NATCHITOCHES — There was celebration, mixed with an air of vindication, as six inductees were front and center at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame news conference held Thursday.
Ex-LSU/NFL star Alan Faneca and Catholic High track coach Pete Boudreaux displayed different types of emotion during the event at the Hall of Fame museum.
The late Beryl Shipley’s brother, Tom, and his longtime assistant coach, Tom Cox, discussed the innovative, and at the end, controversial portions of the University of Southwestern Louisiana basketball coach’s career.
“I am totally blown away by this thing,” Boudreaux said. “Just to be mentioned in the same breath as these people who are going to be inducted this year is absolutely unbelievable. It’s out of sight.
“I grew up in Baton Rouge and I’d get on a bicycle and ride to Tiger Stadium. You could go in anywhere then. There was always one place I wanted to go and that was ticket office. If you’d go around the ticket office, there was a Hall of Fame in there — the LSU Hall of Fame.
“I read about all these people and I knew about them. Then when this (Hall of Fame) came into existence, I’d watch the names of so many people who would go in. To be a part of that is just incredible.”
Faneca, Boudreaux and the Shipley contingent were part of the group that addressed the media. The group included Lutcher native and Tulane-NFL star Lionel Washington, Major League Baseball pitcher Shane Reynolds and Louisiana Tech/Olympic basketball player Venus Lacy. Also included were The Advocate’s Joe Macaluso, the Distinguished Service in Sports Journalism inductee, and two Dave Dixon Leadership award winners: Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Wright Waters and NCAA basketball administrator Tynes Hildebrand.
New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson was unable to make the news conference.
Shipley and athlete/coach Richard “Moon” Ducote is being inducted posthumously.
Faneca, a nine-time Bowl Pro selection who helped the Pittsburgh Steelers win the 2006 Super Bowl, acknowledged his time at LSU, saying there’s “nothing like it” when asked about playing in Tiger Stadium.
“We were a bunch of Louisiana guys,” Faneca said. “You know where they’re from and you know what they’re about. Just to be around them was fun. We had a good time. We got Tiger Stadium rocking.
“I’ve been thinking about my journey and how it began. I’ve been thinking back to playing Biddy Basketball on the West Bank (of New Orleans) and representing the Jefferson Parish all-stars. And now I’m in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame … what a journey.”
Tom Shipley interrupted the early stages of the news conference to note what he called inaccuracies in accounts of his brother’s career, which ended with the NCAA disbanding the basketball program after the 1972-73 season. Shipley blamed the administration at the school, saying the truth was hidden for more than 30 years.
Cox took a different approach when the duo came to the platform, talking about his former boss in glowing terms, fielding questions about the school’s success and a controversial decision to integrate the USL program.
“For the last 40 years of my life, I’ve been playing defense. I was ready to defend him (Shipley) anywhere, anytime because most of the people who were anti-Shipley people didn’t know the man.
“I’ve decided this weekend I’m going to put all that negative stuff on the shelf. I’m here to help the Shipley family celebrate Beryl Shipley’s coaching career.”
Washington, a Tulane assistant coach, noted that his work ethic helped keep him in the NFL for 15 seasons as a defensive back.
When asked what will help the Green Wave recruit more quality players, his answer was “winning.”
However, Washington admitted the notion of recruiting four-star and five-star players isn’t an exact science.
“You look at players according to what they’re going to do for us as a football team,” Washington said. “You may have a kid who’s a five-star player, but he may not fit what we do.”
Lacy expressed her joy at being inducted. Lacy, who won a gold medal in 1996, offered spoken jewels.
“I never thought I’d be here,” Lacy said. “I played basketball because I loved it.”
Unique double play
Reynolds, a former Ouachita Christian star, was coaxed into talking about the day last spring when OCS, where he now coaches, opted to retire his jersey. Reynolds was later ejected from the game.
“I just want you to know that (getting ejected) was not my intent,” Reynolds said. “I went out there to defend my pitcher.”