An Eulogy on James David Cain


James David Cain

Recently, I was privileged to deliver an eulogy at the funeral of James David Cain.

Below are my remarks in their entirety.  (I cut most of my speech due to time. That’s what happens when you have too many preachers on stage.)

I hope you enjoy these thoughts on a man who helped shape my life.


James David Cain. He had many titles in his life, 

But to me, he was always “Coach.”

Coach James David Cain.

Coach Cain.

I first met James David Cain in 1962 when he and Goldie moved to Dry Creek and became our neighbors.

She taught me in second grade, and that’s also the year James David Cain became my coach for life.

He coached the basketball team at East Beauregard High School from 1962 to 1972, during what I call “the golden dynasty” of Trojan basketball.

In many ways, Coach Cain’s coaching career defined the man I knew.

I saw him up close and personal during those years.

My Dad loved East Beauregard basketball, and we seldom missed a game, home or away. I had a bleacher seat for those great teams of the 1960s, and the players became my heroes and still are today.

Daddy had a special relationship with Coach Cain. They were different but seemed to have mutual admiration.

We grew up with Melissa and James, Jr.  It was my privilege to teach and coach James, Jr. at East Beauregard.

When James David entred politics, my Mom became his legislative aide for the next twenty years. When she retired, Daddy took her place and worked beside “The Senator” until Dad’s death from cancer in 2003.

I believe Coach Cain grieved Daddy’s death as much as I did.

Long before he became Representative Cain or Senator Cain, he was the coach I studied closely.

Over those years, I saw what an excellent basketball coach Coach Cain was.

What amazed me was how he reloaded each year. Regardless of graduation, the Trojans would be a contender the following year.

Coach Cain got the most out of his players. He took many a rough old country boy and turned him into a good player, teaching him the jump shot and how to hunker down on defense.

Coach Cain’s teams played hard for him. I never remember an EB player or team or team slacking or coasting.

Trojan teams played a hard-nosed, stifling man-to-man defense Coach Cain had learned from his coach at McNeese at McNeeseR,alph Ward.

Coach James David Cain hated to lose. He always wanted to win, but most of all, he hated to lose.

And there is a difference between the two.

He loved competition. He would take the Trojans anywhere to play the best teams in Louisiana regardless of their school classification.

Once, when the Trojans prepared to play W.O. Boston-Lake Charles and their 6’11”  center, Edmond Lawrence, I, being the skinniest player on the third string, was given the job of standing in the lane with a long broom, swatting shots away.

He was creative.

I’m holding up a piece of chalk. Any Trojan player knows what this represents. He’d be on one knee during timeouts, diagramming plays in chalk on the gym floor.

He was innovative. He’d develop offensive plays and full-court presses, always giving them quirky names.  The Onion Press, J.P. Press, the St. Louis stack

And yes, he was a piece of work.

And yes, he was larger than life.


He could also be a lot of fun.

He taught me Louisiana history in the eighth grade, and I still remember his humorous stories and how he made our state’s history come alive.

He loved little corny lyrics and rhymes.  They were his version of what we rhyme today, which we would call “Dad Jokes.”   He would repeat them over and over.

I can still hear some of them in my mind. He’d tell them repeatedly until we were sick of them. Many of them, regretfully, still rumble around in my head.

He loved a good prank. Once, when David Cole and I were about twelve years old, we climbed a red clay embankment along Hwy 113, which we called the Red Hills.

We carved our names in two-foot letters: “Curt and David.”

Within a week someone had carved below our names,  “Love Girls.”

“Curt and David Love girls.”

No one had to tell David and me who did it. We knew exactly who it was: Coach Cain.

He could be fun, but he was also very demanding.

He expected a lot from his teams as well as himself.

He had that rare quality found in good leaders: you didn’t want to disappoint him.

He instilled a desire in his players that they didn’t want to disappoint him.

They didn’t want to let him down.

That’s why his Trojan teams would run through the proverbial brick wall to please him.

One of my teammates said it best this week, “He cared for us.”

He cared about his players.

You were part of the team.

He might get in your face, but that proved you were part of the team.

The Trojan team.

A member of Coach Cain’s team.


I have one final story that best epitomizes about Coach James David Cain:

Jimmy George was a solid player on the Trojan teams of the late 60s. Not a superstar but an essential part of that year’s team.

When school started in August, Jimmy George was missing.

Jimmy had spent the summer with his brother Manuel painting houses in Lubbock, Texas. The money was too good for him to leave, so he decided to drop out of school and go to work.

That night, Coach Cain drove the 645 miles from Dry Creek to Lubbock, loaded Jimmy up, and brought him home.   You can look it up on Google Maps.

Back to the team.

Back to Dry Creek.

Jimmy played forward on a fine Trojan team that year.

After graduating from school, Jimmy joined the Navy and later returned to Dry Creek, where he raised his family and lives today. We’re still friends.


Finally, I choose not to dwell on the cruel years of Alzheimer’s and James David. That’s not how I’ll remember him.

I will remember him as my coach at my school, East Beauregard High School.

Renee, you took such good care of James David. We all admire your commitment and compassion for your husband.

I want to promise you one thing. Your Dry Creek family will stand with you and care for you as you did for James David.  Your church family and neighbors will be there for you.

I can promise you that. It’s the Dry Creek way.


Renee, the last time you and he were at the Dry Creek Catfish Lunch, I came up behind him, hugged him around the neck, and whispered, 

“Hey, Coach. It’s Curt. You know you’re my Coach.

“And you know what else, you always will be.”

He gave a distant smile and patted my hand.

It was our last visit. I’m not sure he recognized me, but I sure knew who he was.

He was Coach James David Cain.

Coach Cain

And he was my Coach.


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