Susan Gremillion: 1st female head football coach in Louisiana high school history is nice, but loftier goal is…
BY ROBIN FAMBROUGH
Being the first female head football coach at a Louisiana high school might be enough to impress some people.
Susan Gremillion has her sights set on higher goals.
“First woman to be a head football coach sounds nice,” Gremillion said. “I’d rather be the first woman to coach a deaf national championship team. Or maybe in a couple of years, an eight-man state champion in the LHSAA.
“In my mind we were two tackles and one touchdown away from the deaf national championship. The goal now is to find ways to get this team to achieve those goals.”
Gremillion is the new head football coach at Louisiana School for the Deaf, succeeding her husband, Darren, who will remain as an assistant football coach and head powerlifting coach while tackling assistant principal for discipline duties. Darren Gremillion was LSD’s head football coach for 15 seasons.
“The more we talked about it, this move made a lot of sense,” Susan Gremillion said. “I’ve been an assistant now for 12 years and know not only the kids, but all the things involved with coaching this team. I’ve taught most of them in P.E. classes.
“With the added responsibilities, Darren won’t be able to be there every afternoon. But this is still his program, and he needs to be involved as much as possible. Jeff Major is our offensive coordinator, and he’s been with us a couple of years now, so all the kinks have been worked out. There’s a plan in place.”
Susan Gremillion most recently served as the special teams coordinator for the War Eagles, who finished 7-2 last fall. LSD competes in Class C as an LHSAA member school but has competed outside the LHSAA in eight-man football since the late 1990s. The LHSAA dropped a proposal to add eight-man football from its 2015 January agenda.
“Susan has been an asset to our school as a teacher and an assistant coach,” LSD Director Nancy Benham said. “We’re thankful she was willing to take on this job. We’re excited about the knowledge and the experience she brings to the table for our student-athletes.”
Though she won’t be coaching football in the LHSAA, Gremillion’s hiring has prompted positive responses in LHSAA circles.
“To me it’s about qualifications and making sure the needs of the kids are met,” Louisiana Football Coaches Association President Shane Smith of Franklinton said. “There are men who are successful girls basketball coaches. I see this the same way.
“She (Gremillion) has been an assistant for a number of years. I don’t see any reason why she shouldn’t be successful. It would be great if they could win a deaf national championship.”
LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said, “I can’t say how many women are head football coaches nationally, but I don’t think there are many. Maybe three or four. I think it’s fantastic. She’s obviously been an assistant, is married to a coach and understands what it takes to work with the student-athletes.”
She is in her second stint as a physical education teacher at LSD. In addition, Gremillion looks to continue her nine-year role as a nonfaculty girls basketball assistant coach for Class 3A state champion University High.
“Susan is very thorough and detail-oriented,” University High Athletic Director Jill White said. “She’s not going to expect anything less than the best from herself or the players. I think it’s great for her and the program.”
Gremillion said a meeting late last week with returning football players and those interested in joining the team went well. The War Eagles fielded a roster of 23 players last year and had 25 prospective players attend the meeting that coincided with the end of the school year.
“You could tell they (LSD players) were excited during the meeting,” Gremillion said. “At one point I had my back turned, and they applauded. It wasn’t the hand-waving applause you hear about for deaf students. This was applause, and that’s hearing thing. I was shocked.”