The Second Annual Joey Chustz Invitational, a powerlifting meet named after one of the most accomplished athletes in Denham Springs High School history, will be held on Saturday, Jan. 12, at Denham Springs Freshman High.
The meet, named in memory of the late Joey Chustz, is slated to begin at 9 a.m., and general admission will be $5 for adults, $3 for students, and free for young children, said DSHS powerlifting coach Joe Ryan, whose short time with Chustz left an indelible impact.
“Joey and I worked together for a little bit at Denham when I first got there, and he had a pretty big impact in that short amount of time for me as a coach,” said Ryan, who was hired in January 2017, four months before Chustz’s passing. “It was something I felt was a gesture for him and his family that we name this meet after him.”
Chustz, who passed away from natural causes at the age of 40 in May 2017, was a dominating offensive tackle for the Yellow Jackets from 1992-95. After graduating from DSHS, Chustz played college ball at Louisiana Tech and earned All-American status in 1999.
He’d eventually become the first DSHS alum in modern history drafted into the NFL when the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him with the 123rd pick in the fourth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.
Chustz was later elected into the Denham Springs High School Yellow Jacket Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013, and after his induction, he said, “This is chosen by your community and it’s humbling to be included in a group of people I’ve looked up to in life.”
Prior to his passing, Chustz was the offensive line coach for the Yellow Jackets and also worked with the sub-varsity teams.
“Joey was a perfect example of what you expect from a high school coach,” DSHS principal Kelly Jones said in the aftermath of Chustz’s passing. “He loved his school. He loved his players. Everything he did was for the betterment of his team and players, with the intention of making them better men.”
Added Ryan: “[Chustz] without a doubt made an impact [on me]. There’s stuff I learned from him that I never knew. You always pick up stuff with everyone you encounter, but there’s stuff he talked about with me that I still hold onto to this day.”
Nine teams, including a few from Livingston Parish, will compete in Saturday’s meet, which is officially sanctioned by both the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) and the Louisiana High School Powerlifting Association (LHSPLA).
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