Michael Neustrom's Living Memorial for the Coach Russ Faulkinberry Tribute is followed by the Bruce Brown Spotlight Feature on Former Athletes, an article on the 1962 Catholic High School state football championship season, an article about Mike's UL Hall of Fame induction and other biographical information. His LM was submitted on 6/29/2017 and posted by Dr. Ed Dugas that day.
Russ Faulkinberry’s Living Memorial, Michael Neustrom – Football 1965-68,
Faculty/Staff 1970-74 & 1977-2000.
In reflecting on the tenure and talents of Coach Faulkinberry, what stands out most prominently in my mind was his strong management style in dealing with the players.
His ability to seek out superb coaches and recruit a team of spunky, qualified, and diverse players enabled him to produce the greatest win/loss record at that time in USL history.
His philosophy, coupled with the skill and experience of the coaching staff, set the tone for an era of athletic excellence.
I have fond memories of playing under Coach Faulklinberry. He brought together a unique blend of assistant coaches - Louisiana natives who recruited effectively in-state, joined by a group of talented out-of-state coaches who were able to relate and recruit local players, as well as those from the states of Alabama, Tennessee, Texas and Alabama.
Black athletes were recruited and played on our teams. I applaud Coach Faulkinberry and his staff for helping establish a more open, more diverse, more competitive style of playing the game.
I give Coach Faulklinberry credit for helping usher in an era in which USL was expected to win conference championships.
From my first encounter with Coach Faulkinberry in 1965, it was abundantly clear that he was the person in charge. His presence and demeanor were as large as his stature; his deep voice, spoken with assurance and authority (accentuated by his slow, southern drawl) left no doubt that the buck stopped with him.
I have painfully vivid memories of running stadiums at McNaspy Stadium under his watchful eye – punishment for a variety of transgressions, which ranged from missing/lateness of team meetings, curfew or study hall.
He was the head coach on the two GSC championship teams on which I played, 1965 and 1968. The spirit and high hopes that I had in 1965 when he offered me a scholarship at USL continued throughout my career. We never had a losing season under Coach Faulklinberry.
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Spotlight Feature on Former Athlete: Mike Neustrom - Football 1965-68
Neustrom made a career of service, conscience
By Bruce Brown
Written for Athletic Network
Political campaigns are about as much fun as running extra stadium steps in the hot sun.
Each has its place, but you can grow weary of both. So, sooner or later, it's time to move on.
That's what Mike Neustrom is doing. The former All-America linebacker for USL's Ragin' Cajuns in the 1960's will turn over the job of Lafayette Parish Sheriff this year and see what else life has to offer.
“I have other interests,” said Neustrom, a guitarist and Blue Grass music lover in addition to being a Master Gradener and being deeply involved in a myriad of community projects. “Different events cause you to reflect differently on your life.
“You react, adjust and go forward.”
Moving forward was difficult for the Neustrom clan when daughter Alison lost a courageous 11-month battle with pancreatic cancer and died at 42 last September.
It was devastating for Neustrom, wife Ceci, daughters Kimberly, Vanessa and Emily and sons Benjamin and Thomas.
“Everyone faces difficulty in their life,” Neustrom said. “I learned from her as a model for how to deal with difficulty, and normally it's the opposite, the child learning from the parent.
“I have great admiration for her. Her life was full and positive.”
By any measure, Neustrom has enjoyed a successful career in athletics, academics and law enforcement – largely because he was always open to looking at challenges with a fresh, inclusive approach.
That began as a football standout at Catholic High of New Iberia, learning life lessons from a team sport.
“Team sports require you to do things in order to get along with others,” Neustrom said. “You realize there are other parts to the puzzle. There are many people and groups to deal with.
“You learn about the complexity of life, that there are multiple people to be considered. Arriving at the common good is not about only one group. Knowing that, it's easier to accept different opinions.”
Results on the field weren't bad, either, as CHNI won the LHSAA Class A state title in 1962 under Raymond Blanco and Neustrom signed with the Cajuns and Russ Faulkinberry in 1965.
“My dad died when I was young, and my mom worked,” Neustrom said. “Going to college was a new thing in the family. My sister went to Northeast. I had some contact with some coaches and was able to sign with USL.”
Neustrom became a team captain, was on two Gulf South Conference championship teams, never lost to McNeese, beat La. Tech's Terry Bradshaw three times and faced off with stars like Pensacola Navy's Roger Staubach and Tampa's Leon “Quick 6” McQuay – all the while observing the team dynamic and its effects on coaches and players.
He was equally reflective in the classroom as a sociology major. It was there that his career path got its start.
“I read a book called 'Black and Blue in America' by Nicholas Allen that discussed the double layer of complexity involved to be black and serve in our police departments,” Neustrom said. “That peaked my curiosity.
