A family affair
Sacred Heart assistant coach Brent Duplechin poses with his family following the Dixie Youth Minor’s Regional Tournament. Pictured above are (Bottom L to R): Betsy, John Michael, and Caroline. (Top L to R): Christian and Brent. Duplechin has coached since he was 18. (Photo courtesy of Betsy Duplechin)
If one is to get into the coaching profession, that person must be willing to sacrifice some things in order to be the best that you can be.
For most coaches that something is usually family time. Being on top of your game as a coach of any sport requires you to sacrifice moments that would normally be spent with your wife and kids.
Unless, you have the good fortune of being able to meld the two worlds into one.
Just ask Sacred Heart assistant baseball coach Brent Duplechin, as he has had the good fortune of coaching all three of his kids and have a spouse that not only supports his decision to coach, but is there every step of the way.
“I am a lucky man,” stated Duplechin. “I mean not only have I been able to coach all three of my kids, but I have a great wife who has supported me every step of the way. I have always loved baseball and to be able to pass that on to all kids is what it is all about. The reason I coach is to see them enjoy the game as much as I do.”
With as much love for the game as Duplechin has, his introduction to baseball was not as dramatic as most would think. In fact playing baseball was more of just following along with what everyone else was doing.
“My brother Thad played and we use to have neighborhood games,” said Duplechin. “Our neighbor across the street, Michael “Pickle” Fontenot would make us come outside and play. All the kids were out there. Back then, that is what we did, we played outside.”
“To be honest, I was pretty scared until I was about 11,” he added with a laugh.
And as most Ville Platte boys do, Duplechin went through the Dixie Youth Organization, beginning when he was eight years old. As a 12 year old, Duplechin was on the State Runner-up team.
But, it was during his playing days in the 13-15 year old age group, that Duplechin really began to fall in love with the game, especially the mental aspect of it.
“I liked playing Dixie Youth baseball, but when we were able to start playing open base in Babe Ruth, that is when I really began to enjoy the game,” commented Duplechin. “My coach, Mr. Norwood Wyble was ahead of the curve back then. I really learned a lot from him.”
From there Duplechin took his game to the high school and American Legion field, playing for Ville Platte High and the Mamou 76’ers. At Ville Platte High, he, along with his teammates, were able to begin a good run for Bulldog baseball, making the quarterfinals his senior season.
“We had some good teams at Ville Platte High,” stated Duplechin. “It was great to be a part of that. When I played American Legion, coach Joe Ortwein, really showed me how to be a positive person. His approach was not to correct you on the field, but to talk to you about it at practice. I have to say that my coaching style is modeled after him. He was a big influence on the way I coach today.”
After his playing days were done, Duplechin’s involvement in the game he loves so much looked like it might end with his last at bat. However, while attending LSU-E as an recent high school graduate, an opportunity came knocking.
Duplechin was asked by his brother-in-law Mike “Cotton” Ortego to help coach a Babe Ruth team. Unbeknownst to Duplechin, those coaching duties would extend into all-star play, where he would learn a valuable lesson.
“I was kind of thrown into the frying pan,” said Duplechin. “Here I was, an 18 year old coaching third base on an all-star team. We wound up playing Uptown New Orleans, who had Peyton Manning on the team, and lost 2-1 on my coaching error. I told myself then that I need to learn more about the game so that I am not the factor that causes us to lose a game. That is why today, I do not get on kids when they make a mistake, because I know that coaches make mistakes too.”
Duplechin took that lesson and many others with him, as he moved on to Northeast Louisiana University (UL-M) to finish his degree, while continuing to coach summer league baseball here in Ville Platte.
After graduating, Duplechin became an assistant coach at his alma mater, Ville Platte High and then became the head coach at Vidrine High School, leading the Tigers to the state playoffs several years in a row.
After consolidation Vidrine no longer had a high school, so Duplechin moved on to Mamou High to continue his teaching career. He remains there, teaching Civics.
After moving on to Mamou High, Duplechin decided that coaching on the high school level took a lot of time away from his family. So, why not use his knowledge and talent on a smaller scale and incorporate his passion with some quality family time.
It began with his daughter Caroline, coaching her in league softball and has carried on through to both of his sons, Christian and John Michael.
As they have moved onward through their playing experiences, Duplechin has been there as a coach, advisor, and parent imparting not only knowledge of the game, but knowledge of life. Even his wife, Betsy, gets involved serving as team mom and scorekeeper, especially during all-stars.
“My first date with Betsy, I showed up in a coach’s uniform,” Duplechin chuckled. “So, I think she knew what she was getting into. It takes the whole family to make this happen.”
Today, Duplechin continues his dream as an assistant coach with the Sacred Heart baseball team and with private lessons at his home in Vidrine.
One thing about Duplechin is that he never forgets the people that have influenced and helped him in his career.
“I’ve gained a lot of knowledge from a number of people,” commented Duplechin. “Danny Ardoin and Cody Vidrine have been a huge part of my career. Danny has so much knowledge of the game having played on the major league level and Cody has given me the chance to coach on the high school level once again. He has really been good to me for the last 20 plus years.”
In the end, however, for Duplechin it will always be family that has been his greatest asset.