Ricky Zimmer, a longtime teacher and coach in southeast Louisiana, has been named Fontainebleau’s athletic director effective at the end of this school year.
Zimmer, 61, has worked on the prep level at Chalmette and Andrew Jackson and has been at Fontainebleau since 2005. He has spent 21 years in the public education system. He is the former wrestling coach at Andrew Jackson and Fontainebleau.
“I got here two weeks before (Hurricane) Katrina,” Zimmer said. “I had 13 feet of water (in my house) in St. Bernard.”
Now a Covington resident, Zimmer will takes the helm of one of the metro area’s largest high schools. Fontainebleau serves portions of Mandeville, Abita Springs and surrounding unincorporated areas and has about 1,700 students. He takes over for Barry Dotson, who was the Fontainebleau A.D. for two years and the boys basketball coach for 14 years.
Both men said they’ve been working together to ensure a smooth transition when the school year ends May 26. Dotson asked Zimmer to aid him this spring, so he could get a better feel for what it takes to be an A.D.
“I can’t say enough about Barry,” Zimmer said. “If I had gone in blind, I would have stumbled through, I would have made mistakes and probably would have cost the school money. (Dotson) gave me the chance to learn with him. … I would have been overwhelmed without him.”
Dotson said Zimmer is more than ready for the job.
“He’s been helping me tremendously and getting a better understanding of what the responsibilities are,” Dotson said. “He’s going to be a fine A.D.”
Zimmer’s best year as wrestling coach at Fontainebleau was when the Bulldogs finished seventh in the state meet. The team has finished in the top 10 at state the past two seasons under coach Jim Ballantyne. Zimmer was an assistant on those teams but will no longer coach once he becomes athletic director.
Zimmer, who works in the special education department at Fontainebleau, said he thought he would retire once he decided to end his coaching career.
“My intent was to do a kids club at best once I left coaching,” he said. “But then this opportunity came along and I just had to take it. … We’re still building traditions here. I went to Holy Cross and (it traces its roots to the mid-1800s.)
“One thing I learned there is (the idea of a school and sports) family. We’re still building tradition here at Fontainebleau (which opened in 1994). And that’s what I want to continue building here at Fontainebleau — the Bulldog Family.”
Dotson said he plans to enter the private sector upon completion of his duties the day after Memorial Day. In 14 years at Fontainebleau, his boys’ basketball teams had a record of 160-240. He also spent time at Northshore, St. Bernard, Holy Cross and Brother Martin, where he served as head boys basketball coach for nine years.
Dotson has spent a collective 30 years as a math teacher and coach in metro-area schools. He said Fontainebleau will always hold a special place in his heart.
“I’ve met some wonderful people in my time at Fontainebleau,” said Dotson, 53. “I wanted to be a part of a community school, and I got the chance to do that. I got a chance to coach my sons (Drew and Quinn.) There has just been a lot of good come out of this. People that have been so good to me.”