“There was an idea at the time of using students as officers (on campus) and we had to develop a training program in an academic setting. It was something I wanted to study more.”
Neustrom got his sociology degree in 1970, served USL as director of University Police from 1970-74, then left to pursue first a masters in political science and then his doctorate in criminal justice at Sam Houston State.
He returned to his alma mater as a criminal justice professor (1977-2000) and began the Acadiana Law Enforcement Training Academy.
“I enjoyed research and the community angle,” Neustrom said. “I was data driven. You self exam yourself and ask, 'Is this doing any good?' Officers (as students) can be pretty combative at times.”
By the time he became sheriff, Neustrom was ready to try new ideas.
“I wanted us to look at a different way of policing, look at community involvement and cost,” he said. “We asked people to come along with the new wave. It was not easy. It was gradual. It's still a work in progress. Most have bought in.
“We want to improve the way people's lives are out there.”
Neustrom studied other programs in cities like San Antonio, Texas, Seattle and another in Florida to examine concepts like “safe haven” among others.
“You want to address the underlying problems of the individual that affect who gets (put) in your jail,” he said. “You want to get at the root cause. Most of them have health issues, and you provide short term help.
“Services need to be broader to look at how to solve problems.”
Land-locked downtown, the Sheriff Department built an expanded jail that can expand and has a plan for the future.
Neustrom was also one of the founders of the St. Joseph's Diner, reflecting his personal commitment to look outward and seek solutions.
“That was the 1980's, and people like Claire Ashy and Msgr. Sigur were all interested in doing something good, and it worked,” Neustrom said. “There is a similar thing now with the homeless. There's just a need, and nobody's doing it.
“I'm also interested in improving alternative education. We have the educational component here at the old N.P. Moss, and the residential component in Branch. It's evidence-based and is (like) the old AMI Kids program.”
There is plenty to fill the days for the 68-year-old former football star, who has done things largely his way.
“My legacy is something I don't think about a lot,” Neustrom said. “Louisiana has a history of certain (political) ways of doing things. I've tried to be apolitical, tried to minimize the influence of politics.
“There are ways to run a government, and some see traditional politics as the only way. Things are just accepted. Maybe it's part of the political process. It can get fuzzy.
“There has to be a give-and-take in the exchange of what we provide.”
Mike Neustrom was not your typical student-athlete, and his life has been extraordinary as well. Now he's ready for that next step.
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Football: The One and Only - Recap of Catholic High (NI) 1962 season and more
Daily Advertiser December 4, 2009
Ed Pratt remembers the first time he ever saw Raymond Blanco.
About to begin his freshman year at Catholic High of New Iberia in 1959, Pratt and four other students were working out during the summer when Blanco walked up to the group and introduced himself as the school's new head football coach.
"We were scared," Pratt remembered.
Once Blanco fully implemented his rigid football ideas on Pratt and his teammates, they learned how legitimate their initial fears were and also how shortsighted they would end up being.
At the time, Pratt had no way of knowing how much Blanco would impact his life. Not only did he play four years of high school football under him, he played and coached under him for eight years for the then-USL football team, and then Blanco was his boss for 40 years at UL.
Naturally, other teammates have crossed paths periodically with Blanco over the years. And all of them experienced something during Blanco's four years that they're still talking about almost 50 years later.
Catholic High enjoyed back-to-back undefeated regular seasons, highlighted by the lifetime memory of winning the Class 1A state championship at Ferriday High in 1962. And even more than that, the Panthers' championship team of '62 will forever be known as the first from the Acadiana area to win a state title in football.
Not since that season has a Catholic High football team reached the state semifinal level. That drought ends tonight when the No. 20-seeded Panthers travel to meet the No. 1 Notre Dame Pioneers at Rayne High with a Superdome appearance on the line.
Those two teams, separated by 47 years, met Thursday night when a group of players from that 1962 team still living in the area gathered at the Catholic High cafeteria to address this year's football team.
"A bunch of them are going to be there," Blanco said on Tuesday. "I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to tell them. I just know that we played a real good Notre Dame (then St. Michael's) team that year in the regular season and beat them."
The list of players on that 1962 title team reads like a who's who, ranging from current Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mike Neustrom, UL Dean of Students Pratt, District Judge John Conery, Chester Gosnell, future LSU lineman Allen LeBlanc, future Tulane Green Wave player Nat Toulon, Tommy Hayes, Kenny Greig, John Howard and the late Bill Bayard.
The coaching staff also included a familiar name in eventual Comeaux High coach Bobby Banna, who later was Ron Guidry's baseball coach at UL.
"We had a group of guys who were dedicated," Banna said. "It was really a great group of young men. We had some talent, but their character was a big part of their success. It was just a great group to be around."
