Cut the Nets and Celebrate

The final buzzer sounded, and the stands overflowed onto the court.  The Lady Bulldogs last night had just won their third playoff game, defeating number 7 ranked Ferriday 64 to 47.

The Lady Bulldogs started strong and finished even stronger.  Ferriday enjoyed a 2 point lead at one time but only for a few seconds.

This was their night and the ladies knew it.  Morgan, Kaitlyn and Danielle tore up the 3-point shots.  Ma’Kaila controlled the boards and fed it under the basket over and over and over.

Next stop is Lake Charles and the state semi-finals.  The brackets with game day and time should be updated this weekend. UPDATE:  #3 Avoyelles Public Charter was upset Thursday night by #6 French Settlement.  Score 51 to 45.  Red River will play French Settlement in the semi-finals at 2:45 pm Thursday, March 5th at Burton Coliseum Lake Charles.


Black History Program

Residents of Green Meadow Haven were presented a special Black History Month program this week.  Guest speakers were Billy Henry, Jr. and his sister Carlena Henry.

Billy Henry is a coach and teacher at Red River High.  He said, “My area of expertise is athletics.  Athletics inspire you to beat the odds to achieve in everyday life.”  As examples, Henry presented Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tiger Woods and others.

Henry said, “Abdul-Jabbar was the all-time leading scorer in the NBA, and he has six titles.  He is considered the greatest player in NBA history.  He grew up in New York and stood 5’ 8” in seventh grade.  He grew to 6’ 11” by the time he got out of college at UCLA and began his pro career.  He worked hard to make something of himself and inspire others.”

Another athlete Henry cited was Tiger Woods.  “My son Billy is inspired to play golf by Tiger Woods,” Henry said.  Woods was the first African-American to win the Masters golf tournament.  Henry said, “He went on to win another thirteen major tournaments.  And he came back to win the Masters in 2019.”

Other athletes Henry noted were gymnast Simone Biles and boxer Joe Lewis.  Henry told their stories and noted they all had great accomplishments in their lives and sports careers.

Henry concluded, “I love sports and how it can help a person get an education.  Get educated through sports and come back and support your community.”

His sister Carlena Henry spoke about the lives of Sarah Breedlove and Granville Woods.  Henry said, “She was known as Madam C.J. Walker, an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a political and social activist.  She was a self-made woman and the wealthiest African-American businesswoman at the time of her death in 1919.”

Henry said, “Breedlove suffered hair loss and in 1905 she was searching for a solution to problems Black women have with their hair.  She was inspired and she helped people with their own ideas.”

Another person Henry highlighted was Granville Woods.  She said, “He was an inventor and held more than 60 patents.  Woods was the first African-American to be a mechanical and electrical engineer after the Civil War.” In 2006, Woods was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.  Henry said, “He was self-taught and one of his notable inventions was the Multiplex Telegraph, a device that sent messages between train stations and moving trains.”

Henry concluded, “Woods was self-taught and I am teaching myself to play the flute.  I know it doesn’t matter who you are, you can do what you want.”


Reflections

By Coach Ty Hester

I’m going to try to keep this post as short as possible, because I think I could write a book about the memories my team and I have made this year.

First of all, I want to thank everyone who has helped us this year whether it was keeping stats, running the clock for us at home games, booking hotel rooms, carrying kids to/from games, etc. There are entirely too many to thank you all without missing one, but you know who you are, and we couldn’t do it without you.

Now onto my guys. I could not be prouder of a group of young men than I am of these 13 players I had the privilege of coaching this year. Through 17 games we were 7-10. We didn’t look good, we certainly weren’t playing well, and we didn’t really have an identity. Some nights we would shoot the ball alright but not guard anybody, and some nights it was the other way around.

The turning point of our season came on a Saturday evening in Monroe, LA after getting blown out by the 4th best team in our own district. That was the 17th of the 17 games I alluded to above. The next Monday, instead of having a normal 2-hour practice, we took about 1.5 hours to have a meeting. They got my input and I got theirs, and most importantly everybody was honest with each other. 

