L’Observateur River Parishes Team of the Week

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 19, 2005

Monica, St. Charles Catholic adjusting to life after Katrina

Editor’s Note: Beginning this week the L’Observateur will honor one sports team in the River Parishes as our “Team of the Week,” and award that could be given achievements both on the field and off.



LAPLACE – The coaching process is forever one of learning. Whether one is a experienced veteran adorned with honors and championships or a novice just breaking into the field, you have to strive to learn and grow in your style each season or risk being passed by your competition.

In the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, St. Charles Catholic head coach Frank Monica, a veteran leader at both the high school and college levels, has learned that you never know how quickly your team’s preparation can be set back.

“It’s been a bit more work for us,” the always-gregarious Monica said of what it’s been like since the storm hit. “I feel like we’re behind schedule.”

The storm wiped out not only a week of school, but also a week of football practice, and most importantly conditioning for the Comets.

“Everybody had to start over,” Monica said. “You had kids not working out, and eating anything they could get their hands on, not always the most nutritious stuff, because they had to to survive. You also lost some of your mental focus and preparation. I don’t know if we still have that full focus back.”

The Comets returned to the practice field on Sept. 6, but without a game that week as their scheduled opponent was to be J.S. Clark of New Orleans, a school that won’t be returning to session for months. Still, Monica and his assistants were able to find an opponent for the week, scheduling Jackson High for Saturday the 10th, a game St. Charles won 42-0.

“We didn’t solidify the game until Thursday, and we didn’t even exchange film with them,” Monica said.

There may yet be some advantages for the Comets though, as the team has added approximately seven or eight players displaced from schools in the metro area.

“Most were residents of the parish and live in the area,” the coach said. The Louisiana High School Athletic Association has waved some of its eligibility restrictions for players who are now forced to attend schools out of their attendance zone. It’s not much an issue for St. Charles though, as, according to Monica, the players he’s added were already St. John residents who commuted to schools in Jefferson and Orleans parishes.

But even with an augmented roster, Katrina has brought Monica and his staff a host of problems for both themselves and their players.

“Everybody’s personal lives have been hectic,” he explained. “Everybody, myself included, ahs been making insurance claims, and getting back to their normal lives. In our scenario, we’re blessed compared to other people. I won’t complain.”

The Comets have also been fortunate in that none of the remaining games on their schedule will need to be altered. Away games with Pine (Sept. 23) and John Curtis (Oct. 14), both of which are in areas hit hard by Katrina, are still set to go off as planned.

Another interesting aspect of how the hurricane will affect Louisiana high school sports is what it will do to college recruiting. For football specifically the junior year is usually the most crucial evaluation time, and many players from the New Orleans area are scattered all over the state and the Gulf Region. But Monica, an experienced recruiter during his tenure as an assistant at Tulane under (current Texas head coach) Mack Brown and Buddy Teevens, said that college coaches will just have to adjust.

“The coaches network is so tightly knit in this state that (coaches) will be able to find (players),” he said. “If you’re a great player, they’ll find you. Even if you’re playing in a cornfield somewhere.”