Banna said he regularly talks about the memories of that state title run with members of the team around the community. Blanco said he routinely plays cards with a group of players from that team.
Pratt said the special feeling from that team's accomplishment has never left him.
"It still means a great deal," said Pratt, who said he remains a fan of Catholic High's program. "It's something you never forget. There's just a little sense of pride in you because of what you were able to accomplish as a team. It's a team thing. We were a team. It's such a special feeling when you do something like that as a team."
The secret to Catholic's success was simple in Pratt's mind. It was coaches Blanco, Banna, Tom Colwell and Cam DeGravelle.
"At the time, we were just doing everything like they wanted," Pratt said. "Now looking back, they were clearly ahead of their time. They were great tacticians. They taught us technique. They looked at film. They would prepare us to the point where we'd know exactly what the other team was going to do.
"They were very demanding. As part of being demanding, though, they got us to produce on every play."
In Blanco's first season, the Panthers were 7-3. Then came a season they all wanted to forget at 2-8 in 1960.
Pratt cringed when remembering how tough it was to get through that losing season as a sophomore and how determined they were to reverse their fortunes the next year. In fact, after an early-season win the following season, Blanco got on the team bus after the game and noticed how reserved all the players were.
"He walked on the bus and looked at us and said, 'What's the matter?'" Pratt said. "'You just won a football game and you're not cheering. You're acting like you lost.' We were just so determined that we weren't going to go through another 2-8 season again."
The Panthers won every game in the regular season that year, but then lost to Amite in the first round of the state playoffs.
Then came the magical 1962 season with a 13-0 win over Ferriday, which had won three state titles in the previous decade. Pratt and Gosnell scored the two touchdowns in the state title win.
"We'd like to think that we had our kids more prepared, but I don't know," Banna said. "More than just the knowledge of the game, we instilled discipline in them. It got to the point where we didn't have to correct the players. They corrected themselves."
There wasn't much complicated about Catholic High's approach in that era.
"Other coaches would make fun of us that we weren't going to do anything different," Blanco said. "If it was third down, we were still going off tackle. We were just very fortunate that we had some good kids. We had some good running backs and Bayard (at quarterback)."
Blanco and Banna grew up near each other in Birmingham, Ala. After spending a year at Kirwin High in Galveston, Texas, Blanco got a call from Colwell ï¿½ï¿½" who was the basketball coach at Catholic High ï¿½ï¿½" about the football opening at the school. Blanco and Colwell were college friends at St. Benedict's in Kansas.
When Blanco got the job, he called Banna to join him on the staff. Neither have left the area since.
"I hated Texas," Blanco said. "My mother's family was from New Orleans, so I wanted to come to Louisiana. When I got down here, though, everybody was talking about boxing, not football. They were tough, but they weren't football players. We just brought a little bit of that Alabama brand of football down here."
While Blanco's aggressive personality caught many at Catholic High by storm 50 years ago, Banna said it's not hard for those who weren't around then to imagine what he was like.
"He (Blanco) hasn't really changed a bit," Banna laughed. "What you see now is what he was when he was 4 years old."
Posted Dec. 4, 2009
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UL Hall Honors New Inductees
Sharing the homecoming spotlight with Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns on Saturday were four new members of the Ragin' Cajuns Lettermen Club's Hall of Fame.
The quartet - weight lifter Gene Hebert, tennis ace Carter Lomax Jr., multi-threat track and field star Larry Moore and linebacker Michael Neustrom - were introduced during halftime of UL's 31-28 overtime thriller over Troy University at Cajun Field.
"You forget how much fun it is to be here, and how nice the people are," said Lomax, a doctor in Kalamazoo, Mich. "That hasn't changed. The spirit is the same."
Lomax was enthusiastic about joining former mid-1970's doubles partner and previous inductee Skipper Hunt in the UL Hall.
"I'm ecstatic that Skipper's in here, too," Lomax said. "You start thinking back to some of the good times here."
Hebert, who excelled in his sport from 1959-64, is eager to see the Hall find a home with future remodeling of the athletic complex.
"It's a great, great honor to be recognized with such an elite group of athletes," Hebert said. "I hope to continue to be involved with the university and I absolutely want to see the Hall find a home."
Neustrom, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff, has been around many previous introductions of Hall classes, but enjoyed joining the list.
"It's a little different when you're involved with it," said Neustrom, who led UL to Gulf States Conference titles in 1965 and 1968.
Moore, an All-American in the 55-meter hurdles and the triple jump, now runs Moorehouse Productions as well as serving as a music professor at Elizabeth City State.
"We laid the foundation," Moore said of his days at UL in 1991-1992 under coach Charles Lancon. "They wanted to get something good started, and to come from Blinn (College) and help start it was an honor."
