Russell Hedges: Lane Mangum made a big impact in his way-too-short life

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In my almost 11 years working at The Bossier Press-Tribune, I’ve typed in the names of hundreds of Bossier Parish athletes in dozens of stories chronicling youth, middle school, high school and college sports.

So it’s very difficult for me to remember all of them.

Russell Hedges

But when the name Lane Mangum started appearing on my Facebook feed, it stood out.

As anyone reading this knows, Lane passed away in the tragic accident that occurred on Lake Bistineau while fishing Tuesday with his friend Cade Bedgood. He was just 15 years old.

That it was Lane who was missing was well-known before he was identified by law enforcement. His stepmother, Joanna Crowson Mangum, and I became Facebook friends when she was the head softball coach at Bossier, and my news feed was filled with prayers for both Lane and Cade.

To aid my memory, I searched “Lane Mangum Bossier Press.” Sure enough, his name popped up several times, mainly in stories about Little League baseball championships and Elm Grove Middle School football.

Sometimes, when athletes go to high schools outside the parish, I lose track of them. But it didn’t take me long to see that even as a sophomore, Lane was already beginning to reach the potential he showed in youth and middle school sports.

Last fall, he helped Calvary Baptist win the Division IV state football championship as a linebacker, earning second-team All-District 1-1A honors.

In the spring, he helped the Cavaliers baseball team reach the Division IV semifinals. He was a first-team outfielder on the All-District team.

Of course, Lane was much more than an athlete.

These days, social media is where people go to offer condolences and tributes. Facebook, while it has both positive and negative aspects, is the most popular site for that.

In many of the posts and comments I read, people simply offered up prayers. Others shared memories of the impact Lane had on their lives.

One of the many who did was Calvary Baptist Superintendent Chad McDowell. I’ve known Chad since his days playing basketball at Southwood. You won’t find a better man, and obviously he was hit hard by Lane’s death.

Here is what he posted for use by local media.

“I don’t have the words to adequately express how heartbroken all of us are about this tragic accident. We are deeply saddened at the loss of Lane Mangum and as expected are in shock and having a difficult time coming to grips with the reality of what has happened. Our thoughts, prayers, love and support are with his family.  We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support for our CBA family and covet the ongoing prayers for all involved.”

Glenbrook Academy coach Holden Orgeron, a former Parkway baseball standout, posted this.

“Lane was an incredible talent and an even better kid. I first had the opportunity to meet him when he was 11yrs old when he was playing for Empire, he helped me coach his younger brothers team that summer. Just the other day he texted me telling me how excited he was that Glenbrook was joining LHSAA so he could play against us his final two years of high school. He was a great competitor but he also loved seeing his friends accomplish their goals too, no matter what jersey they wore. Fly high kid. We’ll see you soon. Prayers going to all the families hurting today.”

Of course, those are just two examples of many.

Friday evening, several hundred of Lane’s immediate and Calvary Baptist family along with friends from the South Bossier community released balloons in his honor at Brookshire’s  Grocery Arena.

On Monday, services were held at 2 p.m. at Calvary Baptist Church. No doubt there will be an overflow crowd of those whose lives Lane impacted in his way-too-short life, many teammates, coaches, classmates and friends among them.

Obviously, he is and will be sorely missed.

Knowing McDowell and Calvary head football coach Rodney Guin like I do, they will find an appropriate way to honor him during the 2021-22 school year, especially during the football and baseball seasons, and beyond.

While I can’t imagine the depth of loss those close to him are feeling, hopefully that and the current outpouring of support will be a comfort to them.

Russell Hedges is the sports editor of the Press-Tribune. He can be reached at rhedges@bossierpress.com.

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