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Calling the start of the post-pandemic in-person LHSCA Coaches Convention a success is an understatement.

A total of 659 coaches registered on the first day of the two-day event at the Crowne Plaza. Parking lots and the hallway of the convention area quickly filled up with coaches from around the state.

“I’m not big on using those (attendance) numbers as a measure for results,” LHSCA director Eric Held said. “The objective for this event is to provide speakers the coaches want to hear along with the chance for professional development.

“But … the attendance is very good. We came in not knowing what to expect. Last year it was a virtual event. It was held in Shreveport the two years before that. So we did not really know what to expect."

The LHSCA event returned to Baton Rouge and the Crowne Plaza for the first time since 2017. It was held in June in Shreveport in 2018 and 2019. Held said the 2019 event attracted less than 400 coaches.

Prep coaches approved

LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson and LSU men’s basketball coach Will Wade were among the notable speakers on Monday’s agenda.

As the new head coach at LSU, Johnson attracted a huge crowd of baseball coaches and others for his morning session. The response to Johnson and his message was enthusiastic. Multiple coaches praised Johnson's approach and some made social media posts about it.

“Got to hear coach Jay Johnson talk this morning at the LHSCA clinic and I was impressed,” Plaquemine baseball coach Tait Dupont said in a social media post. “Looking for great things for years to come. Go Tigers!”

Emergency plans stressed

LSU’s Dr. Ray Castle and St. Amant High athletic trainer Scott Arceneaux were featured during the health and safety education lecture that helped highlight Monday afternoon’s sessions.

LHSAA assistant executive director Lee Sanders read excerpts from news reports about the liability out-of-state schools have faced as the result of student/athlete deaths.

Arceneaux told the group of about 150 on hand for the session that heart-related (44%), head/concussion issues (25%) and heat issues (16%) make up 85% of student-athlete fatalities.

“I know it may sound morbid to talk about some things like this, but the more you do that and prepare, the better are to handle a crisis situation. I do it, and it helps make me better at what I do,” Arceneaux said. “You (coaches) are the biggest and the best resource we have. You game plan and prepare for practices and games every day. This is the same thing. Have an emergency action plan and practice it.”

Schools are required to file an emergency action plan with the LHSAA, which details plans to handle a health emergency for athletes or spectators.

Teams are also required to have pregame conferences with contest officials for all sports that review security, along with plans for health and safety protocol.

Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com