Basketball coach Robarts joins three football stars in Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
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NEW ORLEANS – “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.”
Jim Robarts’ young days epitomized those famous words of George Bernard Shaw before becoming one of the most successful high school basketball coaches in New Orleans prep history.
Robarts was one of four inductees into the Allstate Sugar Bowl Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Saturday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Robarts turned to coaching when he realized his playing career as a youth would not amount to much. To wit, he told a story about his youth baseball coach, when he was a catcher.
“Next time they try to steal second, throw to third and head ‘em off,” Robarts recalled, drawing one of many laughs from the sellout crowd.
Robarts credited another legendary New Orleans coach, Kevin Trower, for helping him at an early age.
“I was smart enough to listen to what he had to say and apply a lot of the things he taught,” Robarts said. “To this day, I would go to him.”
At Archbishop Rummel, Robarts won back-to-back Class 4A state titles in 1977 and 1978 and strung together 50 consecutive wins over a three-season span. He also reached another title game in 1972.
“It was a wonderful experience there,” Robarts said, then added, “I was there long enough to get fired. It happens to all of us.”
Robarts went on to be a head coach at East Jefferson and Archbishop Shaw.
“It’s a wonderful thing to be a coach,” Robarts said. “I feel God blessed me. I thank the guys I was fortunate enough to coach, who’ve become good Christians, good men.”
Robarts was joined in the 2019 induction class by three former football greats – St. Rose native and recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Ed Reed, former Saints All-Pro linebacker Pat Swilling and Holy Cross grad and former All-American and Pro Bowl tight end Billy Truax.
A death in the family kept Reed from being in attendance, but longtime family friend Jeanne Hall accepted on his behalf.
Swilling was thankful for his time in the black and gold, helping New Orleans make its first four trips to the playoffs in the 1980s and 1990s.
“I loved my time here and the time I spent here,” said Swilling, who becomes the fourth and final member of the famed “Dome Patrol” linebacking corps to be inducted into the hall. “People think I still play.
“This means the world to me. It’s not often you’re going to be inducted into the hall of fame where you live.”
Truax was quick to hand out praise to others.
“I owe everything that I have to the good Lord,” Truax said. “He delivered me through football without any serious injury. I’ve been very blessed.
“I owe a big thank you to my brothers and teammates at Holy Cross, LSU and the NFL.”
The James J. Corbett awards, presented to the outstanding male and female amateur athletes in Louisiana, went to a pair of former LSU Tiger All-Americans: linebacker Devin White and gymnastics star Sarah Finnegan.
The Sugar Bowl’s sports awards committee also handed out other annual awards for the 2018-19 year, including Louisiana college coach of the year (LSU gymnastics’ D-D Breaux), New Orleans outstanding amateur athlete (Mount Carmel volleyball’s Ellie Holzman and Tulane baseball’s Kody Hoese), New Orleans prep coaches of the year (Mount Carmel volleyball’s April Hagadone and St. Charles Catholic baseball’s Wayne Stein) and outstanding prep teams in greater New Orleans (Edna Karr football and St. Scholastica soccer).
The committee also honored Louisiana Tech’s Conner Killian, a Rummel graduate, and Delgado baseball coach Joe Scheuermann with special awards. Killian was a leader in cleanup efforts following the deadly tornado that struck the LA Tech campus in April, while Scheuermann won his 1,000th career game and was inducted into the National Junior College Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame this spring.
SUNO track coach Younne Reid received the Eddie Robinson Award, given in honor of the late Grambling State football coach to those who excel in athletics despite limited resources.
Female: Sarah Finnegan, LSU Gymnastics
Male: Devin White, LSU Football
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Ed Reed (Football Player; Destrehan H.S./U. of Miami/NFL, 1994-2013)
Jim Robarts (Basketball Coach; Archbishop Rummel H.S./East Jefferson H.S., 1969-2018)
Pat Swilling (Football Player; New Orleans Saints/NFL, 1986-98)
Billy Truax (Football Player; Holy Cross H.S./LSU/NFL, 1957-73)
Eddie Robinson Award
Younne Reid (SUNO Track & Field)
Jimmy Collins Awards
Conner Killian, Louisiana Tech Track & Field
Joe Scheuermann, Delgado Baseball
Outstanding Girls’ Prep Coach, New Orleans: April Hagadone (Mount Carmel Volleyball)
Outstanding Boys’ Prep Coach, New Orleans: Wayne Stein (St. Charles Catholic Baseball)
Outstanding Female Amateur, New Orleans: Ellie Holzman (Mount Carmel Volleyball)
Outstanding Male Amateur, New Orleans: Kody Hoese (Tulane Baseball)
Outstanding Boys’ Prep Team, New Orleans: Edna Karr Football
Outstanding Girls’ Prep Team, New Orleans: St. Scholastica Soccer
Outstanding College Coach, Louisiana: D-D Breaux
Greater New Orleans Amateur Athletes of the Month
June, 2018: Aleia Hobbs (LSU Track & Field)
July, 2018: Charles Korndorffer (Nu Wave Swim Club)
August, 2018: Brandon Briuglio (New Orleans Boosters Baseball)
September, 2018: Justin Ibieta (Country Day Football)
October, 2018: Martin Butcher (Newman Football)
November, 2018: Ashaad Clayton (Warren Easton Football)
December, 2018: Elijah Morgan (Jesuit Basketball)
January, 2019: Zach Wrightsil (Loyola Basketball)
February, 2019: Perry Ganci (Jesuit Wrestling)
March, 2019: Alex Davis (Holy Cross Power Lifting)
April, 2019: Kody Hoese (Tulane Baseball)
May, 2019: Mary Nusloch (Sacred Heart Track & Field)
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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…