Sacred Heart head basketball coach and assistant football coach JP Boullion has had to adjust to life on the gridiron after not having been around the sport since his freshman year at St. Thomas More. The second year coach in the “Land of Troy” is getting more confident on the field after gaining a year of experience. Boullion led the Trojan basketball team to one of its better seasons this past year. (Gazette photo by Tracey Jagneaux)
To say that having to coach football has been a learning curve for Sacred Heart’s JP Boullion may be a understatement.
But, the Lafayette native has had to endure some very humbling learning curves in his life before he came to the “Land of Troy”.
Boullion, in his second year at Sacred Heart, harkens back to his high school days when he played for the legendary St. Thomas More basketball coach Danny Broussard. During that time, Boullion found himself in a very interesting position his senior season; a position that he admits was his own doing.
“I played more my junior year than I did my senior year,” stated Boullion. ‘But, I lot of that was on me. I wasn’t dedicated to the team and really was a bad teammate and kind of had a bad attitude. I just wanted to be done with sports and move on.”
“But, Coach Broussard sat me down and told me that he needed me to take on the role of a scout team leader,” Boullion continued. “To this day I respect Coach Broussard for keeping me on the team and recognizing that I could still contribute to the team, even if it was not out on the floor.”
According to Boullion, that experience has carried over into his style of coaching and has given him a perspective he feels is important when dealing with his team.
“I think that having that experience in high school has made me a better coach in a lot of ways,” said Boullion. “Now, I can recognize what the best player on the team needs and what the bench player needs. I can also now recognize a poor teammate and explain to them how they are anchoring the team down in a negative way.”
Now, Boullion is in the process of facing another learning curve of a different sort. The Trojan head basketball coach must figure out how to adjust to the gridiron and all of the terminology and coaching skills that come with the job of being an assistant football coach.
The one good thing going for Boullion is that he is not entirely new to the game with the oblong ball. Boullion has been around the sport since as long as he can remember and played football up until his freshman year.
On top of that, Boullion is in his second year at Sacred Heart and did find himself in thick of things on the gridiron last season.
“Sports are huge in our family to begin with,” commented Boullion. “All of my siblings played sports and my dad was on the sidelines as an athletic trainer and physical therapist for Cathedral Carmel and St. Thomas More. I can remember always being on the sidelines with him when I was younger.”
“I actually played football at Cathedral Carmel up until eighth grade and then played my freshman year at St. Thomas More,” he continued. “I had a really good experience with the game and still love it today as a fan. So, football was not foreign to me when I came here last year and had to coach it.”
Still, Boullion had an adjustment period when he took to the field as a first year coach at Sacred Heart; especially since he was not hired until after spring training. According to Boullion, that first season as a gridiron coach was truly a ‘learn on the fly’ experience.
“When I got here, they (the team) were blowing and going,” stated Boullion. “So, I knew that Coach Harper was not going to have a whole lot of time to sit down and explain the schemes and teach me how to coach the positions. I was over my skis for about the first six weeks of the season.”
“Then the light bulb started to go off and I began to remember things that I had learned during my playing days,” he continued. “From there I started to become a little more comfortable, but was never completely comfortable. But, this year, with a whole spring training under my belt and with Coach Harper being able to help me adjust, I feel a lot better about being out there.”
One area that Boullion is very familiar with is on the hardwood, coaching the sport that he has always had a special passion for.
After graduating from St. Thomas More, Boullion went on to ULL to major in Biology with the thought of become a Physical Therapist or a Physician’s Assistant. While at ULL, Boullion helped out as an assistant basketball coach of the eighth grade girls and head coach of the seventh grade boys at Cathedral Carmel, all while working as a manager at the Ground Patti.
In 2002, Boullion was approached to become an assistant basketball coach at Episcopal School of Acadiana by his high school freshman football coach who had moved on to be the head basketball coach at ESA. Boullion stayed on there until 2014, even taking over as head coach for three seasons, until he got the call that he had been hired at Sacred Heart last year.
Last season, the Sacred Heart hoops team went 9-16 and even hosted a playoff game in the first round; a vast improvement from the one win season just the year before.
“When I coached in Class B, I had the players from the start,” said Boullion. “It was an adjustment for me not to have half of the team until football was over. It took three-fourths of the season until the team understood what I wanted to accomplish on the floor. I can’t blame them for that. Also, I did not have them last summer at all. But, now that we have had the chance to get that offseason in, I think the sky is the limit.