Valdin Puts Family First In Making Decision To Move

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 1, 1998

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / June 1, 1998

RESERVE – Lou Valdin has been on the sidelines for the rivalry between East St. John and Hahnville for the last three years. But when the teamsface each other in Hahnville Oct. 23, for the first time in four years, hewill have a different perspective of the game.

Valdin recently resigned as head coach of East St. John to become thedefensive line coach at Hahnville. Valdin had been the coach of theWildcats for the past three years, defeating the Tigers, 45-44, last season on the way to a 10-2 record and a second-place finish in District 6-5A.

Hahnville coach Scott Hildebrand contacted Valdin the last week of April to see if he was interested in becoming the line coach. Valdin went in tointerview for the position and accepted the offer. He said there was alittle bit of an increase financially in making the move but said the main reason he did it was that it was in the best interest of his family.

“I have more time to spend with my wife and kids,” Valdin, who has three daughters, said. “At this point of my career, I have to try to find a place toremain 10 or 15 years and then retire. Hahnville seemed like a good fit.”But Valdin said he had no regrets being head coach of the Wildcats.

“I enjoyed being the head coach here and I appreciate the people in St. JohnParish for giving me the opportunity to be a head football coach,” Valdin said.

It can be said that Valdin achieved every coach’s goal, leaving the program in better shape than he found it. Valdin replaced Jerry “Texx” Galloway inMarch 1995 as head coach after serving as an assistant coach at Archbishop Shaw, John Ehret, Higgins and Jesuit for 16 years.

In Valdin’s first year, the Wildcats’ record improved from 2-7 to 4-6. Thefollowing year, Valdin led the Wildcats to a 6-5 record and their first playoff appearance since 1990. Barbe ended the Wildcats’ season with a42-13 victory in the bi-district playoffs.

East St. John opened the 1997 season with seven straight wins beforefalling to Destrehan in the game that ultimately decided the District 6-5A championship. The Wildcats finished the season in second place in districtwith a 9-1 record and made the playoffs for the second straight year. EastSt. John defeated LaGrange for its first ever playoff victory in Joe KellerStadium before losing at Jesuit in the regional playoffs.

Valdin said that he always meets people who said they played for Joe Keller and John Curtis and said he would like for people to say the same about him in the future.

“I hope that down the road, the kids that played for me for three years say they were proud to play for the program,” Valdin said. “I hope they saythey were proud to play for Lou Valdin.”Valdin said his proudest moments were defeating LaGrange in the playoff game last season and beating Thibodaux in 1996 to guarantee a winning season.

“To see the faces of the kids and the look in their eyes,” Valdin said. “Forthem to say we finally did it, we are winners. That was a special deal. Iwanted them to have what the kids at the other schools had, to feel what it is like to be winners and be in the playoffs.”Valdin was also known as a coach who was willing to help his players make it to the next level. The Wildcats have had seven players signfootball scholarships under Valdin’s term and have a couple more walk on and receive financial aid.

“It is a big commitment for a kid to play high school football,” Valdin said. “We are asking them to give up a lot of free time. If they have thegrades and ability to go to the next level, it is part of your job. I feel youare negligent if you don’t try to promote them.

“Friday nights are important but we are in the education business.

Anything we can do to help a kid get as good an education as possible, that is what our business is, what we are paid to do.”Valdin said his biggest disappointment was the lack of parental involvement the program received, but said the support he received from the administration was tremendous.

“It has been a great ride,” Valdin said. “I had two principals that reallysupported athletics. The school board understood the importance ofathletics. They gave us the support to turn the program around.”Valdin said he gained a lot of valuable experience if he ever decided to become a head coach again. As for that possibility, Valdin said if the rightoffer came around he would consider it.

As for now, Valdin, who will also teach social studies at Hahnville, will get the opportunity to do what he enjoys best, coaching football and getting to work with the players. And the players he leaves behind will notbe far from his mind.

“I know on Friday nights, the first thing I am going to find out was who won the East St. John game,” Valdin said.

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