LAFAYETTE — Terry Martin had been the head football coach at Cecilia for 12 seasons, so he understood the questions that were coming after he was named the head coach at district and St. Martin Parish rival Breaux Bridge on Monday.
“One of the comments from a lot of the players was, ‘Why would a guy from Cecilia come here?’ ” Martin said.
What they didn’t realize was that Breaux Bridge was Martin’s first football love, at least as a coach.
Breaux Bridge was Martin’s first coaching job in 1992, when he was hired as a wide receivers/defensive backs coach. He met his wife there. He had the photographic evidence to prove his devotion.
“I sent them a picture of my daughters when they were really young, in Breaux Bridge cheerleader uniforms. Then I sent them a picture of my wedding cake, my groom’s cake. It was a big white cake, a Breaux Bridge helmet with the BB on it like they put on the football field.
“If that doesn’t show that place was special to me, I don’t know what will.”
But the decision to switch from green and gold to maroon and white went beyond nostalgia.
Beyond the desire to be a head coach, one of the main reasons Martin took the job at Cecilia was to be closer to his daughters, who attended Cecilia. He was able to walk with them when they were on homecoming court, an opportunity he would not have had if he were coaching elsewhere.
But he lives closer to Breaux Bridge, and passes the school every day on his commute to Cecilia. And now that his two daughters are out of high school, he’ll get to spend more time with his three younger sons.
“Every day that I come to school over here, I pass that school up first,” Martin said. “Once I started thinking about it, I can knock off at least 15 minutes or more a day one way. You’re looking at 30 minutes or more of travel time that I can save each day.
“I had a lot of good things happen over here, but they’re both out of school now, and I have three younger sons. So that 30 minutes extra per day is going to make a difference.”
It certainly doesn’t hurt that coach Paul Broussard, one of Martin’s closest friends in the coaching community, didn’t leave the cupboard bare when he resigned this offseason.
Breaux Bridge went 5-5 last season, with one of those losses coming to Martin’s Cecilia team, and the Tigers have averaged just under eight wins per season in the past five years.
“I know that program’s in really good shape from top-to-bottom,” Martin said. “I don’t just mean the talent. I just know things are done right. It’s not like things need to be fixed.”
As far as facing Cecilia next season, Martin isn’t concerned about that.
“Once the game starts, all the rivalry junk — at least for me — I don’t think about that at all,” Martin said. “I just focus on the game. I guess it will add a little spice to it, but in the end, it’s kids playing against kids. To me, it won’t matter much who it is.”