Spotlight on Former Athlete: Randy Baggett - Football and Track & Field - 1989-92
Baggett excelled in two sports for Cajuns
By Bruce Brown
Randy Baggett enjoyed the best of times and endured some of the tough ones as a two-sport standout at USL from 1989-92, when Cajun fortunes went down in football but rocketed upwards in track and field.
Now in his 25th year of coaching both sports at Sulphur High School, he can count many winning moments along the way.
But, always, he has kept the ups and downs in perspective with an early understanding of the term success.
“My dad, Richard, was a basketball guy through and through,” Baggett said. “It was pretty cool. He loved sports and athletics. But he was also a preacher, a minister, and he helped me to understand that it all came back to a daily walk with God.
“You ask me my strength as an athlete, and that's a tough one. I believe during our time here on Earth that our success or failure comes when God puts us on the right path.”
That conviction steered Baggett toward a longtime membership in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, first as an athlete and later as a coach of young students.
“For 6 years, I was pretty involved with the FCA at Sulphur High,” Baggett said. “Then I thought it was time for someone younger to take some of that leadership and he has done a good job.
“It's a tremendous platform to reach kids who may have something on their minds, to tell them 'God loves you.' Once a week we have devotion to help them deal with things.
“We also have outreach – we helped fill sand bags when we had flooding – and fields of faith programs that included kids, parents, a band, church and the mayor.”
Baggett is low-key in his approach, but always ready to tune in the listener to his reason for a good life.
Baggett arrived at USL as a two-sport star from Crowley High, a state champion in the javelin in track and field as well as a quarterback and kicker for the Gents.
Football, coached by Nelson Stokley, was in the final stages of a successful run with do-everything Brian Mitchell at quarterback, with the 1989 Cajuns finishing 7-4 for a fourth straight winning campaign.
After Mitchell left, USL slipped to 5-6, then 2-8-1, then 2-9 before Jake Delhomme revived the program in 1993.
As the Cajuns' punter, Baggett punted 63 times for a 38.1-yard average as a junior, and 41.8 on 71 kicks as a senior in 1992, when he opened the season with a booming 79-yarder in the season opener at Tennessee which remains one of the longest in school history.
“Brian's senior year was my redshirt freshman year,” Baggett said. “He could be looking at third-and-15, and always pick it up either running or passing. Those last two years, there was a lot of punting going on.”
Track and field, meanwhile, was just beginning to cook with head coach Charles Lancon and energetic Tommy Badon as his assistant.
The 1991 Cajun men won the American South Indoors (144 points) and Outdoors (167) and the 1992 Sun Belt Conference Indoors (143) and Outdoors (192), and were to dominate the 1990's in both men's and women's competition.
“Coach Stokley wasn't as personable to me as coach Lancon,” Baggett said. “He was all business. Coach Lancon was more personally involved with what I was doing. Lancon got the ball rolling. We always came out of the field events with a lot of points.”
Baggett's best throw in college was 212-5 in 1992, as he teamed with champion Rocky Guidry for a potent 1-2 punch in the event.
“Rocky was flat-out good,” Baggett said. “It was fun to watch him throw. Everything about him was fast-twitch fibers.”
Sowing the seeds
“Growing up, I was probably more football oriented,” Baggett said. “I hung basketball up when we moved to Crowley (uncle Charles Ray Baggett was a onetime basketball assistant at then-SLI, brother Stan coached hoops at Iota),
“I figured I've got to do something in addition to football. Pole vault got me started and I moved on to javelin. I did well my freshman year and fell in love with it.”
Baggett, third in the state pole vault in 1987, topped out at 14-2 in that event for Crowley coach Lewis Cook. Then as a senior in 1988, he threw the javelin 207 feet to win the state title.
“I have not seen a better day to look back on than winning state in the javelin,” Baggett said. “There have been several big moments.
“As far as team success, I remember our (football) win over Breaux Bridge my senior year. Then later we beat Eunice on a hook-and-ladder play.
“Eunice had a fierce pass rush, but I knew Brian Pitre needed time to sit in there on his curl route. I think I threw before he made his break. Then he lateraled to Tiger Hollier for the touchdown.
“That was an amazing night.”
As a coach, Baggett pointed to the 2006 Tors' season that reached the Class 5A finals in the Superdome with a semifinal win over Rummel, before losing 13-10 to district foe Acadiana.
Another special night was a 1999 victory over LaGrange.
“We were down 14-0 with about 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter,” Baggett said. “That was a big night for Sulphur High School. It was an amazing turn of events in the last 5 minutes.
“That's the neat thing about sports, how things can turn around like that.”
Baggett and his wife Crystal, a high school counselor, have shared memorable moments with sons Tristen, 20, a McNeese State senior majoring in English education, and Cade, 19, a redshirt walk-on kicker at McNeese.
“Tristen and three others set school relay records at the state swim meet,” Baggett said. “And Cade did a lot of the things I did, but he's a much better kicker and punter than I was. He's small, so he's always working harder.”
Timetable for a career
Baggett has coached track and field at SHS since 2000, and he led the Tors to District 3-5A titles in 2004, 2015 and 2016, in addition to his duties in football.
“This is my 25th year as a coach and teacher,” he said, “and I'd like to go another 8 years to age 57 and get 'drop,' I still enjoy what I do.”
Just to guard against ennui, Baggett has found another route for his energies.
“Exercise is my hobby now,” he said. “That seems to be my outlet. I never got into golf. I've run a couple of half marathons and I'm training for another one.”
Randy Baggett always seems clear on the path he wants to follow.
* * * * * * Randy and his 1992 Track & Field Teammates are pictured below.
Click on the photo gallery (left side of the home page, then any of the Track & Field or Football, 1989-1992 for more information and photos of Randy and his teammates.
* * * * * * * Click here for Randy's Athletic Network Profile.
* * * * * * Click here for the chronological listings of the Spotlight on Former Athletes. * * * * * *