Rodney J. Trahan – Health & Physical Education, 1974; M. Ed., 1975
Rodney J. Trahan
Class ’74, Health, Safety and Physical Education with Teacher Certification in Social Studies
My first affiliation with SLI as a student was in the fall of 1946. I had just received my honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy after my return from a short tour overseas as one of the first Americans to occupy Japan. It was a lasting, memorable visit for a 17-year-old Cajun from Rayne, Louisiana to be one of the first on the scene to witness the devastation in Nagasaki, the site of the atomic bomb.
The G.I. Bill allowed me to enroll at SLI. Because of my positive experiences in sports, I knew I wanted to teach and coach. My physical activity instructor was Coach Bill Stevenson. During physical skills drill during his football class, my punting ability obviously impressed him because he asked me to try out for the Bulldog team. I informed him that I was on the Southwestern Boxing Squad and working hard under the coaching of National Heavyweight Champ, Lou Campbell, and the legendary trainer, “Doc” Reinhardt. Bob Browne was the Department Head and taught lecture classes. Always in a suit and tie, all activity classes required a P.E. uniform which was school colors–red and white. Instructors wore school – colored uniforms which were different from those of students. That made it easy to distinguish between the two.
A few days before the Christmas break and after working hard for about two months in preparation for a scheduled match with LSU, the boxing team was told that the SLI administration had abolished boxing. Final semester exams were given after the Christmas holidays at that time. Being very disappointed and immature, like most 18-year-olds whose high priority is athletics, I walked downtown Lafayette during the Christmas break and joined the U.S. Army Paratroopers and did not return until years later. Because I failed to drop officially, my transcript showed 17 hours of WF’s for that semester. Thus, I became an ex-member of the Class of ’50.
In the fall of 1971, after my military retirement and as the “old man” in all my classes, I returned to USL to rectify the mistake I had made 25 years earlier–dropping out. My first advisor turned out to be a former high school track coach. I had corresponded with him in an attempt to recruit one of his student athletes during my track-coaching tenure at the U.S. Military Academy ten years previously — small world. That advisor, Dr. Ed Dugas, had much to do with my adjustment to study routines and full-time status. To him, I will always be grateful.
In 1975, I completed the year as a graduate assistant and earned a Masters in Education. At the same time, Dr. Dave Fisher retired. With my twelve years of successful cross country and track-and-field coaching experience, Dr. Louis Coussan hired me to replace Dr. Fisher as the Track Specialist of the Department. My eleven years of teaching were gratifying and , in general, were enjoyable. Many hours of pleasure were spent working with young people as a starter at every USL Track Meet (Old McNaspy and the new track) from 1970-1985. Students in my track classes worked as officials at high schools and all USL track meets as a required practicum. Starting a track meet with Oliver Blanchard, Jr. as Clerk of Course was always an efficient and pleasant experience.
When I felt I had been wronged, my real friends and colleagues stood up for what was right. To Dr. Dugas, Sue Simmons, Dr. Marty Bourg, Clyde Wolf, “Doc” Reinhardt, Fred Nelson, Mike Smith, and Dr. Dave Fisher, I will always respect and appreciate you.
As a member of the Acadia Parish School Board for the past eight years, I am still trying to elevate the quality of education in our schools. In addition, I spend time with my wife, Janice Lejeune Trahan (Class of ’70), my married daughter, Dana Dupre’ Sturgis (Class of ’87), son-in-law Bill Sturgis (Class of ’93) all of whom became teachers. A daughter, Claire Trahan is presently a freshman at USL; her brother, Nick, a junior at Rayne High School, plans to attend in two years. Rodney J. Trahan, Jr. and Ava, children of a previous marriage, live in North Carolina.