Meghann LeJeune played basketball at Angelo State after a stellar high school career at Iota. (Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 12:08 PMMeghann LeJeune is fulfilling her dream. The 27-year-old Iota alumna once sported a Lady Dogs basketball uniform and cemented herself as one of the most talented post players Stan Baggett ever coached. Now Baggett has retired after 25 years and more than 700 career victories, and LeJeune is entrusted with the head role for her first coaching job. It’s the job she’s always wanted but never thought was possible. “I didn’t think I would ever get the job at Iota High,” LeJeune said. “It’s definitely stepping in for someone with big shoes to fill, and there’s always that factor of being nervous with everybody’s eyes on you and you don’t want to fail. But I tend to step up in challenges like that because I’ve always been a competitor. “I didn’t want to coach anywhere else.” Iota fell just short of a state championship last season, and the team will be ripe and young for LeJeune’s first season with no seniors and just two juniors. Baggett said he predicts the coaching change will be a smooth transition though to the young LeJeune, who averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds a game during her senior year playing for Baggett. “They’re having to go from an old paw-paw coach to probably a lot more intensity,” Baggett said. “She has a will to win; there’s no if ’s, and’s or but’s about it. These are very coachable young ladies over here, and they’ll adjust to Meghann very fast.” LeJeune hails from a family of Iota basketball players, as both her parents and two older brothers played there in high school. She then took her basketball talents to Blinn College (Brenham, Texas) and Angelo State University (San Angelo, Texas). LeJeune stands second in Blinn history in career rebounds with 598 from 2003-2005. LeJeune said she credits her parents, Terri and Tommy, for laying her basketball foundation and encouraging her to stay committed to the sport. And they always found a way to support her at her games no matter how far the trip. “When Tommy and I dropped her off at Blinn ... I was like ‘Meghann, just give it a semester or whatever,’ ” Terri LeJeune said. “But once she got that basketball in her, I told her coach ‘Hey, we got her here, now you’ve got to keep her here.’ “And now here we are, coming full circle. Her heart is with this team and with this community.” LeJeune didn’t win a state championship during her Iota days although the Lady Dogs made the playoffs all four years. She said the goal of winning a title as a coach will galvanize her as she guides Iota into a new basketball era. “I was always right there but never got to taste victory,” LeJeune said. “These girls coming off a runner-up season last year, it’s like we’re on the same page, so hopefully they can use that to motivate them.” Of course LeJeune acknowledged that’s easier said than done, and she intends to instill more than just fundamentals in her young team. “You can work an offense and a defense until you’re blue in the face, but until you have established team unity and discipline and structure, it can never be consistent,” she said. “I think (the players) appreciate my intensity. I push them to their limits.” Iota principal Dr. Gibson Miller holds those values in high regard, as well. He said he had a “real good” pool of about six interviewees to choose from, and LeJeune exhibited the potential he was looking for. Potential not unlike a certain former Iota basketball coach, Miller said. “When Stan Baggett won his first game, I was his principal; he was a young man full of energy,” Miller said. “We had no idea at the time he would be so successful. A new coach has to get out there and make an immediate impact, especially when the school played for the state championship this past year. I think (LeJeune) will be around for a long time.” Coaching her hometown team is no longer a dream. It’s come true.