Competitiveness is a big part of who Nicholls State women’s basketball coach DoBee Plaisance is.
“I think it’s nice that people respect the program now,” Plaisance said. “These girls have come a long way, and they’re winners. But that’s not all I expect.
“Sure, it’s good that we’ve won 11 conference games. This is about championships, and I won’t think the job is done until we win them, too.”
Beneath the basketball business exterior is a woman whose occupation never takes a backseat to two things: her core values or her children.
Former LSU star Theresa Plaisance, now of the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock, loves her mother’s drive and determination.
Scott Plaisance Jr., the Metairie Park Country Day star soon bound for Louisiana-Lafayette, also credits her for more than just a solid base of basketball skills.
“I’ve been going to gyms with my mom for as long as I can remember,” Theresa Plaisance recalls. “My mom had a job that let her be around basketball all the time, and I always thought that was the best thing ever. I still do.”
Building and basketball
DoBee Plaisance and her Nicholls State program made history by finishing 17-14 this season, giving the Colonels back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in the 40-year history of women’s basketball at the Thibodaux school.
Nicholls State also tied a school record by winning 11 Southland Conference games for the second straight year and had a player, former Archbishop Chapelle star Emani White, named to the All-Southland first-team for the first time in the school’s 22-year history in the conference. Another player, former St. Michael the Archangel standout KK Babin, netted All-Southland honors for an unprecedented fourth time.
When she came to Nicholls State from Loyola University in 2008, Plaisance started with a 2-25 season and has built the program steadily from the ground up.
There already was a proven blueprint. After a highly successful stint as head coach at St. Martin’s, where she won back-to-back Class 2A state titles in 1993 and 1994, Plaisance moved to Loyola in 1995. The Wolfpack were 1-22 her first season and evolved into a steady NAIA presence.
The only thing that kept Loyola from 20 wins in Plaisance’s final five seasons was Hurricane Katrina, which yielded a scaled back 9-5 mark. In 2007, the Wolfpack finished 28-7 and advanced to the NAIA’s Elite Eight.
Where Plaisance went, her children followed.
“Before my kids started school, I always had them with me when I was coaching,” Plaisance said. “They slept on the floor of charter buses and in gyms. They may have missed a few regular meals, but we didn’t miss spending time together.
“As they got older, it was always important for me to get home. If I’m only there for a few hours and got to make them breakfast in the morning, that’s a good thing.”
Watching their mother’s work and work ethic has had a profound impact on her children.
“I remember going into the locker room at Loyola after they won a big game and seeing how happy everyone was,” said Scott Jr., whom Plaisance calls Scottie. “That taught me something about winning.”
Having it all, doing it all
“I’m the queen of wing,” Plaisance said. “I wing it a lot. And here’s the thing: I don’t always have the answers. But I’ll come up with something or figure out how to make it work.”
Plaisance’s husband, Scott, sells wire rope and rigging in the offshore industry and has more of conventional 9-to-5 job, which is a key part of the family dynamic. Plaisance is quick to point out she doesn’t give herself any free passes as a parent or a coach.
“This is my life; this is what I signed up for, and I have responsibilities,” Plaisance said. “There’s no room to say I can’t be as dedicated as a parent because I’m a coach.
“And I can’t say I can’t do everything I can as a coach because I’m a mother. That’s not how I was raised. There’s a lot of work that goes into coaching and having a family. I can’t sell either one short because it’s too important to me.”
Being there for two children who also are successful in basketball isn’t easy. LSU fans point out that Plaisance moved the time of her Nicholls State game in order to be in attendance when 6-foot-5 Theresa, a two-time All-SEC pick, was honored on Senior Day.
Plaisance pulled off a more impressive double play weeks later when Country Day made it to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Top 28 tournament in Lake Charles. Plaisance and a Nicholls State assistant drove from Katy, Texas, the site of the Southland Conference tournament, for the Cajuns’ semifinal game.
After the game ended, Plaisance called out her son’s name several times before heading out to drive back in time for the Colonels’ game that night.
“I found out from one of the reporters after the press conference she was there,” Scott said. “I didn’t know. But it didn’t surprise me that much.”
