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Press coverage from Talent Call Week

Aug. 22, 2019 news articles from Swedish language paper Åbo Underrättelser and Finnish language newspaper Turun Sanomat. au1au2ts1ts2

October 11, 2019 at 7:34 am

Shooting their way to college

Olyvia, 11, Landon and Hunter, both 13 practice shooting in the prone position.


In Louisiana, when you think about kids learning to shoot a rifle, you usually think hunting.
For John Hashagen, he pitches it as a way to an affordable college education.
The West Feliciana Parish Manager also serves as head coach of the parish’s 4-H Rifle Team.
“It was something that our son Christian competed in, so we were attending practices and competitions, then I got certified as a coach,” Hashagen said. “My son is no longer in it, but I love volunteering. It’s a good program and it’s fun.”
His son now competes on the Rifle Team at Morehead State University in Kentucky.

Coach John Hashagen displays one of the Daisy Avanti bb guns his young students use to practice shooting.


He said about 35 colleges across the country have rifle teams and he has created somewhat of a pipeline over the last four or five years as participation has increased from about 40 kids when he started coaching eight years ago to 152 kids, who will be participating this year. He said almost all of the kids who graduate from the program go on to receive scholarships.
He said in his eight years as a coach, his students have gone on to attend, on scholarship, schools such as the Air Force Academy, University of Akron and Tennesee Tech.
“I think it’s a good sport for kids to get into at an early age because it’s a sport that virtually every kid can participate in. It has individual and team competitions and it teaches them discipline, which a lot of kids lack these days,” Hashagen said.
With 4-H, the smaller kids will use BB guns for practice and sporter rifles for competition.
The West Feliciana team’s rifles were purchased with a $12,000 grant from the National Rifle Associations Friends of the NRA program.
Hashagen also credits the LSU AgCenter with providing him with the means to become a certified coach, as well as providing the liability insurance policy that is required when transporting the kids to and from competitions.
Hashagen admitted that the sport can be cost prohibitive as they get older. A precision rifle, required for college competition, costs about $2,000. This is along with almost $4,000 in additional equipment.
“But I also tell parents to think about it this way, we are paying $2,500 a semester for our son to attend a school that costs $14,000 a semester,” Hashagen said.
On Saturday, the three Sonnier children were setting up for practice. All joined last year and already have long-term goals for the sport.
Olyvia, 11, is looking to beat her current high score of 141 and to get past qualifying rounds of the Junior Olympics to compete on a national level.
Landon, 13, hopes continuing to develop his shooting skills will help him when he looks to join the military after high school. He hasn’t decided which branch just yet.
Hunter, 13, is looking to steadily improve in local competitions before moving up to bigger competitions.
Hunter and Landon’s determination has also turned into a bit or a competition between each other as well.
“When we got the notice that there were spots available for them, I took them to sign up that same day becuase they had been asking to join for a while, said their mother Tina Sonnier.

September 22, 2012 at 6:59 pm Leave a comment

2012 Zachary Post Pigskin Preview

I included only photos I shot and edited
West Feliciana High School

West Feliciana High School Football Team 2012 seniors


After a year of rebuilding, the West Feliciana Saints have come back stronger and more mature, says head coach Robb Odom.
“We lost 25 seniors after the 2010 season so we had to play a lot of young guys and I thought we had a pretty successful year,” Odom said. “We made some mistakes because of immaturity, but I’m expecting good things from the players this season.”
He said being a year older has made a difference and that a lot of the players took it upon themselves to workout and get stronger during the off season.
The Saints finished the 2011 season with a 5-6 record and with a Class 3A first round playoff loss against Loranger.
Odom said the goal is to get back to the playoffs, but go farther than the first round.
“Our goal (this year) is not just to make the playoffs, but be playing in November. If you’re playing in November, then you’re doing good things,” Odom said.
In spring practice, the focus has been fundamentals, Odom said.
“The little things in football and life are what make you successful. You take care of the little things and the big things take care of themselves,” Odom said. “If you can’t tackle, can’t block, get down in a proper stance, you’re not going to be very successful.”
After working on technique, Odom said he then had his players focus on learning plays.
“We threw a lot on their plates early to see what they can and can’t handle,” Odom.
The players shared Odom’s philosophy of maturity and technique being the key to a successful season.
“So far, we’ve been conditioning pretty hard and in our scrimmages, the focus has been to make sure we execute the plays,” said senior lineman Trey Cazabatt.
For running back and defensive back, Deldrick Harris, he said learning patience was key for him.
“I learned patience in the losing games (last year). This also pushed me to work hard this summer and be ready,” Harris said.
He will also be playing offensive line this year and said he feels he’s gotten stronger and will do well at the position.
“We see each game as a step forward to the playoffs,” said offensive and defensive lineman Josh Robinson.
“We were a small, but strong line last year, so we spent the off-season focusing on mastering plays.”
Quarterback and defensive back Dennis Bell said last year’s season helped to form the collective mindset of improvement.
“I think we came together as a team because of those (2011) games and once we started to work together more, that’s when we started to play much better,” Bell said.
“I’ll mainly be looking at how my guys compete, who gets after it,” Odom said. “We’ve worked out the kinks and they have what it takes to be successful.”
The Saints have had scrimmages with Plaquemine and Patterson high schools and played a jamboree game against Denham Springs. Their first regular season game will be against the Tioga Indians at home on Aug. 31.

