Keller, Lasserre first recipients of Rick Gaille Scholarships at St. James
A great friend who was a great coach and teacher is now being honored at the school he loved by his great wife.
The Rick Gaille Memorial Scholarship has been established at St. James High School in honor of the highly successful former football coach of the Wildcats.
Gaille passed away after a brave battle with cancer on July 1, 2018.
On The Tailgaters Show Saturday morning which Rick was part of for the final five years of his life, Elaine Gaille, who established the scholarships in her husband’s honor, made the announcement.
Gaille posted an impressive 170-69 record in 19 seasons at St. James, taking the Wildcats to state championship games three times.
“I remember in late 1991 or early 1992, it was a Sunday afternoon and Rick said, ‘we’re going to take a ride.’ Elaine said. “I asked where we were going. He said to just get in the car and he drove me up the River Road and into Vacherie and drove me through these oak trees. It was very nice. He said, ‘I’m going to apply to be head coach at this school. You think it’s too far away? I said of course not, I think it’s wonderful.’ The rest is history. They eventually hired him.”
Gaille spoke about the idea to honor her late husband and to benefit the school he loved.
“I’ve established the Rick Gaille Memorial Scholarship at St. James High School for the student-athletes, female and male, who best exemplify leadership, athletic ability and the characteristics of what Rick brought to St. James,” Gaille said.
Those characteristics became the school motto under her husband and remain to this day.
“THDE stands for Tradition, Honor, Discipline, Excellence are the principles of the motto,” Gaille said.
This past Wednesday, Gaille presented the first scholarship awards in Rick’s name.
The committee helping Gaille make the selections included football coach Robert Valdez, assistant principal Shane Kliebert, guidance director Eltonary Oubre and Rick’s long-time friend Donald Rodrigue.
“The male recipient is DeAndre Keller,” Gaille said. “He was a defensive tackle in football and a two-time state champion in shot put in track and field. He is heading to Nicholls on a football scholarship. Our female recipient is Abigail Lasserre. She’s a great softball player with a .445 batting average playing first base. The made the LHSAA Class 3A All-Academic Team as a Magna Cum Laude graduate and she is in Junior ROTC.”
Gaille feels that St. James could not have made better choices.
“Both of these athletes totally exemplify the characteristics I enumerated,” Gaille said. “Rick would be very happy with the choices.”
Those characteristics were fully revealed by Rick, even in his last days when he was terminally ill.
“He never gave up,” Elaine said. “He would always say whatever happens in life, you have to keep putting your front foot forward and just keep fighting. And he did! He surely did. He was a fighter. He truly loved being on your show.”
Valdez is very grateful for the act of kindness of behalf of the Gaille family.
“We appreciate the scholarships so much on behalf of our student-athletes,” Valdez said. “The one thing that defines us at St. James is that there is something special in the community with involvement. I’m so glad to see Ms. Elaine doing this and honoring someone who pretty much continued the staple of the tradition of St. James football. We’re very excited.”
Gaille says that the school can look forward to the endowments for many years to come.
“We look forward to do this annually as long as I am alive,” Gaille said. “Rick loved St. James and we want to give back to the school and the people and community he loved.”
- < PREV Former top national recruit Antonio Alfano transfers for second time
- NEXT > Finding peace, meaning in the face of suffering and pain in America
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…