All in the family: Justin Robichaux embarks on high school coaching career at St. Thomas More

by: William Weathers // Contributor

Three years ago, Justin Robichaux could not have predicted the divergent path he took in his coaching career.

The oldest son of former UL-Lafayette baseball coach Tony Robichaux who was a first baseman and pitcher for his father, came out of the business sector to become pitching coach of the Ragin’ Cajun softball team under head coach Gerry Glasco.

UL-Lafayette won nearly 75% of its games, reached the postseason in all three years – advancing to a NCAA super regional in 2023 – and twice ranked in the top five nationally in strikeouts and among the top 25 in earned run average and opponents’ batting average.

Instead of extending his career to a fourth season in collegiate softball coaching the 36-year-old Robichaux agreed to become a head baseball coach for the first time – at tradition rich St. Thomas More in Lafayette.

Robichaux signed his contract with the private Catholic school last Thursday to coach baseball and serve as a teacher.

“It’s crazy and it happened on the softball side as well,” Robichaux said. “I was never in the game of softball and Gerry (Glasco) gives me a call and an interesting opportunity opens up. I had never worked with women before Gerry called. I had the opportunity, did some unique things while I was there.

“It’s a great first job from a high school perspective,” Robichaux said of STM. “There’s a rich tradition of winning at a great program. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do there.”

St. Thomas More, which has won four state baseball championships and been state runner-up four times, completed a 19-16 season in 2024.

Cass Hargis coached the Cougars through the majority of the regular season before resigning a week before the start of the Division II select state playoffs.  

Assistant coach Chance Harst guided the team to four consecutive wins and a spot in the state tournament which ended in a 7-3 loss to top-seeded St. Louis Catholic.

It was the 10th state semifinal appearance in school history for the Cougars (19-16).

“Justin brings all of the aspects of molding young men, holding them accountable, making them responsible for their actions,” STM athletic director Kim Broussard. “I have three goals I share with our coaches – God first, family second and the job third. If anyone of those are out of order, you need to kind of look at yourself in the mirror because that’s what a coach should be all about.

“As a young coach I didn’t have those priorities in order myself,” Broussard said. “I feel Justin has those priorities in order. He just fit everything I was looking for in a leader of young men.”

Robichaux’s the product of a Catholic school environment, having starred in high school at Notre Dame of Acadia Parish. He signed to play for his father at UL-Lafayette between 2007-10 before serving as a volunteer assistant for one season in 2011.

“It’s been overwhelming to see the amount of support,” Robichaux said. “Baseball’s always kind of been in the blood of us as a family and me as person. Development and a teaching opportunity started early on with the relationship with my brother (Lafayette Christian baseball coach Austin Robichaux) and my dad. It’s something that’s close to home.”

Tony Robichaux concluded his impactful coaching career as the winningest coach in both UL-Lafayette and McNeese State history. The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame selection passed away July 3, 2019, after suffering a heart attack.

He was 57.

Broussard said this wasn’t the first time he tried bringing Justin Robichaux to STM.

He said an earlier interview for the then vacant STM baseball position didn’t line up with Robichaux’s timeline after he was contacted by Glasco to become the school’s pitching coach in 2022. 

The second go around, though, proved fruitful for Broussard who was impressed by Robichaux’s vision for turning high school players into young men, into the kind of servant leaders that would prosper as husbands, fathers and co-workers.

It was a mantra Tony Robichaux lived by and used his platform as a coach, not the game of baseball, to get his message across.

“We’ve spoken 10-12 times in the last three weeks,” Broussard said. “Ninety percent of the conversations we had had nothing to do with the game of baseball. It’s never been about wins and losses with him or me. The wins and losses will come and that shouldn’t be at the forefront of everybody’s mind. There’s a goal in mind when you play a sport to accomplish and achieve the highest reward, and that’s winning a state championship. I do not define success solely on whether you bring that state championship trophy home.

“There’s a lot of things that really struck me about him through the interview process,” Broussard said. “Conviction and passion really struck me. He hit on all of the points that are our mission for students at STM. With his lineage and what he’s been around with his dad and brother, that’s what struck me.”

Over the past three seasons UL-Lafayette was 142-48 with three consecutive Sun Belt Conference championships and three trips to the NCAA regionals. They advanced to the super regional two years ago at the University of Washington.

Under Robichaux, the earned run averages of the Ragin’ Cajuns’ pitching staff was 2.17, 2.16 and 2.59 and junior Sam Landry was named to the All-Sun Belt Conference first team for the second straight year in 2024.

“Collegiately with the transfer portal and the different element you’re dealing with in college athletics, it’s a 24-hour business and it really doesn’t shut off,” Robichaux said. “That’s not the reason I’m getting out and who knows I could be back in the future. Life has an interesting way of making you put things into perspective.”

With a family that includes a wife and two daughters, and STM located approximately two miles from his home, the timing was ideal for Robichaux to make his first foray into high school baseball coaching.

STM, which boats 26 district championships, is also home to former Major League players Lyle Mouton, Mikie Mahtook and Andrew Stevenson and current MLB performer, pitcher Hogan Harris of the Oakland Athletics.

“Development’s something I’m extremely passionate about that will be injected into the program,” said Robichaux, who has retained Harst, a former college teammate, as an assistant. “Using the game as a platform to develop people. It’s in my blood. Building the man is important to me. It’s something that was done to me at an early age, and I feel like it’s crucial to be able to use the sport as your platform to be able develop people and lives through the game of baseball.”