Kenny Almond leaves EA for Zachary

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
In his 10 years at East Ascension, Kenny Almond led the Spartans to 255 wins and eight playoff appearances. Photo by Dewey Keller.

Head coach Kenny Almond has been re-energized.

In his illustrious Hall of Fame career, he has done it all. He has won hundreds of games, orchestrated undefeated seasons and has won multiple state titles, but there's just something about the excitement surrounding a fresh start and a new challenge.

That's why Almond's decision to walk away from East Ascension and take the vacant head coaching position at Zachary has the 67-year-old rejuvenated.

"Everybody needs a goal and something to get excited about," Almond said. "The last three days have been really hectic, and it got me going again."

Almond's departure from East Ascension was a bit of a shocker. He just finished leading the Spartans to the state semifinals in 2012 and the quarterfinals this past year.

However, he felt it was time for him to move on and the opportunity to build something at Zachary was just too good to pass up.

"It's a great opportunity, the facilities there just make you say 'wow' and the school system there has had great success academically," Almond said. "The basketball program can improve, and I'm going to try to do that. I want to try to do it one more time."

He has his work cut out for him. The Broncos finished just 9-19 last season, but Almond likes what he sees.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge of building something," Almond said. "They were a little down last year, but I think they have the potential to be good. Hopefully, it won't take long."

Almond knows his career is winding down, and he would like for Zachary to be his final coaching stop. However, he's not planning on going anywhere until the program is on solid ground.

"I'm not going to just go in and get out," Almond said. "I want to try to do something there and when I'm retired and I go back to watch the team when they're established, I can say that I've had something to do with that. Hopefully, they'll have some success after I leave. I'm not going to just go if we start losing; that's not going to happen. I'm not going to leave when things are broken."

So far, he's very encouraged by his new team.

"We've got a lot of work to do, but it's fun to see guys doing what you tell them to do. It's a good group of kids so hopefully, we can win some games," Almond said. "Work comes first, then winning. I just hope it's sooner rather than later."

Winning is something he's done a lot of in his career. Almond has won 876 games and three state titles.

Those championships came at Woodlawn. The 2003 team went a perfect 39-0 and finished the year ranked sixth in the nation. His last two teams there won a 5A record 56 consecutive games.

In 2012, he was inducted into the Louisiana High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and just last month, he was awarded the LABC's Mr. Louisiana Basketball Award.

Almond's very proud of the things he, his coaches and players were able to accomplish at East Ascension.

"The kids did a fantastic job, and all the assistants did a great job. All of those guys put in a lot of hours and a lot of work," Almond said. "We built something that I think our supporters were proud of, and that makes me proud. We filled the gym many times. There was a time when there weren't many people watching."

In his 10 years in Gonzales, Almond led the Spartans to 255 wins--many of them coming in the playoffs.

"I think we held our own," Almond said. "We had some years with 25 wins, we made it to the semifinals twice, the quarterfinals twice and barely lost those games. We won the district three years in a row. We had lots of success, and I think the program's in better shape now than it was 10 years ago."

He only has one regret about his time coaching at East Ascension.

"I'm proud of the way the kids played," Almond said. "It was a good situation; I just wish we could have won the last game once or twice, but it just wasn't meant to be."

But as he heads to Zachary, he can't help but be pleased with the program he leaves behind.

"I just want to wish everyone at EA the best of luck," Almond said. "Ten years ago, I was ecstatic to get there and try to have the same kind of success we had at Woodlawn and with the exception of winning state, I think we did. We did things the right way."