Continuing our attempt to highlight OUR coaches in Louisiana we caught up Coach Bergeaux from Welsh. Coach Bergeaux is one of the youngest coaches in high school at the age of 25 years old. He talks about some challenges he's faced, advice to other young coaches as well as his excitement for the coming basketball season!
Below is our Q&A:
What are some of the challenges you have being a young coach (25 years old)?
I believe I do have a few challenges. The first hurdle I noticed was gaining the respect of my players in my first season. At the time I was only 23 and fresh out of college. I had no experience to share with them. It took around half of a season for the girls to buy in to what we were doing. I also believe that the excitement level from the fanbase was low because there had been 3 coaches in four years. Prior to that, Welsh had a long-standing coach who coached for over 15 years. I believe the girls and the community thought I was going to leave as quick as I came. They have quickly realized, however, that I am here to stay.
Being at a smaller school, what are some benefits and negatives in regards to your basketball program?
One benefit of being at a smaller school is how the girls interact with each other. A lot of the girls sleep at one another’s houses and have really formed special bonds. One negative is that I have to teach all day instead of just coach, like many larger schools. I find it very difficult to find time for film, preparation, and everything in between because I have so much school work to do as well. Also, because our school is small and we aren’t known for basketball, we have had just in the last two years, girls who go to other schools or are homeschooled. Welsh is not exactly known for its basketball, so I completely understand; however, the goal of the program is to have people clamoring to be a part of something special year in and year out.
Your team is taking steps in the right direction. How do you build on that and host a playoff game or advance deeper into the playoffs next year?
When I got here in 2018, I told the administration at the time that Rome wasn’t built in a day. It would take time to develop the players and the team properly. Basketball is more than just throwing a ball into a hoop. Basketball teaches us about life. Sometimes in life we get knocked down. We aren’t defined by how many times we get knocked down, but by how many times we get up and come back for me. Our first season, we went 2-19. That team was composed of mostly Freshman and Sophomores with one injured Junior and one Senior. It sounds insane, but that team showed so much fight and resolve. There were times when I would show the girls one minute clips in film that showed us exactly where we wanted to be. Last year, I compiled one of the toughest schedules in the state. The first half of the year was rough, but we finished strong, and I finally started to see our work come full circle and see individual girls starting to break out. I firmly believe this is our year. I believe that everything we have worked for the past two years will come to life. Our starting five this year will consists of two four year starters, two 3 year starters, and one returning starter. Our experience in the toughest games should prove helpful at the end of the year as we push for the playoffs. Our girls are more confident than ever, and this week (summer) was the best week we have ever had as a basketball team. All the girls are excited and willing to work to achieve the ultimate goal of a deep playoff run.
What led you to choosing teaching and coaching as your profession? Who are some mentors that have helped you become the coach you are today?
I have always loved the game of basketball. My Freshman year, I did not play football because I was focused on basketball. The game has always held a place in my heart. Coaching and teaching was not a choice, it was a calling. I am living out a dream, as I am still in my first job and did not have to be an assistant coach. I am forever going to be a student of the game. The day I stop learning and growing should be the day I retire. I have three mentors. My dad is my main mentor. He has shown me what it takes to be a man. My favorite quote that he says is “If it was easy, everybody would do it.” This is a life motto I live by. If I live to have half the character and grit he has, I will have led a successful life. My second mentor is Coach Jason Lewis. He coached me for two years, however, allowed me to be a part of the basketball program during my 8th grade year. The way I approach the game is inspired by him. Every day I was at practice, I would soak up knowledge about the little things. It is from him that I learned the art of rebounding and defense. I would say, however, that the most important thing he showed me was discipline. I thank him for leading me and making such a positive impact on my life. Lastly, my college football coach, Coach Matchett. He showed me that sports are about life. He would always say things that I thought were off the wall, but in retrospect, have truly molded how I approach my job every day. I coach basketball not for accomplishments, but to teach girls how to one day become great mothers, how to be great daughters, and how to be great people. If I fail to teach them that, then I have failed as a coach.
Do you have any advice to a younger coach?
I would tell them to teach their kids about life. Tell them about how basketball ends, but life doesn’t, and we must be prepared for that time. Level with your kids at all times. Help them understand that there will be team consequences for individual actions. For instance, when one girl misses practice, the whole team suffers, because that is how life works. When a parent messes up, it affect the ones he or she loves. Make the game fun for the girls and know their limits.
What do you feel are some ways that we can move Louisiana Girls Basketball forward? What do you really feel works and made you glad to be a coach in Louisiana?
I truly believe that coaches sharing their passion with their players can help grow the game, not only by numbers, but by talent. If more young ladies would love the game, they would be obsessed with getting better. They would get more opportunities at the next level. It starts with us, the coaches. I really feel that leveling with each girl works. It helps the girls to understand they are appreciated beyond basketball, which in turn will help grow their passion for the game. I am glad to coach in Louisiana because it is the best state for girls basketball, in my opinion.
What would you like to see implemented to assist young girls develop prior to high school? What are some things middle school kids need to know or should be preparing on for high school?
I would really like to see more collaboration between the junior high and high school programs. Now please don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the junior high coaches and the time they put in with our kids; however, I truly believe we could reach our full potential through willing cohesion. There are four things that I have noticed about middle school kids and their lack of development: inability to use both hands (whether that be passing, finishing, or dribbling), inability to space the floor, inability to effectively rebound, and the inability to play correct man-to-man defense. With collaboration, we could make the programs a whole lot more efficient, and each kid could realize their potential earlier.
What are some things that can take OUR game, Louisiana girls basketball to the next level?
I believe that as many girls as possible should play AAU. It is a perfect opportunity for girls to branch out and meet new people, form lifelong relationships, and grow their individual games.
What is something that you hope your kids can carry on with them after leaving your program?
Honestly, my hope for each my kids is that they become great mothers one day. I hope they reciprocate the same honesty, respect, and care that I share with them. I hope they realize that basketball is more than just a game, but the perfect tool to teach about life. I hope that they can realize when life knocks you down, you get back up and keep fighting.