NATCHITOCHES – Pioneering New Orleans sportscaster Ro Brown, former Northwestern
State sports publicist and longtime Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland, and
Baton Rouge sportswriter Sheldon Mickles have been selected for the 2021 Distinguished
Service Award in Sports Journalism from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
The trio will be inducted in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame next June.
Brown was the first on-air African-American sports anchor-reporter in New Orleans, in 1978 at
WDSU-TV, and became a staple of the Crescent City’s sports scene. An award-winning
journalist who also became the first education reporter in the New Orleans market in his final
three years (1999-2002) at WDSU, Brown has continued covering and promoting sports during
the last two decades.
Ireland has been the chairman of the Hall of Fame, a volunteer role, since April 1990, just over a year after he left the Alexandria Town Talk sports staff to become sports information director at
Northwestern. He spearheaded efforts leading to construction and opening of the Louisiana
Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum in Natchitoches in 2013. Ireland
wrapped up over 30 years as the Demons’ innovative SID last summer.
Mickles is in his 43rd year of sports coverage in Baton Rouge, currently as a beat writer on LSU
basketball for The Advocate. First for the Baton Rouge State-Times, a now defunct afternoon
paper in Baton Rouge, and then the morning Advocate, Mickles covered the New Orleans Saints for 30 seasons. While winning many state, regional and national writing awards, Mickles has been a key leader for the LSWA, including a term as president, and has been chair of the nominations subcommittee for the Hall of Fame for years.
While earning his journalism degree at NSU, Ireland was a news reporter for the Shreveport
Times for two years, running the Times Natchitoches Bureau in 1981-82. He spent the next three years as the first-ever assistant SID at UL-Lafayette, then was an award-winning sports editor of the Natchitoches Times before joining the Alexandria Town Talk sports staff in 1987.
In 18 months in Alexandria, Ireland captured 15 LSWA writing contest top three finishes,
including records of nine overall awards including six first places in the 1987-88 competition
while he covered state colleges, high schools and did general assignment reporting. He picked up six more awards, two firsts, in the 1988-89 contest despite leaving the LSU beat in mid-year to accept the SID post at his alma mater in January 1989.
Ireland added dozens of LSWA awards for writing and publications in 30-plus years as the
Demons’ SID, including 33 since 2000. In 2016, he won the LSWA’s Story of the Year award
while writing for the Natchitoches Metro Leader. His 1992 Demon football media guide won
Best in the Nation for Division I-AA from the College Sports Information Directors of America,
and a 1997 historical feature marking Demon great Joe Delaney’s induction in the College
Football Hall of Fame was second in a national CoSIDA contest.
Just over a year after taking the Northwestern SID job, Ireland was asked to step in as the
LSWA’s Hall of Fame chairman in April 1990. A decade later, he began a process which took
root in 2003 when the Hall of Fame partnered with the Louisiana State Museum, ultimately
leading to construction of the acclaimed $23 million Hall of Fame museum that opened in 2013
Ireland managed all aspects of the annual Hall of Fame selections and inductions from 1990-
2010, and has continued to coordinate elections since while collaborating with LSHOF
Foundation leaders to stage the Induction Celebration each year. He serves as executive director of the Foundation, led by CEO/President Ronnie Rantz since 2016 as its events schedule and brand has greatly expanded around the state and throughout the year.