NATCHITOCHES — Traffic and other residual effects from Thursday’s severe morning storms kept former LSU football coach Les Miles from arriving for the start of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame news conference.
Once he arrived, Miles did not disappoint. While fielding questions about a range of topics, including his 11-plus seasons at LSU, recruiting and his upcoming first season as head coach at Kansas, is was more of Les that Tiger fans saw.
Noting that he will not eat artificial turf — something Kansas’ stadium has — Miles mentioned there is natural grass nearby. But he quipped with a smile, “I have had the finest grass in America in Tiger Stadium.”
There also was passion on display by Miles and the other inductees on hand in advance of the Hall of Fame induction set for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Natchitoches Events Center.
Miles and Peyton Manning headline the 2019 induction class. Manning is set to arrive Friday. Others sharing their stories and thoughts with the media included former Southern University baseball coach Roger Cador, five-time Olympic volleyball player Danielle Scott, former LSU football star Max Fugler of Ferriday, rodeo legend Teaberry Porter, basketball coach Charles Smith of Alexandria’s Peabody High and ex-Louisiana Tech quarterback Matt Dunigan, a CFL Hall of Fame inductee. Dave Dixon Sports Leadership Award winner Marie Gagnard, a tennis official, two Distinguished Service in Journalism award winners, sportswriter Philip Timothy and Louisiana Tech announcer Dave Nitz, also were on hand.
“Any time that you take the field with a guy who is willing to give you great effort and energy at risk of injury, you are in their debt,” Miles said when asked about his induction. “I promise you I am humbled. There are some great players in here, and I’ve had some that lined up and fought for victory with me. That’s special.”
After the news conference was over, Cador marveled at the accomplishments and presence of the other inductees. Noting his 33 years spent as SU’s baseball coach, Cade pointed out a common thread.
“I am so enjoying this whole experience and all the inductees,” Cador said. “They are all impressive, but you know what all of us have in common? Hard work — we all had to work to achieve the things we did. And we did them because we loved what we did.”
Scott, a multisport star at Woodlawn High and at Long Beach State, is one of two pacesetters in the 2019 class. She is the first volleyball inductee. Porter, a rodeo star dating to the 1940s, is not only the first rodeo inductee but also the oldest inductee at age 92.
“I think I chose volleyball because it is such a team sport,” Scott, a two-time silver medalist said. “It isn’t just about you and you have to work together to achieve your goals. That gold medal is something that eludes us today (in volleyball). It was something I wanted, and it motivated me. To be recognized here in Louisiana — where I’m from — it means a lot.”