Bernadette Dawson Benoit and Don Chauvin hold their awards at the banquet.
Abbeville High inducts two into athletic hall of fame
Two were inducted into the Abbeville High Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday.
They were also honored at Friday’s football game at halftime.
Inducted were Bernadette Dawson Benoit, 1989 AHS graduate, and Don Chauvin, who was inducted for the work he did to make Abbeville High athletics better and was also one of the founding fathers of the AHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
Benoit was a two-sport (basketball and track) athlete. Her freshman year she quit track but came back strong, the following three years.
Her events were in the 400, relays and high jump. She won state her senior year in the high jump and finished second in the 400 meter dash.
At state, she placed second in the 400 with a personal time of 59.54 and after several passes at increasing height in the high jump she cleared the winning height with her first jump to win the state title.
She went on to win the Roddy Menard Memorial Award, on of the highest honors bestowed upon an Abbeville High athlete.
Benoit, who is married and has five children, had family and friends attend the banquet. Saying a few words about Benoit was her former AHS track coach Joyce Thibodeaux.
Thibodeaux, who is now retired from teaching, remembered an interview Benoit did with William Weathers, then sports writer of the Abbeville Meridional. Benoit said in the interview after a track meet, that she wanted to make a name for herself because it was her senior year.
“Making a name for yourself is happening tonight,” said Thibodeaux. “You will be among the great athletes and individuals who have walked the halls and competed loyally as a Wildcat for Abbeville. Seven women have come before you and are enshrined forever as members of this elite group.”
Benoit held back tears as she thanked everyone for making her who she is today. She praised her parents, Elbert and Jenny Dawson. Elbert attended every track meet and stood by the fence yelling advice to his daughter. Jenny always cheered her daughter on from the stands.
“I am really, really honored,” said Benoit. “I remember walking through the halls of Abbeville High and seeing the wall with all of those great people (in the hall of fame) and saying as a high student, ‘One day, I want to be in there.’ At that time, there was no women in the hall of fame. I wanted to be the first one. That was my goal.”
She was not the first, but she was the seventh. She was happy to be named one of the women. She praised God, her family and friends for making her who she is today.
Chauvin, who is an honoree selection, played football at AHS and was second team all-district. It was not what he did in high school that landed him in the hall of fame, it was what did after high school.
When he learned he was selected into the hall of fame, it caught Chauvin off guard. “I was speechless for about 10 seconds,” said Chauvin. “I am humbled that they saw fit to honor me with this presentation.”
Chauvin was asked by then head football coach Mike Conlin to create the AHS Athletic Hall of Fame. Serving on the first committee were Donald Toups, Harris LeMaire and Barbara LeMaire.