A tribute to legendary coach, friend Jim Robarts

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Jim Robarts

The New Orleans area has lost another legendary coach. Jim Robarts has passed away at the age of 81.

Robarts spent 46 years coaching high school basketball, including 39 as a head coach.

The journey began at Jesuit of Shreveport, now Loyola Prep, where he coached for three years.

While Robarts was outstanding at East Jefferson, leading the Warriors to consecutive semifinal appearances in 1994 and 1995 with star Neil Reed, and he was good at Archbishop Shaw in the final year of his career and spent time at Haynes Academy, the Jesuit High (New Orleans) graduate made his name at Archbishop Rummel, where he served brilliantly from 1969-1988.

With the Raiders, Robarts took a terrific team, led by Jeff Cummings, Gary Barocco and Gordon Blundell in 1972 to the Class 4A state championship game and lost 50-49 to Robert Parish and Woodlawn of Shreveport.

It was a tough pill to swallow. The Raiders had chances to win in the final minute but came up hust short against a future Basketball Hall of Fame inductee in Parish.

In 1977, Robarts got that elusive title as his Raiders took down heavily favored DeRidder and its star Mike Sanders, 52-48 to capture the 4A state title in Alexandria.

Then, in 1978, the Raiders became one of the best teams in Louisiana history, going a perfect 34-0 and handling Fair Park 83-64 in the championship game at the Lake Charles Civic Center to give Rummel and Robarts back-to-back state championships. Over the course of those two seasons, Rummel won 49 straight games.

Those Rummel teams featured five starters, all of whom received scholarships to play college basketball, including Wade Blundell (Texas, UNO), Dean Carpenter (Virginia), Barry Barocco (Nicholls State), Fred Kinsley (SLU) and Jim Pittman (UNO). All are in Archbishop Rummel’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Robarts coached the Raiders to the two state titles, three state finals, and four district championships.

The last of the district titles came in 1985. Rummel has not won another district title since.

In recent years, Robarts was called upon by former Rummel basketball coach Troy Holley, who leaned on Robarts’ expertise and had the legendary coach on his bench in his final years on the job.

Robarts has been at Rummel games, at times, under current Raiders basketball coach Scott Thompson.

In 2019, Robarts was inducted into the Allstate Sugar Bowl Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame.

I had nominated him several years before he was voted in.

To see him receive the richly deserved honor was an honor. It was justified. It was a pleasure producing the audio for induction for my friend.

In his illustrious career, Robarts posted a record of 714-381 and he was also elected to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches Halls of Fame.

Robarts should never have coached anywhere but Archbishop Rummel. Unfortunately, a change in school leadership and personality differences led to his departure from the school he loved and the brilliant program he built.

The court at Rummel bears the name “Jim Robarts Court,” a tribute bestowed upon the legendary coach by the school in 2015 with then athletic director Phil Greco helping lead the charge.

It is a fitting tribute to a man who deserves a huge tribute.

It was my pleasure, my honor to know him as a student at Rummel and as an accredited media member covering his teams.

It is not my pleasure to write this for a great coach, person and a great family.

Jim’s wonderful wife, Mary Ann, taught faithfully and in expert fashion at Rummel for decades. She taught our son, Travis, who respected and liked Mrs. Robarts. She remained an excellent teacher at Rummel for many years after her husband was unfortunately forced out of his position at the school.

In recent years, Jim would get together for lunch with many of his long-time media friends, including Ron Brocato, Bill Bumgarner and Mike Strom. My late friend Henry Rando used to be part of those get-togethers as well. I joined them on one or two occasions.

On other occasions, I would run into the group of gentlemen and fine professionals.

Most recently, my wife Denise and I ran into them at Bear’s Po Boys in Metairie, run by Archbishop Rummel graduate and Rummel Hall of Fame inductee Brian Hebert. I made it a point to go over and talk to Jim. I spoke with him about how our Rummel Athletic Hall of Fame committee elected Billy Schaefer for induction next month, a fact that made Jim very happy.

Not long after, Robarts was dealing with a serious medical injury, one from which he never quite recovered. I am so glad I had a chance to see him.

Jim was a blessing to all of us who spent time with him and covered his teams.

Our heartfelt prayers go out to Mary Ann and their three children and seven grandchildren.

For those who have deep roots at Rummel, the evolution of “Raider Pride” began with football coach Don Perret. Robarts was there with Perret coaching basketball.

Robarts made many Rummel players, coaches, administrators and fans proud of their school.

I am proud, blessed, humbled to have known him.

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Ken Trahan


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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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