Hahnville High alumnus Tracy Hilaire isn’t that far gone from his high school days, a graduate of the Tigers’ Class of 2015. But he’s found a knack for coaching far beyond his years.
Hilaire, who attends Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss., had the opportunity arise to coach basketball in the Pearl Middle School Youth League in his down time, along with his fellow coach and Belhaven student Josh Roberts. Their Pearl Saints went 10-1 and captured their league championship under Hilare and Roberts’ watch.
That opened up another opportunity for them: a chance to coach AAU basketball, ages 13 and 14 for the Mississippi Basketball Association (MBA). They would shape the team first, recruiting players from the area to form a 10 player squad, the Jackson Jazz – a fitting name, given both Hilaire and Roberts’ Louisiana roots.
This team was also a quick study—the Jazz rolled through league competition, going 9-1 en route to the MBA league championship.
“We taught them that if you want to win the right way, you have to play for one another,” Hilaire said. “We didn’t just want to teach them to win, but we wanted them to realize a greater purpose, to serve one another and use their God-given abilities to pick up one another when we falter.”
The team slogan, to that end, was “One Team, One Win.”
While no stranger to basketball in his prep days, Hilaire was more known for his tennis talents, which earned him an athletic scholarship to Belhaven.
He’s been able to share Belhaven’s advantages with his players. He and Roberts have been able to utilize the Belhaven basketball gym for practice and utilize its fitness center, while the players have also been able to work on their skills with Belhaven players.
The Jazz’s Josh Coe, the MBA’s MVP, said Hilaire and Roberts promote a healthy atmosphere of competitive fire.
“We love each other and hate each other sometimes, but we’re always a team. Our coaches applaud us when we work together and that’s how it should be,” Coe said.
Hilaire said he’s loved every moment, and one can surmise he’s far from done in coaching. He plans on continuing to coach this age level until his graduation this December, then plans to pursue a masters degree in sports management. He hopes to one day coach and teach at the college level.
But in the meantime, he’s having a blast right now.
“It’s been a great experience I’m going to value for the rest of my life,” Hilaire said.