We went on to win our last 9 regular season games and all of the sudden, we were going to have the opportunity to make a postseason run like we had planned to before the season started. We were able to make it to the South A Championship game where we didn’t play our best and came up short against a very good WCCA team on their home floor. We were all disappointed, but I knew exactly how my team was going to respond. We drew the host-school Delta Academy in the first round of our state tournament and played our best game of the year, knocking them off 72-54 to advance to the final 4. In a very competitive game, we got beat by the eventual state champion Humphreys Academy who played great and shot 71% from the field. 

I can’t put into words how gutting of a loss it was for everyone involved. We felt like we played well enough to win. We felt like we were good enough to win the whole thing, and we expected to. And we realized in that locker room that we weren’t going to be able to run it back, as bad as we all wanted to. But then, the following day, we knocked off the same WCCA team that had previously beaten us to finish 3rd in Class A and earn a trip to the Overall Tournament held at Mississippi College. Final score was 65-54.

But more than the result of any game or games this year, I’m most proud of the relationship that my team has both with me and with each other. I’ve been playing and coaching basketball at the JV and Varsity levels for around 10 years now, and I’ve never seen a group of guys become as close as my guys did over the back half of the season. We decided a couple weeks ago that regardless of what happened during the post season, we were going to go through it together. And that’s exactly what we did. We’ve always said “1-2-3-win” during our huddles but we added “4-5-6-family” at some point during the year because that’s what we became. I truly have had the most fun and rewarding year coaching this group. I told them that I wouldn’t trade the relationship we had, and the fun times we had, for any number of trophies we could’ve won this year. And they all agreed that they wouldn’t trade the year we had for anything, even though we fell short of our ultimate goal. 

I told them earlier in the year that “the destination is the journey” and that their season wouldn’t be defined by any trophy. It’s about the locker rooms, the huddles, the practices, and how you handle any and all adversity that defines you. And in those areas, I like us vs. any team in the world. Now, we get to go play the best team in the entire MSAIS, 5A #1 seed MRA on Tuesday at 7. I’m not exactly sure how that one is going to shake out, but I know we’re going to have some fun with it.

Thank you to everyone who supported (and doubted, lol) us throughout the course of this season. We can’t wait to get back to work this summer. 


Challenge Camp

Red River 4-H reported, “We enjoyed Challenge camp with these 7/8 graders and my fearless, awesome counselors!”

Thanks to the Mills family for their warm welcome at Clara Springs! It is such a nice place to camp.

Special thanks to Cpt. Gallier and Lt. Murray for coming to visit us at Challenge camp and talk about being safe. They did an excellent job of teaching over 100 4-hers some self-defense techniques! We appreciate adults willing to share with our students.

Northwest Region 7-8 graders had a great time “unlocking their potential “ during Challenge Camp. Fun event learning about teamwork and developing decision making skills.


Fighting the Good Fight 

By Reba Phelps

Twice a year, whether I want to not, I get the distinct pleasure of visiting with my family physician. 

As luck would have it, I do adore her as a person and enjoy seeing her. The downside is that I find myself getting significantly anxious a few days ahead of our designated greeting time. I have even been known to reschedule our visit multiple times.

It starts with me stressing over what I weighed on our previous visit. I never can remember the exact number. Or, maybe I just block it out after I hear it. I weigh every day on my bathroom scales but somehow her scales hate me and add weight that I did not bring with me. 

One would think that after so many visits, and no surprises, that I would be cool as a cucumber because the routine never varies. 

I sign in. Dread the scales. Visit with friendly staff. Dread the scales. Pay co-pay. Dread the scales. Wait in the lobby with a magazine and…..dread the scales. When they finally call my government name I immediately begin to sweat profusely. Like a lamb being led to the slaughter, my heart races and all of my unhealthy eating habits suddenly flash before my eyes. 

Why did I eat that second cupcake? I know better. 

When the nurse asks me to step on the scales I immediately remove every item of clothing and jewelry that may weigh more than an ounce. I can shuck shoes, practically undress and drop a purse before the nurse even comes around to start sliding the balance beam scale. 

