St. Katharine Drexel Athletics Department to be presented with Eddie Robinson Award
Revitalized Program To Be Honored at August 4 NOLA Hall of Fame Banquet
NEW ORLEANS – The Department of Athletics of St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory School, will be presented with the Eddie Robinson Award as part of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Banquet on Saturday, August 4 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. A total of 23 individuals, including this year’s Hall of Fame class, and three teams will be honored at this year’s banquet. All of the honorees are selected by the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
The Robinson Award is presented annually to an athlete, coach, team or athletic administrator in Louisiana who demonstrates the qualities most associated with Grambling’s legendary football coach, Eddie Robinson: outstanding achievement in athletics, academics, sportsmanship and citizenship by maximizing the use of limited resources. St. Katherine Drexel’s Athletics Department is being honored as a team.
Five years ago, the school almost closed down its doors for good. St. Katharine Drexel Prep, called Xavier Prep at the time, was struggling financially. But former students raised the money and revived the school under its new name.
Fast forward to the 2017-18 school year, where the all-girl school’s athletic program captured two LHSAA state championships. One in basketball. The other in track.
“For us to do what we have been able to do under the circumstances, it says a lot,” said St. Katharine Drexel Prep athletic director Terry Wilson. “From almost closing the doors to doing this, I don’t think there’s a better story around here.”
At St. Katharine Drexel Prep, the resources have indeed been limited.
The school’s gymnasium is too small to meet the LHSAA requirements to host playoff games, so the team played their home playoff game at McMain High School.
The track team doesn’t have a track, so it practices at facilities around the city.
“It was tough,” Wilson said. “We got through it because we put in the time, the hard work. We had a plan. We stuck with it. It was hard work, but it was smart work.”
Wilson also serves as the coach of the basketball team, while Don McGhee coaches the track team. But Wilson is quick to point out that the accomplishments were a group effort.
“We had people around us like the owners, the administrators, the principals, everybody,” Wilson said. “Everybody deserves some of the credit. It means a lot for the school so we can continue to push our name and keep the doors open and to keep the Prep dream alive.”
Making the basketball season even more special is that the championship victory over rival St. Mary’s came on March 3. That date is the feast day to observe St. Katharine Drexel, who died on that date in 1955.
“It’s like it was meant to be,” Wilson said.
And for Wilson, the award means even more considering he has ties to Robinson, the late legendary football coach at Grambling. Wilson’s brother Gregory played football at Grambling under Robinson. And Wilson has his master’s degree from Grambling.
But Wilson says there is much more to come from the school that was almost no longer around. “We’ve only scratched the surface,” Wilson said. “It’s something the former Preppers and the new Preppers can be proud of.”
The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee began in 1957 when James Collins spearheaded a group of sports journalists to form a sports awards committee to immortalize local sports history. For 13 years, the committee honored local athletes each month. In 1970, the Sugar Bowl stepped in to sponsor and revitalize the committee, leading to the creation of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1971, honoring 10 legends from the Crescent City in its first induction class. While adding the responsibility of selecting Hall of Famers, the committee has continued to recognize the top amateur athlete in the Greater New Orleans area each month – the honors enter their 62nd year in 2018. To be eligible, an athlete must be a native of the greater New Orleans area or must compete for a team in the metropolitan region.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 93 Hall of Fame players, 49 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 84-year history. The 85th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, featuring top teams from the Big 12 and the SEC, will be played on January 1, 2019. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors nearly 100,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.5 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit www.AllstateSugarBowl.org.
Story submitted by Rod Walker of the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee.
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