Danny Broussard is St. Thomas More basketball.
He has influenced multiple generations of Cougars alumni with his passion, drive and sheer will to succeed. He has built a program where succeeding isn’t wanted, but expected.
And Tuesday the 32-year head coach that has been with St. Thomas More since its inception forcibly etched his name in the Louisiana high school basketball history books by earning his 900th career win with the program.
With the victory, Broussard became just the fifth coach in Louisiana High School Athletic Association history to reach the coveted milestone.
“When you think about high school basketball in the state of Louisiana, there’s no question that Danny’s name will come up,” said St. Thomas More Athletic Director and former assistant basketball coach Kim Broussard.
The Cougars have almost always been championship contenders since Danny Broussard took over the head coaching job in 1983, and as a result, it’s hard to imagine them ever not competing at a high level.
During his tenure at St. Thomas More, Danny Broussard has led the Cougars to two state championships, five trips to the state finals, 10 Top 28 appearances and 16 district titles. They have only missed the playoffs twice under his rein, and have reached the quarterfinals in 20 of his 30 playoff appearances.
The Cougars have won an average of 27.5 games per season under Broussard, who has now accumulated a career record of 900-294 for a winning percentage of .754.
“This is a tribute to all those kids who played their hearts out for St. Thomas More,” Danny Broussard said. “I’ve been through a bunch of teams, and there’s not a team that I’ve had that didn’t dedicate themselves and give it 100 percent.”
What makes the feat even more impressive is that he has tallied so many wins playing against some of the state’s top programs year after year.
Aside from hosting one of the premier tournaments in Louisiana every year in the Sunkist Classic, St. Thomas More is a frequent competitor in other top tournaments, such as the Country Day Classic and the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic.
“He’s not scheduling any pansies,” Kim Broussard said. “He wants to play the best, and he’s going to play the best. He schedules the best because he’s a firm believer that to be the best, you have to at least play the best. You may not beat them, but I guarantee just by playing them you gain a lot knowledge and experience.”
But as successful as he’s been and as influential a figure as he’s been at St. Thomas More, if it weren’t for a few key events and decisions made more than 30 years ago, he may never have become the Cougars’ head coach or built the legacy that he has.
Danny Broussard grew up in Meaux, Louisiana, a small unincorporated community in Vermilion Parish where basketball took priority above all else.
“Basketball was our life,” said Kim Broussard, who grew up right down the road in Maurice. “We played 365 days a year. It’s all we really did.”
Danny helped bring Meaux High School to the Class C state championship game in 1977 while playing for his oldest brother Rickey Broussard, who saw potential in Danny as a coach from an early age.
“I suggested that he get involved in coaching early on,” Rickey Broussard said. “By the time he was 15 years old he was coaching the fourth- and fifth-graders at Meaux. He was always coaching. He’s been coaching since he was a young kid.”
When a brand-new St. Thomas More Catholic High School offered 22-year-old, baby-faced Danny Broussard a job as the freshman basketball coach under his brother Rickey Broussard, he had no intentions of building a legacy, and, frankly, St. Thomas More had no intentions of hiring him as its head coach.
The newly minted assistant coach fresh out of college had only just begun his career, and according to Rickey Broussard, he looked so young that people, including St. Thomas More staff, sometimes mistook him for a student.
But when Rickey Broussard accepted a position as assistant coach at Louisiana-Lafayette (then-Southwestern Louisiana), he thrust Danny Broussard into his first head coaching job and inadvertently set into motion one of the most influential periods of Danny’s life.
Not everybody at St. Thomas More was initially convinced Danny was the right guy for the job. After all, he was the 23-year-old kid who once received smaller portions in the cafeteria than the rest of the staff because the servers thought he was a student.
“When I left, people didn’t really want Danny to be the coach,” Rickey Broussard said. “They wanted some coaches out of New Orleans that coached at Catholic schools and had experience.”
Because the hire needed to be made on short notice, Rickey successfully convinced the Cougars brass to hire Danny for the season.
Danny Broussard proceeded to lead St. Thomas More to the playoffs with a 26-11 season record and a perfect 8-0 district record, but lost in the first round, leading him to believe his time with the school would come to an end.
