FRISCO — Longtime Southeast Texas sports journalist Rush Wood, who served in positions at Lamar University, and the local Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange newspapers, has been named the 2013 recipient of the Southland Conference’s Louis Bonnette Sports Media Award. The honor will be presented during the Southland’s Football Media Day luncheon Wednesday at L’auberge Resort in Lake Charles, La.
The Southland’s award, named after longtime McNeese State sports information director Louis Bonnette, is presented annually to an individual that has made an outstanding contribution in the field of sports information, print journalism, broadcasting or other media focused on the Southland Conference and/or its member institutions.
The Southland’s sports information directors, athletic directors or other university personnel, and outside media executives nominated worthy individuals for the honor, and the sports information directors made the final selection.
Wood, a journalism graduate of Sam Houston State University, began his award-winning sports journalism career in 1967 with stops at the Houston Post and El Paso Times before a seven-year stint as sports editor of the Orange Leader. He joined Lamar University as sports information director in 1979, beginning a successful 12-year run publicizing Cardinals’ athletic feats, including the unprecedented achievements of the Lamar men’s basketball, baseball and track & field programs during that era.
Wood returned to newspaper work following his initial retirement from Lamar, serving nine years as assistant sports editor at the Port Arthur News, and then another nine years as assistant sports editor at the Beaumont Enterprise. In August 2009, he returned for a second stint at Lamar as assistant athletic director for media relations for more than three years coinciding with the return of the Cardinals’ football program.
“We are very proud to present the Bonnette Award to Rush Wood,” Southland Commissioner Tom Burnett said. “For anyone that’s had the pleasure of working with Rush, including a number of us that came up through the ranks of sports information in the Southland, we have always found him to be one of the best publicists and journalists out there. He is certainly a very deserving Bonnette Award recipient.”
Rush and his wife Louise, a recently retired media specialist at Lamar, reside in Beaumont.
“Rush has been a big asset to Southeast Texas, to Lamar University and the cities in the Golden Triangle,” former Lamar basketball coach and athletic director Billy Tubbs said. “He is very knowledgeable, well respected; just a great journalist, and most of all, just a great person. With Louis and Rush, you get two guys that probably know the history of the Southland Conference better than anybody.
“They go way back. I think it’s a great award to be named after Louis, but I don’t think there’s anybody that could be a better recipient of the award than Rush Wood.”
Bonnette, the recipient of the first Southland Media Award in 2012, enjoyed a storied career as the first McNeese State SID, holding the position for 46 years. As SID, he boasted a national record of 516 consecutive Cowboy football games worked.
He was inducted into the Southland Conference Hall of Honor in 2007 and the College Sports Information Directors of America Hall of Fame in 2009. He has also been honored numerous times by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, who recognized Bonnette with its prestigious Mac Russo (1995) and Distinguished Service in Sports Journalism (2002) awards.
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BEAUMONT — It may be just the second year of the program’s revival, but the Lamar softball team has already established a tradition: Winning the home opener on a walk-off home run.
Casey Cromwell’s three-run blast in the bottom of the seventh inning gave the Lady Cardinals a 6-4 win over Southeastern Louisiana at Ford Park in the first home game of 2014 for Lamar and the Southland Conference opener for both squads.
Lamar, which won its first game last year over UTSA on a walk-off home run by Ashley McDowell, cruised to an 8-1 win over Southeastern Louisiana in Saturday’s nightcap.
“This is why I love playing at home,” Lamar coach Holly Bruder said. “The fans really get us pumped up, and we respond.”
Cromwell hit two home runs in the opener for Lamar (5-9 overall, 2-0 Southland). Beverly Corry also homered for Lamar. Shannon Millman (3-5) was the winning pitcher for the Lady Cardinals in both games, working 1 1-3 innings of scoreless relief in the first game before firing a three-hit gem in the nightcap.
“We got tremendous pitching for both Shannon and Tina (Schulz) today,” Bruder said. “We also got some great defense, and that really helped us.”
Candyce Carter and Jenna Holland homered for Lamar in the second game. Carter had three RBIs in the game, while Holland and Julianne Viator added two RBIs apiece.
Carter closed out the game in spectacular fashion, making a diving grab in center field to turn what looked to be a sure double off the bat of Brittney Tschoepe into the final out of the game.
The two teams wrap up their three-game series with a single contest at 1 p.m. Sunday at Ford Park. All senior citizens 55 and older receive free admission.
“It’s always tough to sweep a team,” Bruder said. “We know Sunday’s game will be tough.”
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