The University of Louisiana earlier this month hired alumnus Lon Badeaux to head the track and field program. Badeaux comes to UL after four highly successful years as head coach at conference rival Arkansas State. Badeaux is a New Iberia native and former Cajun pole vaulter during the 1990s. visited with Badeaux and got his thoughts on a variety of subjects.

On former Coach Charles Lançon:  Coach Lançon was the ultimate good guy. He knew everybody, and he knew how to manage the team. He was a great high school coach for many years and it just carried over to the college level. The first thing he did was go out and get quality people like Tommy Badon and Boo Schexnayder, and others who had a lot of knowledge and let them do what they do. Coach Lançon was always available to us as athletes. He was really like everyone’s dad. Everyone you talk with from my era, when we had some really good teams, they knew he was there for us.

On his present UL staff:  When I looked at the UL staff I could see the areas and the coaches here that were having a lot of success. They just needed to have a more complete team. Paula [Ogunbanjo] with the jumps and Coach [David] Bellar with the throws did a great job, and when you add someone like me that will come in with the pole vault and the multi-event athletes, we look to be more well-rounded. I’m looking at a former athlete to come in and help with the sprints. Also, we’ve also added Kelly LaMaison, the former cross-country coach at Lafayette High, who said this is the only job she ever wanted. So we’re excited about that area.

On track and field officials:  I’ve already had a meeting with the officials' association and it’s a very dedicated group that’s comprised of former athletes and old coaches who want to be around track and field. In fact, we’re already planning 10 months in advance for the Sun Belt Conference meet.

On the number of home meets:  The most important thing is finding the date that works for everyone. I like the Louisiana Classics, and we’ve got commitments from Mississippi State and LSU to send their teams down here. I like the Cole-Lançon Meet, and that serves a different purpose, in getting us ready for the conference meet. But we’ll be alright with many meets within the state.

On the facilities at UL:  The track was resurfaced not long ago and there will be a few upgrades, especially prior to the conference meet, but in general it’s great. Later, after the softball park is completed, the administration will turn its attention to the track and soccer facilities. All of the present locker rooms will be torn down and new facilities will be built.

On track and field scholarships:  We’re a fully-funded team. So we’ve got the full allotment on men (12.6) and women (18), which is great. That shows the support that we have from the administration - that they actually want to be good. As far as philosophy in how I distribute the scholarships, I will try to go out and get the best person, the one who can score the most points for the team and make the biggest impact. We want to be a well-rounded team. We want to be good at cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track in both men and women. So we’ll distribute our funding in all phases of the program.

On local recruiting:  It’s going to be kind of a mix. People realize that this is a great track state, probably one of the top four states in the U.S. at least for the sprinters, jumpers and throwers. For the distances events you may have to go out and get a little bit of a national and international flavor. I’ll go anywhere and get them.

On academics:  My job, first and foremost, is to get kids to graduate. I won’t sacrifice that to be good on the track. I will put a great emphasis on that part of it. They’re going to do it. And if they don’t do it, then they don’t really have a commitment to track and field, because you can’t be good on the track without the academic part. I’ll make sure they are going to class and make their grades. This is college and you want to have some fun, but you can’t let fun get in the way of the academics and your athletic commitment.

On your vision for the first year:  We want to compete at a high level. The support at this place has been great here, and if we can compete at the top of the Sun Belt every year, we will start to win those championships and people will really start to get excited about coming here. I’d like to change the perception. I want people to know that this a viable place to go to school and compete at a high level in track and field. If those things occur, you’re going to see kids start to qualify for nationals and put their name on the map.

On the team’s strengths:  UL has kind of always been a field team. That’s where we get the depth and can score a bunch of points. It’s no different right now. The trick’s going to be placing those people on the track that can really help you. There may not ever be great depth on the track, but you go with what you have and then you kind of filter in those other people when you have the opportunity to.

On the team’s weakness:  In the distance events we’ve kind of been on a down slide. That’s kind of been my focus right now. The easiest place to get better is going to be with the distance people, and we’re going to go out and try to find some people in those events.

On the nature track & field:  That’s the biggest thing I see with this team right now. They’re all focused in as individuals. This is my event over here. That’s your event over there. I think you miss something by not making it a team sport. I want them to know that this is your family, so we’re going to have meetings when everybody is together and everybody is going to know their teammates and we’re going to have fun. I want them pulling for each other because it makes an impact on what you do individually.

On future track clinics:  We’ve talked about it a little bit, and it may not be immediate, but it’s something that we may very well do in the future. There’s enough interest in track and field around here where you can probably do it. Maybe we’ll do some kind of summer program and get the younger kids involved, even if its something like late night track meets for kids 5 and under. Stuff like that’s fun.

On high school track and field:  Some people feel like generally it’s going down, but I don’t believe that. I still think that you have your good quality athletes out there. There’s a lot of Division I athletes in Lafayette, and if we can just get a few of those who can come in and make an immediate impact in the Sun Belt, we’ll be fine. With TOPS available now, we think we can get some good quality athletes, which should make for a really good track team.

On being back home: It’s outstanding. You know when I left, the ultimate goal was to get back here. Louisiana has always been home for me. If you grew up here you know the people, you know the culture, the expectations. And for me that turns into a lot of pressure to achieve for the people here. I still haven’t sold my house in Arkansas, so I’m living at my parents’ house and trying to find a house in Lafayette.

Al Karré is a practicing attorney in Lafayette, and an avid Cajuns sports fan.  To read more of his writing, click on his name above.

Brief Biography
Lon Badeaux was named Arkansas State University’s head track and field coach July 28, 2007. During his time there, Badeaux coached 47 Sun Belt Conference champions, seven school record holders, 29 regional qualifiers, 17 national qualifiers, five All-Americans and one Olympian.

He was named runner-up for the 2004 Mondo National Assistant Coach of the Year for jumps and multi-events by the USA Track and Field Coaches for Division I-A. He was also named to the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Committee for scheduling.

Badeaux was a part of ASU’s 2006 Men’s Indoor Sun Belt Conference Championship and was serving as interim head coach when student-athlete James Jenkins was named All-America after an third-place finish in the triple jump at the NCAA Track and Field Championships.

A native of New Iberia, La., Badeaux received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisiana in health and physical education. He received his master’s degree in exercise science from Arkansas State University. While at UL he set the indoor and outdoor records in the pole vault at 17-7 and 17-5, respectively. In 1996, he was awarded All-America status with a third-place finish in the NCAA Indoor Championships.

A certified USA Track and Field Level II coach, Badeaux originally came to ASU to train under local Olympian and pole vault coach Earl Bell.

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