Dominic Curole, of Chalmette, and Austin Fontenot, of Madisonville, made history this month when they became the first athletes in the 2-year-old Nunez Community College baseball program to sign national letters of intent to play NCAA baseball.
Curole and Fontenot each signed agreements that will allow them to continue their college baseball careers at Division II Salem University in West Virginia for 2020 and 2021.
Athletic Director Becky Maillet hosted the signing ceremony on the Nunez campus. Head coach Glenn Powell and most of their teammates stood by their sides in support at the milestone event, which was also attended by the players’ parents, families and friends.
Curole, 21, a pitcher and center fielder who has also seen duty behind the plate, is one of the top hitters on the team and has led in home runs the last two seasons. His strong pitching arm and speed both on the basepaths and in the outfield have proven invaluable to the team’s success.
Curole is a graduate of Chalmette High School where he also excelled in football and track. In April 2017, Curole was recognized as the Amateur Athlete of the Year by the St. Bernard Sports Hall of Fame.
“I didn’t think I’d be heading to West Virginia,” Curole said. “I’m super excited. The ballplayer in me is pumped to get to play ball. But I’m nervous because it’s so far away. It’s 15 hours driving one way. It’s definitely something I will have to get used to.”
Curole, his father Matt Curole, Fontenot and his father Mark Fontenot, all will travel later this month to tour the campus and watch a game.
Curole said he’s glad to be making the journey with Fontenot. “We will be roommates, and we are friends outside of baseball, so I’m going with a friend,” he said.
Fontenot, 19, said he’s thankful for all the support from family and coaches to get him to this point.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity,” Fontenot said. “It’s far away, but I think it will be a new change of environment, and it will be a positive experience. I’m glad I’m going with someone I know. I think that will make it a little easier.”
Fontenot, who lived with his family in St. Bernard before Hurricane Katrina, graduated from Archbishop Hannan High School in Covington in 2017. The sophomore is the Pelicans’ catcher, as he was as a freshman, and has been a rock behind the plate with his strong throwing arm and overall defense.
Both will graduate this spring, with Curole receiving an associate degree of applied science in industrial technology, and Fontenot receiving an associate of arts Louisiana transfer degree.
Maillet said this is a thrilling time for the program.
“I’m very excited because these two guys were with us from the beginning, and their goal was to continue playing,” Maillet said. “Because they were at a junior college, they were able to get to play two more years at a four-year institution. It’s really good for our program and really good for our community.
"As we continue to recruit, that’s something that future players will look for, knowing that two of our players were able to play at a higher college level. We are just so proud of Dom and Austin for doing what they did for Nunez baseball.”
Chamber luncheon with governor
The St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with St. Bernard Parish Government, is hosting its annual State of the Parish Luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24, at the Frederick J. Sigur Civic Center, 8245 W Judge Perez Drive, in Chalmette.
The luncheon will feature opening remarks from Gov. John Bel Edwards, with a State of the Parish presentation by St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis. This year's luncheon theme, "Parish Pride," will showcase some of the parish's accomplishments from 2018 as well as goals and benchmarks set for this year.
Registration will be open until April 19, space permitting. Tables of 10 are available for $400, and individual registration cost is $45, with a $40 special rate for St. Bernard Chamber members $40. Register online at www.stbernardchamber.org.
Sports Hall of Fame banquet
The St. Bernard Sports Hall of Fame and Gulf Coast Bank will host the 24th annual Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Banquet at 6:30 p.m. May 4 at the St. Bernard Sports Hall of Fame Center, 1101 Magistrate, at the end of Palmisano Boulevard in Chalmette. Tickets for the event are $50 per person or $500 for a table of 10.
The guest speaker will be former University of New Orleans baseball coach and Athletic Director Ron Maestri.
The 2018 Hall of Fame induction class includes a trio of former professional baseball players: Murphy “Woody” Eppinette (Chicago White Sox, University of Louisiana at Monroe and Chalmette High); Clyde Powell Jr. (Philadelphia Phillies and Delgado); and Mike Lehmann Jr. (Kansas City Royals). The late Marion “Dookie” Dauphin (baseball, Loyola) will also be recognized posthumously as the Elphage Caillouette Special Recognition Award winner.
The Hall of Fame has named Russell Palazzolo as the Humanitarian of the Year and will be recognizing Jordan Meche (athlete and contributor) and Dave Koontz (coach, Chalmette High) as Crystal Award winners.
Gabriella O’Neil (swimming, St. Scholastica) has been named Female Amateur Athlete of the Year for a second time, and Cade Beloso (baseball, LSU and John Curtis) has been named the Male Amateur Athlete of the Year.
The Catherine Neyland Female Special Olympics Amateur Athlete of the Year Award winner is Alexis Hernandez, and the Bernard John Lara Jr. Male Special Olympics Amateur Athlete of the Year Award winners are Teron Lewis and Darren Trandacosta Jr.
Teams being recognized during the Spotlight Accomplishment portion of the program are Chalmette High baseball (1959, 1969, and 1977) and Hannan High baseball (1998). These are the only four high school baseball teams from St. Bernard Parish to ever compete in state championship games.
For ticket information, contact Bryan Frichter at (504)554-2685
The Hall of Fame may be reached at www.stbhof.com or on Facebook at St. Bernard Sports Hall of Fame. For tickets, contact President Bryan Frichter at (504) 554-2685 or Vice President Roy Cortes at (985) 246-8354.