Cecchini chooses right career path

<p class="indent">After telling his father, a high school coach, that he would never enter the profession, Glenn Cechinni began having second thoughts after seeing his then-girlfriend, and current wife Raissa, in action as a middle school coach in Sulphur.</p><p class="indent">More than three decades after changing his career choice, Cecchini will be inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame Saturday in Baton Rouge.</p><p class="indent">In his last semester of classes at Southwestern Louisiana University in Lafayette, where he played baseball, Cecchini was prepared to enter the business world.</p><p class="indent">“My wife, Raissa, was volunteer coaching at a middle school in Sulphur,” he said. “My dad coached baseball, basketball and track in high school. I told him I would never be a coach. But I saw my wife coaching and how much fun she was having and I thought that was what I wanted to do.</p><p class="indent">“But I was about to graduate and I got a job in California right away. I left for the summer and said if I liked it I would stay, but if not, I was going back to school. I liked the business job fine, but towards the end I said I was going back to school and going into education.</p><p class="indent">“I did another year of school and was ready to do student-teaching. Raissa and I were both ready. We were going to teach at Sulphur High, but Raissa went to school there, and at the time there was a rule that you had to do student-teaching at a school other than the one you graduated from. I didn’t know anything about the schools here but she said Barbe was a good school, so we went there.”</p><p class="indent">Cecchini has never left, despite being offered the head coaching job at his former high school in California after his first year at Barbe. He became the Bucs’ head coach a few months later.</p><p class="indent">Cecchini said he had to learn how to control his passion for the game.</p><p class="indent">“As a young coach, I would yell at the players for making a physical mistake, get on them hard. Now I know that errors are part of the game. I had to learn to take the pressure off the kids. They are mostly going to remember how you made them feel, not what you taught them.</p><p class="indent">“I had players from the early years come back and say they were afraid of me or felt like they could not talk to me. I don’t want that. The most important thing now is to teach these kids life lessons — to be great fathers, community leaders, to impact the lives of others.”</p><p class="indent">The Bucs have won nine state championships in Cecchini’s 30 years as head coach. He has resisted offers to move on.</p><p class="indent">“I’m comfortable being a high school baseball coach,” he said. “I have had offers in professional baseball. Barbe has been good to me. It is so competitive with Sam Houston, Sulphur, Acadiana. We have a good thing going. It is not like a typical high school. We have had a lot of fun, won a national championship, nine state championships — three in a row. When we haven’t won, we have come close, getting to the quarterfinals, semifinals.”</p><p class="indent">The success has allowed Cecchini to travel the world, including two stints as coach of the 18-and-under national team.</p><p class="indent">“I have spoken in Japan and have been asked to speak in Italy, Holland and China,” he said. “Sometimes it is surreal. I have gotten to coach Team USA to two gold medals. There have been other worthy high school coaches, as good or better than me, who have never gotten the opportunity. I have been blessed to be in the right place at the right time.”</p><p class="indent">Cecchini said Raissa has been instrumental in the program’s success.</p><p class="indent">“I don’t think there has ever been a woman who has done more to further her husband’s career,” he said. “She has coached on the field with me. She has always done things behind the scenes. The kids really respect her and she gives her time freely. She used to paint the signs on the fence. She helped redo the field twice.”</p><p class="indent">The Cecchini bloodline produced two draft picks — Garin Cecchini, 26, was taken in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by the Boston Red Sox. Brother Gavin Cecchini, 24, was selected by the New York Mets in the first round with the 12th overall pick in the 2012 draft. He plays for the Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League, the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate. Both have had a cup of coffee in the majors.</p><p class="indent">Cecchini said the enshrinement is humbling.</p><p class="indent">“Going into a Hall of Fame, it blows my mind,” he said. “I feel grateful for all the great players and great coaches I have had. The most important thing to me is to be a hall-offame human, a hall-of fame disciple of Christ. That’s where I am now — how can I impact lives through Jesus? That’s what it is all about.”</p>””<p>Southwest Louisiana will add two coaches to the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday when Barbe baseball coach Glenn Cecchini, pictured here, and former Westlake football coach will be inducted in Baton Rouge.</p>American Press