Kenny Guillot always wanted to be a coach. M.L. Woodruff never planned to coach. And Brenda LeBlanc was told she couldn’t coach.
Now the trio who helped change the landscape in their respective sports in Baton Rouge help lead the 2016 induction class for the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame.
“Being recognized by your peers and superiors who serve in administration and with the LHSAA is a humbling experience,” Guillot said. “It’s humbling because, to me, being recognized by others in your profession and association is the highest level of praise.”
LeBlanc, the former volleyball coach at St. Joseph’s Academy, and the two ex-Parkview Baptist coaches, Guillot (football) and Woodruff (baseball) are part of an impressive seven-member class to be inducted April 12 at the Crowne Plaza.
Guillot, who won four Class 3A state titles at PBS between 2001 and 2012 and had a career record of 175-41, is one of two football coaches in the 2016 class. Guillot also was a head coach at Woodlawn High and an assistant on the 1974 Tara team that won a state title.
The late Don Shows of West Monroe, who ranks fourth all-time wins list with a 345-78 record, is the other. Shows won eight state titles and had six runner-up finishes at West Monroe.
The class also includes one of Louisiana’s winningest girls basketball coaches, former Southwood-Shreveport coach Steve McDowell. Former LSU baseball star Todd Walker, a multi-sport star at Bossier City’s Airline High, and journalist Ron Brocato complete the group.
Having a teacher tell her at a young age that coaching was a career a girl couldn’t seek provided motivation for LeBlanc, who won a total of 12 state titles at two schools and compiled a record of 786-188. She won seven straight state titles in Division IV at Cade-based Episcopal School of Acadiana and added five Division I state titles during her tenure at St. Joseph’s Academy.
“My first thought was ‘Wow and I’m honored,’ ” LeBlanc said. “And my second thought was how I’m getting in ahead of people who helped make me the coach and the person I became. It is a humbling experience. The third thing I thought about were all the players I coached through the years. This is about them as much as it is about me.”
As for the teacher who shot down her career choice, LeBlanc said “I don’t remember her name. I wish I did, I’d invite her.”
Woodruff coached baseball in three different decades at Parkview. He won 11 state championships and had a career record of 603-163-2.
“I feel blessed,” Woodruff said. “It’s the highlight of a lifetime. I never planned to coach and it just sort of happened. “Through the years there were so many people who crossed my path, great players, dedicated coaches, administrators and teachers.
“I was fortunate to have those people to learn from and work with. Through the years kids never changed. They got away with what you’d let them do and learned from what they were made to do. My approach changed but the core values didn’t.”
The road to induction for Guillot began when he was a middle school student.
“I had two older brothers who played and as a fifth and sixth-grader I’d watch them and their coaches,” Guillot said. “I knew then I wanted to be a coach just by watching those guys. I saw the way they taught players and were there for them.
“People don’t realize it’s not just about winning or being a role model. As a coach, you have a chance to held make the kids you coach not only better athletes, but better people.”
McDowell put together a career record of 907-173 that included a mark of 738-84 at Shreveport’s Southwood High. His SHS team won 11 state titles in Class 5A and recorded five runner-up finishes.
Walker lettered in soccer, football, baseball and track and field. He batted .525 with six homer and was the Class 4A MVP. He went on to star at LSU and played 12 seasons in the Major Leagues.
Brocato has worked for different Louisiana publications, including newspapers in Alexandria, Lake Charles and New Orleans. He authored a book, “The Golden Game: When High School Football was King in New Orleans.” Brocato won the LHSAA’s Prep Journalism award in 2006 and was the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Prep Writer of the Year in 1997.