Ron Gearing2013 Eddie Robinson Award
Ron Gearing loves New Orleans. He loves his job of governing public school athletics in the Crescent City. He embraces the opportunity to promote and provide opportunities for the young men and women in the public school system who do not have the financial resources of other more fortunate young men and women.
For his outstanding work over an extended period of time, Gearing has been chosen as the recipient of the 2013 Eddie Robinson Award by the Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee. The award is presented annually to an athlete, coach, team or athletic administrator in 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.
Gearing will be recognized along with 25 other individuals and two teams at the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Banquet on Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Sports Selection Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, selects annual award winners in a variety of categories, including the Eddie Robinson Award, in addition to selecting each year’s Hall of Fame class and Amateur Athletes of the Month. Additional honorees will be announced leading up to the event.
A New Orleans native, Gearing took over as the director of athletics for Orleans Parish public schools in 1994 after 15 years as the athletic director at Edna Karr High School. When he first took over, it was the largest athletic department in the state, with 19 high schools, 22 middle schools and 81 elementary schools.
“It was quite a task with so many schools involved and without substantial resources,” Gearing said. “I knew that we had to work hard for the benefit of the kids, the administrators, the coaches, the parents and the schools.”
Always seeking to promote his student/athletes, Gearing envisioned and created the annual Pontchartrain All-Star Football Classic in 1998. The contest features over 100 excellent players from area public schools and is a key factor in upwards of 40 annually receiving athletic scholarships.
An expert at getting the most out of a little from the start, since Hurricane Katrina, Gearing has truly mastered the art of being given an inch and making a mile out of it.
“Over the years, we learned to do a lot with a little,” he said. “I would like to see how it would feel to be an athletic director with a huge budget and a lot of facilities. We just don’t have the facilities. We try to be the best to the kids with little or nothing. It is such a reward when you see our kids, our schools achieve at a high level and many get a chance to play in college and even professionally.”
Gearing has nothing but admiration for Robinson and what he represented.
“Mr. Robinson was such a class act,” Gearing said. “You would have a hard time finding anyone to say anything bad about him. He was a great man, a great coach. Grambling did not have what major universities had in athletics but he succeeded at the highest level. This is such an honor. I am humbled.”
The Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee began in 1958 when James Collins spearheaded a group of sports journalists to form a sports awards committee to immortalize local sports history. For 12 years, the committee honored local athletes each month. In 1970, the Sugar Bowl stepped in to sponsor and revitalize the committee, leading to the creation of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1971, honoring 10 legends from the Crescent City in its first induction class. While adding the responsibility of selecting Hall of Famers, the committee has continued to recognize the top amateur athlete in the Greater New Orleans area each month – the honors enter their 55th year in 2013. To be eligible, an athlete must be a native of the greater New Orleans area or must compete for a team in the metropolitan region.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier bowl games in the country, having hosted 23 national champions, 86 Hall of Fame players, 46 Hall of Fame coaches and 15 Heisman Trophy winners in its 79-year history. The Bowl will host the 80th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic on January 2, 2014. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee is involved with various community initiatives through hosting and sponsorships of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors over 13,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2 billion into the local economy in the last decade.
Story submitted by Ken Trahan of the Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee.