D-D Breaux Day in Donaldsonville

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
gfischer@weeklycitizen.com
D-D Breaux leaves Ascension Catholic on her way to parade down Railroad Avenue, driven by Mike Tortorich, Sr.

Legendary LSU Women's Gymnastics Coach D-D Breaux was once a child who grew up in Donaldsonville. Now she's on her way to becoming the longest running coach of any team in SEC sports history.

The "proud" Donaldsonville High School Tiger spent the day in her honor on Thursday, May 4, 2017. She graced the streets, churches, schools, restaurants and banquet halls. Breaux was paraded down Railroad Avenue in an antique convertible where she stopped kindly to meet anyone who wanted and to sign autographs.

"D-D Breaux Day in Donaldsonville is awesome," Mayor Leroy Sullivan said. "It's great when someone from Donaldsonville can do all of the things that she has done to inspire young people and pass on the gift that God has given her to help others."

The Chief squeezed in an interview with D-D Breaux on her special homecoming.

When did you first get involved in gymnastics?

I was about five years old. Maybe a little bit younger. Powell-Moisse in Baton Rouge sent a teacher here. Miss Powell herself came, and she would teach dancing on Sister Marie's front porch. And then eventually she started sending Sherry Harris here to teach at the K.C. hall or whatever they could rent to teach dancing and acrobatics. I was passionate about the gymnastics though, the tumbling aspect of it. Eventually I kind of outgrew this program and had to go to Baton Rouge. So, my mother would bring me to Baton Rouge two times a week and three times a week and four times a week.

I was fortunate enough when I went to high school that Mr. Keith Falcon, our principal would let me out of school at like one o'clock. At that time in my career I kind of outgrew the program in Baton Rouge, and I went to Hammond to train with one of the olympic coaches that was at Southeastern. It was just kind of a growth and a passion and a love for something that I enjoyed doing.

Would you consider yourself a fierce competitor?

Oh yeah! Yeah I'll compete at anything. Growing up with eight kids in our family, I mean we had to compete to see who was going to get the carrots in the stew on Mondays, you know, so yeah I am a fierce competitor. 

How's LSU these days?

LSU is healthy. It's incredible. It's moving forward. We have incredible leadership right now. Our president is keenly aware of what needs to happen to keep LSU as a tier one university. LSU is one of the engines, one of the great things that keeps our state running. I hope and I pray that our legislature and everybody involved at the state level would do everything they can to continue to support LSU and see that it grows.

Do you live in Baton Rouge?

Yeah, I've lived in Baton Rouge since I transferred there, and I don't remember what year it was, but I transferred there to get my degree. I started at Southeastern, and I transferred to LSU to get my degree from LSU and started my master's work. I was hired while I was doing my graduate work to be head coach.

Did you study Kinesiology?

It was physical education at the time. And then I got my master's in physical education, health and recreation.

What street did you grow up on?

I grew up on Chetimaches Street in Donaldsonville. And then we built a home in Riverdale. CF Industries bought us out after a very timely struggle. Then we built a very beautiful home on Highway 308. My parents lived there until my daddy built a retirement home in Gonzales, and he sold his practice. He was the optometrist here in town. He commuted back and forth and worked for Dr. Shaw who he sold it to. Daddy passed away in 2001. My mother still lives in Prairieville.

So it's changed a bit?

It's changed a lot. You know, when I was growing up here every one of these storefronts were viable small businesses, everybody working together. It was a prospering small town. I hope and pray that with great leadership--I think Leroy Sullivan is a great Mayor and a wonderful man, and I'm hoping that with great leadership and direction we can get some of these storefronts filled and some of these small businesses going again.

When did you get the nickname D-D?

Miss Rosalie Mistretta, who I sat with in mass today, she went to my house to take care of my older brother and sister, Tommy and Ann, and Miss Rosalie kept telling them, "When your momma comes home from the hospital she's gonna have a little D-D baby." It was a colloquial term. I was never called my real name. I was always called D-D. Probably if you asked anybody in here who's known me my entire life, they wouldn't know what my real name is.

Do you still have family in Donaldsonville?

No family. Since my parents moved from here. I had one brother Peter who died here while he was in high school. The other seven of us went off to college and professional schools and settled in different places.

What's next for ya?

I'm going to of course stay at LSU as long as I can, as long as I want to. I'll continue to pursue the elusive NCAA national championship, having won the SEC championship this season. There's so many things that we still want to accomplish at LSU. My Athletic Director Joe Alleva has been just so generous with me and this program at LSU, and he believes in what we're doing. As long as he believes in me, I'm gonna hang in there and continue to do the best I can for LSU.

Is there anything else you want to say to the people of Donaldsonville?

Well, you know, for the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce and the committee that they put together. If I name two or three people: Tony Sotile, Mr. Boo LeBlanc, my two daughters, Jewel and Sara, but there were so many people that worked to make this happen and bring it together. It was my expressed goal that I wanted to have a mass at Ascension Catholic here. It means so much to my family. But also I wanted to speak at the schools and have the opportunity to talk to kids and let them know that I came here, I developed my dreams here, my dreams have come true and I'm living the dream. And they can do that, too.