The legendary New Orleans coach will be recognized for his selfless efforts
NEW ORLEANS – Ronald “Hendu” Henderson, a legendary New Orleans coach in the 1960s, has been selected to receive the Eddie Robinson Award from the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The committee selects the annual winners in various categories; it also selects Amateur Athletes of the Month and every year Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame to classify.
A total of 27 individuals and four teams will be honored at the 2021-22 Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Awards Banquet on July 30. Winners are currently announced over a month-long period, culminating in the Corbett Awards for the state’s top male and female amateur athletes on July 25-26.
Outstanding Boys Prep SquadNew Orleans: July 6 (Wednesday)
Outstanding Women’s Prep SquadNew Orleans: July 7 (Thursday)
Outstanding College CoachLouisiana: July 8 (Friday)
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2021 inductee: July 11 (Monday)
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2021 inductee: July 12 (Tuesday)
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2021 inductee: July 13 (Wednesday)
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2021 inductee: July 14 (Thursday)
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2021 inductee: July 15 (Friday)
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2021 inductee: July 18 (Monday)
Corbett Prize – Female: July 25 (Monday)
Corbett Prize – Male: July 26 (Tuesday)
Since its inception in 2009, the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee’s Eddie Robinson Award has become a prestigious honor in the region. Many awards recognize championships, victories, and record performances, but the Eddie Robinson Award is given annually to an individual from the state of Louisiana who has demonstrated the qualities most closely associated with Coach Robinson: outstanding achievement in athletics, academics, sportsmanship and citizenship by maximizing the use of limited resources. And more importantly, it’s named after a Louisiana legend who coached the Grambling football team for 57 years. While he was known for his 408 career wins, he was best known for the traits now recognized by this Allstate Sugar Bowl-sponsored honor.
Winner of this year’s Robinson Award, Ronald “Hendu” Henderson was an elite track athlete in the city of Chicago in the late 1950s. After graduating from high school, he received offers from 17 universities to lead the 880 at the college level.
Henderson achieved huge success even though he had no formal training – he didn’t even have a coach. Running in his older brother’s shoes and an old basketball jersey, he won the city championship in 880 in record time, but was disqualified for breaking too early for pole and in the championships. of state.
After a short stint in West Michigan, Henderson landed at Dillard University because of his love of the close community and neighborhood vibe of the campus. From 1960 to 1963, he was the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference champion at 100 yards, 220 yards, 440 yards, and 880 yards.
After graduating, he got into coaching, but not with the goal of winning championships, but to develop competitive athletes.
“I went through so much as a kid, I wanted to make sure no kid went through what I went through,” Henderson said. “When I won races, the kids who came second and third got all the cheers. Nobody cheered me on. I was completely on my own. I didn’t want anyone to go without coaching. I read a lot books. I made friends with college coaches and learned a lot for them. I wanted to be able to teach my athletes everything they needed to do – all the events, the hurdles, the high jump, the mile, the half-mile, the sprints.
His primary position was as a coach at LB Landry High School, but he was instrumental in the development and promotion of athletes from all schools in New Orleans.
Athletes like Dr. Thomas Hill, a graduate of Cohen High, 1972 Olympian and member of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame.
“He was directly responsible for getting a college scholarship,” Hill said. “It was ‘Hendu’ who convinced the Arkansas State coach to give me an opportunity. And I’m one of many during this time in the area who could say that.
The tall Olympic bronze medalist hurdler added: “When he was director of the Dryades Street YMCA, he ran a summer athletics program for New Orleans youth that offered year-round opportunities. Not to mention the experiences of traveling out of town to compete, a first for many of us.
Olympian and world record holder Theron Lewis of Southern University, another Allstate Sugar Bowl Greater New Orleans Hall of Fame inductee, and All-American trackster Lloyd Wills (of Carver High School), a recent LSU Athletic inductee Hall of Fame, are also among those developed by Henderson.
Henderson worked with others in the athletics community to lobby the AAU South to allow black athletes to participate in its events, giving them the opportunity to compete regionally and nationally. . And it was Coach Henderson who asked the New Orleans Recreation Department to open the NORD Meet of Champions to champions attending the Louisiana Interscholastic Athletic and Literary Organization (LIALO) in 1969.
Many awards recognize championships, wins, and record performances, but Coach Henderson has never been about those types of successes, making him an ideal recipient of the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Eddie Robinson Award. The honor is awarded annually to an individual from the state of Louisiana who has demonstrated the qualities most closely associated with the legendary Coach Robinson: outstanding achievement in athletics, academics, sportsmanship and citizenship by maximizing the use of limited resources.
“This award is not about me,” Henderson said. “It’s recognizing a period of history; it is not recognizing a person; it’s about what these children have accomplished. God put me in a position where I could do certain things. But it was those kids with the desire and the will. They just needed someone to help them. It’s not about recognizing a person; it’s about what these children have accomplished.
The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee began in 1957 when James Collins led a group of sportswriters to form a Sports Awards Committee to immortalize local sports history. For 13 years, the committee honored local athletes every month. In 1970, the Sugar Bowl stepped in to sponsor and revitalize the committee, which led to the establishment of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1971, honoring 10 Crescent City legends in its first initiation class. While adding responsibility for selecting members of the Hall of Fame, the committee continued to recognize the top amateur athlete in the Greater New Orleans area each month – the honors enter their 66th year in 2022. To be eligible, a athlete must be from the greater New Orleans area or must be competing for a team in the metro area.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of college football’s finest games, having hosted 28 national champions, 100 Hall of Fame players, 51 Hall of Fame coaches and 20 Heisman Trophy winners over the course of its 88-year history. The 89th annual Sugar Bowl Classic is set to be played on Saturday, December 31, 2022. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee invests more than $1 million in the community each year by organizing and sponsoring sporting events, awards, fellowships and clinics. . Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors thousands of student-athletes each year, while injecting more than $2.2 billion into the local economy over the past decade. For more information, visit www.AllstateSugarBowl.org.