16 Catholic school alumni among latest honorees
Halls of Fame ... All-State and All-District teams ... the acknowledgment of athletic achievement that those who made history are not forgotten.
These are a few of my favorite things.
Most recently, Holy Cross inducted its first hall of fame class. And by doing so, the Gentilly school joined De La Salle, Archbishop Rummel and Warren Easton, which recognizes outstanding alumni through their own halls of fame.
Jesuit has its Hall of Champions to honor its state championship teams and Hall of Honors for each graduating class.
The fastest growing is the New Orleans Prep Sports Hall of Fame, opened by the owners of Ye Olde College Inn, John and Johnny Blancher, two former high school and college athletes who understand the history of prep sports in the Crescent City and its great legacy.
The "Wall of Legends" recently added 26 new honorees. Sixteen come from New Orleans Catholic schools.
Rare performance in 1915
The earliest honoree is Bob Shepard, who was Warren Easton’s quarterback in 1915. Today he is an unknown entity, but in 1915 his one-game performance in an 82-0 win over Rugby Academy was a landmark achievement.
Shepard scored eight touchdowns and added six extra points. His 54-point total stands today as a city record.
The new honorees from local Catholic schools include the following (listed alphabetically):
Betsy (Laborde) Becker – During her senior year (1987-88), Becker captained the Academy of the Sacred Heart’s volleyball, basketball, track and cross country teams. As a junior, she led the Uptown girls’ Catholic school to its first state volleyball championship and repeated that feat in 1987.
Harold Cervini – Known as “The Cat,” Cervini led St. Aloysius basketball to three New Orleans Prep League titles and a state title in 1949.
Staci and Krissie Cusimano – The two record-setting sisters specialized in the distance events at the end of the 1990s. The two Mount Carmel Cubs were at their best while competing in 1,500- and 3,200-meter events and dominated cross country meets.
Emerson Gibbs – The pitcher was a two-year starter who hurled Jesuit to the 2011 Class 5A championship as a junior. Gibbs was selected to the All-State team as a junior and senior and earned District 9-5A Most Valuable Player as a senior. He also won the American Legion World Series MVP honor after hurling Retif Oil to the World Series title in August 2012.
Shondra Johnson – A standout prep athlete at St. Mary’s Academy, Johnson was a Parade Magazine Girl’s High School Basketball All-American and led the school to the state title as a senior in 1998. She was a three-time All-State guard and Outstanding Player in her senior season.
Dominic “Mickey’ Lanasa – The featured back on Jesuit’s 1953 state championship football team. A four-sport letterman, Lanasa also excelled in baseball and track. He broke a 12-year-old record by winning the NORD Meet of Champions’ 100-yard dash. His time of 9.6 seconds set a state standard.
Errol Linden – A mountain of an athlete at De La Salle in the mid-1950s, Standing 6 feet, 6 inches, Linden was a basketball center and All-State end on the football team. He played professionally with the Saints and later coached his alma mater’s football team.
Katherine “Cappy” Meyer – Her skills earned her a starting spot on Sacred Heart’s 1987 state championship volleyball team as an eighth grader. A two-sport athlete, Meyer achieved MVP honors in basketball along with her volleyball accolades.
Alan Montrieul – A child prodigy, this shortstop was one of the great power hitters at De La Salle. Following an all-state high school career, Montrieul was drafted, but spent nearly a decade in the minor leagues.
Tommy Moore – At age 6, Moore scored a hole-in-one. As a student at De La Salle, he captained two state championship teams (1978 and 1980) and the 1979 runner-up. A High School All-American in 1979, Moore went on to win the U.S. Junior Golf Championship.
Don Perret – During Perret’s eight-year (1971-78) tenure as Archbishop Rummel’s head football coach, the Metairie school experienced a number of milestones. Rummel earned a share of the Catholic League title in 1972 and 1973, then won it outright in 1974. The teams had an unprecedented run of eight straight winning seasons, four state playoff appearances and two bowl games. Perret accrued a 70-26-2 coaching record before retiring.
Jay Roth – Still actively coaching, the 1981 graduate of Archbishop Rummel, Roth attained what few New Orleans prep football mentors have been able to do: coach his teams to a landmark 200 victories. That came in 2015. The 20-year veteran, who led the Raiders to the 2012 and 2013 state championship in Class 5 A, has been named the Catholic League's Coach of the Year 12 times and Class 5A Coach of the Year twice. He guided his teams to 20 playoff appearances in 21 years.
Ken Trahan and Ed Daniels – These two have been outstanding stewards of high school sports for three decades. Trahan has the longest running Friday night "Original Prep Report," and Daniels has created and hosts "Friday Night Football" on ABC26.
Tommy Warner – A three-sport letterman at Redemptorist, Warner was an outstanding halfback and sprinter for the Irish Channel school. He went on to letter at Tulane and later coached at Holy Cross and Chalmette. He was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives, where he served for 13 years. Warner has been chancellor at Nunez Community College since 2000.
And that's not all
Plaques for 11 other honorees include:
Sam Barthe, who helped countless young athletes begin their playing careers.
Evelyn Cruse-Blanchard, Jefferson Parish's first female athletic director.
Micah Blunt, a Parade All-American basketball star at East Jefferson.
Don Bourgeois, whose distinguished career as an official lasted 50 years. He formed the St. Bernard Baseball Umpires Association.
Peter "Champ" Clark, who was the voice of LIALO sports as a radio talk show host.
Matt Derenbecker, who led Country Day to a Class 1A basketball title and finished his career with more than 3,000 points.
Barbara Farris, the star of St. Martin's 1993 and 1994 state championship teams and former WNBA player.
Bill Geary, who was a two-sport star at New Orleans Academy from 1946-48.
Billy Hatchett, former fullback at Warren Easton who led the way for his alma mater to become a successful charter school.
Lester Lautenschlaeger – Captain of an early Easton team and former Director of the New Orleans Recreation Department.
Merritt Van Meter, the Country Day six-year letterman who achieved status as the Gatorade/ESPN Female Athlete of the Year in 2010 after winning the Class 1A pole vault with a height of 13 feet, 8 1/4 inches.