Saturday, May 24, 2014

It's a wrap - coaching career comes to an end!



The tears have been spent, the goodbyes from the banquet have ended. The career of Coach Marty Luquet ends with the numbers 447 - 251, and that's it. One more function tonight, a retirement party with close friends, former players, and coaches. Is it really over, no more practices and games. Will I miss it when they start up again? Sure I will. If I miss it too much, I will consider doing it again.

I would really like to try my hand at the next level.  I have applied at two colleges, three times. I never could convince an athletic director put to his job at stake by hiring a high school coach. It doesn't matter how good you are, they want collegiate experience. I had a year as an assistant coach at Nicholls State University, but I guess 1987 is too far in the past.

I loved coaching high school players -- well not all the time. I remember one night after a terrible performance by the Chargers of O.Perry Walker.  I walked in the house miserable. My wife Cheryl (Daniel and Courtney's mom), was waiting to see her husband. I growled at the dog, ignored her welcome home hug and plopped on the couch with a beer, still seething about the loss. She tried to console me about making a living out of training 16, 17, and 18 year old kids. She mentioned how wonderful a job I was doing with them, when their parents couldn't even get them to clean their rooms or put out the garbage. I was having none of this, even though I knew she was right. Then she hit me right between the eyes, "Why don't you quit". QUIT? QUIT?  I asked her if she was crazy, "I love coaching."  Her response was, "Then act like it." I have acted like it for the rest of my career.  I love it.

I will never forget how excited Lori and I were when I went back to coaching after eight years as an assistant recreation director. I came home excited and told her I got my name back. "Coach." She was as excited as I was. She saw the love in my eyes. It was a special moment.

Lori and I have had many special moments connected with my coaching. There was the State 5A Championship Tournament in New Iberia in 2003. We were on the verge of beating Barbe and Wade LeBlanc , a major upset in 2003. The tension was incredible and Lori was feeling it too. She had recently lost her brother Rhett in a car accident, and was calling on him to help out here. "Give me a sign Rhett," and a dragonfly landed on her knee and she freaked out. We won and our whole family now uses dragonflies as a symbol for Rhett. We have dragon flies everywhere. Thanks Rhett, cause Wade LeBlanc was real good.

In my first  season at Destrehan, I coached my son Daniel. He helped lead the Wildcats to the State Tournament for the first time in school history (2002). We lost to Jesuit (Jesuit will need its own blog) in the quarter finals. Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the 6th, with two outs, I tried to straight steal home with a freshman (Tyrone Wethers, he turned out to be real good). But he was out. We ended up losing 6-3, but it set my reputation as a gambling,  anything-goes coach. Daniel drove in our 1st run in that game and went  2-for-3 on the day. Now he's following his father's footsteps, coaching (football)  and loving kids. I even got him to coach baseball one season -- so he was there to see me win my 400th game. That was a special moment.

I couldn't write about coaching without talking about my biggest fan. My daughter Courtney lives and dies with every game I coach.  She loves watching my teams, and I just love her. She was a senior at Destrehan in 2004, which just happens to be the best team I ever coached (sorry other 24 teams). This team came into the pre-season nationally ranked at #7. The 1st weekend we go to Catholic High in Baton Rouge and play the #3 team in the country, Nova from Florida. We were so excited. We lost the next day to Catholic and they dog piled on game 3 of the season. We never lost again to for 31 games. Unfortunately we needed to win 34 to win the state championship. It was still awesome, what a year. Courtney was front and center for every game and still is.  I love her so much.

My final child Lora Leigh couldn't care less about baseball. She did want me to stay as the coach, because she likes scaring the middle school boys about having to play for her dad.  She loves her dad but not baseball. She came to my last game and wore head phones, laid on a blanket and faced away from the field. She is kind of a fan of the concession stand.

My love Lori will miss it the most. I admit that the most perfect place in the world is the 3rd base coaching box. I am never more confident than when I am standing there. It's my perfect world. Lori just likes my swagger on the field and in the stadium. Destrehan baseball belonged to me!

