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Find an individual who either played a sport or was a member of a support group. Search by last name by clicking on the first letter of the person's last name.


Mr. James P. Cross, Jr.

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jpcross1943@gmail.com
The Fond Memories James submitted to the Coach Raymond Blanco's Tribute were received on March 16, 2021 and posted that day by Ed Dugas.

“Memories of Coach Blanco”

One summer day between my sophomore and junior year of high school, I got a call to join several other football players at Catholic High School in New Iberia to meet our new football coach. Several of us had gathered under the front porch awning at school when a beat up blue and white car pulled up, and Ray Blanco got out and greeted us.

He had short black hair, dark eyebrows, and a smile plastered on his face. I thought he was happy to see us, but I found out later that was the way his face was made up. It just seemed like he was smiling. This was the beginning of a long relationship.

Years later I was asked to name men who were influential in my life. I named three, my father and Ray Blanco were the first two.

Even though I was not very good, I enjoyed playing high school football. But when spring rolled around, we were informed that we would have spring training, and after that we would ALL be working out with the track team. Well, I could go along with spring training, but going out for the track team seemed like a ploy to get me to exercise, and I have always hated exercise.

On the first day of track, I noticed the pits for the jumps had no sawdust in them, and I ran up to Coach and offered to take another guy and go pick up sawdust. He thought that was a fine idea and a buddy and I took off to the local lumberyard, where the two of us managed to load a pickup with sawdust and get back just in time to dump it and practice would be over.

The next day same deal as we had several pits that needed filling. After two days, I got some of the 4th grade kids to go to the pits during their recess and throw out all the sawdust so that I could keep my scam going. It lasted about two weeks before I got busted. I had to put on track shorts and go out to exercise. I asked Coach what he wanted me to do.
“Run some laps.”

So I started around the track while Coach was working with the javelin throwers. Although I started with a rush, I hate to run laps and by the time I got back to where I started I was loping along.

“Goddammit Cross, speed up!” sounded across the field. I dutifully sped up. But by the time I returned to where I had begun I was back at the slow lope.

A warning cry from one of my friends caused me to look back, and I was horrified to see Coach running at me with a javelin, and even though I sped up he was sticking that thing at me all the way round the track. I still hate the sight of a track.

I graduated and went off to college at Marquette University who had just dropped their football team. I was going to try to walk on, but obviously that fell through. At the end of my first year of college, I returned home and decided to go to summer school at USL.

Coach had a history of stomach problems and my mother insisted he move into our home where she could take care of him. So all of a sudden I sorta had a big brother and we had lots of late night conversations.

I was driving back and forth from New Iberia to go to classes at USL, and one of my regular passengers was Kathleen Babineaux. She and Coach had started dating, and one day she proudly announced that she and Coach were engaged. I glanced at her hand and saw no ring, and asked about it.
“Oh, we are engaged. We decided to do without a ring for now.”

I countered with “Kathleen, wouldn’t you rather have a ring?” “Well, yeah, I guess every girl would like to have a ring.”

That evening, I approached Coach with a question about the ring. “Dang it James, we decided we would wait till later, but we are engaged.” But he looked stricken that one of his ex- players would question him on such an issue. He stormed off to his room. Two days later, Kathleen showed me her new engagement ring.

Two years later, I left Marquette and returned to USL to finish my degree. Coach had been hired by USL to be on their coaching staff, and it wasn’t long before I showed up at his o\ce. He had gotten many good players from Catholic High to go to USL, even our manager Blackjack had gone with him. I was anxious to join some of my former classmates and told Coach I would like to try out for the team.

He gives me that stricken look that I have grown to know well. “Cross, you can come here and help Blackjack. You can be a scout, you can do anything except get on that field. I had all of you I can put up with.”

So I became a sort of scout. My father had a twin engine plane and his pilot and myself would fly coaches to various games to scout other teams and still be back for our home night games. But you couldn’t find my name in the program
Friend Of Athletic Network (FAN):  2021


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