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Former Coach: Bobby Banna left legacy of hard work

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, July 30, 2018

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Bobby Banna brought a hard-nosed approach to the Comeaux Spartans from 1979 to 1991. (Photo: Advertiser file photo)

In this new era of 7-on-7 football, where teams regularly line up in the spread, many youngsters may not really know the true meaning of “old school football.”

Bobby Banna was the epitome of an old-school football coach.

Robert Lee Banna died at his home Saturday. Visiting hours for his funeral begin at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Lafayette until the 1 p.m. Mass.

“Bobby Banna was not only a coach, but a teacher of life,” said Judge Richard Haik, who played for Banna at Catholic High of New Iberia in the 1960s and for then-USL into the 1970s. “He coached hard. He was a tough, tough coach. He always told us that he was tough, because life when you finish football is tough.

“Everybody gets knocked down. The ones who get up are the ones who survive. That’s what he taught us.”

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Banna, who retired from coaching in 1997, spent 35 years in the profession preaching hard work.

His career took several unique turns. The Birmingham, Alabama, native arrived in the area in 1959 at Catholic High, helping them win a state championship in 1962.

“He was like a second father to all the kids he coached in high school,” Haik said. “Everybody loved him and respected him. As tough as he was, they still loved and respected him. And he was a very tough coach.

“He demanded full speed on every play. You’re not going to take a slow step when you practiced. Just great life lessons.”

In 1968, he joined the Ragin’ Cajun coaching staff as a football assistant and head baseball coach.

Former UL middle infielder Rickey Broussard remembers the immediate impact Banna made on the baseball program, even though he was really a football coach.

Funeral services for longtime football coach Bobby

Funeral services for longtime football coach Bobby Banna, who died Saturday, will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Lafayette with visiting hours beginning at 11 a.m.  (Photo: Advertiser file photo)

“In my junior year, this guy put us through some workouts that we weren’t used to, man,” Broussard said. “He was killing us. We were doing grass drills, football grass drills. We were getting in three-point stances and running these 10-yard sprints, like a hundred of them, and running stadiums.

“I never had anybody push me like this guy. I always had coaches who kind of catered to me.”

Broussard remembered Banna’s unique motivational skills.

“He wasn’t a big guy, but he’d put the fear of God in you,” Broussard laughed. “He could do that like nobody I ever saw before.