Former Berwick High School Coach John Menard served many roles during his involvement in baseball in the Town of Berwick, including as a longtime assistant baseball coach at Berwick High School, as head coach for a year and as a youth baseball coach. Menard, 44, passed away Friday after a battle with cancer. In the top photo, Menard looks on during a game during his head coaching season, while above, he talks with members of the St. Mary Central 7-and 8-year-old All-Star Squad during the summer of 2012 when he served as an assistant coach. To Menard's left is his son Clay. (The Daily Review/File Photos)
Prep and youth coaches reflect on John Menard's contributions
Area coaches who worked with the Berwick High School program and youth baseball remembered longtime Berwick High coach John Menard for his hard work, humility and way to use baseball to teach life lessons.
Menard, 44, passed away Friday after a battle with cancer.
He spent years of his career serving the Berwick community as a teacher and coach in various sports during at Berwick High School.
Menard spent time as an assistant football coach, served one year as a girls basketball coach, and he was a longtime Berwick baseball assistant coach.
The year prior to taking an assistant coaching position at New Iberia Senior High, Menard served one year as Berwick’s baseball coach, leading the squad to the Class 3A state semifinals. It was the Panthers’ first semifinal appearance in 10 years.
“He’s the most humble person I’ve ever met,” said Berwick Baseball Coach Brandon Bravata, who succeeded Menard and this past season coached Menard’s son Clay. “He never wanted credit for anything. He had tons of baseball knowledge, but more importantly, he was a good man and a family man and a caring person.”
Bravata said his best memory with Menard came the year prior to taking over the Berwick baseball program when he served as an assistant coach on Berwick’s first of three straight semifinal teams.
He said Menard and he shared a “big hug” after the team recorded a walk-off win in the Class 3A Quarterfinals to advance to the state tournament.
“It’s just something I’ll treasure forever,” said Bravata.
Lud Henry, a current Berwick High assistant baseball coach, served as Berwick head baseball coach for much of Menard’s high school career.
Henry described Menard as “just one of the hardest-working kids. Not the most talented, but just one of the hardest working kids that came through the Berwick baseball program.”
Later when Menard returned to Berwick, Henry hired him as a teacher and coach, and in later years, the duo worked together as assistant baseball coaches at Berwick, too.
“He was not the fiery type of guy, but he veered kids in the right direction,” Henry said. “He motivated them. He told them the truth.”
Henry said the athletes appreciated Menard’s honesty.
“They all had his respect, and it was somebody that the kids liked playing for,” Henry said. “Somebody that we’re surely going to miss him at Berwick.”
Berwick High School teacher Kenny Williams knew Menard since they were youngsters as Williams rode the school bus driven by Menard’s mother. A then-3-year-old John rode along on those trips to drop off students.
“I was 5 going to kindergarten, and when I’d walk on the bus the first few days, he was like literally sitting on the top of the steps,” Williams said.
Williams said because he was young, he would sit in the front row of the bus, and he got to know John.
While they went their separate ways as John attended Berwick High and Kenny, Central Catholic, they were reunited as teachers at Berwick High School where they also coached baseball and football together.
They also shared a hallway and talked between classes. Williams taught history and Menard, algebra.
A recent memory he has with Menard is when he, Menard and Berwick High track and field coach Paul Gilder went separately to the Class 3A state championship baseball game and they all sat together. Williams said a Berwick fan took a picture and recently gave it to them.
“That was a pretty cool moment that we got to do together,” Williams said.
Brian Thorguson, who grew up in Golden Farms subdivision in Berwick with Menard and played all sports together, also worked with Menard in travel baseball and Dixie Youth when their children played.
“Obviously he was just an all-round genuine fellow,” Thorguson said.
Thorguson said that Menard always was available to volunteer as a youth baseball coach for his son’s team on top of his duties as a baseball coach in high school.
Thorguson said that Menard used baseball to teach life lessons for his players.