Zachary High School

Zachary High School football coach Neil Weiner talks to players during practice.


For the Zachary Broncos football team, players are banking on individual improvements coming together for a successful 2012 season.
Senior offensive lineman Christopher Taylor spent the off-season improving his speed. along with working on drills, he went to college conditioning camps and spent extra time in the weight room on his own.
Taylor is also looking to see how the Broncos’ defense will do against Catholic High School, the first game of the season.
“They made some big changes, so I want to see how well they do. On offense, I think we have really clicked and I can’t wait to see it in action,” Taylor said.
For senior running back, Boston Scott, he said he felt his biggest obstacle was break away speed.
“I spent a lot of time during the off season working on plyometrics,” Scott said.
Plyometrics, or jump drills, build muscle and help explosiveness.
Scott said being a starter this season is also extra motivation.
Head coach Neil Weiner said he has high expectations this season, despite losing 32 seniors.
“I have always stressed character and leadership, doing the right things and holding each other accountable,” Weiner said. “These are our number one priority.”
The Broncos finished the 2011 season 7-4 with a loss against Acadiana.
Weiner said most of the younger players had rotated through to play in other games, so “they are not totally new to the system.”
“We have a few new spots to fill, but the guys have been great through spring practice,” Weiner said.
“This will be Trey Hills’ first year starting and he’s done a good job of learning as much as possible. Grant VonRosenberg is starting (at center). It will be new for him but I think he’s ready,” Weiner said.
Other players spent their off season getting stronger.
“This summer I wanted to get bigger, faster and stronger, but mostly stronger, said senior corneback Nick Maxey.
He said he lifted at school and worked with weight lifting coach Gayle Hatch. This led to Maxey competing in the Junior Olympics in Texas and taking gold in the 62 kg, age 16-17 group.
The Broncos held a scrimmage against West Monroe and their first regular season game will be against Catholic High Bears on Aug. 31.

East Feliciana

East Feliciana High School 2012 Football Team and Coaching Staff


East Feliciana High Head Coach Craig Anderson said last year was kind of a rebuilding season and he expects his players to get back to 2010 form when they finished 12-1.
“Last season went pretty good even though we finished 5-5. We moved from 2A to 3A and had lost a good group of seniors,” Anderson said. “The guys are better this year and for the most part, I want them to just have fun and play football.”
Senior quarterback Kendell Beckwith said he spent the summer trying to get more accurate with his throws and improved his defensive skills since he will be playing linebacker as well.
Last year, he passed for more than 800 yards and had seven passing touchdowns.
Anderson said he expects Beckwith to also settle into his role as a leader on the team.
Beckwith said he is optimistic about the 2012 season after an Aug. 17 scrimmage with St. Helena High School.
Junior wide receiver Danny Johnson said he spent the summer hitting the weights and on the field working on his play routes.
“I think one thing we have focused on going into this season is working together better,” Johnson said.
He said the scrimmage with St. Helena showed that he and the players need to make sure they are capitalizing on a lead.
“Once we are ahead, we need to make sure we keep that momentum going,” Johnson said.
In the first game against Northeast on Aug. 31 Johnson said he hopes to do better catching the ball and breaking tackles.
Senior wide receiver said Corey Hawkins last season was motivation to work harder.
“The scrimmage showed me I need to improve on my route running and I need to practice the plays more,” he said.
Hawkins said he’s hoping to dominate against the Northeast Vikings, whom they beat 41-0 last year.
Senior running back and cornerback Ladarius Jackson said he and other seniors got together during the off season to train together.
“This is our senior year, we want to play hard and go out and have fun,” Jackson said.

