Lafayette Christian Academy track and field coach Tommy Badon remembered his first team meeting that drew 53 interested onlookers.
Badon delved into his extensive 30-plus year coaching background that’s featured football and track, the latter of which included college and junior college stops along the way.
It didn’t appear to be a likely scenario given Badon’s past as one of the Acadiana area’s most decorated and respected track coaches joining forces with a track program at LCA that was still a novice, having fielded a team for the first time the previous year.
“I explained to them to do what we asked and commit themselves to attending regularly,” said Badon, who retained 40 competitors during the season. “It’s a different sport, and we said what we do in March is not necessarily what we’ll do in April. We told them to hang in there. We might go to meets where the teams are bigger, faster or more experience than us early, and it’s going to pay off in the end.”
The end is almost near with LCA taking part in Friday’s Class 1A state meet at LSU’s Bernie Moore Stadium, but the tangible results of Badon’s first season have certainly reinforced his mantra.
A year after finishing in a tie for 21st place at the state meet with eight points courtesy of two competitors, the Knights are poised for an upper echelon finish at state with 13 participants in 11 events.
“I’m trying to get them to realize the pressure’s really not on us, it’s going to be on other people,” Badon said. “Our job is to try and finish in the top three in as many events as we can. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish and those (events) we have a chance to win, we need to win them.”
Badon completed a successful 12½-year stay at Westminster Christian Academy where he coached the Crusaders football team to 90 wins, 11 playoff appearances, including five trips to the quarterfinals.
He also oversaw both the boys and girls track programs, and during his tenure combined to win 13 district championships, two regionals and led the Lady Crusaders to the Class 1A state championship in 2013.
Before that Badon spent time at his alma mater, Teurlings Catholic, and Lafayette High before moving to Blinn (Texas) Junior College for two years where the track power combined for four (indoor, outdoor) national championships.
Badon returned to his native Lafayette as an assistant at Louisiana-Lafayette where the Ragin’ Cajuns won 14 indoor and outdoor conference championships and he coached more than 20 All-Americans.
Badon has molded another grass-roots winner — LCA won the District 7-1A championship and the Class 1A, Region II — with a strong corps in the relays and jumps.
The Knights qualified all three of their relays for the state meet with Northwestern State football signee Desmond Prejean, who runs legs on the 4x200 and 4x400 relays, set to compete in three events, along with the 400.
Kaleb Ledoux was the region’s Outstanding Field Performer by advancing in the high jump and triple jump. His 6-foot clearance is tied for the top mark going into the state meet. Other top-three seeds going into state include triple jumper Andrew Epps (42-3¾) and Josh Brister (45-11) in the shot put.
“It’s been very rewarding,” said Badon, whose son Bryce qualified for state in the discus. “To be a part of something brand new, and to get an opportunity to get things cranking over here, there’s a lot of potential.”