Now it doesn't.  DHS baseball does not belong to me anymore. I am having trouble letting it go as it has been a part of me for so long. The progam is in good hands, the players will still work hard. The winning tradition will continue, just without me.

But tonight will be fun, Lori has invited everyone I care about. She will be at my side as I get past this and we will have a wonderful life together. Hopefully at a beach somewhere, thanks Lolo, I love you.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The season is off and running

When I received our tournament schedule I had to laugh. I love to play a tough schedule, but come on.

The first weekend tournament had us opening with perennial powers in Louisiana. The first game was against defending 3A champion Parkview Baptist (the preseason #1), followed by three time district 5A champion Dutchtown. The first Saturday would see us play St. Amant. which eliminated us from the playoffs last year. The second game on Saturday would conclude the Trey Richardson Tournament with defending 5A state champion Catholic High of Baton Rouge. We held our top pitcher for Monday, when we were scheduled to play the #6 team in the country (Baseball America), and #1 5A preseason team in Louisiana, Barbe High School of Lake Charles.

Having to play all five of these games against quality teams on the road was a taunting task. We tried to prepare for the season, but extreme cold and many rainy days cost us precious practice days. Everyone had the same problems, though, and at least we have an indoor facility to work in.

The decision to hold our best pitcher, Kade Granier, for Barbe on Monday was a calculated risk. Losing three of these games would certainly put us in a very bad spot in the power ratings. The power ratings are even more important this year with two rounds of best 2 out of 3 series in the playoffs. The top four seeds will hold a huge edge and get to hold two series at home. How hard will it be to go into a good team's home and take two games with a hostile crowd and sleeping in hotels? Not an easy task for any team.

Thursday's game versus Parkview was our first test. Watching them take infield I knew that their ranking was accurate. They're big, strong and talented, but I looked forward to the game. I know our team will scrap. We won't win any contests because of our imposing size. We have one player who is 6'5" (Granier), and the rest of my starters are under 6'0". We will fight for every pitch, try to win every at bat, but we sure won't scare you.

But a close game became am 11-2 win with bunts and running. We hit three bunts in one inning, and all three drove in runs. Senior pitcher Ryan Brewer kept Parkview down with three strong innings, and sophomore left hander Tyler Winters picked up the win with two hitless innings, striking out four. Ace Kade Granier threw two innings to pick up the save. We were off to a good start.

The Dutchtown game was close.  Starting pitcher, junior Nick McClendon, threw five quality innings and sophmore Brandon Wild threw two scoreless innings in relief. Clutch two-out hitting kept us 2-0. In the third inning,  Jacob Cambre drove in Granier, who singled and moved to third on Brewer's double to left, and Randy Harveys sacrifice fly plated Brewer for the 4-2 lead. Granier hit a long 2-run homer in the fourth to extend the lead to 6-2.

Game three was our first loss of the season, as St. Amant put on quite a hitting display. St Amant had 8 hits and score 6 runs against starter Junior Austin McDonald. Loagan Babin threw 2 2/3 hitless innings in relief giving us a chance to win. Granier hit his second home-run of the season in the 5th, but we couldn't piece together another treat and lost 6-5.


The second game against Catholic High was a tremendous display of hitting leading to a 12-4 win. The outcome was never in doubt. Sophmore left-hander Cole Martin threw 4 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and four runs.Senior Hunter Abadie finished with 2 2/3 perfect innings of relief. Granier had a perfect 4-for- 4 day, with his 3rd home run in three games. Brewer had three hits and Randy Harvey had two in the win.

The #6 team in the country, still took us lightly as they prepared for Monday's game. Barbe has 7 players who have committed to D1 schools. My players were ready from the time they arrived at school for the 3 1/2 hour bus ride on a yellowbird. The kept talking about "being on the map" and letting everyone know we were going to be contenders. Sam Steib got the Bucs attention with a long two run homer in the top of the first. Granier was outstanding on the mound, giving up three hits and striking out six. His biggest test came in the fifth, when Barbe loaded the bases with no outs. A hit batter, an error and a walk left the game in doubt with the score 5-2. But Granier struck out the side and only a passed ball allowed Barbe to score, cutting the lead to 5-3. Hunter Abadie and Ryan Brewer both hit doubles to drive in big runs.