Nicholls State was eliminated from the conference tournament before Country Day’s title-game win over Madison Prep. Plaisance was there, of course, at courtside.
But Plaisance’s biggest leap within the basketball/mileage time continuum came when Theresa was a senior at Vandebilt Catholic in Houma and Nicholls State was playing on the same day, just a couple of hours apart, in the SLC tourney in Beaumont, Texas.
“There was a gentleman who was a fan of Theresa’s and of mine,” Plaisance said. “I was taken to an air field in Beaumont and was flown to Hammond. I walked into the University Center about 10 minutes before the game began. That’s something we’ll always remember.”
Like other working parents, Plaisance knows the pain of missing key events. Not seeing her daughter named MVP of a national biddy tournament or scoring her 1,000th career point in college or her son win his first state title with Country Day as a junior are three things Plaisance laments.
“Those are experiences I didn’t get to have with my children,” Plaisance said. “But I’m thankful the times we do have.”
Many male and female coaches struggle when it comes to deciding whether to coach their children. Plaisance was never in that group.
“I coached my younger sister when I was a high school coach,” she said. “We’re still close today, and I’m happy for that. Coaching a relative is so tough. I knew I didn’t want to coach my children.”
But Plaisance is anything but a passive bystander who offers a pat on the back after a game.
“She’s not the kind of mom who says, ‘I know you did your best’ after a game,” Theresa said. That’s just not her. She’ll point out what I do well, but she’ll also tell me if I don’t block out well enough or if there are other things I should be doing. She’s a coach, and I understand that.”
The 6-foot-9 “baby” of the family gets his share of advice.
“We’ll be watching an NBA game, and she’ll see how a post player plays around the perimeter or drives the baseline and dunks, and she’ll say ‘Scottie, you need to be doing that,’ ” Scott said. “And I’ll say, ‘Sure, I’ll work on it.’ ”
One-on-one games are off limits. DoBee Plaisance prepped at Archbishop Blenk and was a starting post player for two years at UNO and two at Southeastern Louisiana.
“We played once,” Theresa recalls. “I’ll put it to you this way: My mom is rough. I don’t think she could play in the NCAA today. She’s all elbows.
“She really caught me in the face with one and I said, ‘That’s enough.’ I didn’t want to get a broken nose playing with my mother.”
Off the court
Even in the offseason, DoBee Plaisance stays busy. There’s recruiting, coaching clinics and a long list of other things to do.
As she prepared to leave town for an out-of-state conference last week, Plaisance had a list of things to do. Spending time at home in Marrero in the kitchen was at the top of the list.
“I’ve never believed in fast-food meals,” Plaisance said. “Even when I’m on the road, I try to make sure there are home-cooked meals here at home. So I’ll be cooking tonight to make sure my guys are taken care of until I get back.”
Theresa Plaisance recalls when she and Scott Jr. sneaked out of their rooms late at night when their mother got home from a game to greet her. Today, she considers her mother to be both a role model and friend.
“All my friends say I have the cool mom,” the former LSU star said. “They love her, and I can see why. She’s fun to be around.
“Her singing is awful, quite frankly. But when it comes to dancing, I have to say she has some moves.”
The right path
DoBee Plaisance says she’s blessed with two great children and a wonderful family. With her daughter now in the WNBA and likely headed overseas for pro basketball, and her son just weeks away from going off to college, the Plaisances soon will be empty-nesters.
“My children are wonderful,” Plaisance said. “When the biggest problem you have with your kids is getting them to clean up their rooms, you’ve got it good.
“As a parent, you prepare your children and hope that they’ll be ready to make the right decisions. When I dropped Theresa off at LSU when she was a freshman, I told her two things: ‘Go to church on Sundays, and get a degree.’
“I’ve coached on the middle school, high school and college levels and seen a lot of different parenting approaches. Some work and others don’t, and I’ve borrowed from what I’ve seen.
“I tell my children all the time that life is about choices. I also tell them their role in life is to serve people, and that it’s not about you. When you live a life that’s about you, then you can end up alone. Some people are never happy, no matter what happens. You can choose to be a victim or to be victorious. Life is about choices.”