She’s changed the game for female athletes and in this week’s edition of ‘Louisiana Women’, she said it’s all about standing up for what you believe in.
Regarded as the “dean of coaches” at LSU, Gymnastics Coach D.D. Breaux has led the team since 1978.
There’s something special about a night of gymnastics at the PMAC.
Over 13,000 seats filled each time the lady tigers hit the floor, but that hasn’t always been the case.
“Where we started as a team with no training center, no training facility to what we have now has been an incredible journey,” said LSU Gymnastics Coach D.D. Breaux.
A journey that started for Breaux at a very young age.
“Even before I was in college I competed at a very high level. Hurt my knee in the Olympic trail process in ’72 and began coaching right after that.”
After a career ending injury she decided to focus on education and made the move to her dream school.
“I wanted to get my degree from LSU so I did my undergraduate then started my graduate program, and that’s when Carl Maddox called me and hired me to coach the women’s gymnastics team while I was still a graduate student.”
Breaux’s first year as head coach was 1977.
“At that time they were trying to implement title 9, bringing some of the sports, women sports, into scholarship and varsity status.”
Despite the uphill battle, she was determined to not take no for an answer.
“You know in the beginning it was very rocky. There was a tremendous amount of resistance, and you can well imagine because the male sports, then always thought that whatever the women were getting was because they were taking things away from them, which was not the case.”
Despite many setbacks Breaux persevered,
“Every time we would take 2 steps forward we would get knocked 3 steps back and although we had the scholarships we weren’t getting the funding that we needed.
So it was like almost a battle everyday. Just you having to claw and fight for everything that you wanted. We worked really hard and did a lot with a little and as time went on we began to get more scholarships and more support. Eventually I think it became apparent that we were here to stay, women’s athletics is here to stay.”
Now, 41 years later, Breaux has grown LSU Gymnastics into the powerhouse it is today.
Breaux said its all about standing up for what you believe in,
“Women persevere. We know how to persevere. You know, the people who refused to sit on the back of the bus, that was a woman. The people that make a real difference, I say it all the time that women know how to make lemonade. Because we have persevered and worked hard and we know what it means to rise up from the bottom. And I think that women athletics here at LSU and women in general are starting to break that glass ceiling and understand what it means to have paid a price.”
Today she continues to change the game for women athletics and is leaving a lasting mark for future female athletes to come.