But much to Danny Broussard’s surprise, it was only the beginning.
“I figured it was over, but the Christian Brothers came in and we didn’t even do an interview,” Danny Broussard said. “Thanks to a recommendation of (former St. Thomas More athletics director and football coach) Jacob Byler, he gave me the job.”
Broussard knew that St. Thomas More had taken a considerable risk in putting their new, up-and-coming program in the hands of a 23-year-old, and he was determined to returned the favor and prove they made the right decision.
He did just that two years later when he led the Cougars to their first state championship in 1986 followed by a dominant 38-2 season in which St. Thomas More fell just short of back-to-back state titles, losing to Washington-Marion 50-49 in the final.
By the end of 1989, Danny Broussard had brought St. Thomas More to three Top-28 appearances in four years, adequately cementing his place at St. Thomas More. At the age of 28, he thought he had cracked the code.
“After winning that first title, I thought to myself, ‘Man, I’m going to win 10 of these,’ ” Danny Broussard said.
That’s not quite the way things played out, as he’d have to wait another 27 years before he won another state title in 2013, that takes little away from what he and the Cougars have accomplished.
Few, if anyone, would argue that 900 career wins is an impressive feat no matter the circumstances, but to win 900 games before losing 300 is something else entirely.
Kim Broussard attributed Danny’s impressive record to his attention to detail and focus on the fundamentals, while Rickey Broussard said his success is a result of his rare ability to transplant his seemingly infinite passion for basketball into each of his players year after year.
“He’s always enthusiastic, and he has a lot of energy,” Rickey Broussard said. “He brings that energy to the team, so even though some of his teams don’t have all the talent in the world, they usually play with a lot of energy. That’s a reflection of Danny.”
What Broussard has built and the impact he has made on St. Thomas More and the Acadiana area long outlive his career itself, and despite the fact that he has earned 900 wins before suffering 300 losses, what he has managed to do off the court far outweighs his success on the court.
He transformed St. Thomas More into his second family, a community that invariably supports each other in their quest for success on and off the court.
When the Cougars travel out of state, like they did early this season for a tournament in Houston, it’s not unusual for there to be a contingency of St. Thomas More alumni in attendance, cheering on and watching the program they helped him build.
Every assistant coach Danny Broussard has had, other than his first — Kim Broussard, played under him at St. Thomas More. As a result, he has a coaching tree that’s quickly expanding to high school and collegiate programs across the South.
Broussard is continually surrounded with the fruits of his labor.
He’s coached hundreds of kids and taught hundreds more, his players and students have gone on to become everything from local basketball coaches such as Ascension Episcopal’s Eric Mouton and Opelousas’ Brad Boyd to local neurosurgeons like Dr. Jason Cormier.
He watched Lyle Mouton win a College World Series at LSU and witnessed Brandon Mouton go toe-to-toe with Carmelo Anthony in the Final Four in New Orleans.
Danny Broussard himself said there is no secret to his success other than “hard work.”
But coaching basketball has never felt like work for Broussard. He still feels the same way about the game as he did when he played in his driveway as a child. The game is his fountain of youth, and as of right now, he sees no end in sight for his career.
“Even though I’m 56, I feel like I’m 25 again when I’m on the court,” Danny Broussard said. “I just love what I’m doing, and I never feel like I’m doing a job. I get paid to do something I really love. I don’t know how much longer I have left in me, but I’m thinking I can go another 10 years.”
That amount of time would likely allow him to reach his goal of 1,000 career wins, a feat only three LHSAA coaches have achieved.
But even if Danny Broussard doesn’t make it to 1,000 wins, if for some reason he never coaches another game, his legacy will live on, not only on the many banners adorning the Cougars’ basketball gym, but also in the countless students, athletes and fans in which he has instilled his values and shared his contagious enthusiasm for basketball and life.
When he looks back on his career and all that he accomplished, he can’t help but giggle at how different his life is compared to what he thought it would be and how much better he is for it.
“It’s funny out things have worked out,” Danny Broussard said. “God has a plan for all of us, and I’ve been blessed my whole life to be at the right place at the right time. … It’s been such a great 33 years. I’m just a blessed individual.”