NATICHITOCHES, La. (KALB) - A purple carpet lined the back wall in the front room of the Natchitoches Event Center Saturday night.
Photo source: KALB
Some of the names who would walk it before the evening ended are household in the state of Louisiana: Peyton Manning, Les Miles, Skip Bertman.
Marie Gagnard, Charles Smith, and T.B. Porter may not be names that hold the same weight as those previously listed, but their stories may be just as interesting and timeless.
Marie Gagnard, an Alexandria native, graduated from Bolton High School and attended Louisiana College on a tennis scholarship. She would parlay her love of tennis into a life-long career. Gagnard has officiated the highest levels of professional tennis for 34 years, officiating 29 U.S. Open's during that time.
Two separate battles with thyroid cancer were bumps in the path. But, in 2019, Gagnard is still doing what she loves, with no end in sight.
For T. "Berry" Porter, the personality is as big as it's ever been, as the 92 year old became the first rodeo cowboy to be inducted in the hall.
Porter famously rode his horse down Broadway after winning the 1949 World Champion Calf Roper title in Madison Square Garden. The professional cowboy is credited as the state's first professional rodeo cowboy.
Charles Smith became just the fourth coach to win 1,000 career games in the state of Louisiana two seasons ago. The legendary boys basketball coach is close to owning the record for most wins in state history, with a chance to own the record outright this season.
But, the wins have always been secondary to Smith's one true goal: shaping a team of young men prepared for the real world.
Three different, unique paths set apart this year's class of Cenla inductees. But their stories will be remembered, forever together, in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.