SLU athletics legend Larry Hymel releases book on Lion sports history


Chase Gispert

Larry Hymel (right) and his daughter Kayla Hymel Tomeny pose for a picture at Roux & Brew Seafood and Steak House in Ponchatoula during his book signing on June 18.

SLU has a rich tradition in sports, and Larry Hymel portrays this in his new book, “70 Years: Southeastern Lions Athletic History.”  

Larry Hymel is as decorated as they come, having served as the school’s first-ever Sports Information Director for 28 years. He was subsequently honored by the College Sports Information Directors Association with a Lifetime Membership upon retirement and was cited by the organization for his 25+ year service. 

After retiring as SID, Hymel was director of Southeastern’s University Center for 11 years; when he retired from that job, he became the Alumni Athletic Coordinator for the Southeastern Alumni Association.

Hymel has received five All-American awards from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for his football programs, including his No. 2 nationally ranked 1974 program. Hymel won the highly coveted Mac Russo Award in 1994 from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. The Louisiana Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame inducted Hymel in 2011 after he received the Distinguished Service Award for Journalism, the LSWA’s highest honor.

Southeastern Louisiana University began offering intercollegiate sports in 1930. At the time, it was a small school. Since then, there have been decades of Lions sports history that had previously gone undocumented.

Hymel said, “Having been associated with Southeastern sports for as long as I was, there really was never anything written as far as total history. There has always been stuff about the university and it was just a goal of mine to write about the history of Southeastern athletics.”

The book wasn’t initially intended to be a book at all.

“It started out as a writing project. I told several people I called it a writing project because if I call it a book and don’t finish then it’s a failure but as long as it’s a writing project it’s a success. It did turn into a book obviously but that wasn’t my initial goal. It blossomed I guess you could say,” he said.

According to Hymel, most of his research was done right here on campus at the Sims Memorial Library through the library’s archives. Having lived through Southeastern athletics from the 60s onward, finding information from the 30s, 40s and 50s was his most challenging task.

Hymel worked steadily on the book since he officially retired in December of 2017 and compiled data from interviews as well as his archival research.

Hymel highlighted the entire decade of the 1970s as his favorite moment in the book. Southeastern won two national championships across all sports. The baseball team made it to the DII College World Series, and the basketball team hosted a regional final before falling to Tennessee State, captained by two-time NBA All-Star Truck Robinson, by a bucket in overtime.

Hymel added that he found enjoyment in learning about significant people in Southeastern athletics. For example, former Southeastern student and sports editor of The Lion’s Roar, Jim Corbett, went on to become Athletic Director at LSU before his tragic passing in 1967 at just 47 years of age. 

“He was probably the most dynamic student Southeastern’s ever had,” Hymel said.

“70 Years: Southeastern Lions Athletic History” stops at the conclusion of the 20th century because Hymel said he felt it was the right stopping point. Everything from 2000-present is more easily accessible.

He said, “I learned so much stuff during this process. I lived the last 40 years of it from 1960-2000 being a student and working, but the time before 1960 I had only heard certain spatterings here and there. I love history and certainly learned a lot of it.”

Hymel would like to give a special thank you to Jacie Ferlandy, a Southeastern graphic arts major, who created the cover art for his book.

To get a copy of “70 Years: Southeastern Lions Athletic History,” you can go to the SLU bookstore on campus, the Bayou Bookseller in downtown Hammond or reach out to Hymel at [email protected]