Guillory puts stamp on hometown program with striking humbleness
By: TRACEY JAGNEAUX
Getting the opportunity to lead your alma mater on the field of play can be a source of pride and angst all at the same time.
Just ask this year’s Evangeline Parish baseball Coach of the Year, Jake Guillory.
Guillory, a graduate of Pine Prairie High school, led the Panthers to the second round of the playoffs this season, a feat that had not been accomplished since 2008. But, being the leader of a team that he once donned the uniform for brings him great joy and some self-inflicted pressure.
“Years like this really put it in perspective for you,” stated Guillory. “I still get the chills thinking about it. We won state when I was freshman here, and the playoff atmosphere that we had when Westlake came to us for the first round this year came flooding back. To have our players feel what we use to feel when we played here brought back so many memories. It made me realize this is why I am here.”
“I want to do the best that I can do, so I put burdens on myself,” he continued. “If I feel like I am failing, I feel like I am not doing good enough. Everybody knows what this program used to be, so I put pressure on myself because I want it to be that way again. Its a passion to get us back to the highest level.”
With such a successful season in the books, sometimes coaches do not dwell on the year and look for things to improve upon. This is not true in Guillory’s case. After evaluating the 2018 campaign, Guillory knows the things that will have to be adjusted for the Panthers to continue moving forward.
“I came in with very little experience as far as coaching is concerned,” said Guillory. “But, the game is changing. As a coach, I need to improve upon my discipline and holding my players accountable for their actions, because that will not only make them better players but better men. A 19 win season and a second round playoff appearance is great, but knowing what we could have done if I were just a little tougher on them stays in my mind.”
Guillory has an deep understanding that the success of the Panthers this year was not just because of him. From the beginning of the season, he has always praised his assistant coaches and knows how much they contributed to the accomplishment of the squad this season.
“First of all, my assistant coaches have put up with me all year long,” commented Guillory. “I had a moment with God about three weeks before the season ended and realized I had to put aside all of my nervousness and fear of making mistakes. At times, I was indecisive about situations and those guys were so patient with me.”
“Coach Mitch and Coach Pat have so much more experience than I do,” Guillory continued. “And, Coach Andy is a super guy to have on staff. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of men to allow me to become a better coach. They were here and dedicated themselves to these players.”
The Panthers will have a plethora of talent coming back in 2019, as they return seven of nine starters. One of the key turning points for Pine Prairie this year just so happened to come in their regional round series with No. 1 seeded Sterlington.
“I will be honest with you, and it may sound funny, but our turning point was when we lost that first game to Sterlington 3-0,” Guillory said. “The players got back on the bus and told me that they could be so much better than they thought. We can play with the No. 1 team. Now that they have seen what they are capable of, they are chomping at the bit to start working.”
Now, with the realization of how good a program they can have and some great help, the Panthers are set for great things in 2019.