Changing sides: Kathy Luke moves to SCC

Published 11:09 pm Friday, November 25, 2016

LAPLACE — Kathy Luke got an offer she just couldn’t refuse.

After three seasons coaching the Riverside Academy girls basketball team — a gig she loved, by the way — Luke got a counter-offer from the school’s crosstown rival, St. Charles Catholic, to become its new girls coach.

She replaces Kim Nunez, who left after one season to start a family.

Luke said it wasn’t for more money, nor was it for a shorter commute. She still will drive every day from Houma.

It was for less time in the gym.

She won’t be teaching physical education anymore. Her job will be strucktly to coach.

“After 35 years in the classroom, it was time,” Luke said.

“I won’t have to teach class. I’m just coaching basketball. I just have to show up for practice.”

That is what she does best.

Luke is one of Louisiana’s coaching legends.

She spent 27 seasons at Vandebilt Catholic High School in Houma, leading the Lady Terriers to five consecutive semifinals and a Class 4A state championship in 2010.

When she left the school in 2013, she had an overall record of 685-233, including a stint at the former Seton Academy.

She was inducted into the Louisiana High School Basketball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame in 2013.

At Riverside, Luke’s teams were 51-30 with three straight playoff appearances.

The Lady Rebels beat St. Charles Catholic twice in district play last season.

The Lady Comets were 16-13 last season under Nunez and earned a spot in the Class 2A playoffs for the first time since 2008. They lost to Rayville in the first round.

Luke said her new team is adjusting to her and her way of coaching. She has a reputation as a stern taskmaster and a no-nonsense coach on the court.

“I’m not sure what they think of my methods,” she said.

“The kids think it’s a lot of work, I know that. I think they think I’m nutty as a fruitcake. They’re great kids. They’re working hard and they’re very enthusiastic.”

Luke said she loved her time at Riverside Academy and still holds a special place for the Rebels.

“I loved the kids,” she said. “They were great kids. I know they don’t really understand why I left. They think I left them. Leaving was hard. It’s not like I know how to do it. I was at Vandebilt for 27 years.”

When the archrivals meet in the Division III football state championship next week, Luke said she would be happy for both teams but wouldn’t know who to root for. “I’d probably have to stay home,” she said.