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Black NSU alumni that made Hall of Fame history

Lia Portillo Cantarero
NSU’s Joe Delaney, Mark Duper and Lee Smith have all been inducted in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Northwestern State University of Louisiana has produced many successful athletes who have gone on to become national, international and even heroic figures in their sport, but only three alumni that were inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (LSHOF) were black athletes.

According to the LSHOF inductee page, athletes Joe Delaney, Mark Duper and Lee Smith were amongst the 26 coaches, athletes and journalists that have graduated from NSU that hold the title of being inductees.

On Oct. 30, 1958, in Henderson, Texas, Joe Delaney was born. During his varsity career, he became an All-American star in football and track at Haughton High School in Haughton, Louisiana, as stated on the LSHOF.

In his time at NSU, Delaney set the career rushing record with 3.047 yards (5.0 average). He set the Demon records in the 100 (10.26) and 200 meters (20.6). Delaney also ran the second leg on NSU’s 1981 National Collegiate Athletic Association champion 4×100 relay team. He then later became the NCAA I-AA All-American in both football and track.

After his record-breaking collegiate career, he was first drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1981 and became American Football Conference Rookie of the Year as running back in 1981. He set four club records and his 1.121 yards rushing still ranks among the top 5 rookie totals in the history of the National Football League.

According to the original article by The New York Times over 40 years ago in 1983, at the age of only 24 and only after playing two years in the NFL, Chief’s running back did not hesitate to try and help save a trio of drowning boys at Chennault Park in Monroe. While one of the boys made it to safety, the two others drowned as well as Delaney. Leaving behind his wife and three young daughters, Delaney also left his legacy behind with the new title of a selfless hero. He was later inducted into the LSHOF in 1996.

As stated by an article by NBC Sports, as he was heading for the water, Delaney’s last words were, “I can’t swim good, but I’ve got to save those kids.”

According to the LSHOF, Mark Duper was born on Jan. 25, 1959, in Moreauville. He was known for his accomplishments on the track in his early years to his professional football career. During his high school career in 1976 and 1977, Duper earned a row of plaques for winning state Class B high school titles in the triple jump, long jump and 100 and 220 yard dashes.

As a NSU demon, Duper was a two-time NCAA Division I All-American as a sprinter running the anchor leg in the 1981 NCAA champion 4×100 meter relay team, alongside Delaney. He later earned the nickname of “Super Duper” at NSU due to his speed and agility.

In 1982, though he didn’t play prep football, but was the second-round NFL Draft pick after two college seasons. During his time as a Miami Dolphin quarterback, he played in 146 regular-season games and caught 511 passes for 8,869 yards (17.7 career average) and 59 touchdowns. Duper caught at least 50 passes five times and went over the 1,000 yard mark in receiving four times. He finished with 1,306 yards in 1984 and 1,313 yards in 1986.

Duper now owns the Dolphins’ all-time mark for 100-yard receiving games with a total of 28, the single-season record with eight in 1986 and the single-game record for receiving yards with 217 against the New York Jets in 1985. For the eighth time in NFL history, Dolphins QB Dan Marion and Duper are tied among QB-WR scoring combinations with 55 touchdowns.

Duper was a three-time Pro Bowl receiver with the Dolphins from 1982 to 1992, which led him to be inducted into the Dolphins’ Honor Roll during a 2003 Monday Night Football game. He was later inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

According to the LSHOF, Lee Smith was born on Dec. 4, 1957, in Shreveport. After graduating from Caster High School and playing for NSU’s basketball team for 1 ½ years. Smith signed with the Chicago Cubs in 1980.

The hard-throwing 6-6 right-hander was known for his 478 career saves during his time in Major League Baseball. Smith still holds the MLB record for consecutive errorless games (546) by a pitcher.

He led the National League in saves in 1983, 1991 and 1992 and the American League in 1994, while holding the Cubs and Cardinals club records for saves. Smith’s most remarkable seasons were from 1991 to 1993, when he had 47, 43 and 46 saves.

From 1980 to 1997, Smith pitched 18 seasons for eight different clubs including the Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, Yankees, Orioles, Angels, Reds and Expos. He later appeared in 1,022 games and had a career record of 71-92 and 3.03 ERA, with 486 walks and 1,251 strikeouts. In his career, Smith recorded over 30 saves 10 times.

Smith was named the National League Fireman of the Year by The Sporting News in 1991 and co-Fireman of the Year in 1983 and 1992, as well as the title of a seven-time All-star. In 2003, he was later inducted into the LSHOF from his record-breaking MLB career.

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About the Contributors
Kallie Bourgeois, Current Sauce - Reporter
Kallie Bourgeois is a freshman communication major, with a minor in sociology at NSU. This is her second semester as a reporter for The Current Sauce. She has had a love for storytelling since high school, where she spent a year as her school’s Editor for their newspaper. Kallie looks forward to continuing her passion for journalism by delivering stories of exciting events happening on campus and in the Natchitoches area.  
Lia Portillo Cantarero, Current Sauce - Editor-in-Chief
Lia Portillo Cantarero is a junior communication major. This is her third year in The Current Sauce and as Editor-in-Chief she hopes to raise awareness around the stories that are happening in the campus community. For Lia, becoming the Editor-in-Chief has been a dream and she is honored to carry the legacy of The Current Sauce forward.

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