St. James’ Coach Gaille moved into new position

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 30, 2011



LUTCHER – Rick Gaille’s 19-year run as head football coach and athletic director at St. James High School appears to be coming to an end a bit sooner than expected. 

Gaille has been designated for reassignment within the St. James Parish School System, a decision that was officially upheld at a special meeting of the St. James Parish School Board last week.

The veteran coach said his plan all along had been to retire after the coming football season, in the meantime helping to groom Byron Keller, one of Gaille’s former players, as his successor as athletic director. 

Currently, Gaille is still acting as the team’s head coach as spring practice is soon set to begin. He will remain on as the team’s coach until a replacement is named, if one is found before the upcoming football season. 

Gaille said he will continue to work for the school system in any capacity that he is needed until July 31, 2012. 

“That will be my last day,” Gaille said. “It’s not a storybook ending, but whatever they’ve ever needed, that’s what I’ve done and what I’ll do.”

He said he was puzzled by the timing of the move, given that spring practice is beginning and any process that could potentially take months could put his players in a precarious position as the season approaches. Additionally, construction of a new stadium at St. James High School is set to begin at the conclusion of the upcoming football season.

“I asked, ‘Now?’” said Gaille. “It puts the players at a disadvantage. And it also shrinks the pool of coaches … January is when you find the people looking for these jobs. Not May and June.”

He also was perplexed as to why the move was made at all.

“Nobody has given me an answer,” said Gaille. 

With spring break coming immediately after the special meeting and the general guardedness with which personnel matters are treated, district administrators and school board members have had little to say about the decision.

Gaille, 60, has had a very successful run at St. James. His overall record stands at 169-72 over 19 seasons, with three finishes at state runner up, in 1994 and 1996 (Class 3A) and in 2007 (Class 2A). He also took eight Wildcat teams to the state semifinals. 

St. James went 4-7 in 2010 and won District 8-3A. The Wildcats were edged in the first round by Loranger. 

Gaille said he is proud of the school’s overall success during his tenure.

“People know St. James football around the state. That wasn’t the case in 1992,” he said.

He is also proud of how many former players return to the school to serve as assistant coaches. In 2010, seven former Wildcats were on the staff. That number, Gaille said, was set to grow to nine this season.