburn from 1915-17 as a halfback, fullback and kicker. In the early days of pro football, he earned comparisons with Jim Thorpe by legendary Chicago Bears coach George Halas. Ducote was later an assistant football coach for two years and head basketball coach for one year at LSU.