The last year has been one of the most trying in the history of the city of Lake Charles. Two hurricanes, including a Category 4, a major flood and a winter storm put the city on its heels. But local high school athletes dug in to win 11 state championships this school year.
The teams will be honored Tuesday at the Lake Charles Toyota Celebration of Champions.
Sean Ardoin, a two-time Grammy Award nominee zydeco musician, helped spearhead the event, which will be held at 6 p.m. at the Robert Noland Alumni Pavilion on the corner of Common and McNeese streets.
“I just started thinking about it, I don’t know of a city that I have ever been in that had 11 state champions in one year much less in a year that has had so much struggle and strife — five declared disasters,” Ardoin said. “We are giving the city a new nickname, ‘Championship City.’
“A lot of these (kids) didn’t even have a home and they persevered and became champions in the middle of all this. I figured we as a city should come together and recognize them individually and cheer for them like we were at the game, so they could feel us and see how proud we are of them.”
As he started to plan the event, others around the city joined in, including Lake Charles Toyota, Deep South Productions, Southwest Credit Union, First National Bank of Louisiana, City Court Division A Judge Jamie Bice, local podiatrist Dr. Daniel Hall and Raising Canes.
“I think it will benefit the city greatly because we need positive things,” Ardoin said. “In a sea of negativity, we need positivity. We need some positive events and some feel-good things, and this is a feel-good thing. People are coming together and joining me. I am just really excited to bring together the whole city to acknowledge the champions. Get your lungs ready and your vocal cords ready because we are going to cheer for them like we were there when they won. We want to thank McNeese for letting us have the pavilion as well”
Ardoin said there will be food trucks on-site and live music provided by Deep South, while the teams will enjoy a jambalaya dinner. He added that there will be special guest at the event.
St. Louis Catholic won six of the 11 state championships in girls basketball, outdoor track, indoor track, boys golf and tennis, and baseball.
The St. Louis basketball team played the entire season without a home gym, winning its first state title since 1989 after back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2019 and 2020. The baseball team won its first title in a decade while using several different fields in the Lake Area.
Barbe, ranked nationally in two poles, won its 11th Class 5A state baseball championship while the softball team won its first since 1997,
Barbe’s girls’ golf team won the Division I championship by 29 shots over Dutchtown
LaGrange won its second consecutive Class 4A girls state basketball championship, and Lake Charles College Prep closed out the school year by winning its first state championship in any sport, the Class 3A boys outdoor track title in a tie with Madison Prep.
City schools also produced some of the top athletes in the state this season, including Mr. Baseball Jack Walker of Barbe and Miss Basketball Jeriah Warren of LaGrange.