This start is a credit to a bunch of players who care about each other. They never think they can't win and play with a chip on their shoulder. These guys are playing hard because they love it, they don't care if their underrated. They just want to get on the map!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Why are you quitting now, Coach?

I get this question two or three times a day. "Why are you quitting now, Coach?"

Everyone thinks that the parents are driving coaches out of this profession. I don't believe that I have ever had problems with parents. Yes, there are two or three who don't care for me. I still love being around the players, and even the umpires are OK. Well, close to OK. 

So, here is the reason:  IT IS NO FUN.  THE GAMES ARE NO FUN.

  Call all the high school baseball coaches you know and ask them if they agree. You see, we (the coaches) have allowed the powers that be, the  National Federation of State High School Associations: NFHS to ruin our game. High school baseball is boring. They took a game that was so wonderful and they brought it to its knees.

We moved to the BBCOR bats a few years ago, and suddenly, teams that could hit were punished. Teams that can pitch are almost unbeatable.

I spent 30 years teaching players the proper technique of hitting.  I have coached quite a few good hitters. Some of those players have set school records for hitting.  One even set a national record when he hit 6 consecutive home runs. ALL of these are untouchable now. Players hitting double digit home runs were fairly common on every team in the New Orleans area. Last year one player hit 10 home runs -- in a seven parish (counties) area. 

It has affected all games played. We all bunt early in the game. We are giving away the the most important thing in baseball -- OUTS. Even when players hit a ball on the screws, center fielders run them down easily. I know they restricted the speed of the ball off the bat to protect the pitchers. I understand this concept in college baseball where the players are 19-22 year old men. Their frames are filled out, their bat speed is measurable.

I don't coach them. My best hitter is 5'8', 155 pounds. Really. Being a hitting coach you may say I want it back because I was successful. Well let me take you in another direction.

All I know about pitching is that I couldn't hit the good ones.

Well everyone is a good pitcher now! There are still very talented arms and they are almost impossible to hit. In the pre-BBCOR days,  an average player could run into a fastball and get a hit if it found a hole. They have no shot now, so coaches just pitch around good hitters. The other players don't have a chance. Even when you can get ahead in the count, the pitchers just throw it right down the middle. Hit it as far as you can, and the center fielder just runs it down. Not only the bats have been affected the pitchers are too. Do you really want to teach players to throw it down the middle? Why not?  There is no penalty. Home run hitters are singles hitters now (and the old contact singles hitters don't exist). We have even created a new brand of pitchers -- soft throwing right-handers. Just flip it up there, make it move a little and let them hit it. It's not going anywhere.

I miss 10-9 games, guys hitting doubles and players scoring from first. Those days are gone. Now its 0-0 in the 2nd and we have seen three sacrifice bunts already. The good hitting teams still win. We were 29-6 last year, so it's not about winning,  The fans are sitting on their hands. The players never jump out of their seats and never get to say "Did you see that?!"

Have I thanked the  National Federation of State High School Associations: NFHS?

You have made the game I love boring, and because you did it for "SAFETY REASONS" it's here to stay. 

 Well I'm not - so farewell.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hurting for my son

I share a school with my son and daughter-in-law. I have been here for 14 years, enjoying the status of a successful coach. I am lucky I get to see the people I love everyday. I get to share their highs and lows in real time, as it happens.

I watched my son this week get eliminated from the football playoffs, and I feel his pain. We had a real good chance to win the championship, but lost in the semi-final 35-7. This team played much better than us on this night. We lost our quarterback in the first quarter when he got hit on a long run. This is important because this was Daniel's quarterback. This was his hard work put into a 6'4" 240 pound work of art. I could feel the pain and the loss in Daniel watching him walk off the field for the last time as a Wildcat. The long hug he gave his wife spoke volumes. I have made that walk many times, and despised each one

The coaches feel the hurt as well, they watch the players' tear streaked faces and hurt for them. The coaches only get to hurt later when the players start to feel better. The coaches understand that there is another season next year, but it seems forever from right now.

