Last month, I was overjoyed to learn Ms. Brenda LeBlanc will be inducted into the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in April.
Ms. LeBlanc dedicated over three decades of her life to volleyball, first as a standout player at Lafayette Northside High School and Tulane University, and continuing as a coach for Episcopal School of Acadiana (1982-93) and St. Joseph’s Academy (1994-2006).
Ms. LeBlanc won 786 matches throughout her distinguished career. She guided ESA to seven consecutive state championships in the LHSAA’s smallest division from 1987 through 1993, then led SJA to five titles in the largest division, including four in a row from 2001 through 2004.
I had the distinct honor of covering the Redsticker volleyball team frequently for this newspaper between 1999 and 2004, including the state tournament every year during that span.
When I covered my first match in September 1999, I knew very little about volleyball. I only knew how matches were scored and there were six players on a side.
Although she was under no obligation to do so, Ms. LeBlanc took the time to teach me the finer points of the game and coaching strategies. This allowed me to write much more in-depth stories than I would have been able to without that extensive knowledge. It is because of Ms. LeBlanc’s influence I have continued to enjoy the sport in Kansas.
I was very impressed with the way Ms. LeBlanc ran her program. She worked her players hard in practice and demanded excellence from each and every young lady on her team, but she also made volleyball fun and never forgot to remind her players how much she cared about them.
The Redstickers always have played one of the most demanding schedules of any high school athletic team in Louisiana. This taught the young ladies the value of perseverance and teamwork, and the goal was always to peak in November for the state tournament, even if it meant taking lumps in September and October.
Ms. LeBlanc handled parents better than any high school coach I have witnessed. She encouraged parents to take an active role with their daughters as they progressed but also made it clear she was the final authority on playing time. The parents almost always respected Ms. LeBlanc’s rules, because they knew their daughters were not only becoming better volleyball players, but better people.
Not only did LeBlanc coach the Redstickers but she also helped found Volleyball Baton Rouge, which has provided opportunities for countless more young ladies to learn and love the sport.
I am proud to have known Ms. LeBlanc for over 16 years. I am very happy she is receiving a most deserved honor.