Wynn Wingate couldn’t help dropping a few one-liners.
“Either way, you know the Yellow Jackets will win,” the Denham Springs boys basketball coach quipped. “And you know, we’re going to look a lot like. Both teams wear purple. I think the jerseys are the same.”
Yes, life is good for Wingate, whose 23rd-seeded Yellow Jackets knocked off No. 10 East St. John on Friday night on the road to open the Class 5A playoffs. Wingate and his wife, Laura, celebrated the 18th birthday of twins Josh and Danny on Saturday.
Then on Tuesday the Yellow Jackets host another team of Yellow Jackets in seventh-seeded C.E. Byrd of Shreveport, at 7 p.m. looking to extend not only their season but Wingate’s career.
“I look at it the same way I do for the seniors,” Wingate said. “I told them the other day my job is to give them my all and have them prepared, just like the seniors give their all. They’re graduating, and in a way so I am.
“Last week was a little bittersweet because it was Senior Night, and we knew it could be our last home game. Now we’ve got another home game, and that’s exciting.”
Wingate doesn’t have a tragic story, and at 51 he’s not riding off in the sunset to a full retirement. He’ll still teach math at Denham Springs.
“I’m calling it retirement light,” Wingate said. “What it comes down to is I want to see what it’s like to go home at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I’ve never done that. And with the twins going to college, it’ll give me some freedom to do some different things.”
Wingate is completing his 10th year as coach at Denham Springs. He spent five years as head boys coach and one as head girls coach at his alma mater, Belaire. Before that, he was an assistant to his former coach, Tommy Hess. He also was an assistant to Paul Smith at DSHS.
So it’s fair to say that Wingate’s life has been one spent in basketball, along with volleyball. He did stints as a volleyball coach at Belaire and DSHS.
It’s also been a way of life for the Wingate family. His wife also works at the school, and son, Danny, is a reserve on the Yellow Jackets team.
Wingate said life is about choices, and stepping away from basketball at this point is just one of them.
But first, there’s nothing wrong with a precedent-setting play run. Friday’s win at East St. John was the first road playoff win for the Denham Springs boys since future LSU standout Tasmin Mitchell was a junior. The season was 2003-04.
At 23-8, the Yellow Jackets are enjoying a solid season. Whether it ends Tuesday or extends another game remains to be seen. Wingate said his approach will be the same regardless of what happens.
“I told the guys the other day that if we win it’s great, and if we lose, it’s not the end of the world,” Wingate said. “The sun is going to come up the next day and life will go on regardless. But it is nice to still be playing.”
Who goes where?
The LHSAA’s second classification meeting Thursday was unique. It’s the first time in 23 years that I’ve attended a meeting when there weren’t enough executive members to constitute a quorum.
Weather conditions in north Louisiana had plenty to do with that. But the lack of quorum may have helped relax the atmosphere. Plenty of points were argued, but there were no real heated debates.
It will be interesting to see what happens at the third meeting March 18. New LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine will be in the process. Schools also will be given time to review one more LHSAA-generated plan before things are finalized.
Where Runnels is placed will determine what happens with two area 2A districts. The fate of a proposed river-area league that includes Brusly also will be up for debate.
So will other scenarios from across the state.
Of course, there’s no way to make everyone happy. But a final plan that comes without contentious issues would be a positive step for the LHSAA.