Jesse Cassard agreed to sit down with The Zachary Advocate and Plainsman for our “13 Questions” series.
NAME, AGE, OCCUPATION: Jesse Cassard, 36, athletic director for Zachary Community Schools (since 2013-14) and baseball coach for the Zachary High Broncos since 2006-07.
BORN: Baton Rouge
RAISED: Assumption Parish
EDUCATION: Assumption Parish High School (1997), Bossier Parish Community College (1999) and McNeese University (2001). Played third base at BPCC and outfield while at McNeese University in Lake Charles.
FAMILY: Married to Angela Booty Cassard, assistant principal at Copper Mill Elementary School.The Cassards have three children: son Cullen, 10; son Cal, 7; and daughter Carson, 3.
FIRST JOB: Assistant baseball coach at Barbe High School in Lake Charles, 2002-06.
ACCOLADES: In Cassard’s first three years as ZHS baseball coach, he helped lead the Broncos to three consecutive Class 4A State Championship titles against Captain Shreve (2007), Shaw (2008) and Sam Houston (2009). He’s earned multiple honors. Among them: American Baseball Coaches Association’s 2009 Region 6 National Coach of the Year; Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s 2008 4A Coach of the Year; Louisiana Baseball Coaches Association’s 2007 and 2008 4A Coach of the Year; 2008 All Metro Coach of the Year; 2008 6-4A Coach of the Year; 2007 District Coach of the Year as well as 2010, 2012 and 2013 4-5A Coach of the Year.
Now that you’ve been athletic director for a full year, what challenges come with the job that you didn’t anticipate?
I guess the biggest challenge would be trying to get everyone on the same level — coaches, student-athletes and everyone in the athletics department — when everyone has a different set of rules to follow.
Do you have any heroes?
I always wanted to be a professional baseball player and idolized guys like Chipper Jones and Dale Murphy. But my dad and my grandfather, I looked up to them. They didn’t know how not to work. The whole Cassard family, we’re workaholics and believe in putting a lot of work into everything we do.
Have you always played baseball? Was there another sport you played?
I started playing baseball when I was 4 and never stopped. I did play basketball in youth league and middle school but wasn’t exactly tall enough, but I like basketball. I played third base in high school and moved to outfield when the ball started coming a little too fast in junior college.
Did you come from a baseball family?
My grandfather played and coached Little League and held clinics. I didn’t know this when he was alive, but he knew Ted Williams. Can you believe that? He and others would come to Donaldsonville, to LaLa Regira Field. It’s an old “throwback” field, an old-school field. I can’t believe I didn’t know that.
You’ve been known to quote famous people. Do you read a lot?
Yes. I read all the time, nothing nonfiction, and I don’t read things only pertaining to sports. I read books about business because as athletic director, I sort of have to run teams and athletics like a business. We’re in the business of winning championships here at Zachary. And by the way, my favorite quote is: “Good enough is never good enough” by Tim Grover in “Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable.”
As baseball coach and athletic director and Angie as an assistant principal, is everything in your lives about Zachary Community Schools?
Yes. We’re all into what we’re doing here. You can’t have one foot in and one foot out. We preach to our kids to be ‘all in’ whatever they’re doing. When you’re all in, you’re committed to what you are doing. I work 12 to 14 hours a day and something’s wrong if I’m home before 7 p.m. When you’re in a leadership role, you never take that hat off, you’re never not that person.
Do you spend your money in Zachary?
We’ve met plenty of good people here and have good friends. I don’t really talk to many people outside of Zachary. I buy my gas, groceries and anything else I need right here in Zachary to keep my tax money here. My thoughts are, if you don’t love it, leave it.
Were you surprised that the school district’s tax proposition didn’t pass in March?
I’m not surprised, no, because of some of the negativity put out there by some other news and media sources. I feel like people intentionally voted no because of some of the misinformation that was printed elsewhere and posts on Facebook. I feel that rather than go to town hall meetings where the truth was being shared or educate themselves by requesting information from the school board office, many decided to get their information from those sources and take it to be the truth.
Mr. Devillier did a great job by putting information out there, but many people didn’t spend the time to learn and listen. Some people just prefer the drama.
Were you shocked by the low voter turnout?
Yes. We have over 5,000 students in this district and if even half of the parents had voted, the tax would’ve passed. No doubt. I can tell you as a result, things will change because of this, including athletics. We have to make cuts now where there are no places left to cut.
A new multi-purpose track and field was passed by the school board to replace the old one. Was that something you lobbied for?
Yes, but somehow resurfacing a 9-year-old track and multipurpose field got linked with passing the tax. This was former Superintendent Warrren Drake’s great vision for athletics in Zachary and that’s why our facilities are second to none. There are some other multi-million buildings in the district that cost more than the track and field. Bronco Stadium is the most highly trafficked spot in the entire district and less than $400,000 of a $50-million-plus operating budget is spent on athletics.
If the community would put their trust into the school board members they elected and let them do their job, things would be OK.
What are your pet peeves?
Loud vulgar music blasting out of a car radio while I’m at the gas station trying to pump gas with my children in the car. And habitual complainers. We have a no complaining rule here, you can’t complain unless you have a solution that’s right for everyone, not just yourself.
If one of your sons came home and said he wanted to play another sport besides baseball, would you be disappointed?
Yes. No! Just kidding, of course not. Look, whatever my children do, I just want them to be all in and committed. Athletics are a great thing for children to be involved in. It creates lasting bonds with people, you make friends and it’s healthy.
True, it’d be easier if they were into baseball because we’re a baseball family, and it’s part of all our lives, but we’d support them in whatever they wanted to do.
Do you dream about winning another state championship?
Yes, it’s definitely on my mind a lot. We’re number three right now but the key is finishing in the top four because you’re at home until the semifinals. Zachary is a tough place to play if you’re our opponent in the playoffs, and people know it.