Ulysses Frontha

Longtime educator, coach and mentor

Frontha said he never thought he’d be an educator as he was growing up, though he knew he wanted to be involved in athletics. But after a knee injury derailed his athletic career at Destrehan, a different pathway opened up. After serving in the military during the Vietnam War, he pursued his degree in education and became a coach, eventually returning to his alma mater Destrehan to coach track and field while also establishing a track and field program for St. Charles Parish that brought students parish-wide to compete. Frontha was also one of the first black students to integrate under Freedom of Choice at Destrehan High, and he was one of the primary minds behind Trailblazers, the documentary highlighting that first group of students to make the jump.

Giving back through athletics

I use athletics as a way to help kids … you can reach them so much more when you take a little more time to really listen to them, to hear them. Even after I retired, I ended up at West St. John coaching track, and it wasn’t the plan. I’m back at Destrehan doing the same thing. It’s just my way of reaching kids and showing them, ‘Hey, if he can make it and do well, then so can I.’ I think, even if I didn’t know this was my future, it was God’s plan for me. He put me on this path.”


“Myself and Mrs. Rhonda Smith-Lorio, each year when it came time for Black History Month we’d talk about that … you never heard about the kids who went to Hahnville and Destrehan that first year, and people don’t realize the sacrifices that were made. I got with Ellis Alexander … we formed a committee with John Smith and Ken Oertling, but because of COVID and Hurricane Ida, it kept getting pushed back. We were finally able to finish everything … at the time, I never thought of myself as a trailblazer. I was just a 15-year-old kid who wanted his education … I didn’t realize what we were doing at the time, but it was something special and it’s still something I’m proud of.”


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