The three new members selected for 2020 induction in the ULM L Club Hall of Fame all share a common theme – winning.
Former coaches Dave Roberts from football and Ray “Smoke” Laval from baseball along with longtime assistant athletic trainer Robert Williamson will enter the Hall of Fame during induction ceremonies this fall, ULM L Club President Stacy Earl Weldon announced on Monday, March 23.
“They are super excited and so am I,” Weldon said. “This 2020 group will bring new exhilaration, be stimulating to our Alumni and revitalizing to our program. These men are proud to be selected and be part of an exclusive group.”
Laval, who guided baseball from 1994 through 2000, compiled a 241-159 record in seven seasons. His teams made three NCAA Regional appearances, won two Southland Conference regular-season championships (1999 and 2000) and one Southland Conference Tournament Championship in 1995.
Laval said he “got chills” when he fielded the call from Weldon informing him that he’d been selected.
“I’m fired up. That’ was the most fun I ever had coaching,” said Laval, who came to ULM after serving as an assistant for Skip Bertman at LSU. “Going to Omaha and winning was special. Don’t get me wrong. But as far as putting my name on something and having fun, it was a blast.”
Head football coach from 1989-93, Roberts left ULM with the highest winning percentage of any coach in school history, having coached the team to 37 victories, 20 losses and two ties for a winning percentage of .644. His last four teams were nationally ranked and his 1990 and 1992 clubs won Southland Conference Championships.
“I had a great experience,” Roberts said. “It’s the best place I ever coached and I’ve coached and lived and been in a lot of different places, and that includes Notre Dame and South Carolina where I grew up.
“From the players, the administration to the community, it was all good.”
Roberts’ 1990 team was 7-5, won the SLC title, participated in the NCAA playoffs and was ranked No. 14 in the nation. His 1991 team went 7-3-1 and was ranked No. 18 nationally and his 1992 team was 10-3, reached the NCAA quarterfinals and ended the regular season tied for No. 1 in the nation. His 1993 team was 9-3, participated in the NCAA playoffs and ended the regular season ranked No. 4 in the nation by Sports Network in the school’s final year in division I-AA.
Williamson’s career began in 1977 as a student trainer when he served as an apprentice to late Hall of Fame trainer Charlie Martin, who helped lure Williamson to Monroe and was a valuable mentor. In 1983, he became the university’s fulltime assistant trainer and served in that role until retiring in 2008. Working primarily with basketball, Williamson assisted former head coaches Lenny Fant, Benny Hollis, Mike Vining and Orlando Early, and he was part of the program’s seven NCAA tournament trips. Williamson, who still works as an instructor of kinesiology at ULM, was inducted into the Louisiana Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame in 2012.
“That’s what made Mike (Vining) and I similar,” said Williamson, who has spent more than 40 years on the ULM campus. “We were both loyal. Loyal to the university and loyal to each other. He might not like a decision I made about a kid, but he went along with it.”
The ULM L Club currently selects Hall of Fame classes every two years. The L Club will provide more detailed information on the 2020 induction weekend, which will occur at a date to be determined in conjunction with a ULM home football game.