Ragin' Cajuns Hall of Fame class may be best ever
Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, Nov. 18, 2017
Anytime you rank something like a Hall of Fame class at any level of sport or at any university, it’s very subjective.
When dealing with that many high-quality athletes, it’s largely splitting hairs when you begin comparing and contrasting.
Nevertheless, it would be very difficult to put up much of an argument that the 2017 UL Athletics Hall of Fame class is the best in school history.
You have elite all-time greats in their respective sports in women’s basketball’s Kim Perrot, baseball’s Jonathan Lucroy and women’s track and field’s JoJo Harris. You have two superb players in men’s basketball’s Dion Brown and softball’s Lacey Bertucci Sharp who played on great teams in glory eras.
Then you have three lifer-type of university employees that touched so many lives in student-athlete academic center director Danny Cottonham, women’s administrator Sherry LeBas and trainer John Porche.
Growing up a huge UL basketball fan, my favorite players were typically power forwards. I tend to follow the quiet, hard-working performers that tend to get overlooked.
Dion Brown was my favorite player. I have one Ragin’ Cajuns jersey as a souvenir and it’s one of Brown’s No. 21 road jerseys from the early 1980s.
He was part of a special group that never quite reached its full potential with two close-call NCAA losses to Tennessee and Rutgers and one NIT Final Four loss to Notre Dame.
Buy Photo Kim Perrot will be inducted into the UL Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday night. (Photo: Advertiser file photo)
But thanks to his 1,412 career points and 926 rebounds, Brown and his colleagues also gave us so many great victories during his career.
As Brown was leaving, Perrot was arriving at UL. The women’s game wasn’t nearly as popular as the men back then, but those who watched Perrot play got a treat. The former Acadiana High star set 19 school records from 1986-90, leading the nation in scoring at 30 points a game in 1990.
She still holds the school record with 58 points against Southeastern that year.
Perrot later helped the Houston Comets win back-to-back WNBA titles and she was the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1998.
Then there’s Lucroy. If Ron Guidry is the gold standard, Lucroy would get the silver.
At times over the last few Major League seasons, Lucroy was the second-best catcher in baseball.
And to think UL was his only Division I offer.
“UL didn’t find me until late in the process,” Lucroy remembered. “I didn’t have many options. Essentially, I had no Division I offers. The coach at Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers had offered me. I just didn’t feel it, but it was really my only offer, so I was going to take it.”Then, one day, then-UL assistant John Szefc was watching Cajun commitment Buddy Glass pitch in a summer league game in Winterhaven, Florida. Catching Glass was Lucroy.
“After the game, coach Szecf said he wanted me to take a visit,” Lucroy said. “The minute we went there, I was like, ‘This is awesome. I’m coming.’ There was no question in my mind that I was going to UL. It was the best offer at a very competitive program. And the rest is history.”
Lucroy finished his career in 2007 as the school’s all-time leader in doubles, RBIs and total bases. He set the new single-season record with 174 total bases as a senior.
“It means a lot. It’s a huge achievement,” Lucroy said. “To be able to be in the Hall of Fame of a Division I nationally competitive baseball team like UL is definitely a blessing. I’ll be remembered forever. That’s such an honor.
“I learned so much from Coach Robe during my time there. Coach Robe held us to such high standards. Since I left UL, I’m always trying to maintain those high standards that he always made us adhere to during my playing days at UL.”
When Bertucci-Sharp got the word last month she was a UL Hall of Famer, she couldn’t believe it.
“No way I ever thought about being in that class,” she said. “Players like Alana Addison, Brooke Mitchell, Becky McMurtry were in the group. I never thought of myself being in that group. I never realized anyone put me in that group.”
She was a workhorse player with a school-record 255 games played and earning All-Sun Belt honors four times. He career best season came in 2007 with 19 homers and 57 RBIs.
UL's Lacey Bertucci, shown here getting a high-five from coach Michael Lotief after a home run back in 2006, was inducted into the UL Athletic Hall of Fame Friday. (Photo: Advertiser file photo)
“The minute I visited Lafayette, I knew right away it was going to be my home for four and half years,” Bertucci-Sharp said. “Coach Mike (Lotief) and coach Stef (Lotief) treated me like one of their own kids.”
She’s now the head softball coach at St. Scholastica in Covington.
“I tried to show all of my players the love Coach Mike and Coach Stef always showed me,” Bertucci-Sharp said. “I try to let them know that whatever they need from me, I’m going to be there for them. That’s what I took from playing for Coach Mike.”
She also increased her team’s home run output from four to 32 in her first three years there.
Track and field standouts may not be as well known, but Harris was elite nonetheless.
Harris set the school record in the discus with a throw of 180-11, shattering the old record by 16 feet.
“And I don’t think anyone has come within 20 feet of it ever since,” said former UL assistant track coach Tommy Badon. “JoJo was definitely one of the best in that era. Keisha Owens, Twilet Malcolm and JoJo I would say were the top three in by far the best era of women’s track in school history.”
Harris won two conference championships.
Now she’s part of another highly-celebrated Hall of Fame class.