Prairieville, Louisiana. Est population 30k-50k. It’s been growing since Hurricane Katrina hit and there was a mass exodus out of New Orleans. Baton Rouge is now trying to become the Dallas of Louisiana, having all the neighboring cities in a sort of grand metropolitan area. Prairieville, Dutchtown, Geismar is the first exit out of Baton Rouge heading towards New Orleans (which FYI, NOLA – New Orleans, LA – is about 50 minutes from the Red Stick, AKA Baton Rouge).
So how did I fall into this gig, coaching high school lacrosse with such limited experience in a small town? I could give you the SparkNotes version, but no, I’ll take you on the scenic route.
I played high school lacrosse for four years in Shreveport, LA. My freshmen year, some seniors at our school decided they wanted to start a club team because lax looked cool (kind of misleading because every team in Louisiana is a club, which will be discussed more later). This was for the 2001 season, and we were the third team in the state. There were four other freshmen on the team, one of which now coaches with me in Prairieville. We had to play in the Texas Division 2 league, playing most of the teams from Dallas (we were in Shreveport, LA, so proximity put us up against the Big D).
In our first two years in existence, we played in the Texas state championship. We died out after that, but we did continue to make it to the playoffs, and we never lost to a team from Louisiana in 4 years (by 2004, my senior year, another school had picked it up, bringing the grand total to 4).
I then went straight to LSU, and was confronted with a choice – Lacrosse or Fraternity? LSU has an MCLA team, with dues similar to that of a fraternity, and my parents made me pick because they had a checkbook and I didn’t. I chose the fraternity, and to this day, I think it’s the best decision I’ve ever made, but that’s at least 50 other stories. Coincidentally, one of my fraternity brothers, Burton Kirk, was from Memphis and was a stud on the LSU team, so I kept up with what was going on.
Either way, I graduated in 2008 and somehow miraculously got a job in what is certainly the worst recession of my lifetime, while I watched almost all of my friends say “F it, I’ll just go back for another degree,” or work in a bar. As they dispersed across Louisiana to go to different schools, or continued to live a lifestyle that I simply couldn’t because of my work schedule, by spring 2009, I felt pretty alone.
Boredom sets in. Thank God Al Gore invented the interwebz.
“What is there to do in spring…? Go see a baseball game? WTF, Knox, do you realize what you just said? Ok, check yourself. Spring.. Spring… Lacrosse games might be on TV?”
One google search led to another, and I found out that a lone high school here in town had a team, and they were playing that weekend.
I decided to go to the game, just to have something to do. I get up to the gate, where the parents were arguing whether or not I was a student. I look young, but not that young (students get in free, you see). I explained to them I was an LSU grad that was involved with lacrosse, and before I could finish the sentence they said “You wanna coach?” In the next two minutes, I found myself standing on the sidelines, next to two other young looking coaches.
After the game and introductions, I got thrust into the drama that is Louisiana lacrosse and the Louisiana HS Lax League. Turns out there are a TON of high schools down here that would start up tomorrow if they could, but two things are preventing that from happening:
1. First and more importantly, there is a tremendous lack of coaches. Louisiana needs coaches. Bad.
2. There is a tremendous lack of financial support. Since the LHSAA refuses to believe lacrosse is a real sport, every team is left to fund themselves.
After a couple practices with the Baton Rouge team, I asked one of the league directors if there was a high school team looking for a coach in order to get started (already knowing the answer was ‘yes’). Lacrosse needed to grow more than the Baton Rouge team needed a third coach. I was told about a public school in Ascension Parish (we have Parishes, not counties).
Ascension parish is the only parish in South Louisiana you would dare send your child to public school. The public schools in the rest of South Louisiana are horrendous. The private schools here range from “meh” to “Oh my Dale Earnhardt!” There are a couple private schools here in town that cost more than my college education.
And that’s how I got in touch with the high school I coach today. Next time we’ll go over what we went through to get the team up and running (it wasn’t that bad), and the unbelievable determination and attitudes of the players to make this happen.
Straight Whiskey (better than a kiss sometimes),
About the author: Knox is a 24 year old High School Head Coach in a small area east of Baton Rouge. He played High School ball for four years, and college ball for about 1 week until he realized his collegiate priorities rested with more important things like partying and eventually trying to get his grades up. He enjoys things that most Louisiana people do – eating boiled crawfish and alligator, a cold Abita Amber, anything LSU, his dog, and his beautiful girlfriend, Audrey. Lacrosse is not listed because most Louisiana people have no idea what lacrosse is.