On this particular visit the scale was teetering between a five and six, within a particular number group. (The third digit, not the first digit) Trying to help the nurse out with her vision, I quickly solved the problem for her. It was a five. That one pound held every bit of my self-confidence for the day. I am not sure if she could feel me internally begging and pleading for it to be a five, but she agreed. 

She is my soul sister. She knows what’s up. 

After we made our way to the exam room and she asked her myriad of questions I asked her to tell me what I weighed on my last visit. She told me I weighed the exact same today as I did last time. When she said those words, it was as if the room lit up brightly and I could hear heavenly angels singing. Heaven was rejoicing for me that I did not gain a pound. 

Pure joy overtook my heart as I waited on the doctor to enter the room. I was celebrating myself for holding it steady and I could not wait to see the look on the good doctor’s face when she found out my good news. She has never judged me or made me feel bad for being overweight, but I know she has a job to do. She has to share with me all of the risks and potential things that can wrong while being thick. 

I have always looked at her more as a partner than anything else. She shares healthy tips with me, she roots for me and encourages me. She offers workable solutions. On the occasions where the scales have actually went up, I have truly felt like a child who brought home a failing grade. She was disappointed but yet still hopeful. She doesn’t give up on me. 

When I heard her tap on the door announcing her entrance, I sat up straight… people who maintain their weight always have wonderful posture. I was literally about to burst, I needed her to acknowledge the non-movement of the scales. 

I am fairly certain she could tell that I was looking extra slim and I was winning the battle with my weight. As soon as she asked all of her pertinent questions she did the weight comparison and a sudden look of delight came over her face. 

She asked what changes have occurred in my routine because whatever I was doing was working. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I probably lost the same five pounds three different times in the last six months. But, nonetheless, she was happy, and I was happy. As we were wrapping up our visit she looked me with the most sincere look and said, “Keep fighting the good fight and look for the little wins.”

It tickled me. It truly made me smile. But, my inner Negative Nancy voice thought that she had possibly given up on me. The more I overthought it, my Positive Polly came away with the conclusion. She was happy for me!

The thing I don’t understand is why my self-confidence was so tied to the number on the scale. Is there not more to our lives that what we weigh? This may be not a Biblical fact, but I am quite sure we can add this to the list of things that went wrong when Eve ate the forbidden fruit. 

The more we focus on our imperfections it takes valuable time and precious energy away from our true intended purpose in our lives. I know that we are loved immeasurably by a father who is accepting of us at any size. 

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Psalm 139:14.


Eating and Singing

There is a special program of hymn singing planned tonight during the Clara Springs Fish Fry.  Get there early for a delicious Fourth Friday Fish Fry and Heavenly Highway Hymns.

Social Springs Baptist Church will host, prepare and serve the fried fish.  All you can eat is only $10 from 5:00 until 7:30 pm.

At 6:30, Price Harris and guests will lead Heavenly Highway Singing in the Worship Center.  Bring your hymn book or buy one at the camp.


Capitol Briefing – Auto Insurance Reform

By Gabe Firment, District 22 State Representative

In the last edition of the Capitol Briefing I stated that the number one priority facing the state legislature this session is to pass common sense Tort Reform legislation designed to lower personal and commercial automobile insurance rates. “Tort” Reform simply refers to changes in the civil justice system that aim to reduce the ability of plaintiffs to bring frivolous lawsuits against defendants and to ensure that monetary awards are commensurate with the damages sustained. Our broken legal system has tilted the scales of justice in favor of billboard trial lawyers whose unethical advertising methods have convinced scores of Louisianians that an automobile accident is the equivalent of winning the lottery.  

As a result of our toxic legal environment, Louisiana has been named a “Judicial Hellhole” for 7 straight years and we currently have the second highest auto insurance rates in the nation. Hard-working lower and middle class families across the state have been among the hardest hit by the insurance crisis, with many families simply unable to afford the exorbitant automobile insurance premiums. The situation is even more desperate for small business owners such as logging contractors, farmers, and truckers who have no choice but to purchase commercial auto policies in a marketplace where most insurance companies have left the state or been forced to raise their rates due to the trial lawyers zeal for suing anyone with higher policy limits and deeper pockets.

