What a prideful week

If you called my office phone last week, you most likely got my voicemail.

No, I wasn’t on work vacation.

But I was busy watching the young student-athletes from the Houma-Thibodaux area achieve and win at several different sports.

The 2017-18 athletic year has been absolutely incredible with several local schools finding success at just about every, single sport.

The past week was increasingly impressive and the next one will be just as busy, as well.

I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Let’s start in soccer.

Last week, four local teams competed for the State Championship. Think about that. Four teams out of 16 teams total in eight championship games were from the Houma-Thibodaux area.

Of course, locally, we’re used to Vandebilt dominating that sport. Those young men and ladies are absolutely incredible – year-in and year-out.

This year, the Lady Terriers were favored to win their third-straight State Championship, but they came up just a little bit short, losing in penalty kicks to University Lab in one of the best matches of the season.

The heartbreak only lasted for a couple hours because just after that game the Vandebilt boys’ picked up the slack and won against rival E.D. White in an unbelievably dramatic match.

Give kudos to E.D. White. They’ve been the best team in Division III literally all season long. Their offense is explosive and they’ve overwhelmed opponents with their ability to score three, four or even five or more goals – even against elite competition.

That firepower dominated Vandebilt during the season and the Cardinals beat the Terriers twice to win the District Title.

But in the biggest game of the season, the battle-tested Terriers rose to the challenge, showing that they’d learned from their mistakes in an impressive win – another match that was so close and hard-fought that it went to penalty kicks.

Vandebilt and E.D. White are powers. Their success is expected.

Just 24 hours later, Cinderella made her way to the ball.

Central Lafourche lost to St. Thomas More in the Division II State Championship Match, but that team was one of the talks of the entire tournament during the past week.

The Lady Trojans won two-straight road games to get to that point, then locked horns with one of the best teams in the entire state, falling just 1-0 in a close, competitive match.

Central Lafourche had an unbelievable season – one that the entire community will not ever soon forget. I drove through the Mathews area last week. The number of businesses and homes that had signs honoring the Lady Trojans’ successes was awesome to see. I know the players and coaches who were a part of it will never soon forget it all.

Then, the back-end of my week was dedicated to basketball.

Two local teams punched tickets this past week to the Top 28 – the State Semifinals for high school basketball.

Both teams’ victories were near and dear to my heart.

Objectivity aside, everyone who pays attention knows that I am a graduate of South Lafourche High School. I coached a lot of the student-athletes at the school now and I am related to a few others. I am objective in my writing from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., but by night, I root for the Tarpons. Every coach locally knows that.

In my spare time, I call Tarpon and Lady Tarpon basketball games on radio – a gig which has made me a lot of connections and friendships. I was so happy to see South Lafourche make it to the Top 28 last week. There are a lot of really, really good kids on that team and it truly is an honor and a privilege to say that I’ve been able to call well more than 50 of their games over the past four years.

Traya Bruce and Victorianna Nelson get all of the headlines, but this team succeeds because of its strength in numbers. South Lafourche can go nine or 10 deep and often overlooked are players like Kyzha Jackson, Elizabeth Curole, Ramey Messer, Mac Bynum, Sierra Lerille, Abigail Bouzigard and Carolina Curole, among others.

The Lady Tarpons came up short in 2016, then got a bad deal last year when Nelson got hurt. This year, they made it to Alexandria and I’m happy to see it to fruition.

The next story put a smile on my face, too.

For about five or six years now, I’ve been blessed to call Houma Christian girls’ basketball coach Kathy Luke a friend.

I won’t rehash a story that’s been told many, many times already, but Coach Luke got a bad deal at Vandebilt Catholic. The school reacted far too swiftly to replace her and they’ve paid the price and have not been competitive since.

All the while, Coach Luke has bounced around a bit, but has finally settled in at Houma Christian, taking the team to the Top 28 in just her first season.

Yes, Houma Christian made the State Championship Game last season, but these Lady Warriors are far different than last year’s group, which was senior-heavy.

Coach Luke has done some amazing coaching in her career, but this may be her best work yet, and I couldn’t be happier for both she and her team.

And I haven’t even talked about boys’ basketball yet, which is also in the playoffs with several local teams competing to try and make the Top 28.

But more about that next week.

For now, I’m just filled with both exhaustion, but also with pride.

This past week has been a hectic one, but a great one.

Congratulations to all involved on amazing successes.

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