SUNO’s Younne Reid Earns 2019 Eddie Robinson Award
NEW ORLEANS (July 18, 2019) – Younne Reid, the award-winning coach of the revitalized SUNO Track and Field program, will be presented with the Eddie Robinson Award as part of the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Banquet on Saturday, August 10 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. A total of 26 individuals, including this year’s Hall of Fame class, and two teams will be honored at this year’s banquet. All of the honorees are selected by the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
The Robinson Award is presented annually to an athlete, coach, team or athletic administrator in Louisiana who demonstrates the qualities most associated with Grambling’s legendary football coach, Eddie Robinson: outstanding achievement in athletics, academics, sportsmanship and citizenship by maximizing the use of limited resources.
Southern University of New Orleans (SUNO) has a long tradition of success in track and field, however, as state funding for education has dwindled, SUNO resources have taken a major hit. The Knights likely have the least funding in the state and the campus’ track and field facilities are non-existent. To practice, the team makes use of City Park’s public track facility, often arriving at 4:30 a.m. to avoid the casual walkers and joggers. While the athletics department has a “weight room,” it’s probably better described as a room with weights. The women’s track and field team includes eight competitors and the men’s team has 10 individuals. Many top schools competing at the NAIA level regularly field track teams with 50 or more competitors.
Despite the significant challenges within the program, Younne Anthony Reid, a native of St. Ann, Jamaica, took over as the head coach of both the men’s and women’s track and field team’s in 2017 after eight years as an assistant.
In two years at the helm of the program, he has guided the Knights to nine individual NAIA national championships, five relay national titles and the 2018 NAIA Women’s Track and Field Outdoor Championship. His 2019 women’s team earned national runner-up finishes at both the NAIA Indoor and Outdoor Championships.
“We work with what we have,” he said simply.
This year’s runner-up finishes came at the hands of British Columbia (outdoor) and Wayland Baptist (indoor). British Columbia featured 37 athletes on its roster while Wayland Baptist fielded a team of 16 athletes.
Reid’s ability to coax tremendous success from his teams despite the program’s challenges led the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee to recognize him as the 2019 recipient of its Eddie Robinson Award.
One of Reid’s stars, Kimona Smikle, has won back-to-back national championships in the 400-meter hurdles. A native of Jamaica like Reid, she hasn’t been bothered by the school’s lack of resources.
“The institution, yeah it could have more,” Smikle said. “But it didn’t bother me that much because the high school I came from, we didn’t have much either.”
Reid has brought the SUNO program back to the levels of success it enjoyed under legendary coach Artis Davenport, a member of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame. Davenport directed the Knights to national titles in 1995 and 1997.
“He’s a legend and he set the bar here,” Reid said. “I’m happy that I was able to come in and try to continue that. But I will not be completely happy until the boys program is rubbing shoulders with the girls. Then the outside world will see what we can do here. Believe it or not, a lot of athletes don’t want to take a chance with this institution. They don’t know that this is the best-kept secret.”
The Robinson Award honor adds to an impressive list of awards for Reid – he was the NAIA national coach of the year by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association in 2018 and is a two-time South Regional Coach of the Year as well.
The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee began in 1957 when James Collins spearheaded a group of sports journalists to form a sports awards committee to immortalize local sports history. For 13 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 63rd year in 2019. 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 college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 93 Hall of Fame players, 50 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 85-year history. The 86th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, featuring top teams from the Big 12 and the SEC, will be played on January 1, 2020. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors over 100,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.5 billion into the local economy in the last decade.