August 13, 2012 at 12:28 am Leave a comment

MLK JR. COMMITTEE AND SOUTHEAST COMMUNITY HEALTH HOST BACK TO SCHOOL FAIR

by Vanessa C. Deggins
On Saturday, the Zachary Martin Luther King Jr. Committee was able to give out 675 bags of school supplies at its 19th annual Back to School Fair, according to event chairwoman Johnnie Evans.
“We gave out 550 bags last year and ran out, so we really wanted to get that number up,” Evans said.
Evans said that in the lead up to Saturday she was getting dozens of calls from parents needing help purchasing supplies and uniforms. She said as the mother of now-grown children, she understands these parents’ struggle; so she puts a lot energy into this event.
“There weren’t any events like this when I was raising my kids, and the economy is still not in the best shape; so if we can do something to help, then we need to do it,” Evans said.
The Back to School Fair took place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; but around 9:15 a.m., the line of parents and children began to stretch out the parking lot of the Zachary Men’s Club.
The supplies were given out on a first come, first serve basis, and parents were asked to provide basic information about the child, such as name, age, grade and school.
“We’ve been using that information to determine how many sets of elementary, middle and high school supplies we will need for next year’s event,” Evans said.
Parents also received a raffle ticket that automatically entered their child into a drawing for a free bookbag.
Volunteers from Clerk of Court Doug Welborn’s office were on hand to create picture IDs for the children. Along with a photo, the laminated card contained the child’s name, thumb print, address, phone number and date of birth.
“I was raised on the philosophy that it takes a village to raise a child, and that’s why I love volunteering at this event every year,” said Adrianna Armstead, who is a graduate of Zachary High School and now works in the Clerk of Court office. “Regardless of whether you are single or married, the price of everything seems to have gone up, and it can be overwhelming; so I think it’s always good to come together and help others if you can.”
Tamecka Melton was at the event with her three-year-old son, Tycen, to get a uniform and ID for him.
“Some places are completely out of uniforms, and sometimes you just don’t have the finances; so it’s helpful to know there are events like this to make sure kids have what they need.”
Demetreia Thomas brought her four grandchildren, ranging in age from five to ten, because two of them still needed uniforms.
“I’m really grateful for these events. A little help does go a long way,” Thomas said.
Members of the Zachary Fire and Police Departments were on hand to talk to kids, let them tour a fire truck and tell them about the D.A.R.E program.
Zachary Police Chief David McDavid spoke at the event about the importance of doing well in school and thinking about the consequences of one’s actions and decisions.
As the event wrapped up, an exhausted but happy Evans reported that volunteers had to prepare a few extra bags of supplies, giving out a total of 200 uniforms, courtesy of Southeast Community Health Systems.
Evans said the committee was only able to give out 200 bookbags through the raffle.
“That’s one area where we want to expand as well. Many parents still needed a bookbag for their child,” she said.
“Everything went really well, even though it was so hot. The parents are always so excited and they really appreciate the help,” she said.
Other features of the event included space walks and volunteers from Lane Memorial Hospital doing blood pressure checks for adults. Primary care physician Stephen Jones was on hand to offer lifestyle tips for anyone with elevated blood pressure.
The MLK Zachary Committee accepts donations year round, which can be mailed to 6539 Donnie St., Zachary, La. 7079. Checks should be made out to MLK Committee of Zachary.
Children begin classes in Zachary schools on Thursday, August 9.

original link

August 7, 2012 at 12:57 am Leave a comment

FANS FLOCK TO BATON ROUGE: McNeese puts up fight against LSU

published Oct. 17, 2010
SW La. tailgaters split loyalties, cheer for both teams
Article and photos BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

McNeese State University alumni load buses outside Cowboy Stadium Saturday morning to travel to Baton Rouge to watch the McNeese football team play LSU. This is the first time the two schools have played each other in football. BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS/AMERICAN PRESS

BATON ROUGE — McNeese State tailgaters were well-represented at LSU on Saturday.

Around 11 a.m., more than a dozen charter buses of alumni left Cowboy Stadium bound for Baton Rouge.
Some had split loyalties through the years, cheering for both teams.

Ocie McGuire of Sulphur said he usually cheered for LSU, but now that they are playing McNeese, he had to pick his alma mater.

LSU’s 32-10 victory marked the first time the teams have played in football because the schools compete at different levels. McNeese and LSU have competed regularly in other sports, including baseball.

McNeese’s athletic department was guaranteed $405,000 for playing LSU, which was ranked No. 9 in last week’s Associated Press media and USA Today coaches polls. A crowd of 92,576 saw the action, with McNeese selling all 6,000 tickets it was allotted.

Walter Eubanks of DeQuincy, an alumni of McNeese and LSU, said he just planned to enjoy the game.

“They always played good games in baseball. I think this will be a good football game, too,” Eubanks said.

