Teurlings Catholic baseball coach Mike Thibodeaux reflects on team’s record-breaking season _lowres

Teurlings Catholic head baseball coach Mike Thibodeaux hoist the trophy after the final of the LHSAA Class 2A Championship Game at McMurray Park in Sulphur, La., Saturday, May 14, 2016. Teurlings Catholic defeated West Ouachita 3-2. (AP Photo/Lake Charles American Press, )

Teurlings Catholic baseball coach Mike Thibodeaux has been a frequent visitor to the American Baseball Coaches Association’s annual convention, a forum that’s had a profound impact on his career.

Instead of attending this year’s 73rd Annual event Jan. 6 in Anaheim, California, with the intent of picking up ideas from guest speakers, or paying reverence through the organization’s Hall of Fame induction, Thibodeaux will be there as a guest of honor.

Thibodeaux will receive the ABCA/Diamond Division II (school enrollments between 750-1,500) high school coach of the year after guiding Teurlings to the Class 4A state championship and a consensus Top 25 national ranking.

The Rebels finished No. 8 in MaxPreps.com and No. 9 in the USA Today Super 25.

“Going for this reason’s going to be a little different,” said Thibodeaux, who qualified for the honor after being selected the ABCA Region 6 Coach of the Year.

The ABCA will honor 11 coaches ranging from Division I Coach of the Year, Gary Gilmore of national champion Coastal Carolina, to the top coaches in NAIA, junior college and high school.

“Mike will be the first to tell you that baseball’s always been big at Teurlings and has always been pretty good,” Teurlings athletic director Sonny Charpentier said. “Mike has been able to take it to another level. He does an outstanding job and they’re always well prepared and well coached. The proof’s in the pudding.”

A year after being denied the Class 4A state title by archrival St. Thomas More, Teurlings returned with a vengeance and steamrolled its way through the regular season and early stages of the state playoffs.

The Rebels put the finishing touches on a school-record 35-4 mark and the school’s sixth state championship with a 3-2 victory over West Ouachita.

“You always have to have a goal of winning championships,” said Thibodeaux, who won his third state title in his ninth season at the school. “You have to have a measuring stick. It’s not about the trophies or the rings, but the opportunity to play the game of baseball and to play it at a high level.

“This is further acknowledgment of what 24 young men were able to accomplish on the field,” said Thibodeaux, who was assisted by Brock Broussard, Richey Garrett and Scott LeJeune. “This award is about the players. It’s an extension of the state championship, but an outstanding group of young men who played the game well from beginning to end.”

Teurlings returned more than just a talented team in 2016, a group that went on to feature five college signees and two of three juniors who committed before the start of the season.

The Rebels placed four players — pitchers Brett Weber and Josh Taylor, right fielder Nick Webre and catcher Austin Kirkpatrick — on the Class 4A all-state first team, with Webre earning 4A Outstanding Player and Mr. Baseball honors.

“One of our mottos this season was talent-plus wins championships,” Thibodeaux said. “We had great leadership, the best I’ve ever had in any sport I’ve coached. They made it so fun and the challenge was continuing to raise the level of expectations and challenge them in different ways.”

A season’s worth of objectives started piling up by the end of April — an undefeated District 4-4A championship and school-record 30th win — which left Teurlings within striking distance of its ultimate goal.

The Rebels showed plenty of resolve in rallying from a four-run deficit in the second inning for a 5-4 semifinal win over Breaux Bridge. They did so twice again in the title game against West Ouachita with RBI hits from Hayden Cantrelle and Jacob Richard, to go along with Taylor’s complete-game effort on the mound.

“First of all, I’m blessed to be a coach,” Thibodeaux said. “To form relationships that will last a lifetime, that’s the reward. I’m not aware of any coaches that get into coaching to win an award yourself. That’s not why you do it. It’s a selfless profession. If it’s not, you won’t be in it very long.”