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Mr. Don Blair
3925 Bayou Blvd
New Iberia, LA 70563
|Don's Living Memorial for the Raymond Blanco Tribute was submitted on April 21, 2021 and posted by Ed Dugas.
It is followed by his LM for Coach Bobby Banna and other bibliographical information.
Tribute to Coach Raymond Blanco:
I was recruited in the early spring of 1969 by Coach Irwin Sibille.
He met with my Strake Jesuit College Prep School Coach Toney Carr in
Houston (& after watching some game film arranged a dinner meeting with
my mom-- to offer me a scholarship to play football at USL). Little did
I know that accepting that scholarship would become the most consequential
thing I would do in my young college life (& the decades that would follow).
I had an older brother & sister and a year-younger brother Wayne. Wayne, mom, and I lived with our grandmother; our parents were divorced. Her house was paid up and we were able to attend private school run by the Jesuits.
This is about the place where my fellow teammates mention how tough/strict &
disciplined playing for USL coaches was (especially during the early '60s).
It was true (I have heard too many stories to doubt any of them --& got
to BE in some of them personally in the late '60s and early '70s).
There were four men (plus my fellow players on our O-line that I will forever be close to) that left an early and lasting impression:
1. Coach Faulkinberry whom I looked up to & admired implicitly. We were quite close, starting in my freshman year (he had the trust & confidence in me to bring me to his weekly TV program). Of course, he himself played O-line.
I did (or certainly tried to do) everything he demanded. But that twinkle
in his eye that most couldn't see or acknowledge let him know that I knew
he wasn't really mean or heartless at all-- quite the opposite as a matter
of fact. Ooops! Did I say that?
2. Coach Sibille who recruited me & (I believe) assigned Mike McDonald to close the deal when I visited the team on-campus; I was close to Irwin till the day he died;
3. Coach Bob Banna, my coach (tough but fair); loved them all, but especially Coach Banna
4. 'COACH' BLANCO
What can one say about Coach Blanco that has not already been said? First, let me say this. I started out by going to Webster's Dictionary and looking up all of the synonyms and possible shades of meaning there were for 'coach'. There were a little
more than 20! Ironically, Coach Blanco was not one of MY coaches as in 'athletic/sports'coaches (he had come to USL to take the Dean of Students position the year I arrived in
Lafayette). By the way, of those 20 shades of meaning, about 15 of those STILL APPLY TO his expertise or skill set! So, yes -- he was/is a Coach in almost every sense of that title.
Coach's reputation both preceded & exceeded him. When I finished at USL I joined the LHSAA and officiated Lafayette Area Football for 33 years. The legacy of Blanco & Banna was
It's hard to talk about Coach outside the context of family. Outside of his own beautiful and accomplished family is, of course, his UL family. But even above that, most have probably
heard of or experienced countless students or relatives of students that Coach Blanco was able to steer to open programs or assistance with tuition help or scholarships or open job
opportunities, etc., during his 46-year tenure.
Mike McDonald has cited how Coach helped his mom finish her college degree; in my own case, Coach enabled me to work for University Police
after I was laid off during the Oil Industry Bust of the early 1980s. I finished the Police Academy and worked the afternoon 3-11pm or 11pm-7am graveyard shift for three years until a
hospital opening in New Iberia came open again. I thoroughly enjoyed the Academy classes with Tommy Guidry, Richard Yandle, all of the Deans, Lt. St. Julien, Chief Glaude, & Coach Blanco
Coach Blanco is definitely a purpose-driven, "big picture", high-energy leader who is both goal-oriented and empathetic at the same time. (I think Kathleen was very much the same way which is how they accomplished so much together). He didn't just 'talk the talk', he 'walked the walk'.
I witnessed this countless times at Univ Police. His antics or tirades at times could not mask that he cared -- genuinely cared. He did lead by example and he called for us-- all of us-- to
follow. He had a way of making you believe in yourself when you doubted you could do it.
