If you study Jerry Epperson’s career as a coach and educator, two things come to mind.
The first is excellence.
Epperson coached Broadmoor High School to the Class 3A state football title in 1966. He was principal at Baker High from 1969-87 and served in various capacities within the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, including interim superintendent in 1995.
Then he was instrumental in the push to make Baker an independent school system. He served as Baker’s interim superintendent in 2007.
The second thought is they should name a building after him.
Well, they just did.
Baker’s new football fieldhouse was named in Epperson’s honor during a ceremony Friday at the school.
“They came and talked to me about it a month or so ago,” Epperson said. “One thing they said surprised them was that no building on the campus had my name on it.
“The football stadium is named for Wedge Kyes and they asked about the gym and I told them I named that for Perry Angle. They said they had this new building, the football fieldhouse. I told them that would be nice.”
Epperson, who served nine years on the LHSAA executive committee and was LHSAA president, is still willing to take on all topics when it comes to high school sports.
“A successful athletic program is essential for a school,” Epperson said. “Now that doesn’t mean you have to win a state title. But when the sports teams are successful, it sets the tone for so much of what goes on.”
Epperson agrees with EBR Superintendent Warren Drake’s decision to relax GPA requirements for extra-curricular activities from a 2.0 to a 1.5 saying, “You’re not downgrading education, you’re increasing participation which keeps students involved.”
Want to get an intense answer from Epperson? Mention the LHSAA’s split football championships.
“That just aggravates me to no end,” Epperson said. “Something needs to be done. The schools need to play together, because first of all, Louisiana doesn’t have enough schools to have all these championships.
“I know everybody talks about private schools having an unfair advantage. Well, when I coached we did a pretty good job of recruiting students away from Catholic High. It’s about getting out there and being competitive. Stop complaining and make yourself better.”
As an ex-college football player at Northwestern State and a former coach, Epperson lauds the work to protect students with concussions. He remembers being knocked unconscious in a college game and returning to practice a couple of days later.
“I do get chills when I think about that,” Epperson said. “And there always needed to be something better in place to detect concussions than a coach asking a kid if he was holding up three fingers.”
While he considers the spread offense to be “exciting,” Epperson would rather keep his feet and the football on the ground.
“When we beat South Lafourche to win the state title, the first pass we threw came when the score was 24-0,” Epperson said. “That pretty much explains my philosophy.”
And there’s one more thing about the Baker’s Jerry Epperson Fieldhouse.
“Having this happen … it’s a humbling experience,” Epperson said.