Crystal Fava Bean Award Highlights 22nd Annual Baton Rouge Spring Luncheon

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Pictured are Louis DeJohn, Jr., Dr. Nader, and former LSU Coach Paul Dietzel.
–Photo by Kleinpeter Photography
    Dr. Sam Nader, LSU’s Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations, was presented with a Crystal Fava Bean at the 22nd annual Baton Rouge Spring Luncheon on March 28 at Drusilla Seafood.  The Crystal Fava Bean is the event’s most prestigious award, presented “for outstanding singular accomplishment, or a lifetime of distinguished service” to the Baton Rouge community. The award is a Waterford crystal larger-than-life reproduction of the fava bean, considered by many in the Italian community as a “good luck” token.  The award recognizes Dr. Nader’s 38 years of service to the Baton Rouge Community while working for 9 different LSU head coaches. After being hired by Coach Charlie McClendon in 1975, Nader has served in various capacities, including 13 years as recruiting coordinator. Today he oversees all day-to-day administrative duties for LSU football, manages the LSU football camps and coaching clinics, and represents the summer jobbers program. He has also taught a college course.  “I often tell people that I would like to lock Coach Nader in a room with two of the nicest people I know, and see who could ‘out-nice’ the other. I would bet on him,” Rispone said. “He is an exception to the Leo Durocher rule that ‘nice guys finish last’. There is no one more deserving of our Crystal Bean lifetime of distinguished service award than Coach Dr. Sam Nader.”
    The Baton Rouge Spring Luncheon Steering Committee presents the fava beans as symbols of honor and service, harking back to the time when the bean kept many people 2 from starving during an extended drought in Sicily. Steering Committee member Frankie Rispone said the beans, which until the famine were used only as fodder for cattle, began to be served at the table. The Sicilians considered themselves lucky to have them, and the bean has become traditional on St. Joseph’s altars in many Italian communities.
    As part of the Italian flair of the event, fava beans are given to each attending guest, after being blessed in Italian by Father Cleo Milano. For the first time at the event, a little Irish flair was added as the beans were also blessed in Gaelic by Father Mike Maloney.  “We are going to double down on this year’s beans with ‘luck of the Irish’,” Sammy Rispone said.  Sammy Rispone and Eddie Rispone serve as Masters of Ceremony at the invitation-only luncheon. It is held each year near the first day of spring, and brings together community businessmen, elected officials, governmental officers and academic and law enforcement leaders in a light-hearted social atmosphere to celebrate LSU and Southern University football and the good things about the city, .
    Keynote speakers included Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Mayor Kip Holden, LSU Head Coach Les Miles and Southern University Head Coach Stump Mitchell. Baton Rouge Diocese Archbishop Robert Muench was also seated at the speaker’s table and gave the invocation. Cajun-humorist Murray Conque, billed as Coach Miles’ and Coach Mitchell’s “Ambassador of Wit and Goodwill” shared his unique outlook on Louisiana life.
    Featured guests this year were former LSU lineman Ron Estay and SU Athletic Director Dr. William Broussard.  Estay, a native of Raceland, was an AP and Coaches Poll All-American in 1970 and 1971. He is a member of the LSU Team of the Century announced in 2000. He spent most of his pro career in Canada, where he still holds records for the most sacks in a season (23) and in a game (5). He is a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the 3 Canadian Football Hall of Fame, and the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. Eddie Rispone said Estay is “recognized as one of the best defensive lineman to have played the game.”  “He has been an ambassador for South Louisiana, LSU fans and football fans across North America,” Rispone added. “He has made all in Louisiana proud."