Coach, I want to thank you so much for all of your help, guidance, leadership, and mentoring over many years. You and Kathleen will always represent the very best on behalf of the University,
Lafayette, and the State of Louisiana that you both loved so much and served so completely.
Graduated May, 1973
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Don's Living Memorial for the Bobby Banna Tribute is followed by biographical information, including the announcement of his role as the coordinator of the Athletic Network on Facebook. His LM was submitted on 3/31/2017 and posted by Dr. Ed Dugas that day.
Bobby Banna's Living Memorial, Don Blair – Football 1969-72
I am pleased and glad to put together a few thoughts and personal feelings (and dealings over four decades) with Coach Bobby Banna. I think it is a great idea to give former student-athletes an opportunity at some point down the line to express what they would like to say as it relates to their relationships with their former coaches.
The truth is coaches and their players (that they not only coach but direct, supervise, instruct, mentor, counsel, encourage, listen to, make "recommendations" to -- even discipline) have a tremendously close connection or kinship. They spend a massive amount of time together, often over several years.
Ideally, that kinship materializes within a climate of growth and mutual respect. The coaches lead, plan, strategize, motivate, and set expectations; the athletes use their skills and the preparation they receive to execute.
Coach Banna was an excellent coach, good teacher, and a strong motivator. He coached both football and baseball over many years. I can only really comment as one of a group of football players in general (and a group of linemen on offense in particular).
In my mind, there is Bob Banna the coach and there is Bobby Banna the person. While there is clearly some blending or crossover when considering these two aspects of one/the same person, I find it helpful to first talk about each set of 'qualifications' and 'personal traits' separately. When that has been done, you get to see pretty clearly why and how a person not only meets the needs of their position but how (and why) they achieve success leading those they coach to performance success both athletically and academically.
I think to compete successfully in college athletics, those who coach need to have and demonstrate a high level of:
Knowledge --- Coach Banna knew the fundamentals as well as the finer points of football, and imparted those to his players on the O-line well. Some of those finer points included blocking angles, how to get the best leverage if you were playing across from opponents who were bigger, faster, quicker, or stronger than you were, etc. Yes, he had both knowledge and experience.
High energy --- Coach certainly had & modeled the high energy expected from his players. He pushed us to get the most out of ourselves as a unit (i.e., offensive line) AND as individuals. He constantly harped on the need to 'get better', admitting that it was onerous to do a lot of times but reminding us that "most things that are really worthwhile don't usually come easy". You had to do the work (no shortcuts). But don't get from that that if there was a better, more efficient way to get the job done he wouldn't pursue it (but never something cheap or unsportsmanlike).
Set the bar high --- Coach Banna had high expectations and didn't accept lame excuses. Was he hard-nosed and tough? Definitely! Did you want to get on his bad side or disappoint him? Definitely not. Did he use positive motivation recognizing good play and good results? Yes he did. He was a really strong motivator and he used the whole bag to keep play at a high level, making us as individuals and a unit the best we could be.
An overriding thing I can say about Coach is that though he was demanding, he was very fair to his players. In my opinion, most all the time if we fell short and didn't get our jobs done, we deserved any changes or repercussions associated with our results.
Did we get the opportunity to practice any plays or techniques that we were weak or deficient in completing? Heh-heh ... next question!!
But it was worth it -- our teams won conference championships two out of three years between 1968 and 1970 (going undefeated in conference play in 1970).
After our time at USL was over:
Our time at USL ended about the same time. Coach went to Fatima for a short time and later coached at Comeaux High School. I was officiating for what ended up a period of 33 years and called numerous games involving Comeaux.
This continuous contact over the years enabled Coach and me to develop a strong bond and friendship which lasts 45 years later to this day. And I have been pretty close to his wonderful wife Charlene for many years as well. What a lady!
