Baton Rouge Influential Women in Business: D-D Breaux

Head Coach, LSU Gymnastics

(Photography by Marie Constantin)

At a university where football is king, Sara Porter “D-D” Breaux has steadily built a gymnastics empire.

Her 38-year tenure has been defined by the relentless pursuit of excellence. Breaux has earned a fleet of honors and awards and has developed a reputation for producing athletes who are successful both in competition and in the classroom.

Throughout her role as head coach of LSU’s gymnastics team, D-D Breaux says she has never lost her drive or enthusiasm.

“Fundamental to my personality is the belief that nothing has ever been achieved without enthusiasm,” Breaux says. “If I’m not excited about the growth of this program, then who will be?”

Breaux had little trouble igniting interest in the 2015 Tiger gymnasts. For the first time in the program’s history, attendance broke 10,000 at a single meet, including a high of 13,179 patrons during a meet against the University of Minnesota on March 6. Breaux guided the team to a 7-0 regular season record against Southeastern Conference opponents and a 13-1 record overall. It was the best regular season record in the program’s history, and Breaux was named SEC Coach of the Year and Central Region Coach of the Year.

“I’ve never felt like the program couldn’t be what it is today,” Breaux says.

Indeed, the impressive 2015 season is part of Breaux’s longtime march toward success. And while a team championship title is still yet to be nailed—a goal she’s hungry to achieve—LSU gymnastics under Breaux has earned 10 NCAA individual titles, four Super Six finals appearances, 25 NCAA Championships appearances and 154 All-America honors.

A Donaldsonville native and one of eight, Breaux participated in club gymnastics as a child. Her coaches recognized her talent, and over the course of her youth she rose to become a nationally ranked gymnast and a Junior Olympic National Champion. While on the 1972-73 Southeastern Louisiana University gymnastics team, she was considered one of the top 15 gymnasts in the country. She qualified to compete at the World Games Olympic Trials when a career-ending knee injury forced her to retire.

“It was devastating,” she says. “But my coach at the time immediately got me into coaching.”

The rest was history.

Breaux spent three seasons at Southeastern as an assistant coach and discovered she had a knack for guiding other athletes toward success on the field. She became a national level judge and the first state director for the Louisiana USA gymnastics program. In 1976, she transferred to LSU to complete her bachelor’s degree, and she was asked to take over the university’s fledgling gymnastics program.

Breaux grew the program from a club-level sport to a respected Division I team with national accolades. Early in the program’s history, Breaux twice had to defend its very existence to athletic directors who didn’t see its relevance. Breaux pressed on, growing the program’s reputation and often recruiting athletes to LSU when competing SEC programs offered larger, more modern facilities.

“We’ve been able to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear with this program,” says Breaux, whose team will soon see a new, state-of-the-art practice facility, now under construction.

In addition to bricks and mortar growth and an increase in attendance, Breaux has also grown her coaching staff’s bench strength. Three years ago she brought in Jay Clark, a former University of Georgia head coach, to serve as associate head coach and director of recruitment.

Breaux has long been known for ensuring her athletes excel in the classroom and give back to the community. The team’s Tiger Eye program is an incentive program that gives shout-outs for good grades, community service and accomplishments in competition.

Among her athletes, Breaux is known for being intense and focused.

“We are Tigers,” she says. “And when we go out there, it’s eat or be eaten.”

 

Points of Influence

-Built the LSU gymnastics team into a national powerhouse, which includes growing attendance to a high of 13,179 patrons during a meet against the University of Minnesota on March 6.

-Named SEC Coach of the Year and Central Region Coach of the Year in 2015.

-Secured a new practice facility, now under construction.

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