Louisiana’s Playground- Let’s play! It’s time to dribble, swing, throw, run, tackle, and cast into all the sporting events 2024 has to offer. With new and exciting sports opportunities for everyone to immerse themselves, the new year brings a new meaning to calling the lake area the “Sports Capital of Louisiana.” For locals and visitors alike, Lake Charles has a sporting event for each of you to add to your calendars.
McNeese Men’s Basketball is taking over. Ranked as #1 in their conference, Will Wade is making history for Lake Charles and McNeese athletics. Willy the Kid, as he’s been locally proclaimed, is in his first year of head coaching for the Cowboys. Success is nothing new for the previously large-conference Coach. Leading the Pokes to a dominant win in Ann Arbor with help from new key recruits such as Shahada Wells, marking another 30-point performance for him, capping off 3 consecutive non-conference wins. This momentous victory over the University of Michigan marks the first BIG 10 win in program history. This triumph has propelled Coach Wade’s team onto the national stage. The media attention seems to follow McNeese’s success through major platforms such as ESPN and NBC Sports. With March Madness approaching, rumors are circulating for the Cowboys to make a potential run. McNeese was ranked 34th in the country for offensive efficiency and ranked 2nd for turnovers forced per game. To see the entire schedule and get your tickets, visit www.mcneesesports.com.
McNeese State University will also host the Men and Women’s Southland Conference Basketball Tournament at the Legacy Center from March 10-14. Will Wade is determined (and expected) to win the championship title in his home court.
As for high school athletics, Southwest Louisiana will be home to four LHSAA state tournaments. The first of these, being the Men’s State Basketball Tournament, will take place from March 4 through 9 at the Burton Complex. For 10 consecutive years Lake Charles has played host to the tournament. The high energetic atmosphere and huge crowds continue to make this a staple occasion for South Lake Charles. Softball and baseball will play for their tournament titles from April 26-27 and May 8-11, respectively. The vigor for these diamond championships is unmatched- especially with the historic number of local teams to compete in each sport. Both will be played in Sulphur, with softball at Frasch Park and baseball at McMurry Park. The championship season concludes with the State Swim Meet, held in Sulphur at the SPAR Aquatic Center from November 15-18. Each of these state tournaments will bring the highest youth talent from around the state to Louisiana’s Playground, with many student-athletes committed to various colleges around the country. Who knows, you could be witnessing the next Alex Bregman or Jennie Finch!
While we have baseball on our minds, the newly announced addition of the Texas Collegiate League has claimed Lake Charles home, embodying the rich baseball culture that Lake Charles possess. The Gumbeaux Gators will have a 48-game season throughout June and July, with 24 of these taking place at their home field, Joe Miller Park at McNeese. They will have dancers, food and drink, fun additions to the game, and more to come. The local owner group of the Gumbeaux Gators are highly dedicated to making each game special and exciting, and a place for family, friends, and even strangers to come together. They are also committed to bringing talent home to the Chuck with players from ULL, LSUE, Nichols, McNeese, and additional colleges throughout the south. The schedule of games can be found on www.gumbeauxgators.com, so make sure to add this to your itinerary when planning your visiting to Lake Charles.
Among all the excitement in the world of sports, it is no surprise another team has named Lake Charles its home. The newly announced Louisiana Voodoo, part of the Arena Football League is to begin play in 2024. The Voodoo called New Orleans home for 17 years, from 1998 to 2015. After many ownership debates and consequences from Hurricane Katrina, Lake Charles has proved the perfect home for the rebirth of their career in the AFL. The Voodoo coaching staff has placed an emphasis on recruiting Louisiana native players, tapping into an untouched fanbase that is eager to support a football team with similar roots local to their area. The Voodoo are set to play each of their six home games in the Sudduth Coliseum at the Lake Charles Event Center. With the league schedule to release soon, excitement for the indoor football team is skyrocketing.
Some other notable sporting events that will be hosted in Southwest Louisiana include the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) tournament in March and the Louisiana Golf Association (LGA) Boy’s and Girl’s Junior State Championships in July to be hosted by Mallard Golf Club. Moss Bluff will be home to the Louisiana High School Bass Fishing State Championships in May at the River Bluff Boat Launch.
Additional youth tournaments Lake Charles will host will include multiple USSSA baseball tournaments from April-June, with the most impressive, the USSSA World Series in June, bringing in over 90 teams from around the country. The Jennie Finch World Series will also take place in June, hosting major teams from around the country-and even a few international teams!
More sporting events and details can be found on our calendar of events! For the need-to-know information, big-game updates, and successes of the sporting world in SWLA, be sure to check out Where Champions are Crowned, released on the first of each month on visitlakecharles.org. Let’s Play!