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Summer’s over now

The saga of the incredible shrinking summer is coming to an end for high school athletes across the nation, including Louisiana.

Each year it seems like coaches, athletes, parents and sportswriters talk about summers getting shorter. I confess, I’m guilty of it.

But a quick check of the calendar shows that it’s been 11 weeks since Louisiana High School Athletic Association schools ended their spring seasons with baseball championships in Sulphur.

Perhaps the issue is not the short summer, but rather all the things we try to pack into it.

There’s 7-on-7 football, summer baseball, summer leagues for high school volleyball, basketball, baseball and soccer teams.

This list doesn’t include team camps for basketball, an entity that has grown in popularity over the last 10 years, or the individual skills camps football, basketball and baseball players typically attend.

The bottom line – the quest to become the best you can be on the high school level takes a lot of time and effort.

LeBlanc recovering

Former Brusly High softball pitcher Carli Jo LeBlanc continues to recover from injuries suffered in an auto accident.

Reports about LeBlanc on Facebook and other social outlets were positive through Thursday morning. Her teammates and coaches say LeBlanc, who was set to begin her freshman year at LSU in just a few weeks, is approaching recovery the way she competed – with tons of tenacity.

It was a huge blow for the Panthers when injuries issues kept LeBlanc from completing her senior season. With accidents and seriously injuries like this happen, it reminds all of us just how fragile life as we know it is.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to LeBlanc and her family in the days and weeks ahead. She has plenty of people pulling for her.

Since LeBlanc’s July 29 accident the Facebook page Prayers for Carli Jo has reached 96,858 and had nearly 4,300 likes. The latest status update generated 868 likes as of 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

Camping varsity style

Some football teams engage in the preseason camp ritual.  Whether a team goes to a rural camp or simply has a lockdown at school the goal is to do a lot of bonding and conditioning.

I can see both sides of this. Some love it; other prefer to get into more of a regular practice routine.

I’ll be writing more about that on Sunday.

Hornets seek girls coach

Scotlandville High needs a head girls basketball coach. Scotlandville Principal Howard Davis said the school’s previous coach, Cedric Hill, has returned to work in the private sector.

Applicants should be certified to teach physical education. Contact Davis at (225) 775-3715.

Here and there

There was plenty of recruiting news generated by last week’s prospects football camp at LSU. The 40-yard dash times are usually eye-popping.

However, the times posted by two local LSU commitments, Catholic High running back Derrius Guice and University linebacker-running back Dylan Moses, were particularly notable. Guice weighed in at nearly 220 pounds and ran the 40 in 4.32 seconds. Moses, who also weighs 220, ran a 4.39.

Also notable — University High will have artificial turf on its baseball field for the 2015 season, according to Athletic Director Jill White.

 

 

LHSCA Clinic offers food for thought

 

Everyone agrees there was a positive vibe from Tuesday’s “The Future of Football in Louisiana” forum.

What does that mean? Right now it’s hard to say if it means much.

Still, the forum that attracted 170 coaches was the most significant event at the Louisiana High School Coaches Association Coaches Clinic that ended Thursday morning.

Sure, the workshops were nice. So was getting to hear coaches like LSU’s Les Miles and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Mark Hudspeth speak.

Getting Louisiana’s football coaches to become more unified and to offer a unified voice within the Louisiana High School Athletic Association framework will be huge moving forward and more significant.

However, one meeting or forum isn’t enough to sustain anything. I can understand why some coaches remain skeptical for this very reason.

Hey guys? Where do you go from here?

There’s a plan in the works for football coaches to meet again in December during the Prep Classic football championships to discuss agenda items for the LHSAA’s annual convention and to make some recommendations.

Since the media and LHSAA officials were not part of the football coaches forum, I can only mention the ideas coaches who did attend related to me.

It looks like the notion of classifying football separately by divisions and then classifying schools for other sports together has supporters. Another suggestion was opting for seven total football classes that include select and nonselect schools, allowing schools to play up in class.

As we all know there are plenty of opinions out there about the LHSAA’s split football championships. There’s been a ground swell of support to split the LHSAA in all sports. The idea of private schools breaking away to form their own association or becoming a separate entity within the LHSAA has been discussed too.

I’m not sure any of these ideas is a cure all for the issues the LHSAA has. So the debate continues.

 

What’s in a number?

At Wednesday’s question and answer session regarding eight-man football LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson noted that 16 schools, or perhaps as few as 14, must declare to play before it can be added.

