Sacrifices paid off for Plaisance at Nicholls State

She left a team that she thought was poised to win a national championship for a team that had never had a winning season.

“I love Loyola University,” said former women’s head basketball coach DoBee Plaisance. “I had no intention of leaving.”

But 10 years later, Plaisance does not regret interviewing to coach women’s hoops at Nicholls State. At least she doesn’t regret it now.

“I am not wasting their time or my time,” said Plaisance when she was asked to interview. “I am not taking this job.”

At Loyola, Plaisance had the nucleus returning of a team that had reached the Elite 8 in the NAIA national tournament. She was hired by then-director of athletics Rob Bernardi with a long-term view.

A decade later, the Colonels won the Southland Conference tournament championship and played in the NCAA women’s tournament for the first time.

When she accepted the job, she got the same advice from many of her colleagues.

“They thought it was a dead end,” said Plaisance.

Plaisance said she knew little of the bayou and even less about Nicholls State University. She said one of the school’s selling points was its outstanding academics.

“They call it Harvard on the bayou for a reason,” said Plaisance.

A chance to get a quality education and buy into the head coach’s vision of the program was all she could sell. Before she arrived, the Colonels had never won 15 games in a season nor had they had three consecutive seasons of double-digit victories.

In her first season, she won two games. Her conviction in what she was doing did not waver.

“It is always about God’s plan,” she said. “I am going to be the best version of me wherever I need to be.”

The sacrifices were many for the coach and her family. Plaisance said she had to move into the community. That meant her daughter Theresa, who would later score 1,293 career points at LSU, would have to leave Ursuline Academy.

Theresa transferred to Vandebilt Catholic. As a 2010 McDonald’s All-American, she led Vandebilt to the school’s first-ever state championship in girls’ basketball.

So, 10 years after DoBee Plaisance accepted a job at a place where her many friends in the coaching business said she could never be successful, the confetti was streaming down. The Colonels had reached the NCAA tournament.

“At that moment, I finally understood the term March Madness,” said Plaisance.

The Colonels, who won the automatic bid as the No. 4 seed in the Southland Conference tournament, still have a lot of work to do. Plaisance said her team’s goals for next season are already in place.

“We want to win the conference regular-season championship and the tournament championship,” said Plaisance. “We want to be the Loyola-Chicago of women’s college basketball.”

Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at edaniels@clarionherald.org.

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