Eli Manning, Alana Beard in 2023 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Class

By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports

There’s no question that Eli Manning is the best-known member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 to be inducted next summer in Natchitoches.

But did you know another well-known member of the 10 standouts being honored has local roots, and is a big fan of Lasyone’s?

Alana Beard, one of women’s basketball’s brightest stars in this generation, is headed into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame next summer, along with the younger Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, in a 10-member Class of 2023 announced Wednesday.

Beard’s family is based in Natchitoches Parish, and she’s always come back to visit, befoe, during and after her outstanding basketball career. A sensational girls basketball player at Shreveport’s Southwood High, who battled the Natchitoches Central Lady Chiefs, Beard went on to greatness at Duke and became a four-time WNBA All-Star.

She will join Manning in next summer’s class. He will become the third member of his family to have a special bond with Natchitoches when he’s indu8cted during festivities next July 27-29.

College World Series champion LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri is another big name in a star-studded 10-member group of 2023 inductees announced Wednesday by the Hall of Fame.

The Class of 2023 also includes New Orleans native Ron Washington, who managed the Texas Rangers to a pair of World Series appearances and last year helped the Atlanta Braves win the world’s championship; two-time LSU track and field USA Olympian and world champion Walter Davis; and Slidell native, Tulane great and Chicago Bears two-time Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte.

Also elected for induction next summer are All-American LSU pitcher Paul Byrd, a 14-year Major League Baseball veteran who made the 1999 All-Star Game; Shreveport native and LSU football receiving record-breaker Wendell Davis, a first-round NFL Draft pick; multiple national champion and world class weightlifter Walter Imahara, a UL-Lafayette legend; and retired Baton Rouge-Parkview Baptist baseball coach M.L. Woodruff, whose teams claimed 11 state championships.

Manning will join his father, Archie (a 1988 inductee) and older brother Peyton (inducted In 2019) as the first set of father and two sons in the Hall. Two other father-son pairs are enshrined: football stars Dub Jones (1982) and son Bert Jones (1986) of Ruston, and USA Olympic hurdlers Glenn “Slats” Hardin (1962) and son Billy Hardin (1998), both LSU greats.

The LSHOF’s Class of 2023 will be enshrined Saturday, July 29, at the Hall of Fame’s home in Natchitoches to culminate the 64th Induction Celebration July 27-29. The LaSportsHall.com website has extensive information and participation opportunities available now.

Manning starred in 16 seasons with the New York Giants (2004-19) after a stellar four-year career at Ole Miss. A New Orleans native, the Newman High School grad starred at Ole Miss and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft. He was MVP in Giants’ victories in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. He and Peyton host the popular Manning Cast on ESPN2 for nearly every Monday Night Football contest, among other contemporary media endeavors since both retired from their playing days.

A phenomenal shooting guard at the high school, collegiate and professional levels, Beard was the state’s 2000 Miss Basketball at Southwood in Shreveport. She won the 2004 John R. Wooden Award as the nation’s best college player for Duke and became a four-time WNBA All-Star (2005-07, 2009). She led Southwood to four consecutive state titles from 1997-2000 with a 144-6 record (ending her career with 53 wins in a row), and the prep All-American scored 2,646 points before going to Duke.

There, Beard scored 2,687 points — 41 more than she did in high school — and was the first NCAA player to amass 2,600 points, 500 assists and 400 steals in a career while leading the Blue Devils to two Final Four appearances. The three-time ACC Player of the Year (2002, 2003, 2004) averaged 19.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.0 steals for her career.

The second pick of the 2004 WNBA Draft by the Washington Mystics, Beard played 14 seasons with the Mystics and Los Angeles Sparks and averaged 11.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 419 career games. Beard was the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018 and was a first-team All-Defensive team pick five times (second team four more times). She helped the Sparks win the 2016 WNBA championship.

Five of the inductees – Byrd, Walter Davis and Wendell Davis, Mainieri and Woodruff (who were baseball teammates as freshmen) – competed at LSU.

Contact Doug at DougIreland@LaSportsHall.com