To Daniel and the other coaches. it was a great year going from 4-5 to 13-1, from wanting to be winners to believing you couldn't lose if you did things right. The message you gave to your players was inspiring. that through hard work your dreams come true. Everyone wanted to be state champions, and they are hurting right now. But your players learned more about themselves through those tear stained faces than they ever would hoisting that championship trophy.

I love my family for what they do and how they do it. Daniel and Cori care and share themselves everyday with other peoples children. I know how lucky my grandchild is that they brought her into their lives.




Monday, July 8, 2013

A little bit short

The American Legion season came up a little bit short -- by about a month. We had a 16-4 record going into a three team round-robin tournament. With a pretty solid pitching staff, with good depth, we were ready for the big eight team double elimination tournaments. Only one problem --  after going 0-2 we won't be playing in those tournaments.

We really needed to play in those extremely competitive tournaments. We needed to fight our way through this, to find a way to win. But our hitting let us down, we never grasped the concept of staying on top of the baseball. We didn't do a good job of situational hitting, and we just didn't understand. We also didn't find a way to win. We didn't make big pitches, make routine plays when the game was on the line. We didn't get beat by better teams, we just gave two away.

We lost as a team, but the players lost individually. The seniors-to-be lost the most. They lost the opportunity to display their abilities. A high profile, eight team tournament draws college coaches from every school in the state. The coaches will stay for two days and watch 8 games, while evaluating the 2014 talent. They won't see our players and will wonder why. I will tell them it was a fluke, but in the end we didn't get it done.

I will never coach another American Legion game, and that is sad. I have enjoyed some great times coaching Legion baseball. Winning the 1st District championship in 1986 was my proudest moment. A public school from Algiers winning the (unofficial ) Catholic League championship. We were the first public school to win a 1st District championship in 34 years, and it has never happened again. Another fond memory was the summer of 2003. The Destrehan team that just lost the state championship to East Ascension, finished runner-up to Shaw after eliminating Jesuit in Ponchatoula. The state tournament was in Crowley, La.,  where we played for 7 days against quality teams. We played out of the losers bracket after losing the first day to the host. We played elimination games for 6 straight days winning them all until the final game --  a well played 2-1 loss to Gauthier Amedee.

The summer season is over but the preparation for the 2014 season is beginning. I am sure our players will rededicate themselves and work hard through the off season to prove that we are one of the best --  if not the best team in Louisiana.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Summer Fun

The pressures are still there, only different. There are no large crowds and the students are doing other things. So welcome to summer baseball DHS style. The temperatures will continue to climb and so will the pressure of trying to secure a starting position going into January's practices.

We have divided our players into three teams, with American Legion being the central focus. The Legion team consists of returning players for the 2014 season. There is a lot of anticipation for the 2014 team, coming off a 29-6 season and losing only four seniors. There is a lot of anticipation for this coach, as I will be coaching my last season -- my 25th. Most coaches believe that championships are won in the heat of summer, with plenty of luck in May.

We also have two younger teams (Metro), that we work with as well. This is where we develop the next wave of talented DHS players that make this a program. Incoming freshmen and our current freshmen make up these teams. They will battle each other for spots on the varsity roster as well as for playing time in the future. They will play through the month of June, and then get some much needed summer vacation. The Legion team will get no rest, as they will play in the playoffs through the month of July.

Is this a lot of baseball? It is if you ask our football coach. Summer baseball is what makes this sport so special. All men can tell you about a game or a summer team that was special to them. No one will ever say my most memorable day was the summer workouts in football, or the seven catches I made in the 7-on-7 drill. Summer is baseball -- hot, dirty, sweaty baseball in South Louisiana, where the heat index is over 100 everyday. The summer season will end when the players decide it should. Then it will time for football games and cheering on our beloved Wildcats. It's what we do between the last pitch of summer and the long-awaited first day of practice in January.

My last first day of practice in January.