This is Rusty Rebowe
Published 12:00 am Monday, June 8, 1998
By Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / June 8, 1998
LULING – Sports have always been a part of Rusty Rebowe’s life, from playing sandlot ball to his current position as director of Parks and Recreation for St. Charles Parish.Growing up, Rebowe’s generation did not have what youngsters today possess. Computers had not found there way into the homes yet, andNintendos and Segas were decades away. Playing sports was the way topass the free hours.
“Back then, that is what we did at home,” Rebowe said. “We playedfootball in a vacant lot. Football, baseball, basketball, that is what we did.We didn’t have what kids today have, but there was always a game on.”Rebowe participated in athletics in elementary school before playing basketball, baseball and football at Destrehan High School. Rebowe playedboth ways for the Wildcats – linebacker on defense and running back on offense. His senior year he was selected most valuable player in bothDistrict 6-3A and the state and played in the Louisiana all-star game. Butit was not the individual honors that were the most memorable accomplishments for Rebowe at Destrehan.
Destrehan had outstanding success in Rebowe’s years at the school, capped by a 12-0-1 record in 1973 under coach Jessie Roussel. The lone blemishon the Wildcats’ record was a 14-all tie with Lutcher, the team that Destrehan would face in the Class 3A finals. In the championship gameplayed at Lutcher, Rebowe helped the Wildcats roll to a 21-0 victory with 66 yards rushing and a 44-yard interception return for the last touchdown.
The victory was Destrehan’s first state championship since 1949.
“My greatest memory was winning the state championship,” Rebowe said.
“It meant so much because football was a way of life then. It has stayedwith me.”Rebowe said the team had a lot of talented players, but the key to the championship was the closeness the team shared.
“We did everything together,” Rebowe said. “We did so much together.Togetherness was one of our virtues. Sports are more individualized now.”Rebowe received a scholarship to play for Nicholls State University upon graduation. During his sophomore year at Nicholls State he helped lead theColonels to their first Gulf State Conference championship with an 8-2 record, leading the team in tackles.
Rebowe would continue to lead the team in tackles his final two years. Hewas named second team All-Gulf State Conference his junior year after setting the school record for tackles with 190. He would shatter thatrecord his senior year, making 239 tackles as one of the team’s captains.
Rebowe finished his career with a host of school records, including tackles in a game (23 against Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 12, 1977),season and career (412). For his accomplishments, he was named player ofthe year in the Gulf State Conference and named to the all-Louisiana first team his senior year. He also became Nicholls State’s first consensusAll-American, being named to the first team by Kodak, the Associated Press and the NCAA.
Rebowe went undrafted but signed as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints. He spent a year with the Saints before playing in the CanadianFootball League with the Hamilton Tiger Cats in 1979.
“I realized dreams can happen,” Rebowe said of what he took from his professional experience. “If you have a dream, it can happen.”Rebowe said it was special to him playing in the pros coming from a small school like Nicholls State and that it answered any questions he had whether he could have played for an LSU or a Tulane.
Rebowe said the person who influenced him the most was his mother, who died of cancer when he was a sophomore in high school. She instilled inhim a sense of work ethic that has stuck to this day, he said. It is acompliment made about that work ethic, not all his awards and records, that Rebowe is the most proud of. That compliment came from NichollsState head coach Bill Clements, who said Rusty Rebowe played every down, whether it was in practice or a game, like it was his last.
“Records are not a part of me,” Rebowe said. “I played hard. I tell my kidsto play as hard as possible between the lines, and away from the lines be humble. Once the game is over, know that you gave everything.”After leaving the professional game, Rebowe went to work for a sporting goods company in St. Charles Parish for a decade before accepting aposition as an assistant in the parish Department of Parks and Recreation in 1990. A year later he became the director and took the same work ethiche had as a player into the job. Since 1990, participation in the recreationprogram has grown over 160 percent and its facilities have been upgraded.
“Sports give the kids something to do and maybe gets them off the streets,” Rebowe said. “We can’t save the world, but if we can save onekid, then it is worth it.”Rebowe’s philosophy of recreation is to give the youth of the parish activities they enjoy, but at the same time not take it the extreme in regards to winning and losing.
“Enjoy it for what it is and let the kids enjoy it,” Rebowe said. “It is not alife and death situation. Take it as seriously as far as giving all you can onthe field but after walking off the field, do not take it to the extremes.”Rebowe uses that philosophy with his own children.
“I advise them to work hard and enjoy it, no matter what it is,” Rebowe said. “Do the best you can but enjoy it.”Rebowe, who according to word on the street may run for parish president, certainly enjoyed his playing days and said he has no regrets except one.
“If I could go back and play, I would do so,” Rebowe said. “I just loved toplay the game. My only regret is that I wish I could be playing at the age of42.”
Photo: “I realized dreams can happen. If you have a dream, it can happen.”
Photo by Rusty Rebowe.
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