High school coaches say they are helping to teach life lessons

On Sept. 20, a previously unknown high school football coach in Roosevelt, Utah, made national headlines when it was reported that he suspended his entire team because of their off-the-field behavior.

Union High School head football coach Matt Labrum met with players and parents and let it be known that their questionable off-the-field behavior (including bullying, disrupting classes and failing grades) would not be tolerated.

Labrum set out a plan for each player to be allowed to earn their jersey back. Players attended character-building classes, tutoring and also performed numerous acts of community service.

The school's athletic director reported that within a week, all but 10 players won back their jerseys and also learned a valuable lesson.

Schools in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes also numerous coaches who also go beyond just teaching X's and O's.

Every week, on grass fields and hardwood courts, they help young people grow and mature as individuals as well as athletes. It is a responsibility they take very seriously.

Covenant Christian Academy athletic director and head football coach Blyght Wunstell said he wants his players to be winners on and off the field.

"As in life, a team sport is played by everyone, and everyone's actions affects the team, not just the individual," Wunstell said. "I preach and teach integrity, honesty, responsibility, work ethic and overcoming adversity. In addition, I feel every player on our team represents their family, the school, community, but most importantly they represent the Lord."

E.D. White Catholic head coach Kyle Lasseigne said a suspension usually results in a renewed purpose within the athlete who is being disciplined.

"The athlete must exhibit personal responsibility in the framework of the team concept," he said.

Lasseigne said most local athletes won't be using sports as a way to make a living, but the lessons they learn will help them the rest of their lives.

"We feel the teaching of life lessons — character, the value of work, time management and the sense of team — are some worthy traits to develop in our young men," he said.

Former Nicholls State football player and former Ellender High and current junior-high coach Tawaskie Anderson has coached numerous sports both at the high school and junior high level, and he said that he believes strongly in leading by example.

"If you want the kids to display respect and integrity then you have to model them yourself," Anderson said. "If coaches can teach this then the players will grow up to be better fathers and better husbands."

For some athletes, coaches are more than just mentors on the field. They are role models and can be someone the athletes can look up to in a time of need.

The television series "Friday Night Lights" showed that when a single mother asked the coach for help with her troubled son. The mother asked, "Coach, I'm not asking you to be my boy's father. I'm just asking you to remember that he doesn't have one."