Ard, Cueto, Diamond, Koppens inducted into Rummel Hall of Fame

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Rummel Athletic Hall of Fame '17 Class
Eddie Ard, Paul Koppens (accepting for deceased Kirk Koppens), Jim Cueto, Thomas Diamond at the Archbishop Rummel Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony on the school’s campus (Photo: Bill Arthurs).

METAIRIE – And then there were 84.

The Archbishop Rummel Athletic Hall of Fame inducted former basketball star Eddie Ard, former baseball and football star Jimmy Cueto, former baseball pitcher Thomas Diamond and former baseball and basketball star Kirk Koppens into its 21st class of honorees Thursday night.

A three-year letterman in basketball, Ard led the Raiders in scoring in his junior and senior seasons. The Class of 2003 alum earned All-District honors in both seasons and was the Catholic League Most Valuable Player in 2003.

Ard was selected to play in the LHSAA Basketball All-Star game following his senior season. He was part of Rummel basketball teams under Rusty Jones that won 20 more more games for three consecutive seasons.

At Lipscomb College, Ard earned all-conference honors and was part of a team which went to the National Invitational Tournament.

“God has blessed me abundantly,” Ard said. “It is such a blessing to receive such an honor. Rummel helped mold me as a total person, taught me discipline, hard work and how to succeed. I owe so much to the school for shaping me as a man today.”

Ard reflected on his fondest memory at Rummel.

“I broke my nose against De La Salle,” Ard said. “I could barely see and he asked me if I could breathe. I said yes and he told me to get back out there. I hit the big shot to take it to overtime and we ended up winning. It was a life’s lesson in never giving up, forging ahead under adversity.”

A two-sport star in baseball and football, Cueto,was an All-District and All-Eastbank performer. The Class of 1993 graduate was a member of the American Legion Baseball state championship team after his senior year for coach Larry Schneider.

In football, Cueto was a fine running back and outstanding kicker, earning All-District and All-Metro honors as a place kicker in 1991 under Coach Marc Martin. He kicked the game-winning field goal in the Superdome against the St. Augustine Purple Knights in a 3-0 victory in 1991.

Cueto went on to star in baseball at the University of New Orleans, where he played from 1994-97.

“I never dreamed this could happen,” Cueto said. “It’s a tremendous honor, I’m very humbled. I loved my time at Rummel. It just shows that hard work does pay off. I wouldn’t take any of it back. You have to go through the trials and tribulations to become a winner.”

While baseball was a huge winning program under Schneider, it was a football moment that Cueto remembers most fondly.

“The game-winning field goal against St. Aug was special,” Cueto said. “There were big wins in baseball. Just being with teammates was special. Words can’t even describe how I feel.”

A hard throwing pitcher from the Class of 2001, Diamond pitched Rummel to the semifinals in his senior season. He starred for the Raiders from 1999-2001 under Frank Cazeaux.

In his senior season, he was named to the All-East Jefferson, Elite Baseball and All-District teams. He went on to become the winning pitcher and Most Valuable Player in the LHSAA All-Star game.

“It’s a great feeling,” Diamond said. “I had a wonderful experience here at Rummel. It was great playing for Coach Cazeaux. It was a great call when Coach (Phil) Greco called to tell me. It’s a great honor to represent a lot of my teammates.”

Diamond has a message for everyone to go along with his fondest memory as a Raider.

“Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your dream,” Diamond said. “When I was in fifth grade, I told everyone that I was going to play professional baseball. That 20 strikeout game was pretty special.”

Diamond set an Archbishop Rummel record, striking out 20 batters among 21 outs in a seven inning victory over Archbishop Shaw in March of 2001.

Diamond went to star at UNO, as the staff ace. In his junior season. He was named student-athlete of the year and in his junior season, he earned Sun Belt Conference and Louisiana Pitcher of the Year honors. In his career, the power pitcher struck out 278 opposing batters in 220 innings pitched.

Diamond was drafted in the first round , tenth overall by the Texas Rangers in the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft. Diamond had to overcome Tommy John surgery and an organizational change. He made his Major League debut in 2010, pitching in 16 games and posting a victory for the Chicago Cubs.

A two-sport star in baseball and basketball, Koppens earned All-District honors in basketball in 1970, his senior year. In baseball, Koppens earned All-District honors for the Schaff Brothers American Legion team in 1968.

In 1969, Koppens was 6-1. In 1970, Koppens batted .375, winning the prestigious Rummel award. He was the Most Valuable Player that summer for Schaff Brothers, leading the American Legion team to district and state championships, posting a 10-1 record. In 1971, Koppens led Schaff Brothers to a second straight district and state championship.

Koppens passed away in 2014. He was represented at Rummel by his brother Paul at the ceremony.

“Kirk would loved to have been here,” Paul said. “He loved Rummel and was an outstanding baseball player. He was very good in basketball as well and never saw a shot he didn’t like. I think he set a record for the most shot attempts in a game.”

The four honorees will be recognized at the “Return to Severn” Homecoming pep rally Friday evening on the Rummel campus and will be introduced on field at the Homecoming football game Saturday afternoon against Archbishop Shaw at 2 p.m. at Joe Yenni Stadium, a game that you can listen to live on WGSO 990 AM and at WGSO.com.

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…

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