Wayne Lyons Reflects On 20 Years Of UL Athletics [VIDEO]
Long time member of the UL Lafayette game management team, Wayne Lyons, was recognized by the Ragin' Cajuns Athletic Department following his decision to step down after 20 years with the organization. At Saturday's game, in front of a screaming crowd of Cajuns fans, Lyons (who's also lovingly known by many as "Wacky Wayne") walked hand-in-hand with his two young grandsons as he was honored for his service to countless UL Lafayette teams since 1996.
I think I can take my serious journalist badge off for now and write this as a grateful Cajuns fan myself. Full disclosure, I've seen this dedication first-hand, on and off the field, as Wayne is my wife's uncle and godfather. On Sundays, at family lunch in Church Point, Louisiana, he always talks about whichever team is playing at the time. The latest big play, the perfect home run and even an occasional overzealous fan, Lyons was right there in the middle of the action- and he LOVED it.
You name it, Wayne Lyons has done it. From football, baseball and basketball to soft ball, soccer and tennis. He has had a front row seat to watch the school's rise to prominence in the SunBelt Conference and beyond. Often missing family gatherings and holiday parties for one sporting event or another, Lyons says it was all about the "team behind the team".
When asked what his favorite part of his long tenure on the sidelines (AND courtside AND in the press box) he says it is the people he got to meet. He talks about the players that he made life-long bonds with. Some of them even went pro. He loved seeing the long-time fans and the surge of new fans in seats at Cajun Field. There is something special about Wayne Lyons and it's that he treated everyone fairly no matter how important the game was.
On Sunday, (at one of the family lunches I mentioned) we talked about how the visiting team is often viewed as the 'enemy' when traveling. Lyons said he always made it a point to put the southern hospitality on full display for visiting teams. He recalled one instance when an old friend who was working with the opposing team started trash-talking before a Cajuns game. In his typical calm, soft voice, he told me his response: "the game is played on the field, not here".
Lyons decided to step down to be able to spend more time with family- especially his grandsons-on the weekends. But, I don't think that will keep him away from Cajun Field on game days. You can bet he'll be there, but as "Popa" now with two bright-eyed little boys in tow.
Wayne Lyons is married to Liz and has two children, Jennie and Mike.