"Big Four" Highlights


Coaching Boys Into Men

A talk with the legendary De La Salle coach

With the family-friendly football movie about his team hitting theaters August 22, Fathers for Good spoke with Coach Bob Ladouceur, who led De La Salle High School to an unprecedented 151-game winning streak. Ladouceur, age 60, retired as head coach and religion teacher after 38 years in January 2013. He still works with players and helps raise money for the school. In the movie “When the Game Stands Tall” (Sony Pictures), he is played by Catholic actor James Caviezel.

Fathers for Good: Is the movie true to your coaching experience?

Photo Credit: De La Salle H.S.

Coach Ladouceur: It is an accurate portrayal of our football program and how we are trying to develop young men and help our students grow from boys into mature young men, with all the responsibilities that go with becoming adults. That’s our job as educators and coaches. Be accountable for yourself and your actions, gain more control of yourself, and realize that you’re not alone in life, there are other people out there to help. That’s how you build a team. … We operate by the Christian Brothers’ motto: “Enter to learn, leave to serve.”

FFG: How did the 151-game streak come about?

Coach Ladouceur: There was not a whole lot of talk about winning or becoming a national powerhouse. The streak was really an outcome of what we did every day. I knew it would eventually come to an end, so the goal was to play well from week to week and let everything else fall into place. The streak carried its own momentum. I never really thought much about it until I retired from coaching in January 2013 and started to reflect on it, and realized the magnitude of what we did.

FFG: What is your favorite scene of the film?

Coach Ladouceur: There were a lot, but the top one has to be the story of Terrance Kelly [the De La Salle player who was killed in a senseless shooting days before he left for college on scholarship.] It was handled very well and was very true to life. It told the story of how he led the team and what he meant to the team, not only as a star player with a college scholarship, but especially how he was the epitome of what we expect of a player and a leader. He was someone who reached out to help, who cared about others, cared about people more than football. I was very happy with how that story was told in the movie.

FFG: Did you really turn down a lucrative offer to coach at Stanford University?

Coach Ladouceur: That scene is based on the fact that when Bill Walsh left the [San Francisco] 49ers and went to Stanford, he called me about a coaching position at Stanford. I thought about it but realized I was doing what I thought I was meant to do right where I was.