    Estay said his greatest moment was in 1974 when he became a speaker for Promise Keepers and an ordained minister. He was presented a Silver Bean “for outstanding and distinguished accomplishments.”  Dr. Broussard is beginning his first year as the Southern athletic director. During his introduction, Eddie Rispone said that Broussard had stated that he has a 3-pronged plan for leading Southern’s athletic department: Compliance, Academic Performance, and Fundraising. “Of course,” Rispone said, “We are sure the 4th prong will be a winning athletic program!”  Broussard received an Unpainted Bean from the Steering Committee, “signifying new beginnings with great expectations”.  LSU Head Coach Les Miles received two Gold Bean awards, both awards given “for exceptional contributions to Baton Rouge pride”, for winning the 2011 SEC Football Championship, and for being named Football Coach of the Year by the Associated Press, the Walter Camp Foundation, The Home Depot and Liberty Mutual.
    As part of the program, before the award announcement, Sammy Rispone told the crowd that Miles would give information on the state of LSU football, and possibly some guidance on a new book.  “The book is titled ‘Coaches’ Guide to Football Fields 101’”, Rispone bantered.  “Chapter 1 is how, when leading your team on the field, to run to your own sideline and bench, and not the opposing team’s. Chapter 2 is how, when running on the field, to avoid running over your team’s cheerleaders!”  4 LSU Defensive Coordinator John Chavis received a Gold Bean after being named the 2011 Frank Broyles National Assistant Coach of the Year. Eddie Rispone lauded Chavis for taking an LSU defensive unit ranking near the bottom of the SEC in 2008 to the top four of the league in 2009. In 2011, the Tigers finished second in the nation in total defense and scoring defense. Eddie Rispone said that in 23 years of experience in the SEC, Chavis has helped 38 SEC players make first-team All-SEC, and 13 of them earn first team All-America honors.
    Silver Bean awards were also presented to Advocate columnist Smiley Anders; SU Baseball Coach Roger Cador; outdoors TV personality Don Dubuc; Advocate sportswriter Perryn Keyes and Louisiana Outside personality Chris Macaluso.  Anders was honored for his induction into LSU’s Manship School Hall of Fame, and for his continuing contributions to Baton Rouge as a popular columnist documenting the extraordinary everyday lives of Baton Rouge and Louisiana residents.  Coach Cador received his award after reaching the 800 win milestone of his career.  Dubuc was honored as this year’s recipient of the Buddy “D” Media Award.  Keyes was recognized for being named the 2011 Louisiana Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportswriters Association.  Macaluso was honored for his work with the Vanishing Paradise Initiative, where he recruited support on the national level in the halls of Congress. He received the 2011 Coastal Stewardship award from the Louisiana Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.  Recipients of the Stainless Steel Bean, also known as the “Jimmy Taylor” award, given for “longevity, endurance and toughness” were presented to LSU Head Baseball Coach Paul Manieri, Archbishop Muench, and LSU Equipment Manager Greg Stringfellow.  5 Other Unpainted beans were presented to Louisiana Sportsman TV personality Sam Barbera; Southern University Chancellor Dr. James Llorens; Brian Menard, recently named as the administrative head of Redemptorist Schools; new SLU football coach Ron Roberts; and Chief Dwayne White, Baton Rouge Police Department.  Seated at the Chancellor’s table were Chancellor Mike Martin, LSU; EBR District Attorney Hillar Moore; Louisiana Assistant Attorney General David Caldwell; Chancellor James Llorens, SU; President Ronald Mason Jr., SU; and Dr. Sam Nader and Defensive Coordinator John Chavis.  A number of pro and college football players also attended, including Ken Ellis, Percy Franklin, Hokie Gajan, Tommy Hodson, Sammy Grezaffi, Jack Jaubert, Mike Hillman, Ruffin Rodrigue, James “Pepper” Rutland, Jerry Stovall, and Jimmy Taylor.
    Pro and college coaches attending included Charles Baglio, Greg Blache, Gerald Carr, Paul Dietzel, O’Neill Gilbert, Tommy Moffitt, Jerry Stovall and Otis Washington.  The Pledge of Allegiance was led by TAF CEO Ron Richard. Father Milano led the guests in singing “America the Beautiful”.  Pastor Ken Ellis, presently serving as the LSU and SU football team chaplain, gave the benediction.