Wainwright heads to Grand Lake

Former Sulphur coach ‘excited to go back home’

After spending 17 years on the road, Jeff Wainwright is going home to Cameron Parish.

Wainwright was tabbed as the next head coach of the Grand Lake football program on Tuesday.

"I am just really excited to be able to go back home and coach," Wainwright said. "The people of Cameron Parish mean a lot to me and my family.

"I feel like I should be building up Cameron Parish. It is a new chapter in my coaching career. I feel like it is time for me to give back to Cameron Parish. It is with a heavy heart that I am leaving Sulphur, but I know it is the right decision. It is the perfect fit for me on a personal and professional level."

Wainwright grew up in Cameron Parish and played for the South Cameron Tarpons now dormant program, graduating in 1995. He earned a degree from McNeese State and seasons as a volunteer and assistant coach under legendary head coach Parry Lalande at South Cameron until he left his hometown for an assistant job at Lake Arthur in 2002.

"That is where I started and I am about in the middle of my career," Wainwright said. "It was a great time to go down there.

"After visiting with my family, it was just the right time. It was a tough decision to make, leaving Sulphur, but the people of Cameron Parish have supported me for a long time. I feel like it is time for me to give back to the parish and build a strong football team at Grand Lake High School and represent Cameron Parish."

Wainwright has built his career around turning programs around and plans to do the same at Grand Lake. The Hornet football program was returned in 2013 after a 53-year absence, but has struggled in its six seasons. The Hornets best year was 2016 when they opened the season 3-0, but finished 4-7 and lost in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs 57-7 to Delhi Charter and went 2-8 this season.

When Wainwright took over the Kinder program in 2003, just 17 players show up the for his first team meeting. After a pair of 3-7 seasons, Wainwright led the Yellow Jackets to three consecutive regional playoff appearances (2005-2007) and an 11-2 season in 2011 with run to the quarterfinals. The season after Wainwright left, Kinder won the 2013 Class 2A state championship and again in 2015. He took over a Sulphur program in 2013 that had not won a playoff game since 2006 or a district championship since 2007. In six seasons, the Tors went to the playoffs five times, won a playoff game in 2016 and back-to-back co-District 3-5A championships in 2016 and 2017.

"I got lucky and had a lot of great players and great coaches there (Kinder) and the administration was good to me," Wainwright said. "The same thing at Sulphur.

"I got lucky and had a lot of good players come in. The community in Sulphur backed our program from Day 1 and got a lot of good things going and I will need the same luck at Grand Lake. The community and parish is going to have to jump on board with us. I am looking forward to working with a lot of old friends and family that helped get me to where I am at right now."

In 16 seasons as a head coach, Wainwright has a record of 99-73 and 11 playoff appearances.

Wainwright said he will officially start on January 7th.””<p>Former Sulphur head coach Jeff Wainwright talks to some of his players during a practice May 4, 2017, at Matt Walker Memorial Stadium.</p>RickHickmanPhotographer
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