Gregory Captain of Iowa — another dual alumni — and his wife, Annie, said they loved the in-state game.
“It’s just a nice gathering for me,” Gregory Captain said.

“It’s something to bring the state together, I think,” Annie Captain said. “Great weather and it’s gonna be a great atmosphere, cause this is Louisiana.”

Children play football in front of Scott Pendarvis’ tailgate area on Saturday. Pendarvis, a former McNeese State quarterback, said he grew up tailgating at LSU with his parents.  BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS/AMERICAN PRESS

Gary Farber, a season ticket holder for McNeese games, also said he loved the in-state opponent aspect.

He and his wife, Theresa, said they couldn’t pass up a chance to go to this game.

“Just like when Southern came here (Lake Charles), this game sold out quick and it was a great crowd and a great game,” Farber said.

Over at Touchdown Village, where RV owners tailgate just off LSU’s campus, McNeese and LSU fans mingled at every RV.

Eva and V.J. Abate of Lake Charles were out with about 25 people.

“We usually tailgate for all of the McNeese home games, but my husband was able to get us a spot here for his RV,” Eva Abate said.

Former McNeese quarterback Scott Pendarvis was tailgating with a mixed crowd of about 20 people.

“I’ve been tailgating at LSU my whole life, and when I went to McNeese, my parents came there,” Pendarvis said.

His older brother and wife Lynsie graduated from LSU, but he said their 1-month-old son, Wyatt, will be “all McNeese.”

Pendarvis said he hoped the game would serve as a learning experience for the Cowboys, who play football in the Southland Conference.

“McNeese is a big underdog, but I think they can use the game to get better. The final score may not show that,” he said.

LSU defender Kendrick Adams chases McNeese tailback Andre Johnson in Saturday night’s game. BY BRAD PUCKETT/AMERICAN PRESS

James Marchand of Sulphur was tailgating with his three brothers, all LSU alumnus.
He said he is glad the two schools finally played each other in football.

“I don’t know why it took so long for them play each other,” he said. “Being a fan of McNeese and an even bigger fan of LSU, it’s just great they finally did this.”

October 17, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Trooper Dalton honored with US 171 memorial designation

*published Aug. 24, 2010
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

At a Monday ceremony dedicating a stretch of U.S. 171 to fallen state police Trooper Duane Dalton, his co-workers remembered him for his humor and willingness to help others.

Dalton was killed in a Jan 12 on-duty accident on U.S.. 171.

As his training officer, Trooper Josh Duhon described Dalton as a great teacher, using personal lessons he learned while on duty as a freshman trooper.

“I have to say I learned more from him than any other FTO,” Duhon said.

“His training style was hands-on,” said Trooper David Lonkowski. “He believed in showing you and leading by example.”

Lonkowski said Dalton “never ran across a strang–er.” “He tried to make everyone feel comfortable,” Lonkowski said.

Trooper John Goodly described Dalton as a super nice guy who was quick to provide backup to other troopers on a call.

Dalton was a native of Radford, Va., and came to Southwest Louisiana during his time in the Army.

He worked for the Lake Charles Police Department before moving to state police, where he worked in gaming and patrol.

“He liked the fact that he helped people, whether it be an arrest in a domestic disturbance or a traffic accident,” Duhon said.

Dalton was also a fun person to work with, according to the troopers at the ceremony, who said he “could make anyone laugh.”

“I referred to him as the gentle giant because he was huge,” Goodly said of Dalton, who stood about 6 feet 4 inches tall. “If he came to your scene and you had an unruly person or something, they’d see him and quiet down.”

“Little did they know he was harmless. He’s definitely missed, along with his corny jokes.”

The one-mile stretch of U.S. 171 dedicated to Dalton runs from Sam Houston Jones Parkway to You Winn Road.

The proclamation came about from a bill co-sponsored by State Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Moss Bluff, and Sen. Willie Mount, D-Lake Charles.

His widow, Charissa, thanked the attendees for the dedication as well as the help she has received from them since her husband’s death.

“The support has been overwhelming. They’ve all been there to help me with anything I’ve needed, from yard work to whatever. They’ve been there,” Charissa Dalton said.

link: http://bit.ly/9xoV6h

August 24, 2010 at 3:09 pm

‘Baddest Show on Dirt’ makes stop in Lake Charles (multimedia)

Herman Stevens of Lake Charles practices calf roping earlier this week at his residence to get ready to compete in Saturday’s first Lake Charles Black Rodeo at the Civic Center. BY VANESSA DEGGINS

To see video highlights from the rodeo, CLICK HERE.

article by Cliff Seiber: http://bit.ly/aubF7D

August 8, 2010 at 10:58 pm

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