In sports there are stats, records and titles to defend. There is sweat, tears and blood that runs in team hues. Episcopal athletes are quite familiar with the hard work and dedication it takes to earn those titles and push the body beyond expectations. Soon the Knights will have a new athletic field house to celebrate the school’s scholar/athlete success. The Episcopal coaching staff is eager to go to work in the new facility, including head baseball and football coach Travis Bourgeois.
For more than two decades now, Coach Bourgeois has been a critical component of the Episcopal athletics family and he wouldn’t want it any other way. He has the most wins of any coach in Episcopal football history, taking teams to district championships and the state semifinals. But that’s not all. After coaching girls’ basketball for 15 years, including two final four appearances, Coach Bourgeois took over as head baseball coach in 2015. In just a few short years, his baseball teams have also earned district titles and made trips to the state quarterfinals.
Competition is in Bourgeois’ blood. He grew up the youngest of three boys in a family in which everyone played sports. “We always competed. I knew I was going to lose, but I wanted to play,” he says of competing with his older brothers. Coach Bourgeois’ first coach was his dad, who worked long hours but still made time for little league, pee wee football or whatever sport was in season. By the time Bourgeois was in high school at Donaldsonville’s Ascension Catholic, he played football, basketball, baseball and ran cross country and track. With such a wide range of athletic abilities, he actually didn’t have a favorite sport. “When it was that sport, I was all in.”
It was baseball that provided Bourgeois and his brother Troy the opportunity to go to college in Kansas. Coach Bourgeois packed up a shaker of Tony Chachere’s and joined Troy to play for Pratt Community College. Bourgeois appreciates the opportunity he had to venture out on his own and says the experience taught him to grow up and to wash his own clothes. He also developed a greater appreciation for home and family meals. With a family tree filled with coaches and a long history in sports, Bourgeois knew what he wanted to do. “I respected my coaches,” he says. “I knew I wanted to get into coaching.” At Pratt, Bourgeois earned Academic All-American honors. He served as the student government vice president and spoke as the student speaker at graduation along with Bob Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996. After graduating from Pratt, Bourgeois enrolled at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. At UAB, he continued his previous success, earning Academic All American team honors in baseball, the Kinesiology Award and Academic All-Conference recognition. After finishing his degree, it was time to return home.
Bourgeois married his high school sweetheart, Sheila. The two had known each other since freshman year and started dating as seniors. Bourgeois, the outspoken coach and Sheila, the elementary school librarian, have been together through it all. “She’s the calm to my storm,” says Bourgeois.
Upon returning home, Bourgeois also got a job working for his old high school coach Steve Baronich. That job was with the Episcopal Knights as a PE teacher and assistant football coach. Bourgeois says initially he wasn’t sure about signing on with the Knights, after all he’d played against them while at Ascension Catholic. But, the job was an opportunity to learn under the man he admired. Now, 24 years later Bourgeois is still here, having come to embrace the Knights and the community he calls home.
Coach Bourgeois is consistent. He’s been married 23 years. He’s been at Episcopal 24 years. He hasn’t missed a College World Series in Omaha in 20 years. He even runs three miles a day, six days a week. Part of his secret to success is his ability to treat others as he would want to be treated. He says he learned this after a brief stint as a construction worker one summer during college. He saw what it was like to do a job solely for money and he knew he wanted more. As a coach, Bourgeois also draws on his experience as a parent to treat students fairly. Bourgeois and Sheila have three daughters – recent Episcopal graduate Bailey ’18, sophomore Annslee and sixth grader Elaine.
Coach Bourgeois is looking forward to the next chapter of Episcopal athletics, including the new athletic field house. “It symbolizes health,” he says of the multi-use facility that will be used for physical education, strength training and interscholastic sports. He says the openness of the design will provide a “welcome feeling for non-athletes who want to take care of themselves” as well as the athletes who are preparing to compete. He hopes students will appreciate the facility and the commitment to health and wellness that it represents. He is also hopeful that the field house instills a stronger sense of school pride among students who find themselves wanting to be more involved.
Bourgeois has been a Knight long enough that his next chapter at Episcopal also includes coaching the children of former students or even working alongside former athletes. Bourgeois was at the helm of the girls’ basketball team when a young Taylor Mims and her teammates went to the final four and he is proud to see how Taylor has grown to become the head basketball coach she is today. He also enjoys sharing coaching duties with former athletes and Episcopal alumni Cody Day ‘15, Charlie O’Brien ‘13 and Jimmy Williams ’97. Such an experience shows that his coaching career has truly come full circle. Coach Bourgeois enjoys being around students and seeing how they develop over the years. He says no matter how much the times change he still strives to instill the lessons he’s learned over the years because that never changes. Continuity, consistency, teamwork and drive are as important today as they were when he first became a member of the Episcopal family so long ago.
We look forward to seeing how this next chapter unfolds. As construction progresses on the new field house there is a sense of anticipation and excitement, similar to that feeling before the start of a new sports season. Don’t miss your opportunity to be a part of the action. Click here to learn more about the giving opportunities still available. What a great opportunity to honor a beloved coach, successful alumni or favorite Knight. Go Knights!
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