SPORTS

Sidelines, with Tryve Brackin

Tryve Brackin

I lost a friend last week and miss him already. He was a friend from the first days I got to know him to the last time I saw him only a few weeks ago at the POST SOUTH. He had come by to claim his certificate for a Thanksgiving turkey he had one in a contest.

L.J. Raymond was good and kind to many, many more people than me. But, he always had time to converse, always had time to listen. He has the kind of enthusiasm that washed over you as you spoke to him and carried you along for the ride.

We talked many times, especially in recent years after I left work in local industry to devote full time employment at the POST SOUTH a second time.

Of course, we talked sports for the most part, a lot about LSU, and, a lot about high school sports. He offered me advice how to handle certain situations that arise...what to put in the newspaper and what to hold out. I almost always agreed, but, at other times, I diverted a bit. The main thing we totally agreed upon was dealing with high school sports meant dealing with teenagers and their parents.

My fondest memory of L.J. is taking breaks from taking photos of events at the annual State High School Track Meet at LSU and sitting with him along the wall that divides the stands from the Bernie Moore track field. He would introduce me to people I did not know. He would joke about people we both knew. And he would fill me in on what was going on in LSU football, track and field, and statewide prep sports. L.J. knew a lot of sports people from across the state and the south.

Last spring, L.J. was considerably slowed. He was a bit overwhelmed because he had committed to working the three-day state meet, but had to attend the funeral of an old friend during the same time period. Fellow LSU track official E.L. Gueho from White Castle was concerned for L.J. at the meet. He did not look good. But, back in early December, when I saw him at the newspaper, L.J. was happy and looking healthy.

L.J. had numerous and humorous stories about his coaching and administrative days in Plaquemine. One of my favorites was about his early years in the city when he coached little league baseball. He had only 15 uniforms for his team and had to cut at least three tryouts. The evening before cut day L.J. and his late wife heard a knock at their front door. It was the mother of one of his tryouts. She offered L.J. five dollars a week during the baseball season to keep her son on the team. The reason she gave was “to keep him out of my hair!” The son was one of several siblings in the family and L.J. said the woman often had her hands full. He gave a uniform to the boy the next day, but not for the five dollars, or for the fact the young man was good at the sport. “I knew she needed me to watch him at least a bit in the afternoons,” he explained.

L.J. went on to explain the boy had never played baseball before, but, in later years, grew up to be a valuable high school athlete at Plaquemine High.

I will miss “Coach”. And, of course, I am not the only one. I knew him only 30 or so years. Others knew him for many more.

Last year L.J. went to visit with legendary Haynesville High coach Red Franklin prior to the HHS-St. John state semifinal football game. Mickey Rivet brought L.J. into the Haynesville locker room at PHS and the two elder statesmen of high school sports talked at length. The two had known each other since the days they took turns as football coaches at Marksville High. Mickey mentioned something to me about the visit being “Legend On Legend”. Yep, it sure was.

We are all at a loss, but the legend should live on.