James Waguespack

Longtime high school football coach James Waguespack, who coached in the Acadiana area at Cecilia and Beau Chene, was inducted into the LHSAA Hall of Fame on Tuesday in Baton Rouge.

UPDATEDue to weather concerns, the first of two visitations for James Waguespack has been to Thursday from 4-8 p.m. at Pellerin Funeral Home in Cecilia. It includes a rosary at 6 p.m. On Friday, visitation will continue from 8-11 a.m. at St. Philip Catholic Church in Vacherie, followed by a funeral. Waguespack will be laid to rest immediately after at St. Philip Catholic Church Cemetery.

James Waguespack — the former St. James, Cecilia and Beau Chene football coach who compiled more than 200 wins and won two state championships during his 32-year head coaching career — died Monday afternoon after suffering a stroke Sunday evening.

He was 76 years old.

Waguespack's wife of 36 years, Monica, confirmed the news to The Acadiana Advocate. Surrounded by Monica and his five children, James died peacefully at Our Lady Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette.

“He was such an amazing man and loved by so many,” Monica Waguespack said.

James Waguespack was inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame in April. He’s among the coaching titans in Louisiana high school football history.

James Waguespack coached for 46 years before retiring in 2012. His 231 career wins rank in the top 30 all-time among state football coaches. He was named district coach of the year 10 times.

“His love for the kids,” Monica Waguespack said she remembers most fondly of her husband's coaching career. “It wasn’t just about football. It was his love for the kids. Many times he would bring them home. He would feed them. It was just his love of football and the kids. He has touched many lives; I know he has.”

James Waguespack is also the only Louisiana coach to have ever led two different teams to undefeated championship seasons. The first came in 1979 with St. James, his alma mater, which earned him state coach of the year honors. The next one came in 1995 with Cecilia. It is the school’s only state football title.

“It was a great day,” Monica Waguespack said of her husband being inducted into the LHSAA Hall of Fame in April. “He totally enjoyed it. We’re so thankful that it was this year. The kids and I kept saying that many times today: ‘Thank God he got to enjoy the hall of fame honor.’ Because it was very well-deserved.”

Twenty years before his first state title as a head coach, Waguespack claimed a ring as a player with the Wildcats. In between that, St. James won another championship in 1966 while he was an assistant coach.

“This is so sad," said current St. James coach Robert Valdez. "Our condolences go out to Coach Waguespack’s family and his former players.

"For us at St. James, there is some irony. We are 40 years from that state championship Coach Waguespack’s team won. Since we moved into our new school, our principal has done of good job of working to bring back the history of the school. We are planning a commemoration to honor that 1979 team this fall."

James Waguespack is also survived by his three daughters, Debbie, Angela and Allison, and his two sons, Randy and Greg.

The first of two visitations for Waguespack is scheduled for Friday from 4-8 p.m. at Pellerin Funeral Home in Cecilia. It includes a rosary at 6 p.m. On Saturday, visitation will continue from 8-11 a.m. at St. Philip Catholic Church in Vacherie. Waguespack will be laid to rest immediately after at St. Philip Catholic Church Cemetery. 

Email James Bewers at jbewers@theadvocate.com