Comprehensive tort reform measures are required to stop the precipitous climb of auto insurance rates and put money back into the pockets of Louisiana families. I will be supporting legislation to decrease the civil jury trial threshold from $50,000.00 to $5,000.00, which will help prevent personal injury attorneys from shopping their cases for judges known to blatantly favor plaintiffs. Louisiana’s $50,000.00 jury trial threshold is clearly an outlier compared to the rest of the nation, with the next closest state having a $15,000.00 limit, and 36 states with a $0.00 threshold. 

Another important piece of tort reform legislation will address the collateral source rule which essentially allows juries to see only the “sticker price” for medical costs instead of the actual cost incurred by the plaintiff. This typically results in a windfall for the trial lawyer and plaintiff, and is perhaps the biggest driver of our excessively high rates. Legal reform bills filed this session will also address “Direct Action”, or the trial lawyer’s ability to file a lawsuit against a defendant and their insurer, clearly resulting in higher damage awards.  

I will also be supporting repeal of the preposterous “seatbelt gag rule” which prevents a jury from knowing if an injured plaintiff was wearing a seatbelt when the accident occurred. Believe it or not, each of the aforementioned measures were introduced last year and shot down by trial lawyers in the legislature and governor’s mansion.  Although abuse of the legal system by trial lawyers is the leading cause of our high insurance rates, we must also hold insurance companies accountable and ensure that rates are based on verifiable actuarial data and not on arbitrarily determined standards.

I look forward to the spirited debates that will no doubt accompany our efforts to pass this common sense legislation our state urgently needs. Please know that my decisions as your state representative will always be made prayerfully with the best interests of the men and women of District 22 in mind.


ETC… for Friday, February 28th

Tonight is Family Game Night at Abundant Life Worship Center.  The invitation was issued earlier this month to come for games, food and more.

The Natchitoches Hope For Paws is offering residents of Red River parish a spay and neuter special.  Apply online at natchitocheshopeforpaws.org/spayneuter-program.  You could get $75 towards the procedure.

Today is the 4-H GUMBO LUNCH SALE from 10:30 am until 1:00 pm.  $7 for Chicken/Sausage Gumbo, rice, crackers, and dessert. Help 4-H members raise money to go to summer camps and 4-H U this summer.  Call 932-4342 to place your order!!

Today is the deadline to sign up for ODF Soccer.  Youth ages 5 to 16 can participate.  Sign up at ODFSports.com or call 932-6267.

Northwestern State University’s Dance Organization of Students will host a swing dance workshop from 5-6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29 in A.A. Fredericks Auditorium.  Admission is $5 per person.  Proceeds will support NSU dance students who plan to attend the American College Dance Association’s annual conference at Florida State University. 


Play Ball!

“Today our facilities are the best in the state, perhaps best in the tri-state region,” said Superintendent Alison Hughes in opening the new Red River Baseball and Softball complex.  The fields saw their first competitions Tuesday after months of clearing land, pouring concrete, and building dugouts, clubhouses and stands.  Hughes said, “Last year at this time we were playing in a crawfish pond (a reference to the old single field that often flooded).”

The ceremonies took place under bright sunshine.  Hughes remarked about the other construction projects on the campus that are at a standstill due to a very wet winter.

The Red River Cheerleaders lead the program.  Members of the High School and Junior High baseball and softball teams were introduced and invited to sign a bat that will become a permanent part of each ball park.

Many people in the school system or the community were thanked for their efforts over the years to get the sports improvements in place.  Former Coach Earl Martin and long-time School Board member Cleve Miller were given special recognition for their contributions.  Martin and Willet were selected to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in each ball park to get play under way.

Then there was the official ribbon cutting.  A large crowd gathered at the site saw a bright ribbon sliced in two places signifying that the fields are now open.  And High School Principal brought the ceremony to a close inviting everyone to the field.  Dickey proclaimed, “Play ball!”