My twitter feed offered some interesting feedback when I noted 10 schools attended the meeting.

The LHSAA currently has 10 schools playing in its 11-man football select Division I. Based on that fact, why do there have to be 16 or 14 schools for eight-man football. Isn’t 10 the right number for one group already?

 

Capitol reunion

Two former Capitol High girls basketball players were among those who met up and shared news at the clinic.

Redemptorist Valencia Wilson, who led the Wolves to a deep playoff run in Class 2A, is making plans for a different 2014-15. Wilson is due to give birth to her first child in November.  Wilson said she plans to return to coaching during the season.

Meanwhile, Adrian Blake is now the head girls basketball coach at Ellender. Blake, who played on two Class 4A title teams with Seimone Augustus, previously coached at Capitol.

 

Here and there

New West Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Wes Watts was among the administrators who stopped by the clinic on Wednesday.

Watts, previously the principal at Zachary High and the head basketball coach/athletic director at Central, said he hopes to continue working with the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s School Relations Committee.

Another familiar face in a different place is Sacred Heart-Ville Platte head football coach Gary Adkins. A long time coach in the Baton Rouge area, Adkins spent last season at Oak Grove and moved SHVP in the spring.

I also got to visit with former Live Oak High football coach Paul Beebe, who is now head football coach and athletic director ar Pearl River.

Former Dutchtown High assistant coach Todd Giambrone was among the sporting goods vendors on hand to talk to coaches. Giambrone, who was on DHS’ first coaching staff, lives in Houston but still works with a number of Louisiana schools.

 

What summer break?

Some people assume the summer amounts to an extended vacation for a high school sportswriter. Actually, the opposite is true.

Granted, there are no late night games to cover or statistics to compile. Chances are, several interesting stories will present themselves.

Events like this week’s Louisiana High School Coaches Association Coaches Clinic provide some built-in story opportunities. You’ve got a number of college coaches coming to speak, including LSU football coach Les Miles.

One of the best things about the summer is getting the chance to pursue stories that are tied to a game this week or a commitment 10 minutes ago.

Getting the chance to write about FamilyChristianAcademy’s plans to play eight-man football this fall was that kind of treat. Eight-man football is played in other states, like Texas, but hadn’t been considered any kind of Louisiana option until recently.

Certainly, eight-man football would offer relief for small Class 1A schools that struggle to find the numbers to be competitive in 11-man football. FCA represents the other intriguing possibility – its a Class C school with a reputation for athletics.

Each year sportswriters marvel at the athleticism of Class B and C boys basketball teams, pondering what would happen if those guys were playing football. It’s only natural in Louisiana. Right?

The Flames are set to take up that challenge. I wonder what other B-C schools will do it?

The FCA story also gave me a chance to catch up not only with coach Steve Douglas, but also with his son, Stevie.

Stevie Douglas, do you remember the name? The younger Douglas developed into a sought-after recruit as a quarterback while playing for his father’s Christian Home Educators Fellowship team not that long ago.

He signed with Stephen F. Austin and later transferred to LouisianaCollege. Stevie Douglas is now 6-foot-5 and weights 230 pounds and he’s set attend SoutheasternLouisianaUniversity, looking to garner eligibility in 2015.

 

Happy returns

I also enjoyed visiting with the 1963-64 Istrouma High boys basketball team. As they smiled, laughed and talked with each other during a Saturday reunion I couldn’t help thinking what a great lesson they offer for athletes today.

We all joke about the “Good Old Days” the older we get. In this case, 50 years after the fact the players and their coach, John Hutchison, were fondly recalling a great season that ended with a semifinal loss instead of a state championship.

I’d like to think that somewhere down the road some of teams I’ve covered in recent years get the same chance, Not all great seasons are championship seasons and I’m afraid we forget that far too often.

 

Almost here

We’re about six weeks away from football jamborees. Fall practice and scrimmages are scheduled even sooner.

Football and Louisiana. Goes together like red beans, rice and sausage.

 

Check it out

I’m planning to post some short blogs during the LHSCA Clinic that starts Tuesday at the CrownePlaza.

Join me in continuing to cherish high school sports.

 

Follow Robin Fambrough on twitter @FambroughAdv

 

 

LHSCA Clinic may offer insight

It’s easy to dismiss next week’s Louisiana High School Coaches Association Clinic as more of the same.

Yes, there will be plenty of guest speakers, like always.

LSU coach Les Miles is one of the scheduled speakers on Tuesday, the first day for clinicians to share their wit and wisdom with Louisiana coaches at the CrownePlaza.

