CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - Vote for Coach Lebouef for the Hometown Hero Award by clicking here.
The afternoon sun beats down on the Central High track. Twenty-seven girls in track shoes sprint down one side, trying to keep it between the lines, but this is not track practice.
Coach Michele Lebouef shouts instructions. "Start with your head down, shoulders down, and everything going forward." But she is not a track coach.
Lebouef snaps her stopwatch off as another pair of girls crosses the finish line. 6.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Not bad for volleyball player.
The Wildcats finished the season three weeks ago. Next season started Monday.
"Plant. Jump. Fast," Lebouef instructs her girls in a jumping drill. The group of 27, mostly underclassmen, will have to get better if they want to improve on this year's 20 - 18 record. That means lots of off-season training.
"Part of the process is learning to enjoy running on the track, the off-season workouts, and getting in the gym early in the mornings over the summer," Lebouef explains. And the team is all in. Sprinting, jumping, knocking out push-ups, and 2-minute plank drills like the champions they aspire to be.
"It's never off-season," says sophomore, Gracie Stevens. "You always gotta' work and push yourself."
"The kids are special," says Lebouef of her young team. "They are selfless. They give everything they have."
And the girls sweating in the autumn sun think their coach is pretty special too. So special, that one of them nominated Lebouef for a national honor. Lebouef still cant believe it. "I am humbled and I'm honored, and I'm shocked," she said.
High school coaches hold a unique position in a student athlete's life. As a parent, disciplinarian, and mentor, coaches hold the keys to molding future leaders. The 2017 Hometown Heroes Award recognizes high school coaches who make an impact on their community through their athletes, producing more than good athletes, but good people.
For Lebouef, that means old fashioned hard work. "I want them to fight hard," she says. "And I want them to know that success is not always in wins and losses. You're going to take something away from it... I want them to love something, find something, and love something and run with that."
Even in the off-season.
You can learn more about the Hometown Hero program and vote for Coach Lebouef here.