Coaches Rabalais and Brouillette honored at Val Reiss ParkJan 21st, 2011 | By Michelle Provencher | Category: Top Story
Two men known throughout St. Bernard Parish for their decades-long commitment and contribution to the local recreational sports teams were honored at a rededication ceremony in Val Reiss Park on Jan. 15.
Before Hurricane Katrina, Huey Rabalais and Roy Brouillette each had a recreation facility dedicated to them; Rabalais had the concession stand in Versailles Park and Brouillette had the Rebel Gym on Palmisano Boulevard.
Now, with the recent completion of Phase II of the Val Reiss Park project, the brand new concession stand will be a tribute to Rabalais and one of the four finished baseball fields will be named for Brouillette.
Rabalais died in 1993, but prior to his death acted as a Jack of all trades at Versailles Park. He was described as a bachelor, and had no kids, yet coached children’s sports teams for years.
“[Rabalais] was the recreation superintendent, supervisor, groundskeeper,” said former St. Bernard Parish President Charles Ponstein. “He was more than a coach. He would mop the floors of the gym, set the goals. He did everything.”
Brouillette attended the ceremony with his wife, Martha, his daughter, Darlene, and his son, John. Together, as the guests of honor, they listened to both comical and sentimental anecdotes about Brouillette’s coaching techniques.
St. Bernard Parish Council member, Mike Ginart, District D, recounted being at his daughter’s basketball practice and turning to Brouillette’s methodology: having the players dribble around folding chairs placed on the court.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have several men make an impact on my life,” Ginart said. “Mr. Roy is one of them.”
Several of the speakers noted Brouillette’s sense of humor, and that he always had a joke.
This fact became evident when Brouillette took to the podium to thank all of the family, friends and his co-honoree, Rabalais.
“[Rabalais] was a great person. Almost as good as me,” said Brouillette to peals of laughter from the audience.
All 33-acres of Val Reiss Park are being revamped in four phases after undergoing hurricane damage in 2005. The first phase was the creation of four baseball fields and the construction of a two-story concession stand; it opened in August 2009. The second phase was an additional four baseball fields, meeting standards for high school and college level games, and another concession stand.
The third phase will be a more than 40,000 square foot multi-purpose building, and the fourth phase will include a water park.
The final phase is set to be finished in September, and the $20 million price tag is fully funded by FEMA and Community Development Block Grant money.