Interview: Crescent City boys basketball coach Shaun Dumas keeping it real while dealing with reality
It has been one heck of a ride for Shaun Dumas.
The kid from the Big Easy has had a seemingly easy path to success, working hard while obtaining an excellent education at St. Augustine High School and at Xavier University.
Of course, basketball was part of the experience.
It still is.
Dumas has led Crescent City Christian to a pair of state championships in the last four years, including the Division IV state title this past season, doing a masterful job of building a powerful program at a very small Metairie school.
The story is a great, enlightening one but it does not tell the whole story of the life and experience of Dumas, which he spoke of on All Access on 106.1 FM NASH ICON Friday evening.
“I’ve been through some extreme situations,” Dumas said. “I just thank God that I found a way to get out of it. Going to St. Aug helped to build me as a man to deal with difficult situations and taught me how to persevere. It also taught me that this world wasn’t fair. Going to Xavier really polished me and taught me that I can soar in this world even through whatever circumstances you go through. I thank God for my path at St. Aug and I thank God for my path at Xavier as well.”
Dumas expounded on the difficulty he has experienced.
“I’ve faced plenty of discrimination,” Dumas said. “I’ll speak honest with you. When I’m driving my car and I know I’m driving the speed limit and you get pulled over, I’m going to just be vulnerable and talk. The thoughts that go through African-American’s mind, the adrenalin that begins to pump his blood because you just don’t know what can happen.”
Dumas detailed specific incidents.
“I’ve been in situations where I’ve been pulled over and I’ve been the most law-abiding citizen and I’ve been harassed, severely harassed, busted lip, busted nose, all kinds of situations, even in respectable situations and still trying to figure a way to get out of it so I can get home.
“When I was in college, I was stopped by the policeman one time. I don’t just want to make it a police thing. I had everything together, my license, registration, seat belt on, ‘yes sir, no sir.’ That just wasn’t enough. I found myself on the hood of my car and a lot of other things just took place through that which taught me that I have to figure it out.”
The ongoing dialogue, including the protests, are productive in the mind of Dumas.
“I do think this is a starting point,” Dumas said. “Unfortunately, we had to go through the tragedies by losing some people in the midst of all this. However, in the midst of it, I do think that we now have some people in the community that are standing up and letting their voice be heard and letting their actions be heard louder than their voices so that we can all be conscious of each other that we can be one people.”
Dumas sees the strife around the country and world as a time that could unify most of us.
“I think the Lord is speaking that this is a time for us to all come together,” Dumas said. “I understand what could happen and how much division could be, how much division could happen in times like this, but I think in times like this that this is a time for everybody to unify and I think that if everybody is one accord, we can use this spotlight that has a possibility to be negative and I think that something super positive can come out of it. I do think it is a hard thing.”
With a new purpose and opportunity to bring attention to righting the wrongs of the past and some of the present, this is a unique time and place.
“Now that we do have people’s attention, what we do with it now matters more than anything,” Dumas said. “Right now, we have a voice to be able to talk about how we feel about certain situations. Honestly, people have been exerting empathy towards us. Now, I think we have the floor and the platform to allow people to hear our story, not only to hear our story but to become one as a people so that we can begin to fulfill our purpose in life.”
Dumas has a clear vision of the diverse personalities and backgrounds of the young men he coaches.
“One of the biggest things, the coaching staff and I, we treat this thing like a ministry,” Dumas said. “Because we have the kids hearts and their ears as coaches. They listen to us and we have an opportunity to teach them more than about sports. We have a chance to have a real foot in their lives. They listen to their coaches sometimes more than they listen to their parents or whoever their guardians are.”
Despite being a small school, Crescent City Christian has a large heart and a togetherness.
“We’ve been able to build a unique culture at Crescent City, a family,” Dumas said. “That doesn’t mean the family always sees eye-to-eye. At the end of the day, we’ve been able to cultivate a culture that we love each other. At the end of the day, we can have our comfortable conversations. Everybody at Crescent City is a brother and sister. Everybody has each other’s back. Everybody wants the best for each other. That’s a blessing just to be a part of a culture like that.”
Dumas knows what his primary responsibility is.
“We have to use the influence we have over our kids to teach them about the game of life,” Dumas said. “The principles that we teach should be transferable from the basketball court to life, to their jobs, from the basketball courts to their relationship with God, from the basketball court to being a great son or daughter. We have a powerful career, a powerful job.”
Change is taking place and the bridge of trust has begun.
“We still have a ways to go as a people,” Dumas said. “I’m proud to call myself a Pioneer,” Dumas said.
Here’s to Dumas continuing to pioneer positive words and teachings to mold the minds and character of many young people for many years to come.
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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…