Eddie Bonine ready for area meetings _lowres

Advocate photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- Incoming LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine speaks at a news conference in November.

Conventional wisdom says you only get one chance to make a good first impression.

Incoming Louisiana High School Athletic Association Executive Director Eddie Bonine gets two chances Tuesday. Bonine is part of the LHSAA contingent traveling across the state for a series of area meetings that begin Tuesday in Shreveport and Monroe.

“When I talk to them (LHSAA member principals), my approach is going to be, ‘I’m Eddie, this is what I’m about,’ ” Bonine said. “I think you’re dealing with a lot of people who want to be heard. I want to listen. To me, listen doesn’t mean return an email. I want to go out and get nose-to-nose and talk to the major players in the state about what the issues are.

“From there, hopefully solutions can be found. I’m not coming in looking to make changes. It’s important to keep the traditions and things that make Louisiana what it is intact. What we’re looking for is solutions.”

The Shreveport area meeting set for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at Bossier City’s Airline High is the first of six area meetings Bonine will attend along with interim Executive Director Jimmy Anderson and LHSAA President Vic Bonnaffee of Central Catholic through Thursday.

A 1:30 p.m. meeting at Monroe’s Neville High completes Tuesday schedule. Meetings in Alexandria and Lafayette are scheduled Wednesday. Thursday meetings in Baton Rouge and New Orleans close out the area meetings called to prepare principals for the annual convention set for Jan. 28-30 at the Crowne Plaza.

In addition to a review of the agenda of items up for a vote, principals also will get to hear Bonine speak for the first time since he was hired last month. Bonine is still serving as the executive director of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, and his official start date isn’t until early March.

However, the 57-year-old Bonine hopes to make an impression during the area meetings. He also is set to attend the convention that Anderson will preside over. Bonine confesses he hasn’t gotten overly familiar with the agenda or with the history of the LHSAA’s issues between its public and private schools.

Bonine does have binders that include correspondence for Louisiana schools that he’s already received and a strategic plan for some things he’d like to accomplish during his first months at the LHSAA.

“I really don’t want to look at the X’s and O’s so to speak — the proposals — until I’ve had a chance to meet with everyone,” Bonine said. “You realize I haven’t even had the chance to sit down and have a meeting with my staff. I want the input of the schools, the executive committee and the staff.”

“Once the meetings are over, I’ll take 2-3 days to analyze and look at what I’ve seen and learned. One thing I want them (principals) to understand is that I’m not in favor of pushing something through to have something. I want to move toward a solution that that we can live with for four years.”