Arceneaux’s first Prayer Breakfast well attended

Wade McIntyre
LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri signs an autograph for Harold Rideaux, mayor of Baker, during the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast at the Civic Center in Gonzales Tuesday.

Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux’s first Prayer Breakfast drew a larger crowd than he expected, as hundreds turned out in the Civic Center Tuesday morning to celebrate religion and hear guest speaker Paul Mainieri, head coach of the LSU Tigers baseball team.

“I knew we had a great speaker, but when I saw the crowd I got very excited,” Arceneaux said Thursday.

Everyone who attended received a breakfast, but the size of the crowd meant that some of the city crew who helped put on the event missed out.

“So many people said they really enjoyed the breakfast,” Arceneaux said.

The theme of the 23rd annual event in Gonzales was, “We are all Champions in God’s Eyes.”

As he addressed the crowd, Arceneaux said, “We’re very proud our community gathers here for this event each year to keep Jesus in our hearts.”

Recapping his first three years as head coach, Mainieri said it was “quite a run, but not a smooth sail on glass-like water.”

Ability to change with disappointment and success was a factor in how the team succeeded by winning the national championship this year, just as it determines how people deal with life, the coach said.

Mainieri related telling his team in 2008 after it came from behind in an important game against Tulane, “I believe we’re going to go on a roll after tonight.”

There followed a record-breaking 23-game winning streak that culminated in a trip to the College World Series, and led to this year’s National Championship.

The Tigers won because of a group of kids who did the right things, cared about each other and sacrificed for each other, Mainieri said.

On the bus to the championship game, Mainieri told his team it was good enough, had the ability and had paid the price for success. “Now go out there and have fun and play to your ability,” he said.

The coach revealed a sense of self-deprecating humor when he quoted a saying at Notre Dame, where he formerly coached; God doesn’t care who wins or loses. However, Mainieri said, the coach’s mother sure does.

Mainieri said he recruits players who play for the name on the front of the school jersey than the player’s name on the back. He requires that  players aspire to earn a degree from LSU, and that they take advantage of their status as athletes to perform community service work.

When kids are invested in the program, “the harder you work, the harder it is to quit,” he said.

Mainieri said he tells his players they do not have to play to please fans, the media or even their coach. They only have to please “the guy that made you, and the guy you look at in the mirror,” he said.

Music for the Prayer Breakfast was provided by the St. Amant Worship Team of Healing Place Church; breakfast was provided compliments of the Holiday Inn Gonzales, and served by The Rotary Club of Gonzales.

Pictured from left at the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast are Baker Mayor Harold Rideaux, Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson, Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux, LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri and Judge Guy Holdridge.