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Mr. Lawrence "Larry " Simon, Jr.




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Email: kdooley@Liskow.com

The Fond Memories of Larry Simon, Jr. for Coach Raymond Blanco’s Tribute was received on Feb. 25, 2021 and posted below by Ed Dugas that day.

Memories of Coach Blanco’s Arrival at CHS – Nothing Was Ever the Same

Coach Blanco was introduced to the football team at Catholic High School in 1959 during spring training of my sophomore year. That spring, football was being handled by Coach Tom Colwell, the head basketball coach and assistant football coach. He was a long-time close friend and former roommate of Coach Blanco’s at St. Benedict College in Atchison, Kansas. Coach Colwell brought Coach Blanco to Catholic High, and nothing was ever the same.

At the time, I was an aspiring quarterback or receiver, and linebacker or safety on defense. On his first day, Coaches Blanco and Colwell were watching students leave the cafeteria, and Coach Colwell pointed me out and said, “There’s one of your quarterbacks.” Coach Blanco replied, “Quarterback! He can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.” Thus, ended my career in the back field, but Coach Blanco could spot talent (or the lack of it).

When we started fall training, we were introduced to what tough two-a-days really meant in Coach Blanco’s world. In that Louisiana heat and humidity, Bear Bryant’s teams had nothing on us. We were the most conditioned team in South Louisiana, I promise, but also the most exhausted. It was during this time that we started to learn the meaning of being a competitor and never quitting (more on that later). Coach Blanco preached that those who stayed and did not quit would be champions. We had no idea of the chasm that lay before us between this introduction and becoming champions.

Fall training that year meant no water and salt tablets at the end of practice (which we later learned was not really a great idea). As part of my education and experience with two-a-days, I suffered the first of two concussions. My recollection on waking up is that I had been dragged off to the side of the field after I had been knocked unconscious while they continued practice without me (although Coach Blanco and Coach Colwell later drove me home after practice). Many years later, when my son, Paul, a basketball player at ESA, was knocked down and hit his head on the court, the school had an ambulance there, they immobilized him and brought him to the hospital. On my way to the hospital to check on Paul, I called Coach Blanco to tell him that in today’s world, they treated concussions a little differently than we did back in our day. It wasn’t that the Coaches didn’t care. They just looked on getting hit and hurt as something pretty normal. I had my bell rung, and that happened to all of us. As Coach said, we were learning what it meant to be a little tougher.

That first year, my mother was the President of the Mother’s Club at Catholic High. She invited Coach Blanco, as the new coach, to speak to the Mother’s Club. All the mothers gathered for that meeting anticipating that the new coach would tell them how wonderful their sons were. He said anything but that, telling them that they were raising a bunch of “momma’s boys” who need to toughen up and that the Cajun culture was not training them for life but making them soft. Many mothers were offended, but mine thought it was hilarious and she became a big fan of Coach Blanco.

We did fairly well that first year. We surprised teams with the new offense and defense and had some really excellent athletes. Also, Coach was ahead of his time using film. By the Spring of my Junior year, however, and certainly by two-a-days in the Fall of my senior year, Coach’s demands and the insistence on dedication to football were taking their toll in attrition. We went 2 and 8 that year, an experience which left an indelible mark on my psyche. By the time we got to approximately the seventh game on the schedule, we were well beat up, tired, and down to thirteen players on the whole team. Everyone else had been run off, quit, or were injured. And by the end of the game, we were down to twelve players as one of our players was kicked out of the game for fighting (that was me, but there was a good explanation). However, that season was a turning point in the program. Coach and I have had several long talks about that 2 and 8 season, and what they meant to us as players and to him and his program. There were many lessons learned that year by the coaches and the players about football and more importantly about life.

Playing for Coach Blanco was life changing for me. Together as a group, we learned how to compete, to give a hundred percent effort, not to quit and what it means to be a winner, even if you are 2 and 8. We had to experience what Coach Blanco meant by a hundred percent effort, which it turned out was far more than most of us would ever have thought possible, and included a dedication, effort and discipline to be a winner that was beyond what we could have understood when he first arrived. Of course, the reverse is also true – we knew as well that Coach cared for us deeply and was totally dedicated to our wellbeing and success. I know I certainly felt that. And those lessons have remained with us for our lifetimes. I remain deeply indebted to Coach for helping us to understand so much about that part of life, about the true measure of success, and how to be a better person. He and Kathleen remained close friends of mine over the years and I still value both the lessons learned and the friendship that we enjoy. I am sincerely grateful to Coach for the influence that he has been for me and the depth he has added to my life.