Something I failed to mention above was how consistent Coach Banna was. He didn't change spots or try to be someone he was not. As I watched him interact with his high school players while I officiated, he was the same ole Coach Banna from USL days.
Since I have lived in New Iberia, officiated more grade school/middle school/JV and varsity games than I can possibly count or remember at Catholic High School here --- and since I know and have known (or played alongside) many of the Catholic High players who went on to play at UL, I can offer some irrefutable anecdotal comments about Coach Banna. He is well and fondly remembered for his time and accomplishments here (coaching with Coach Blanco for some of that time when they won the state championship in 1962). When people talk or reminisce around here about Coach Banna, it is with a tone of respect and good feelings.
To wrap this up, I can only speak for myself and won't speak for any of my teammates at USL (especially on the O-line). We were and still are great friends and have that strong brotherhood born of our similar football time and common experiences.
The chief element of our common experience was Coach Bobby Banna.
We were mere college kids then. When we left we were well on the way to being men. In my mind Coach Banna had a large role in that progress we came to realize. We kind of wore that status of playing under Coach Banna with a certain pride.
There was a song by Glen Campbell that was popular at the time we all played. The words were "we are the linemen for the county".
Sometimes after a few beers more than once we sang Glen Campbell's tune with OUR lyrics: "We are the linemen for Coach Banna".
Yes we were -- and still are.
And I think most of us would agree that WE ARE BETTER MEN BECAUSE OF IT!!
CONGRATULATIONS, COACH! You definitely deserve it ... and THANKS FOR EVERYTHING YOU DID FOR US AND OUR ALMA MATER!!!
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The Athletic Network is pleased to announce that Don Blair has accepted the position of Athletic Network Facebook Coordinator.
When asked to provide background information to our Athletic Network viewers regarding his background, Don's response is below:
"I'm a Texas native who came to UL a good many years ago to play football. The Cajuns of both UL and of Acadiana adopted me and I adopted them in return. I pretty much bleed Vermilion Red. I love UL in general and UL Athletics in particular. I also love music, singing, and I'm a history buff. UL has a Cajun culture at its base, but is also rich in diversity and international culture. It honors its pro and Olympic athletes, but its amateur athletes as well. It values its fans, supporters, and sponsors of all types and ages.
I'm pumped to be the Athletic Network Facebook Coordinator. If you do your part to keep your comments candid (but Cajun cordial, constructive, and clean), we can revisit a rich athletic past of many eras, focus on that all-important here and now, and look forward together to an extra-bright and promising future."
Through Don's postings we seek to reach former athletes and support groups, as well as many of those in the Cajun Nation who want to be more aware of the historical holdings at www.athleticnetwork.net and the depth and breath of current information on www.ragincajuns.com The Athletic Network Facebook Page will endeavor to accomplish that goal.
Please click here for Don's Athletic Network profile.
Please join the Athletic Network staff and viewers in welcoming Don B to the position of responsibility and may many likes be looming on the horizon. Thank you.
Peace, Ed Dugas
Dr. Ed Dugas, Research Coordinator
Louisiana's Ragin Cajuns Athletic Network
Updated April 2, 2013
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Native of Houston, Texas
Graduate of Strake Jesuit College Prep
Starter on USL Offensive Line for 4 Years/Seasons:1969-1972...Three years at left guard, one year left tackle
All Gulf States Conference Frosh 1969
All-Southland Conference 1971
All Southland Conference 1972
Times-Picayune All-Louisiana 1972
USL Scholar-Athlete of the Year 1973
USL 25-Year All-Star Football Team
"S" Club Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee, Class of 1996
Proud to be a member of the 1970 Gulf States Conference Champions, Undefeated in Conference Play, NCAA College Division I, Mideast Football Championship Finalists who played Tennessee State in the Grantland Rice Bowl
Played Under Head Coach Russ Faulkinberry and Offensive Line Coach Bob Banna
Officiated Lafayette Area and Surrounding Acadiana high schools as an LHSAA football umpire for 33 years from 1974 thru 2006
Brother Wayne C. Blair also played Offensive Lineman (Center) for USL in 1970, 1971, and 1972
Son-in-Law Mark A. Lamere also played Offensive Lineman for USL/UL in 1997, 1998, and 2000
Married to Annette Patout Blair of New Iberia-- 3 daughters Melissa, Rebecca, Patricia
Have ten grandkids as of 2012
Most of worklife spent as a hospital department head of Supply Chain/ Purchasing/Materials for 23 Years at Dauterive Hospital in New Iberia, Louisiana
Member of several community choirs and chorus ensembles--most notably as a first tenor for Chorale Acadienne in Lafayette, LA
Updated June 4, 2013
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Updated April 10, 2015 by Don in email to Ed Dugas
Glad you like the photos--it shouldn't really surprise you too very much that we have many, many mutual friends. You know how long you've been around---and I myself have been on the scene it will be 46 years in September.
