Dauterive era ends at ESJ

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 28, 2010



RESERVE – East St. John High School football coach Larry Dauterive will coach his team when spring practice begins next week. But when the veteran football coach leaves at spring’s conclusion, it may be for the last time.

Dauterive learned Friday he has fallen victim to the budget cuts in the St. John the Baptist Parish School System, one of numerous employees who received word his contract would end June 30.

He will remain on as head football coach and athletic director until then, he said.

“As of then, I’ll be seeking employment after 44 years in this business,” said Dauterive, who has been the school’s coach and athletic director for the last eight years.

Dauterive’s status as a retiree left him vulnerable to the cuts. Uncertified teachers, those hired late in the school year and retirees’ contracts may not be renewed.

The pending budget cuts leave East St. John’s athletic program with a cloud of uncertainty. Dauterive said Monday that in addition to himself, baseball coach Ryan Sims, girls track coach Reianda Rousseau, girls basketball coach Jackson Manuel and volleyball coach Vivian Aubert all have received the same notice, as teachers who are uncertified or who are still working toward certification or in the retiree program.

“I’m just one of 90 people,” Dauterive said. “Don’t feel sorry for me. This is affecting so many … I do know that for whoever comes next (as athletic director), they’re going to have at least four coaching positions to fill. And with a hiring freeze it’s going to be a difficult process. Nobody was spared. Even the remaining teachers are going to have to shoulder a greater load.”

Dauterive said the news came as a stunner. As an administrator, he was under the impression he would be protected.

”But Dr. (Courtney) Millet checked with their legal people, and I fell in with the retirees,” he said. “They couldn’t keep me and replace 89 others. It took me completely off guard.

“Everyone was getting letters, and I hadn’t yet. I thought I was alright.”

He noted that one of the tougher aspects of the news was its timing. He received notice at 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon, after his players had all been dismissed from school.

“They had to find out from word of mouth and the media,” said Dauterive. “I wish I could have called them in to meet and break the news. A lot of them took it pretty hard.”

East St. John principal Patricia Triche said the news was hard on her as well.

“I feel like I’m in a fog, like everyone else,” Triche said. “I’m heartbroken. He was like a father figure to so many, touching our staff, the students, everybody. He always seems bigger than life.”

She said that among her prime concerns is keeping things moving forward within the athletic program.

“I’ll do what I have to do to maintain the integrity of our athletic program and doing what’s best for my students,” said Triche. “Everything is still unfolding. But I’m going to adjust to what is presented to me.”

Dauterive is one of the most decorated head coaches in the state. He’s compiled an overall record of 220-76-1, with a 65-26 record at ESJ. He’s brought the Wildcats to the postseason in each of his eight seasons after taking over a squad that went 0-10 before his arrival.

“The thought we might lose one of the best coaches in Louisiana history, it puts you almost in a state of mourning,” Triche said.

The Wildcats advanced to the state quarterfinals three times during his run and had an undefeated regular season in 2006 for the first time since 1980.

“I certainly feel like I’m leaving the program in better shape than when I took it over,” Dauterive said.

The number Dauterive is most proud of is 60, as in the 60 players he’s helped get college scholarships in his tenure with the school.

“To me, that’s the highlight. That’s what I’m most proud of,” said Dauterive. “I did my best to do anything I could to find them a place to further their education. It supercedes any victory.”

His players appreciate his efforts. Senior Kalen Henderson, who has signed with Tulsa, calls Dauterive “just the right man for the job.” And former ESJ defensive lineman Romell Jones, who now plays college football at South Alabama, said he owes much to Dauterive’s efforts, helping him attain a scholarship after playing only a year of prep ball.

Both expressed shock.

“He put a lot of kids in college,” said Henderson. “It hurts me seeing him lose his job for no apparent reason.”

One regret Dauterive has is that he moves on before seeing the school open its new field house and track.

“There are a lot of mixed emotions. I had a real good run here. But I wanted to see it all come to fruition,” said Dauterive. “There’s a piece of my heart in that building. I’m just glad the kids will get to reap the benefits of the Taj Mahal they’re building.”

For now, he plans to look for a job as an assistant coach until a head job opens up.

The process of finding one could be prolonged due to a hiring freeze in some parishes, he said.

But Dauterive said he is assuredly not done coaching.

“I have a passion for this game. You can’t ask for a better job than to go out every day in short pants and play ball. I haven’t worked a day in over 40 years,” he said with a chuckle.

“Until they put me under, I’ll be coaching football.”