The chance to size up and listen to new Louisiana Tech women’s basketball coach Tyler Summitt should attract the curious. Name droppers who love family connections can look forward to more than Summitt, the son of Tennessee’s legendary women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt.

Louisiana Tech football coach Skip Holtz, the son of coach-turned-TV analyst Lou Holtz, also is scheduled to speak on Tuesday.

Two seminars that don’t involve a guest speaker also should grab some attention.

Sessions open Tuesday with two respected former coaches, Charles Baglio and Rick Gaille, serving as moderators for two hours of discussion about the future of high school football in Louisiana.

What makes the two one-hour sessions unique is that the Louisiana Football Coaches Association is supporting the discussions. LHSCA Director Gary Duhe said football coaches have been told no one from the Louisiana High School Athletic Association will sit in on the sessions that will serve as a lead-up to Miles’ lecture set for 11 a.m.

Also set for Tuesday morning is LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson’s review of research and findings for schools interested in playing eight-man football starting in 2015-16.

Notes from the report are already online at lhsaa.org, list some interesting data, including a base cost of equipment for schools in Class B-C would have to purchase football equipment for the first time.

Football coaches have their share of concerns. Worries about concussions and improving means of detecting them are major issues. The split of the LHSAA’s football championships into separate divisions for select and nonselect schools is another hot-button topic.

It will be interesting to see which coaches choose to attend the sessions aimed at the future of football in Louisiana. And once there, what will the coaches say.

This is one of those cases where writers, fans etc., all think they know what coaches are thinking. And sometimes we do. But there are times when new thoughts and ideas come to light.

 

Tick, tick tick

A scheduling conflict pushed the LHSCA Clinic up by one week. Consider it an early reminder that the 2014-15 seasons are just around the corner.

Many football teams will be practicing a month from now and school will be underway by mid-August.

Practices for cross country, swimming and volleyball also will underway before August is over.

What do you think will be some of the compelling stories this fall? I’d love to get some input.

That’s all for blog 2. Remember, never forget high school sports, cherish them.

 

A Holiday after a busy week

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

I hope your holiday has been a safe one filled with fun.

My plan is to do a little blogging each week in addition to my work published in The Advocate and theadvocate.com.

This week featured some interesting news. There were a couple of football commitments and a football signing to go along with some interesting coaching changes.

Sometimes, you even get a little something extra after a story is done. That was the case for me after I did a story on St. Michael the Archangel tennis player Cameron Andry.

I made reference to a picture taken of Cameron before he learned to walk that included a tennis ball and racket. The day after the story was published, Andry’s father Keith sent me the photo via email. I’ll see if there’s a way to post it.

It’s a great family heirloom. With that said, I’m not sure what kind of baby photos Port Allen’s Marcus Keyes and Central’s Terrell Chatman have. Both players reached notable milestones as the area’s latest football commitments.

Keyes committed to the University Louisiana at Lafayette, which continues not only its surge to prominence but its reach to nab area players. It’s a good get for the Cajuns and a nice fit for a player who can drive to the ULL campus in less than an hour from his home.

Louisiana players going to Miami is certainly not unheard of. Think Ed Reed. But in Central’s Chatman, the Hurricanes have gotten a commitment from a guy whose stock as a WR prospect has been soaring of late.

It was nice to hear that Catholic’s Danny Cameron signed with Indiana. Cameron, the son of LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, got to play just one season with the Bears. What we saw of Cameron last fall was a glimpse of a guy with loads of potential. Though the school sought an extra two semesters for Cameron, an appeal that was denied by the LHSAA, it worked out without a stop off at a prep school. Another win, win, I’d say.

And then there are the coaching changes. Kudos to Redemptorist for hiring former Woodlawn standout RoShon Jacobs as its boys basketball coach.

The Wolves wanted a young coach who is ready to dig in for rebuilding job. At 29, Jacobs certainly fits that bill and he knows Baton Rouge.

It’s also nice to see former Broadmoor star Mike Woods back in the fold as the school’s baseball coach and an assistant football coach. The 33-year-old Woods even jumped into a few drills with players at one recent condition practice.

Woods faces a tough rebuilding job at Broadmoor. The Bucs didn’t win a game last spring in baseball.

Rusty Price’s suggestion to bring in longtime assistant Elliott Wilkins as co-head football coach also is a win, win. Like Woods, Wilkins is another ex-Broadmoor player.

That’s all for now. Never forget high school sports, cherish them.