Pope John Paul II athletics considered ‘best in class’

    Let’s start the new year with some good news from Slidell.
    Pope John Paul II High School has been recognized with a national award by Coach and Athletic Director magazine.
    The archdiocesan school was named “Best in Class” in the magazine’s November-December issue.
    The honor recognizes Pope John Paul II for its outstanding athletic programs. And if you are wondering why such a school with no dynastic reputation would be labeled as best in a sports category, you need to look past the W and L columns in the box scores (when you can find them in the local newspapers).
    This school was selected for recognition through the efforts of its coaches and administrators, which set a standard for integrity, sportsmanship and a positive overall experience for student-athletes. And that is the official wording on the plaque.    
    The magazine selects schools in several categories based on their student enrollment. Pope John Paul II earned the honor in a division for private schools with fewer than 500 students.
    Schools in 44 states applied for the award.
    Athletic Director Mark Jeanmard explained to the New Orleans Advocate the principles of the award:
    “It’s about the program and the school as a whole,” he said. “There’s the success of the athletic department, but also the educational aspect was taken into consideration.
    “We had to submit our players’ GPAs. And it’s also about our service programs, the alumni base and how we get the community involved at the school.
    “We had to show (the magazine editors) information on each of our 22 different athletic teams from the past five years,” Jeanmard continued. “It was the overall picture that impressed the judges.”
    Congratulations to the school’s administration and Jeanmard’s athletic staff for their fine work.
Big meeting nears
    The Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s annual meeting at the end of January will be a do-or-don’t opportunity for principals of schools that field football teams to decide if they want to reunite as joint public and non-public classes, or to continue their nonsensical decision to hold separate playoffs and play for nine so-called “state” championships instead of the traditional five.
    There will be strong opposition to keeping the status quo, but a few public school principals are falling in line to have common playoffs in classes 5A, 4A and 2A.
    It is highly unlikely that Class 3A will get back together because no public (and most other) school principal cares to compete against John Curtis or Evangel, two programs that consistently win.
    Ironically, Class 1A may remain split because principals of private and parochial schools, which make up the majority, do not want to compete against public school Haynesville for the very same reason. But we’ll have a better handle on the situation when LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson makes his annual pre-convention pilgrimage to address principals in upcoming area meetings.
    Principals also will have the opportunity to choose to allow any school to play as high in classification as it wishes.
    A third option is a “tournament success factor,” which would mandatorily move a school into the next higher class if it earns given points for every playoff win over a two-year span.
    This applies to football only.
    Ron Brocato can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
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