Oct. 10, 2005
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Ragin' Cajun Lettermen Club Hall of Fame: Neustrom Among Induction Class
The induction of four new members into the Ragin' Cajuns Lettermen Club's Athletic Hall of Fame is one of the showcase events this week as the University of Louisiana celebrates homecoming.
The 2005 class includes weight lifter Gene Hebert (1959-64), tennis ace Carter Lomax, Jr., M.D. (1975-76), track and field standout Larry Moore (1991-92) and football linebacker Mike Neustrom (1965-68).
Hebert was a four-year letterman in gymnastics and a two-year letter winner in weight lifting.
The music education major was the bantam weight national champion in 1963 and '64 and won more than 20 titles through his collegiate weight lifting career.
Lomax and fellow Hall of Fame member Skipper Hunt were the first high-profile stars of the Jerry Simmons Era of UL tennis.
Lomax was a two-time All-Southland Conference player, the league champion in both singles and doubles in 1975 and was the Top Male Athlete in the Southland both years playing for the Cajuns.
Moore was an All-American in both the triple jump and 55-meter hurdles, leading the Cajuns of coach Charles Lancon to dominance of the Sun Belt Conference in men's track during a multi-event two-year stay with the Cajuns.
The musically-inclined Moore graduated in contemporary media programming.
Neustrom was an all-conference and All-American linebacker for the Cajuns of coach Russ Faulkinberry, leading the 1965 and 1968 squads to the Gulf States Conference championship.
Currently the Lafayette Parish Sheriff, Neustrom holds a masters degree in political science and a PhD in criminal justice from Sam Houston State.
Originally published October 25, 2005
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UL LAFAYETTE 2005 ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES ANNOUNCED
October 03, 2005 - Tiffany Harris, Ragin' Cajun Lettermen Club President -
Lafayette, La. - The University of Louisiana Lafayette (UL Lafayette) is proud to announce the 2005 inductees to the Ragin' Cajuns Lettermen Club (RCLC) Athletic Hall of Fame.
They are Gene Hebert, Weightlifting; Carter Lomax, Jr., Tennis; Larry Moore, Track & Field; and Michael Neustrom, Football.
Gene Hebert (Weightlifting '59-64) received his Master of Education in Music from USL in 1965. He was a four-year letterman in gymnastics and a two-year letterman in weightlifting (following the sanctioning of the sport by AD Whitey Urban). Gene was the Bantam Weight National Champion in 1963 and 1964. Hebert won more than 20 titles throughout his career at USL.
Carter Lomax, Jr., M.D. (Tennis '75-76) graduated from the LSU School of Medicine in 1981. While at USL Lomax was a two-year letterman in tennis in 1975 and 1976. He received All Southland honors both years, received Top Male Scholar Athlete honors both years and was the Southland conference single and doubles champion in 1975. Carter also held many school records for most single and doubles wins ï¿½ many still stand today.
Larry Moore (Track '91-92) graduated from USL in 1993 with a General Studies ï¿½ Contemporary Media Programming degree. Larry was a two-year letterman for USL (following his transfer from Blinn Junior College) earning All-American honors in the 55 hurdles and the triple jump. Moore was Conference Champion many times over and still holds school records in the triple jump and 110 hurdles.
Michael Neustrom (Football '65-68) graduated from USL in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology, in 1975 from Sam Houston State with a Masters in Police Science and in 1977 from Sam Houston State with a PhD in Criminal Justice. Mike was a four-year letterman for the USL football team. During his play, he received All-Conference and All-American honors. Mike was instrumental in leading the 1965 and 1968 teams to the Gulf States Conference Championship.
The purpose of the UL Lafayette Hall of Fame is to give recognition to those athletes who have made a significant contribution to the good name of the University by demonstrating exceptional ability and sportsmanship on the playing fields, commendable scholarship in the classroom, high quality leadership on the campus and who after leaving the University have established a personal reputation for character and citizenship in the community which they reside.
"Our goal is to remind each new generation of athletes of the tradition they must uphold and the ideals that they should strive for not only while they are wearing the UL Lafayette uniforms but once they have left the University," said RCLC President Tiffany Harris (Softball '92-'95).
The RCLC Chapter is comprised of men and women who lettered in athletics while they were students at SLI/USL/UL Lafayette. The RCLC is a constituent chapter of the UL Lafayette Alumni Association and it retains close ties to the Athletic Department.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Tiffany Harris (337) 235-1848
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Mike is married to the former Cecilia O'Keefe and the couple has six children.
Mike has served as Sheriff of Lafayette Parish for 4 terms and will be retiring from office on June 30, 2016, with 16 years as Sheriff.
Mike still enjoys spending time at Cajun sporting events.
Updated April 26, 2017 to include UL faculty and staff positions:
1970-74 USL Police Chief;
1977-2000 Faculty Member, Criminal Justice Department.