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|Coach Paul memory lives on|
The family of a coaching legend in the parish has created the Martha D. Paul Memorial Scholarship.
But Paul's legacy will certainly carry on in a lot more ways.
Paul died March 29 at the age of 89.
"My grandmother accomplished many things in her lifetime that would take as many as 20 others to achieve," Ryan Paul said about Martha Paul.
Paul spent her entire career in Concordia Parish as a school board member, teacher, girls' coach and supervisor.
Paul's athletic teams won a total of seven state championships; two in basketball, two in softball, three in track and field. She was the guiding force for the beginning girls summer league softball programs, the Pigtail and Ponytail Leagues. She was honored by the in 1962 with Martha Paul Day in Ferriday after winning back-to-back state championships in basketball.
Paul was inducted into the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1992 for her accomplishments as a high school coach.
Paul led Ferriday High to two straight Class A state championship in 1961 and '62.
The 1961 team went 41-4, beating Mt. Carmel, 41-36 in New Iberia.
The Lady Bulldogs, who finished 41-4, trailed 22-18 in that game at halftime. Jinks Coleman, who was the first head coach of the women's basketball team at LSU from 1975-1979, made two free throws to put Ferriday up 29-26 after three quarters.
Dorothy Staggs Ulmer led Ferriday with 18 points, making 10-of-10 free throws in the contest.
"As a member of the championship team, I have so many great memories that are just as vivid today as they were in 1961," Ulmer said. "Our team played together for so long that we knew each other's thoughts. We were a team of sisters, and we have remained close throughout the years.
"Mrs. Paul instilled her winning attitude in all of her players," Ulmer said. "Playing for the state championship as a visiting team with more fans than the home team says it all. We clicked that night under the leadership of a great coach."
Mt. Carmel was averaging 53 points a game going into the contest.
Becky Purvis led Ferriday with a 13.7 scoring average, while Staggs averaged 13.2.
In 1962, Ferriday won the state championship on its home court, beating Amite 59-28.
Ulmer scored 22 points, making five from behind the circle and 12 free throws.
"We had to make 50 free throws before we left every day," Ulmer said. "And at one time you had to make them in a row or you had to start over."
Jo Ann Manchester netted 19 and Purvis added 16.
Wally Ann Pullen, Margaret Ann Bateman and Marilyn Stephens were credited with shutting down Amite's offense.
Ferriday finished 37-3 in 1962.
"We beat lot of people because Coach Paul knew the game," Ulmer said. "She took the time and even spent extra time after school working with us on our shooting and other things. We set screens and knew how to use them."
Ulmer joined Paul's coaching staff after finishing college in 1966 and took over for Paul the following year.
"Coach Paul was the one and only," said Ulmer, who teaches math at Vidalia High. "There are still things in the classroom that I use that she taught me in helping kids produce."
Jeannie Milliken was not part of a state championship team, but was part of two state runner-up squads under Coach Paul. She was also part of five state championship track teams and two state championship softball teams.
"I remember one time in the gym none of us knew how to dribble the ball so she turned all the lights out and just had a flashlight so we could learn to dribble without looking at the ball," Milliken said. "We were tripping all over the place. She was very good with the basics and worked with us on hand quickness. Coach Paul never yelled, she knew each player and what made them the best. She was great with our families and was so patient. She actually started girls track in Louisiana and none of us had any experience, but she read up on it, studied it and taught it to us. She was a wonderful lady and you just wanted to do your best for her."
Milliken also went into teaching and coaching.
"She was the reason I went into physical education and coaching," Milliken said. "She had a big influence on my life."
Carolyn Boydstun said Paul was also a big part of her decision to get into teaching and coaching.
Boydstun was a member of Paul's final basketball team in 1967.
"Coach Paul was always there for us," Boydstun said. "We played many a Rook game in the locker room."
Paul and Ulmer hosted the first girls' track meet in Louisiana.
Girls sports were not funded by the school board at that time.
"On Friday nights I ran the concession stand at the football games to get money for the girls," Paul was quoted as saying. "And we had those donkey basketball games where teachers and others would play basketball as we rode little donkeys. When I retired from coaching in 1975, we had $2,500 in funds for the girls program."
Lloyd "Buddy" Paul, who recently retired from Vidalia High after serving as teacher and counselor, said he remembers sitting near the bench at his mother's basketball games.
"She was a strong lady," Buddy said. "She loved taking care of people. She had a strong influence on all three of us kids. We all went into teaching."
Ryan Paul, one Martha's five grandsons, said his grandmother is his hero.
"And will always be because of all the great accomplishments and sacrifices she has made in her life," Ryan said. "She grew up on a plantation in Ferriday tending to chickens and collecting their eggs. She told me from an early age she tried to make things fun, even though this was a chore she made it exciting by adding singing and dancing while collecting the eggs. And growing up I have heard many stories including the depression and other War stories but it seemed that there was always a happy ending and very few that didn't. I never heard one complaint from my grandma, if someone asked her to do something it was done."
Ryan said he always wanted to impress his grandmother and make the right decisions so she would be proud of him.
"The few times in my life that I made mistakes it was always her that I had to face, and hope that she wouldn't be disappointed in me," Ryan said. "I believe Grandma's legacy is more than sports, teaching, loving, and integrity. It was truly her way of life. She always pushed the envelope to do more. I never saw a mean side to my Grandma, even if I did wrong never once did she raise her voice. For those of us who remain, Grandma has truly created a legacy to uphold and fulfill in our daily lives."
Vidalia High senior Mallory Guidroz won the first Martha Paul Memorial Scholarship.
The $500 scholarship is given to a Concordia Parish student based on athletics, school activities, community service and an essay.
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