On Feb. 20, 2010, LSU will salute and celebrate pioneers and trailblazers in University sports, band, and spirit teams. These former athletes, band members, golden girls, and cheerleaders will be recognized during Black History Month for being ethnic minority firsts, breaking the color barrier in Tiger Athletics.
This momentous event will take place in two phases, beginning with a University reception honoring these "Tiger Torchbearers" starting at 1 p.m. in the LSU Faculty Club and culminating with a special ceremony at mid court held during the half-time festivities of the LSU vs. Mississippi State University men's basketball game in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center or PMAC.
There are a number of former student-athletes and former members from band and spirit teams who have made an impact on LSU tradition and diversity and these Tiger Torchbearers have made their mark through their courage of being firsts to cross diversity "finish lines".
"We sometimes use the term courage rather casually," said Michael Martin, LSU Chancellor. "The Tiger Torchbearers we honor demonstrated real courage by breaking the color barrier in athletics. They came to LSU simply to learn and compete, but in doing so, stepped into a frightening situation. Because of their bravery, they set LSU on a new path. Through their trailblazing spirit they made our university a better place. We are very proud of them and are delighted to honor their exceptional leadership."
These LSU trailblazers being recognized include:
Joanette Boutte, volleyball and women's basketball teams;
Myra Burrell Brown, softball team;
Fallon J. Bucker, women's soccer team;
John Sibley Butler, Ph.D., Tiger Band;
Mike Carter, men's gymnastics team;
Kyle Copeland-Muse, women's tennis team;
Ladeta Crowley; cheerleading squad;
Paula Edwards, softball team;
Herman Harris, cheerleading squad;
Lora Hinton, football team;
Paula Jackson, Golden Girl squad;
Gary W. Joseph, baseball team;
Somalia A. Lindsay, women's soccer team;
Joe Lott, wrestling team;
Saundra Mims Minor, Golden Girl squad;
Claudeidra Minor, Golden Girl squad;
Donald Newman, baseball;
Debra Ross, women's gymnastics
Michelle Spillman, women's gymnastics team;
Collis Temple, Jr., men's basketball team;
Edward Walker, baseball team;
Elma Walker, Pom Pon squad;
Mikell H. Williams, football team; and
Lloyd B. Wills, Jr., track and field team
"These student-athletes were truly trailblazers for our university, in general, and our athletics program, in particular," said Joe Alleva, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics. "They broke barriers that took great strength and they paved new paths that, today, enable many more student-athletes opportunity to strive and to have even greater opportunities to compete for championships while excelling in their academic pursuits."
During 2010, LSU celebrates its Sesquicentennial or 150 years of serving Louisiana and the world. The Sesquicentennial and this event presents the University with an opportunity to reflect on its history, celebrate those who have made impacts, and commit to advancing diversity within and outside the classroom. Diversity as a philosophy, objective, and goal is evident through LSU's Diversity Statement, Commitment to Community, and Flagship Agenda.
"Although the Southeastern Conference (SEC) was the last NCAA conference in America to integrate, LSU's breakthrough in co-curricular programs came in 1965 when John Butler became the first African American in the LSU Tiger Band," said Katrice Albert, vice provost for Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach. "We are delighted to recognize and honor our outstanding alumni. These 'tiger torchbearers' altered the course of history and created paths of enormous opportunities for others to compete. We stand and applaud these pioneers as their leadership, bravery, and fortitude in the classroom and on the field were extremely critical to the LSU diversity agenda today."
LSU legends have continued their Tiger spirit through legacies and involvement. Temple, Jr., has passed on his love for Tiger basketball to his sons, Collis Temple III and Garret Temple, both star athletes on the LSU Tiger Basketball team. Temple is also an active member of the A P Tureaud, Sr. Black Alumni Chapter of the LSU Alumni Association.
"The LSU journey was and is challenging, enlightening, contagious, but most of all, inspiring. Inspiring because of the many relationships formed and the sense of family one can develop," reflected Temple. "The fellow honorees and I are part of a family of legacies. It's the spirit of these legacies that I've shared with my children and that I hope radiates from this event."
Another LSU first, Butler, serves as a member of the LSU Alumni Association Board of Directors and remains vested in the work of the University.
Today, LSU athletics and band programs have made great strides to enhance diversity. LSU athletics comprise 35% ethnic minorities and 39% women. Additionally, the athletic program, along with the NCAA, has made diversity and cultural awareness a primary objective. LSU's athletic program has its first, diversity and outreach coordinator for student-athletes in the Cox Communication Academic Center for Student-Athletes. Further, Athletics now offers opportunities for coaches and athletic administrators to gain diversity training.
This is event is being presented by the LSU Office of Chancellor.
For more information regarding this event, please contact Rachel Smith at email@example.com or 225-578-0524. For more information regarding diversity efforts at LSU, please contact Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach at 225-578-5736 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.