2016 Charles Vicknair Assistant Coach Of The Year Winner, Sponsored by Lagniappe Magazine
By Karla Wall
The Iowa High Yellow Jackets were no doubt disappointed in their 28-21 loss to Amite in the 4-3A state quarterfinals last month, but they have to be proud of an amazing season.
The Jackets posted an 11-2 record this past season, and went undefeated in district play. The game against Amite was played at Iowa, the first time in school history the Jackets have hosted a quarterfinal game. And that game was only the third time in school history that the team had reached the quarterfinals.
That kind of success doesn’t happen without a skilled and dedicated coaching staff, so it should come as no surprise that offensive coach Parry LaLande has been named the winner of this year’s Coach Charles Vicknair Assistant Coach Award.
The award is presented each year in honor of longtime SWLA coach Charles Vicknair. When Vicknair, who’d coached in some capacity at nearly every high school in SWLA during his long career, passed away in 2008, it was estimated that some 32 assistant coaches who’d worked under him had gone on to become head coaches.
Many of those coaches are considered some of the best in the history of the sport in SWLA. The list of coaches who won the American Press Head Coach Of The Year Award after serving as an assistant coach under Vicknair reads like a SWLA football who’s who list: Jimmy Shaver. Russ Sutherland. Mike Johns. Former MSU coach Matt Viator, who served as assistant coach under Vicknair at Sam Houston High School during his early career. And Westlake’s late and deeply mourned head coach Max Caldarera, who served as assistant coach at Westlake for two years under Vicknair, taking over as head coach when Vicknair left for Barbe in 1978.
Like most successful coaches, LaLande grew up in the sport of football.
“My dad was a coach at South Cameron (High School),” he says.
LaLande attended LSU as a freshman, but during his sophomore year transferred to McNeese and worked with his father at South Cameron. During his senior year at MSU, Barbe coach Jimmy Shaver gave him a coaching position, and LaLande worked there for the next seven years.
This season was his third at Iowa, and he says he’s “been blessed” to work with a great team of coaches.
“We couldn’t have been as successful as we have without a great team of guys on the coaching staff,” he says. “Quarterback coach Blake Reynolds, line coach Nick Gorman, receivers coach Daniel Hennigan, and running backs coach Dylan Ryder — all have made my job a lot easier.
“And the defensive coaches and players have done a great job. Our team has been really good on defense, and they put our offense in good situations all season, which made our jobs as offensive coaches much easier. And their success meant our mistakes on offense didn’t force us to give anything up. They allowed us to really open up the playbook and take chances on offense.”
And, of course, he credits his off-the-field team — his family.
“My family’s been supportive of everything I’ve ever done, but especially my career. My parents, Parry, Sr., and Natalie, come to every game no matter how far away or what the weather is like; they usually bring my godchild, Addison, who’s probably the Yellow Jackets’ biggest fan. My brother, Diel, a lawyer in Lafayette, drives in for almost every game to support me. My sister, Melissa, is a doctor here in Lake Charles, and she comes to every game she can; when she can’t make it, hers is the very first text I receive congratulating me.”
And, of course, LaLande credits head coach Sean Richard, who allowed LaLande to “put in a brand new offense” for the team.
Richard, for his part, says nominating LaLande for the Vicknair award was an easy choice.
“He’s done an outstanding job in the program this year,” Richard says. “He’s one of the top assistant coaches in the state. He called every play this season; he had to work with a new quarterback this season, and he never missed a beat. And, though we’ve experienced a record number of firsts in the district, he’s continually trying to improve the program.”
As with any good coach, however, LaLande’s contributions go far beyond the football field.
“He’s a great leader,” says Richard. “He’s patient with the kids, and he’s involved with them in more than just football; he’s involved in teaching them to be better men.”
“I love helping young men become good husbands and fathers,” he says. “That’s more important to me than winning football games.”
LaLande says he’s honored to win an award named for such an esteemed coach.
“When I was 19, I wanted to learn more about the defensive side of the game, and my dad arranged for me to sit down with Coach Vicknair, who was coaching at LaGrange at the time, and (Vicknair) sat with me for five hours, patiently talking to me, and making sure I understood everything he was trying to teach me. He left such a legacy. He loved kids, and he loved helping young coaches get their start. I’m so honored to be considered for this award, not just because of the recognition, but because of the man it’s named for.”
About The Charles Vicknair Award
The Charles Vicknair asst. coach award honors longtime SWLA coach Charles Vicknair. Often called a “coach’s coach,” Vicknair coached at six area high schools during his 50-year career. Known as much for teaching up-and-coming coaches as he was for heading up winning football teams, Vicknair helped some of the area’s winningest coaches get their start; Jimmy Shaver, Max Calderara, Mike Johns, Russ Sutherland and Matt Viator and many others all served as assistants under Vicknair early in their careers. So it’s only fitting that the award honoring the area’s best assistant coaches bears his name.
To commemorate the award, Josh Guillory, owner of Custom Iron by Josh in Westlake and a former player under Vicknair at Westlake, created the one-of-a-kind iron trophy pictured at left. For more information, visit www.coachvicknair.com.
Congratulations also to the Charles Vicknair Award 2016 Runner-Ups
(in no particular order):
Chad Paulk, Barbe
Wade Zito, South Beauregard
Pat Neck, St. Louis Catholic