Vernon Parish Hall of Fame: Kavika Pittman: LHS Class of 1992

Billy Crawford
Leesville Daily Leader

Kavika Pittman was born in Frankfort, West Germany where his father was stationed in the United States Army. In 1990 Kavika enrolled at Leesville High School, the summer before his junior year. 

Kavika excelled in Football, Basketball, and Track and Field. At that time Leesville High School had a student enrollment of over 1400 students and played in District 4-AAAAA, the highest classification. Other district schools included Sulphur, LaGrange, Barbe. The team played arch-rival DeRidder as well as other top-flight Louisiana teams.

Playing for Head Coach Danny Smith his senior year, he was voted All-State as a defensive end by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. He was voted Most Valuable Player in District 4-AAAAA, He was chosen to play on the West team in the LASCA All-Star game in Baton Rouge.  

As a member of Coach Mill’s Wampus Cats Track and Field team, he won class 5-A long jump setting a new state record (24-2) and Triple Jump (45.2) and finished second in the high jump (6-6). He had jumped 6-8 in the Regional Meet.

Basketball career

Coach Hub Jordan, who was voted Coach of the Year, led the Wampus Cats to win the 4-AAAAA basketball championship in 1991. Kavika was voted to the Second Team All-District.  As a senior, he helped his basketball AAU All-star team win a national championship.

I was serving as a school principal during these years. We had a very progressive high school, with many outstanding students, faculty members and staff. We had the support of the community and the school board officials and board. 

A couple of special remembrances I have of Kavika included during the annual faculty-student basketball game, usually held in the last week of school before graduation. The student body packed into the gym to support their team. The faculty members would play the non-varsity boys with senior varsity players as their coaches. Of course, the faculty supplied the unbiased officials with the whistles.

At half-time, the students started chanting "Kavika, Kavika, Kavike" --wanting him to put on a "dunking exhibition." He put on a show and the students loved it!

College career

In 2014 Kavika was inducted into the McNeese Sports Hall of Fame. The following is his profile from the Hall Of Fame website:

Kavika Pittman, who was a standout defensive end for the Cowboys, earned all-America honors from four different organizations including the Associated Press, 

Walter Camp and Coaches All-American teams in 1995. He was a defensive leader on two McNeese conference championship teams. His senior year in 12 games he had 58 tackles (43 solo), and led the team and the SLC in sacks with 15, seven behind the line of scrimmage, knocked down 11 passes and blocked a punt. In his career he totaled 133 tackles (94 solo), 39 assisted tackles, and 22 sacks.

He had been a three-sport standout at Leesville High (football, track, basketball) and went on to all-Southland and all-Louisiana football honors at McNeese, also being named the conference and the state defensive player of the year in 1995. Pittman, who played in the 1995 Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Classic, Blue-Gray Classic, continues to rank No. 2 in career sacks at McNeese with 22.5 and last year was named to the all-time Southland Conference football team as well as to the team of the 1990s. He went on to be drafted in the second round (No. 37 overall) by the Dallas Cowboys. 

Another memory of mine is the night I traveled down to Lake Charles for a Cowboy's football game to watch Kavika play. At 6-6 and 235 he stood out in more than one way. He was all over the field.

I remember whenever McNeese kicked off, Kavika was lined up directly behind the kicker--he would run down the middle and collide with the wall of blockers. 

After the game, I went over and stood by the player's gate and called his name. He came over and we talked a few minutes and he said, "thanks for coming down to watch me play." 

Pro career

Kavika Pittman’s nine-year career in the National Football League ended during the second game of the 2003 season. Playing for the Carolina Panthers, he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament after being chop-blocked by a Tampa Bay Buccaneer player. After sitting out for the rest of the season, he re-injured the knee in the 2004 training camp. He then retired.

Kavika was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round (37th overall) out of McNeese University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. As a 6-6 273 lb rookie, he contributed on special teams with 17 tackles as well as spot playing defensive end. The next year he registered 6 tackles (2 for Loss), one sack, one quarterback pressure and 3 special team tackles. In 1998, he became the starter at defensive end, where he finished with 6 sacks (led the team), 16 quarterback pressures (third on the team), 59 tackles (3 for loss), 7 passes defended, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. The Cowboys were in the playoffs each of these years. From 2000-2002 he played for the Denver Broncos before signing with the Carolina Panthers.

The last I heard, Kavika is living in Frisco, Texas. While researching for this story, I discovered that one of his sons, Toren, just signed to play football for the University of Colorado Buffaloes.