Crowning achievement for Caldarera
Legendary Westlake head football coach Max Caldarera will be posthumously inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday in Baton Rouge.
The ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza hotel.
Before he died March 28, 2016, Caldarera racked up an impressive list of accomplishments in 38 years of coaching, including 34 at Westlake High School. He took the Rams to the playoffs 26 times, including 14 straight from 1990 to 2003, won seven district championships, two semifinal appearances and one trip the Class 3A state final in 2007. And a pair of former Southwest Louisiana head coaches, legends in their own right, know exactly how Caldarera did it.
Former Barbe head coach Jimmy Shaver, who was inducted last year, cited Caldarera’s ability to lead from the beginning when they were both starting their coaching careers at Immaculate Conception Cathedral School.
“He had that intangible leadership quality that not many have,” Shaver said. “He was a leader, not a follower.
“He was the head coach even there (ICCS). He always had that leadership initiative. He could put a plan into place.”
Former South Cameron head coach Perry LaLande said even though Caldarera was ultra competitive, he knew how to keep balance in his life and said Caldarera loved his family and treated his team like family.
“He really loved his family and was really tight with them,” LaLande said. “He really loved his football team. “It was his family also. He was a good family man and enjoyed being with his family. He cared about his kids and the community. He enjoyed coaching.”
All three are members of the 200-win club. Caldarera compiled a 210-165 record, LaLande 215-101 and Shaver 238-100
“We were the three amigos,” LaLande said. “He is a couple years older than me, but he took me under his wing. We went through a lot together.”
Shaver said he has no doubts that Caldarera should be in the Hall.
“I think he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and I am very fortunate that I am in it,” Shaver said. “He had Westlake as a contender every year and he was highly respected throughout the coaching field.
“If you had to play against his team, it was a team that would be very well prepared and very physical.”
Shaver said he and Caldarera spent a lot of time discussing plays and strategies.
“He has always been a guy that I looked up to,” Shaver said. “I considered him a great friend, but I always looked up to him because of his decision-making.
“I would spend a lot of time on the phone with him and we would always ask each other what we would do in some situation. Even about the weather. Max and I were good friends. We did a lot of things together, traveled together and our wives are best friends.”
LaLande recalled the Rams’ win over Patterson in the semifinals in 2007 and subsequent trip to the Class 3A state final at the Superdome in New Orleans, and later winning his 200th career game and what it meant to Caldarera.
“When he won the semifinal game to go the dome, that was a big moment for him,” LaLande said. “He felt really good about it.
“Three years before, they were 0-10. He stuck with the kids and stuck with the plan and made it to the finals and almost took it. I was there when he won his 200th game. That is a milestone. He played a lot of teams that were above his classification. Westlake has a reputation of being good and a lot of teams didn’t want to play them so that is why they always played up.”
Before he died March 28, 2016, Caldarera racked up an impressive list of accomplishments in 38 years of coaching, including 34 at Westlake High School.