When Eunice High football coach Paul Trosclair began chemotherapy treatments for multiple myeloma cancer in 2014, the chances health concerns would eventually force him to step down was always an understood possibility.
Until this year, however, no one would have guessed exactly how that was going to play out.
On Sunday, Trosclair informed the school’s administration and coaching staff of his decision to resign after 25 years as the program’s head coach.
Former Eunice High quarterback and current offensive coordinator Andre Vige will take over as the interim head coach.
“I’m still in remission, and I’d like to keep it that way,” Trosclair said. “It’s a sad time, but I just don’t feel like I have an option. I just don’t think there’s another decision that I could make.”
Trosclair is still taking chemo treatments. Because of social distancing efforts, he hasn’t been able to oversee the school’s voluntary workouts over the past two weeks. Then a recent visit with his doctor in Houston resulted in the decision that the risk of contracting the coronavirus was just too high.
“I love Eunice High School, and I’m going to miss it,” Trosclair said. “But when school starts, I just can’t see feeling comfortable walking in the crowded hallways.
“I’m hoping to be able to help out in any way that I can. I just don’t know what’s going to be possible right now. There are just so many unanswered questions.”
The 64-year-old Trosclair finishes his career with 247 career victories, including a 2018 state championship and a pair of state runner-up finishes in 1997-98.
Trosclair coached under Johnny Bourque from 1984-90, before heading to Oakdale as a head coach for five years and then returning to replace Bourque in 1995.
“I saw Johnny Bourque empty out his desk when he left, and he didn’t look very happy about it,” Trosclair said. “You put your whole life into it. Now I’m in the same boat.”
Vige was Eunice’s quarterback for Trosclair’s first two seasons as the Bobcats’ head coach and later joined his staff in 2009.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” said Vige, a 1997 graduate. ”When he called me yesterday (Sunday) and informed me of his decision, I was excited but at the same time, I was sad. He’s been such a big part of my life. He’s done a lot for me. He’s been a great coach for me, he’s been a great friend, a great mentor, a great teacher. I’ve learned a lot from him.
“This is not how I wanted it to go down. I think we all knew the day would come eventually, but this is not how we wanted it.”
Both Trosclair and Vige are confident it’s going to be a quick transition.
“I think it’s going to be an easy transition,” Vige said. “Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned from him. I feel like, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ If it’s working, stick with it.”
Also making the decision easier for Trosclair is the team he’s leaving Vige to lead.
“He told me he didn’t want to leave me with an inexperienced football team,” Vige revealed.
In fact, Eunice returns eight starters on both offense and defense, just two years removed from a state title club highlighted by a stellar sophomore class.
Trosclair said he’s certainly considered retiring at different junctures during his battle with cancer, typically during prolonged battles with pneumonia or respiratory issues.
“But being around the players and the coaches has always kept me motivated,” he said.
Trosclair said his compromised immune system and continued kidney issues essentially made the big decision for him.
"I've been trying to stay busy," Trosclair said. "Mostly just trying to stay away from crowds of people. It’s just not a good idea to try it right now."