Riverside dedicates field to former Rebel coach Mickey Roussel

Published 11:45 pm Friday, October 19, 2012



RESERVE — Mickey Roussel had heard a thing or two about what eventually came to pass last Friday night before Riverside’s home football game against Miller McCoy.

But it didn’t mean he was prepared for it.

“I had to hold back a little,” said Roussel. “It was one of those moments you’ll never forget.”

Riverside dedicated its field to Roussel, its former longtime coach, renaming it “Mickey Roussel Field” in a pregame ceremony Friday night.

Roussel said that he had heard some inklings about the school’s intentions during the summer.

“But I maybe knew 25 percent of what they planned. Everyone there knew 100 percent,” said Roussel, who attended the game with his family. “Lo and behold, I go to the game Friday and there it was.”

Roussel, 56, stepped down from his head coaching perch with the Rebels in December, ending a run of 41 years of involvement with the Rebels as a student and coach.

His tenure as head football coach lasted 22 years, and it was successful by any measure. Roussel’s teams posted a record of 196-82 over that span, three of them reaching the Class 2A state championship game, in 1993, 1998 and 2000. Roussel led the Rebels to seven state semifinal games in all.

Roussel’s 2010 squad rewrote the school’s offensive record books, going 10-3 and reaching the state quarterfinals behind quarterback Darnell Rachal, who captured the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 2A Offensive Player of the Year award.

The Rebels also reached the state quarterfinals under Roussel in 2009. Riverside reached the regional round in his final season.

He not only led the Rebels to success, but he overcame great personal tribulations to do so. Roussel was diagnosed with leukemia in 1997, overcoming the disease which is now in remission.

Roussel was quick to credit those who surrounded him over the years.

“I had everything I ever needed,” said Roussel. “Beginning with the administration, the coaches with me, who I can’t say enough about … a lot of them were my former athletes … and right down to the players on the field.

“That name up there represents a whole lot of people, people the good Lord put me around.”

Roussel recalled a tenure that saw him do what he loved at a place he loved.

“I spent a lot of my life there,” said Roussel. “Most people get up in the morning and go to a job. But in the coaching fraternity, you’re usually going to do something you absolutely love. It’s really not a job.

“You’re trying to put the best team possible out there, but also keep the best facilities. That was my safe house. Riding that lawnmower for three or four hours, that’s where I did my best thinking.”

Roussel stood on the field with his family during the ceremony. The school unveiled  additions to the scoreboard and the press box where the field’s new name — and the name of one of the school’s favorite sons — is now displayed.

Riverside golf coach Roy Aubert has been involved with Riverside since before its start in 1970. He’s seen the entirty of the Roussel era, from his days as a player onward.

“Mickey loves Riverside,” said Aubert. “He brought great dedication … so many kids who maybe weren’t interested in athletics at first, they’d talk to coach Mickey and just want to be around him from there.

“We had a stretch in the 90s that was unbelievable. Mickey was never one who wanted take too much credit. He always let the program speak for itself. But he was the inspirational leader of the Rebels.”

As far as his time away from the game, Roussel said he’s using the extra time to do some things he’s never had a chance to — even if football related, like watching a Destrehan or Brusly practice — the latter is coached by Erik Willis, a former Rebel who played for Roussel.

But he won’t pretend he doesn’t miss it.

“There’s no doubt,” said Roussel. “I knew I would. I miss Friday nights … I miss gameplanning for the next opponent on Sundays the most, setting depth charts and spending the day preparing.

“To say I miss practice, I don’t think so. Summer workouts … nah. But to say I don’t miss it at all would be foolish. It was something I loved to do.”

Roussel’s run at Riverside may indeed be over.

But he will forever be a part of Rebel lore; the name on the field says it all.

“When you look back, you reminisce about that time in ‘89 or that team in ’95,” said Roussel. “This was one of those times, that, God willing, 10, 15 years from now, I’ll certainly look back on fondly.

“I’ll always remember where I was at 6:45 on October 12, 2012.”