New Orleans – Joanne Schirch, who won 13 state championships in 25 years as a volleyball coach at Isidore Newman School, was chosen to induction in the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame class of 2021.
Skertich is one of five notable domestic sports personalities to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. The Hall of Fame category is chosen each year by the New Orleans Sports Major Awards Committee, a group of current and former members of the media that annually honors a variety of award winners, including the Hall of Fame, Corbett Awards, and Eddie Robinson Awards. The group also selects the New Orleans Amateur Athlete of the Month each month.
Overall, this year 23 individuals and two teams will be honored for their accomplishments at the committee’s annual awards banquet on Saturday, July 24. The honorees will be announced over a 23-day period, concluding the Corbett Awards for Best Males and Females. Amateur athletes in the state on July 20-21.
Jimmy Collins Special Awards: Dr. Greg StewartTulane Institute of Sports Medicine
Best Pre-Boys Coach of the Year, New Orleans: Gerald Lewis, st. augustine basketball
Girls’ Prep Coach of the Year, New Orleans: Jolly EpitaVolleyball Metairie Park Country Day
Great amateur player, New Orleans: Kristen KnottLSU . beach volleyball
Outstanding Male Amateur Athlete, New Orleans: Jared Butler,Baylor Basketball
Eddie Robinson Award: Sydney Perfect, American Legion Baseball
Outstanding Preparation Team for Boys, New Orleans: McMain High School basketball
Outstanding Preparation Team for Girls, New Orleans: Dominican volleyball
Distinguished university coach, Louisiana: Dennis Schaeffer, LSU track and field
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Recruit Class 2020: Bonannoboxing
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Recruit Class 2020: Bernard Griffith, Basketball
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Recruit Class 2020: Joanne Schirchvolleyball
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame 2021 Volunteer Class: July 14 (Wednesday)
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame 2021 Volunteer Class: July 15 (Thursday)
Corbett Prize Female: July 20 (Tuesday)
Corbett Prize Male: July 21 (Wednesday)
Joanne Skertich – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, Class 2021
The Ed Cassier Story of the New Orleans Sports Awards Committee
Joanne Schirch, who led Isidore Newman’s girls’ volleyball program from childhood title ninth to statewide performances, coached the Greens for 25 seasons (1977-2001), ending her career solidly atop Louisiana High School. Mountain Volleyball Association. Newman’s last team was hers 31-2, undefeated against Louisiana opponents and the state champion for the seventh consecutive season and the ninth time in 10 years.
Skertich still holds the Louisiana State Volleyball Championship record won by a head coach, 13. She won it first in 1985, then did so again in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. Newman’s volleyball did something that legendary football program John Curtis Christian—a winner of nearly 30 state championships—had accomplished: winning seven consecutive state titles and nine titles in 10 years.
Complete records are not available for her 25 season, but Newman’s teams at Skertich have been 578-100 (.853) in their last 17 seasons (1985-2001). During this final state title race, Greenies were 246-27 (.901) in seven seasons and 70-3 (.959) the last two years.
“I was fortunate to be a part of Newman Volleyball,” said Schirch. “If I can establish it and succeed, it becomes contagious. The program was well supported from the start by the Newman administration. I was not on an island alone. We have beautiful facilities. And I have been fortunate to have a lot of our players grow up with me in the lower grades.”
Skertich, who grew up in the suburb of Metairie and graduated from Archbishop Chapelle, arrived in Newman in 1974 as a 24-year-old physical education teacher with a degree from the University of New Orleans. Intramurals – the longtime Newman Athletics Committee – was the established culture at the time.
But Skertich’s duties changed when two of Newman’s students, Ti Adelaide Martin and Cindy Rippner, petitioned the school management to start a volleyball program to compete against other schools. Management approved the program and Martin and Ribner requested that Skertich coach the team.
“We could take on Coach Skirch,” said Ribner, a 1978 graduate now known as Cindy Ribner Kurtz. “We loved it. But we respected her a lot, too. She brought out the best in us, instilled confidence in us and treated us like adults. We outperformed the competitors when we started, but that doesn’t matter.”
Skertich never coached volleyball for the club but encouraged athletes to join those programs during the off-season preparation period. “The X and O were taught by the club’s coaches,” Skertich said. “I took that knowledge and turned it into a team. I put in some guidelines, and it worked for me for a really long time.”
In Newman’s sixth season, 1982, the Greenies made their first of three consecutive semi-final appearances. They finally broke through in the 1985 Class 2A state final in New Iberia, rallying from a 12-8 deficit in the third set to win the 7-15, 15-2, 15-12 Championship against the Episcopal of Baton Rouge. This Newman team had a returning player from the previous year.
Newman continued to roll under Skertich, reaching the 14th state final out of the next 16 seasons and winning the championship 12 times again. Greenes is unbeaten in her last nine state finals matches. Skertich’s training career ended in 2001 after another state title win against Episcopal, 15-9, 5-15, 15-5.
“She’s the kind of coach you hope your kids play for,” said Lizzie Stemke, who, like Lizzie Fitzgerald, won the Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year in her last two Newman seasons, 1996 and 1997. Skertich, you know how to work together. Teamwork was the basis. She knew all about volleyball and how to train it. I learned volleyball from Mrs. Skirch. But it was much more than that. Prepare us for anything in life.”
Gatorade Louisiana’s second player of the year, Newman, fondly called up Meg Henecan (2000 and 2001) for the team’s pre-season trips to Florida. “These were bonding events,” Henekan said. “Coach Skertich would put us in small groups. The new students would be with the seniors. The groups had to make a meal for the team and plan everything – budgeting, shopping, cooking, cleaning. I have fond memories of Florida trips. They were part of the little things that made the team.”
This will be the Skertich Hall of Fame’s second induction. She was inducted into the Louisiana High School Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2002.
The New Orleans Sports Awards Committee began in 1957 when James Collins led a group of sports journalists to form a Sports Awards Committee to perpetuate the history of local sports. For 13 years, the commission has honored local athletes every month. In 1970, the Sugar Bowl stepped in to sponsor and revitalize the committee, which led to the establishment of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1971, honoring 10 legends from Crescent City in its first induction chapter. While adding responsibility for selecting the Hall of Famers, the committee has continued to recognize the best amateur athletes in the Greater New Orleans area each month — the awards enter their 65th year in 2021. To be eligible, an athlete must be a citizen of the Greater New Orleans area or must compete For a team in the metropolitan area.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the top college football games, hosting 28 National Champions, 99 Hall of Fame players, 51 Hall of Fame coaches and 19 Heisman Trophy winners in its 87-year history set to The 88th Allstate Sugar Bowl classic football, which will feature the best teams from the Big 12 and SEC, will be played on January 1, 2022. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests more than $1 million in the community by hosting and sponsoring events, prizes, grants, and sports clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors thousands of student-athletes each year, while pumping more than $2.7 billion into the local economy in the past decade.