Interview with Coach Jules Sullen
by Reid Althage
LAFM: How long have you coached at Lagrange High School? What other schools have you coached at?
I have been coaching high school football for 22 years. I have been at Lagrange 6 years and always been the head coach.
I was the HC at Peabody High School for 4 years before coming home. I have been an assistant at Washington Marion High, Sharpstown High School (Houston, TX), and Furr High School (Houston, TX).
LAFM: Did you grow up in the Lake Charles area? Did you play ball in high school? Did you play ball in college?
I am from Lake Charles, and Lagrange is actually my Alma Mater. I played football for Lagrange and went on to play at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.
LAFM: How did you end up Coaching at Lagrange? How does it feel to coach at your Alma Mater?
When I was at Peabody, Lagrange’s principal at that time was my American History Teacher back from when I was in high school. He hired me to go to Lagrange and help one of my former teammates, Chuck Gorman. I was suppose to help with the offensive side of the ball. Within a couple weeks Coach Gorman decided to give up coaching. I was asked to apply for the job and then was named HC the last day of spring practice. I had my work cut out for me, but it has been smooth sailing ever since then.
LAFM: How does it feel to coach at your Alma Mater?
It has been a great opportunity. In the 1990’s (especially late 90’s) Lagrange was a dominant program. After that period they kind of became the doormat of the area. The goal is to get our program back to what it had been which was a great, winning program. We want to be dominant again as well as consistent in the playoffs. That was my ultimate goal. In the last 4-5 years, we have made some great strides. I feel like we are on the right track. We have been to the playoffs consistently and are averaging 2-3 rounds once we get there. We have signed over 20 kids to athletic scholarships. Having a chance to walk in these walls again has just been a great experience.
LAFM: What made you get into coaching?
To be honest, I went to school to be a physical therapist. Once I did not get immediately excepted in to PT School, my wife suggested I use my education background to begin teaching. One thing just led to another. As an athlete, that drive and level of competition never does leave you. I had an opportunity to coach in some middle schools and Rec Ball. I took it and ended up in high school ball. I have loved it since I started.
LAFM: Have any coaches had a major influence on you as a coach?
The first coach that I give a lot of credit to is Coach Wayne Reese (hes currently over at McDonough 35.) When he came to Lake Charles, he and I worked together. He was a true mentor who contributed to what I am today. He always strives to give kids an opportunity to better themselves. I give a lot of credit to him. Another guy would be Coach Jimmy Shavers who was once the HC of Barbe High School. He had a great persistence of creating an organization that is committed to excellence. I have been truly impressed with him. We are great friends. Lastly, one of the coaches who has become somewhat of a father figure to me is Coach Pat Victor. He was my WR coach in high school and would later become my assistant. He is out of the system now. Those are all guys who have all been instrumental in my success or at least giving me a foundation to coach and help young kids.
LAFM: Who are some of the best players you have ever coached?
I have coached so many great players. The first one that comes to mind would be Nate Livings. He played for LSU, the Bengals, and retired with Dallas (Cowboys). Another young man was Emmanuel Arceneaux. He is currently in the Canadian Football League. I want to say he made the practice squad with the Vikings, and played college ball at Alcorn State. Those are two guys that standout.
LAFM: Do you think the brand of Louisiana Football is different than anywhere else in the country?
Being someone who has worked in both Louisiana and Texas, I think we definitely have a different type of athlete. In TX one could argue that they have the better facilities and that the athletes have a greater foundation. They have some great coaching as well. When you look at the athletes in LA, I think the athletes are a little hungrier. Why? I think it is because most of our high schools are not prestigious from a financial standpoint such as TX High Schools. Our kids work that much harder in developing their skills. I think that is why you see a big push in our state of athletes going off to colleges across the country and doing extremely well.
LAFM: What is your advice to high school students regarding the recruiting process?
One thing we do at Lagrange is try to get our kids to understand certain things. To receive a letter from a certain college does not mean anything is guaranteed. We explain all the different requirements that are needed to receive an athletic scholarship. We try to explain those things in advance in order for them to know before they are recruited. We want them to have the best opportunity possible to be recruited.The biggest thing we teach them is to stay humble. Nothing is promised. Nothing is guaranteed. Be respectful and hold yourself to a higher standard. Do not expect anything. You will know when someone is really interested in you when the opportunity comes to sign on that dotted line. They need to work extremely hard.
They need to understand that it is the academic criteria that will allow you to receive the athletic scholarship. Do what you need to do by getting the ACT score and earning a high GPA. Then your recruiting process will be a breeze. Make sure you and your family decide on what is best for you. Make sure that whatever college you choose has a major that you can use for your future. Make sure you understand that you need to take care of the classroom first before you compete athletically in high school or college.
LAFM: What makes Lagrange High School a great school and also a great football program?
Here in Calcasieu Parish we have a lot of great athletes. There is a lot of distinguished programs throughout the Parish. Lagrange High School is a different school. It is one comprised of kids that mostly have duo-parent homes. It is a school which has merged together with its high school. We have a different caliber of athlete. We can excel in many different sports. What makes our program unique is that we have guys who want to pay that extra sacrifice or go that extra mile. It is something that drew me back to my high school. It is a tradition here. We have an excellent community with a great fan base. I think as a parish we are on track to become one of the premiere parishes in the state of Louisiana.