- Feature Story
- George Becnel
- August 08, 2017 - 8:08pm
St. James coach Robert Valdez scheduled Tuesday’s practice in the evening, hoping to beat the heat and afternoon showers, but Mother Nature delivered a sucker punch to the Wildcats.
As the 6 p.m. start time of practice drew near, dark, ominous clouds began to build near the school. By the time practice was about to begin, it began to rain. The downpour seemed to ease up a bit, but a lightning strike brought a halt to any thoughts of an outdoor practice.
“It’s the first time it has caught us,” said Valdez. “We have been trying to work around the heat and acclimate our kids to the heat. We went from midnight then we went to practicing at eight (prior to the start of official practice) and just tried to time it all the way to when school starts Thursday where we could be in shape and handle (after school practice in mid-afternoon).”
The rain caused the Wildcats to improvise Tuesday, leading to more classroom work. The bad weather and field conditions, Valdez said, has cut into the amount of repetitions the team might normally get when the weather is more cooperative.
“We don’t have the luxury of being at our new school where we could just go on the field turf and get (practice) in. We could, but then we won’t have the luxury of the weightlifting, the luxury of the meeting space and all those different things (at the field house of the current school),” the Wildcats coach said.
The new St. James High at its new location in Vacherie is still a year away from opening.
As practice progresses, the Wildcats will work on identifying leaders, according to Valdez.
“Everybody has to understand their role,” Valdez said. “When everybody understands their role, we can progress. We can run, we have great strength and good athleticism but it’s almost like kicking over an ant pile and everybody scatters all over the place. We need to be more and more proficient. We are not there yet but I believe we will get there.”
Although injuries caused former star quarterback Lowell Narcisse to miss most of his last two seasons in high school, the current LSU Tiger still left a huge shadow at St. James, Valdez said.
“The kids have to create their own identity. We don’t have Superman anymore,” he said, referring to Narcisse. “We haven’t had him for two years. This group of kids doesn’t quite exactly know what it is that they are good at. The first couple of days, we come out here and we are getting good physical work but we still haven’t been able to peak mentally in terms of assignments, in terms of fundamentals and just being able to get it. It comes with time and it comes with practice, and competition.”