Add the 33 years of Lafayette-and-all-high-schools within a 50-mile radius officiating that I did;
I know most of the football alumni not just back to '69 when I got there but really a lot of them going back to 1962-1963;
My inlaws are two huge families--Patouts and Babineauxs (including Kathleen and Raymond and a good number related to them closely or more distantly);
I know many of the families from New Iberia (big or major families at least) because I have been in high profile jobs dealing with the public at large while a department head at Dauterive Hospital for almost a quarter century, other hospital/chamber-of-commerce commitee type positions--my purchasing head position even put me in contact with numerous vendors on a regular basis, many from Lafayette, etc. I knew Jim Barrilleaux (father of Blaine) when he was with Estorge Surgical long before Blaine and his sister Missy were born (Jim & I both had daughters named Melissa). Had I not known Blackjack from playing at USL, I would likely have known him as one of Jacob Landry's children totally separate from his football affiliation;
I have sung in chorale groups (University Chorus, Acadiana Symphony Chorus, Chorale Acadienne, Les Sons du Teche in New Iberia) going back to 1992;
When the oil field crashed in 1982, Dean Blanco put me on with University Police for a three- year period until I was able to get back into healthcare. I was top of the Police Academy academically I believe in 1983. I knew Ed Pratt and Mike Neustrom, of course, from New Iberia anyway.
Yes, for these reasons and a number of others (I have stayed close and active as a regular alumnus as well as a gridiron alumnus since I graduated), we know a lot of the same people.
One final explanation:
My mother-in-law Verna Patout started college at USL when she was 40 years old, teaching at Catholic High during the day and attending night classes and summer school. While it took her 8 plus years to graduate, she finally attained her B.S., Masters plus 30;
My wife Annette got her B.S. & Master's at USL;
My oldest daughter Melissa got her B.S., Masters, and multiple certifications from U.L.'s School of Nursing;
Both my middle (Rebecca) and youngest (Patricia) daughter got their B.S. from U.L.
Throw in most of the folks I met or know through all of them and USL-UL.
Yes--it's a lot so it's kinda cool we know a lot of the same folks.
I plan on making the softball games Friday and for Senior Day on Saturday. Still praying for Coach Lotief--whom I knew by the way (and officiated several games for) when he was football coach at North Vermillion before he got to USL. His wife Stefni Whitten Lotief was from Friendswood, TX (a suburb of my hometown of Houston). Stefni and I along with Hollis Conway and Nolan "Peanut" Sharon were all in the same Hall of Fame Class of 1996 together.
Gotta run. Hope all is well with you and all of yours!!
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Don Blair Inducted Into Stake Jesuit Hall of Honor - Archived News - March 30, 2019
To view the complete story, including photos, please click on any news story in the news box, then the archives link in the upper left which appears on the new page.
Click on the March & 2019 tabs in the format on the Archives Page, then click on the story headlines, including any photos and footnotes which may have been included.
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|Athletic Network:|| 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019|
|Football:|| 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972|
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