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Sunday, July 21, 2019

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LeBlanc named women’s coach at Centenary

LeBlanc named women’s coach at Centenary

The Centenary women’s basketball team didn’t win a single game last season, posting a winless 0-24 record throughout its season.

To fix its maladies and to get jump-started toward a brighter future, they’ve turned to a Larose native, South Lafourche graduate and upstart coach who is quickly rising up the ranks within the game.

Centenary announced in mid-April that it had hired Larose native Justin LeBlanc to be the team’s next head women’s basketball coach. The move marks the first head-coaching gig for the longtime collegiate assistant coach, who is the grandson of the late Rene LeBlanc, the former LCO and South Lafourche basketball coach who dominated the local sports scene from 1956-77.

LeBlanc was previously an assistant coach with Centenary’s men’s team, helping lead the Gents to some of their most successful years in recent memory. The new head coach said that he can’t wait for his new challenge. He said that the opportunity to run his own program is a dream come true.

“I’m approaching this challenge with a great deal of excitement. There’s no doubt about it,” LeBlanc said. “I’ve been here a while, and I think I have a pretty good handle on the things that we need. So I’m really ready to hit the ground running and do everything that I can to try and get things going smoothly here and to turn this thing around into the future.”

Coaching is a family affair for the LeBlanc family. So is basketball. In addition to Rene LeBlanc, Justin’s identical twin brother Jack is also a coach. He is the current boys’ basketball coach and Athletic Director at North Vermilion High School.

Justin was also a heck of a player, enjoying a standout prep career as a Tarpon before going to Millsaps, where he lettered for four-straight seasons. Millsaps is also where LeBlanc cut his teeth in coaching, having served as an assistant with the program immediately after he graduated from the team.

For LeBlanc, he said there was never a doubt about what he wanted to do with his life once he wasn’t blessed with the ability to play competitively any longer.

“I always wanted to do this. I always wanted to be in this position,” LeBlanc said. “As a kid, I always wanted to be a coach, even from a pretty young age. As soon as I got out of college, I just jumped right in, so it’s something that I knew I wanted, and something that I was blessed enough to make happen.”

With Centenary, it would appear that there is nowhere to go but up, as the program has struggled mightily in the win/loss column over the past several seasons.

But the challenge and grind of taking a team from the ground and building them into a contender is why LeBlanc said he pulled the trigger and agreed to coach the team.

Centenary College AD Ronda Seagraves said she has no doubt LeBlanc will be a huge success, pointing to his work in helping rebuild the Gents’ men’s basketball team as a sign to his talent and ability.

“He understands the culture of excellence, as well as what it takes to get better to compete each day in practice and games,” Seagraves said in a pre-released statement at the time of LeBlanc’s hiring. “I look forward to watching our women’s basketball team be competitive and successful in the very near future.”

LeBlanc currently resides in Shreveport with his wife Caroline and son Jackson.