Legend status recognized

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Douglas set to enter Hall in April

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  • Gazette photo by BYRON AVERY UCA head basketball coach Bobby Joe Douglas always has a word of encouragement for his players, and the officials. Douglas, a Marion High School alum, is now a LHSAA Hall of Famer.
    Gazette photo by BYRON AVERY UCA head basketball coach Bobby Joe Douglas always has a word of encouragement for his players, and the officials. Douglas, a Marion High School alum, is now a LHSAA Hall of Famer.
  • Gazette photo by BYRON AVERY UCA coach Bobby Joe Douglas takes a seat on the bench during a recent game.
    Gazette photo by BYRON AVERY UCA coach Bobby Joe Douglas takes a seat on the bench during a recent game.
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Not many people get the opportunity to make the kind of impact in their local community that Union Christian Academy coach Bobby Joe Douglas has been able to carve out.

Douglas, who will be enshrined in the LHSAA Hall of Fame in Baton Rouge on April 24, is in his first season as basketball coach at UCA, yet his roots began in Marion, where he was a high school All-American and set the national record with 54 points per game during his senior season in 1980, including 60 points per game against rival Summerfield, which featured another local hoops legend - Louisiana Tech Hall of Famer Karl Malone.

“So much has happened,” Douglas said of the years waiting on the Hall of Fame. “I am very humbled by it.”

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations record books (https://www.nfhs.org/ Record-Book/Record-book-result.aspx?CategoryId=1133), Douglas is 13th nationally in most career high school points scored, with seven of the top 13 from Louisiana.

His points-per-game record still stands, and he is one of only seven high school players to ever score 36 points or more in one quarter when he did so in 1980 against Oak Grove.

After several failed attempts in voting Douglas in, with former LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson in his corner, Douglas gets the call to the hall in 2020. He actually received the call this week.

His high school coach, Malcolm George, has worked tirelessly for more than 35 years to get Douglas his rightful place in the LHSAA Hall of Fame.

“Nobody works as hard as (Douglas) does,” George said. “He deserves this. He knows every aspect of the game and he knows how to get it out of his players. The players love playing for him.”

After playing college basketball at then-Northeast Louisiana University for coach Mike Vining, Douglas moved into ministry and now pastors The Word Baptist Church with campuses in Grambling and Bastrop.

Douglas spent time as assistant coach at St. Frederick High School in Monroe as well as several years coaching at Sterlington High School, coaching with Jesse Burnette and later head coach Kevin Caballero.

When he got the call from UCA athletic director Trey Fulton about taking over the Lion program, Douglas was excited to be able to finally combine his love of ministry and basketball outside of a secular setting in the public school system.

“It was opportunity to work at a Christian school,” Douglas said. “And pour into kids biblical principles.”

Whether in the sanctuary or in the gym, Douglas is always searching for a way to share his love of basketball and his creator.

“The love for people crosses over,” Douglas said when asked about how the two areas intersect. “And as a pastor and coach, you want to see the best out of everyone. The best as a person and athletically.”

It was not long after Trey Fulton, UCA athletic director, hired Douglas, that he also began teaching Bible classes at UCA.

“I knew of the legend, of his playing career,” Fulton said. “I had never met him. Shelli Norris knew his high school coach (George) and got his number for me. We talked for about three hours that first day.”

Even though Fulton had a list of some 14 applicants for the job, it became clear Douglas was the man to lead the boys and girls varsity teams.

The Lady Lions are 15-7 and the Lions are 16-6 on the season. Yet, Douglas is in the business of making strong individuals and not just winning games.

“I have never been one to worry about what our record is,” Douglas said. “As long as kids are doing their best, whatever comes of it, comes of it. The record may not reflect the season you really had. I believe we are building something very positive here for the community.”