Consistency is the hallmark of every great baseball program. For former Destrehan High School head baseball coach Marty Luquet, that meant having off the field tasks taken care of just as well as the on the field ones— and he happily credits two people who made that part easy.
“The continuity of our program was Iola and Freddie St. Pierre,” Luquet mused. “I don’t believe other programs were as fortunate as we were to have people like them with us year after year.”
The Destrehan residents volunteered with the baseball program for approximately 25 years, starting when their grandson Jared began playing ball with the Wildcats.
Iola took care of concessions and Freddie manned the scoreboard and microphone in the press box, announcing during the games. Freddie and Iola have since stepped away from those duties, but they made their mark.
The St. Pierres have had five grandchildren come through the Destrehan dugout over the years as players, but even when they didn’t have family representation on the field, there they were, in the same capacity.
“When I first got the job, through my first four years I coached two of her grandchildren,” said Luquet, whose coaching tenure at Destrehan mirrored the majority of the St. Pierres’ run. “They graduated … they stayed the next 10 years. So initially, you figure, oh, she’s just out here for her grandkids, but that wasn’t the case at all. And our players knew that, too.”
The connection they formed with those players is what kept them around so much, Iola said.
“The kids … they were such great kids, always,” Iola said. “They were my favorite part it all. We were always recognized so nice by the boys. They knew when it was my birthday.”
One time, she had to miss a pair of games while out sick. She received a rousing welcome upon her return.
“When I went back, there was Kurt McCune,” she said, recalling the 6-foot-3 Destrehan alumnus and pitching standout. “I didn’t see him at first, I just heard those long legs running to me. He grabbed me and gave me the greatest hug I’ve ever had. He’s good as gold.”
The two not only didn’t end their volunteer efforts with the graduation of their grandchildren, but also kept it going during the summer. Iola recalled one June where the two volunteered 99 hours, and she said she wouldn’t trade it for anything. Luquet said during prep season, they worked the varsity, JV and freshmen games.
“It was so much fun,” Iola said. “We’d go (to a tournament) and maybe spend the whole weekend over there.”
Added Freddie, “We hated to give it up. But she’s 83 and I’m 88. And we have two grandkids playing tee ball now, so we want to get out there and watch them.”
Luquet said their enthusiasm was infectious and appreciated.
“They would come to practice and watch every practice when I first got on the job,” Luquet said. “She just told me she really enjoyed watching the kids have fun, that we made practice fun and games fun. She just loved it. From that point on, she was with us every day.”
They were also longtime staples at Destrehan football and basketball games, though their children and grandchildren did not play those sports — they were fans of everything DHS.
“(Their family) all played baseball, and didn’t fool with the other sports. But we enjoyed it all,” Freddie said.
In fact, Destrehan head football coach Stephen Robicheaux and DHS Principal Stephen Weber gave them free passes to attend every game.
Luquet said the two were incredibly memorable figures at the school.
He noted Iola’s trademark accent from her upbringing in Chackbay as something that leaves quite an impression — just as she did on the rare occasion she got angry.
“She’s so warm and friendly. But when she gets mad at something, you’ll get some French in there,” he said fondly.
Freddie, meanwhile, “had to have watched 1,000 games,” in his time there, Luquet said in reference to how reliable Freddie was to show up and man things, though there were some hiccups in there, the veteran coach joked.
“When everything went digital, sometimes we had to hold our breath because we weren’t sure if we were gonna get the National Anthem or Usher,” Luquet said with a chuckle. “But that was Freddie.”
While both are comfortable with their ultimate decision to finally walk away from it — “We can’t tell our granddaughter I’m not coming to see you tonight, we’re headed to Destrehan,” Iola said — but they do miss it.
“It was definitely hard to give it up, of course,” she said. “We’ll always have it in our hearts.”
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