‘Shaw or nowhere:’ Tierney back where it began

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MARRERO – Hank Tierney was pretty sure that 2021 was going to be his last season as a head football coach.

A little less than three weeks after his Ponchatoula Green Wave lost in the Class 5A championship game, however, a phone call from Archbishop Shaw head of school Fr. Steve Ryan changed things.

“I pretty much thought after 36 years … that I was finished coaching,” Tierney said Tuesday at his “re-introductory” news conference as head football coach at Shaw – 20 years to the month after he left the school.

Having reached a significant threshold of 20 years in Louisiana public schools, he had even issued his retirement papers to Ponchatoula officials just after the holidays.

Tierney and his wife Jo Ann spent days deliberating the situation before making the decision to return in recent days.

“I would only return,” he said, “if I could make the 100 percent commitment I had always made and that this school deserves.

“I want to stress that this is the only job that would have stopped me from going off into retirement,” Tierney added. “The only one. It would be Shaw or nowhere.”

The banner behind Tierney echoed the words of Ryan – “Welcome home, coach.”

Ryan repeatedly asked in his introductory comments, “Why Hank?”

“He’s a pretty good coach, right?” Ryan said. “Hank started at Shaw, and Hank wants to finish at Shaw.”

Ryan apologized for “any past hurts” toward the Tierneys. “There were some heartaches in the past,” he said. “Thanks for saying yes, and welcome home.”

Tuesday’s news conference was attended by Eagles past and present – many current players and their families, and former Shaw greats like quarterback John Fourcade, who was a senior in Tierney’s first year on Joe Zimmerman’s staff, and running back Kendall Bussey Sr.

“This is where it all began for me,” Tierney said. “My family and I have so many great memories of this place, on and off the football field.

“They say you can’t go home again, but I’m one of the few fortunate ones who are able to do that. It’s been a while, but it’s a great, great time for me to be back on the West Bank.”

Shaw is leaving the Catholic League in 2022 to move down to Class 4A for the next two years. The Eagles open the season against reigning Division III champion St. Charles Catholic and will continue to play Archbishop Rummel in non-district play, maintaining the “Megaphone” rivalry.

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Lenny Vangilder


Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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