For Berwick coach, state title is blast from the past
SULPHUR — Berwick High School’s Class 3A state championship game Saturday probably was a little more special for assistant coach Lud Henry than many others.
Not only had the longtime staple around the Berwick school and program won a state championship, but it also marked the 40th anniversary, nearly to the day, that he won a state title as a senior on the 1978 Panthers squad.
The team won the Class 2A state championship on May 11, 1978, in Brusly, defeating John Curtis, 2-0.
Berwick was four years into its baseball program at the time.
While Henry has been a head coach on a state runner-up team in 1990 (a loss to Teurlings Catholic) and an assistant coach in 1994 on a runner-up team (a loss to North Vermilion), he and the Panthers’ program have not been able to climb back to the top of their class again for years.
Until Saturday night.
“I’m privileged to be on both of them,” he said.
Berwick scored three runs in the fourth to overtake Iota for a 3-1 lead and added four more in the top of the sixth for an eventual 7-2 victory.
“This group right here just kind of turned it on about a month and a half ago where you just kind of could see them start to come together and click, and everything was working,” Henry said.
Henry said Saturday’s title is special for his family, too, because they “lived and breathed” baseball with him for a long time.
Particularly, he noted how much it meant with Mother’s Day on Sunday and his mom recently passing away.
“She was on my mind a whole lot the last week,” he said.
Winning a title as a player and a coach had different feelings for him — he said he was calmer as a player.
Henry also noted that this title is for the many teams in Berwick history who have had opportunities in the last 40 years to win state. He said it’s more than just the state runner-up teams, too.
“This one’s for all the boys, all the coaches, guys like John Skelton and Tommy Bourgeois, who put in some time with me over the years,” Henry said. “It’s just really special for the Berwick community, and it’s something these kids will never forget.”
First-year Berwick head coach Brandon Bravata, who asked Henry to join his staff after Henry was away from the program for a year, called Henry a “godsend” for him and the program.
“He’s Berwick through and through, and I’m so happy for him,” Bravata said.