The wrecking crew did in a day and a half what Mother Nature could not put a dent in for over 66 years. Early Monday morning heavy equipment moved in adjacent to the football field. By noon Tuesday only a small pile of rubble remained. See the December 24thJournal https://redriverparishjournal.com/2019/12/24/stadium-is-coming-down/.
The stadium was named for a Coushatta resident instrumental in establishing football at Coushatta High School in the early 1950s. He is Pat Strother, father of current school board member Susan Taylor as well as lifelong residents Laurine Adcock (former Principal at Coushatta High) and Patti Strother. His youngest daughter Norma Lester recently moved back to town.
Go back in history a bit to the early 1950s. There had been no football teams at Coushatta High for over 20 years when Pat Strother lead a group that organized and coached a team, founded the Quarterback Club, and did everything necessary to lay out a field behind the school and then get a stadium constructed.
Reading back through past issues of the local paper and the history of the parish you find names recognizable today all joining the effort. There is Fred Willis, E.R. Crocker, Don Carter, Edgar Gaddis, John Kelly of CLECO, and Gene Knecht. Other individuals and groups, notably the Lions Club, got involved in the project.
The first teams were not very successful.
despite some playing experience by Willis and Strother, in 1951 and 1952 they lost every game. The stadium had been built by 1953 however Strother and other members of the Quarterback Club felt “it was time for a real coach.” They recruited Gene Knecht from Louisiana Tech. Within two years Knecht’s team won district.
Coushatta resident Edgar Gaddis remembers it well. “Strother was in charge of a farm program for USDA Soil Conservation Service,” said Gaddis. He added, “he was a civil engineer and he surveyed the field and worked to see that the project was completed.”
Former Coushatta Mayor Archie Worsham remembers the role Strother played. Worsham said, “Pat Strother was the announcer for football games. This was after he had worked to start the team and get the stadium built.”
Strother was the game announcer for 18 years, until 1970. Gaddis took over from Strother in the press box. Worsham also announced games for a few years. Many readers will remember Gaddis’ call on the local radio station of the state championship game in November, 1992 and the Gaddis-Worsham duo doing games in the late 1990s and up until 2013.
How did the stadium get the name? Recognition of Strother’s contribution came in September of 1993 when the Red River Parish School Board approved a resolution by board member J. B. McElwee. Dedication ceremonies were held on September 17, 1993 at halftime when the stadium’s name was officially adopted as Pat Strother Memorial Stadium. The sign that was placed atop the press box was the first item removed before demolition started. Granddaughter Karen Squires made sure it was saved and secured.
Strother passed away in 1971, however his memory and the contribution he made to Coushatta High and Red River High athletics will live on. There may only be a pile of rubble left at Christmas 2019 but that is not a permanent situation. School Board member Susan Taylor told The Journal the major renovations and additions to the sports complex include a brand new, much larger, stadium. Taylor said, “There will be a brand new sign. And, yes, it will be Pat Strother Memorial Stadium.”
The Journal thanks Karen Squires, Susan and Joe Taylor, Archie Worsham, and Edgar Gaddis for contributing to this report.