Boutte accepts West Brook coaching job

Published 5:25 pm Thursday, July 7, 2016

All along, Andre Boutte seemed to be the perfect candidate for the open boys basketball coaching position at West Brook.

With three state championships to boast and more than 21 years’ experience leading Southeast Texas teams, Boutte is returning to the sideline to take over the Bruins’ program. The former Port Arthur ISD athletic director informed The News on Thursday afternoon of his acceptance of the position at the Beaumont high school.

“It’s really exciting and it’s a new challenge,” said Boutte, who will turn 53 on Aug. 17 and is a Beaumont native who graduated from the former Hebert High in 1981. “That’s one thing about coaching. You’re presented with challenges each year. It gives me a chance to pursue something I’ve been challenged with each year.”

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The hire comes a week after Boutte completed his seventh full season with the Port Arthur ISD. That district’s board voted 6-1 last September to eliminate the athletic director position at the end of the school year.

“Andre Boutte is a wonderful person,” PAISD Superintendent Mark Porterie said, adding the cut was a matter of finances for a one-high school district. “When we look at costs, we had to look at everything.”

Thomas Jefferson Middle School assistant principal Tanuya Worthy, Memorial High head football coach Kenny Harrison and Memorial head boys basketball coach Kenneth Coleman are handling Boutte’s previous role as athletic coordinators for the PAISD. Porterie said a position will not be created to hire or promote one person to a full-time AD role.

Boutte gets to resume a coaching career that earned him induction into the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame in May. Coleman, whose Titans were District 21-6A with West Brook, called Boutte’s hiring “huge.”

“This past year, he was an extremely big help to me,” said Coleman, who became Memorial’s head coach last August. “He’s respected around his state. His records bear witness to what he’s capable of doing. I think it’s huge. I think it’s a good thing, too. He brings a lot to the table.

“Anybody who goes up against him knows what they’re up against. I think it’s going to be good for West Brook.”

Neither Boutte nor Coleman were sure whether the rivalry would continue in nondistrict play next winter. Memorial dropped down to Class 5A.

“I would love to go up against him,” Coleman said. “The only thing you can do is get better when you go up against coach like coach Boutte.”

Shortly after graduating from the University of North Texas, Boutte was hired by then-principal Fred Williams, who was his coach at Hebert, to take over the team at Kountze High in 1987. Two years later, he took over a Lincoln program that was fresh off its fifth UIL state championship and led the Bumblebees to the first of five state-round appearances under his watch, winning it all in 1991 and 1995.

When Ozen High opened in 1997, the Beaumont ISD hired Boutte as its first coach. The Panthers won the 2001 state title and appeared in three other state semifinals.

Boutte left Ozen in the middle of the 2008-09 season to become Port Arthur’s AD.

He has a challenge awaiting him in rebuilding the program at West Brook, which is now the only 6A school in Jefferson County. The Bruins are coming off a 7-16 season (4-8 in 21-6A) under longtime coach Sam Simon, who retired.

“It’s all I’ve ever really done,” said Boutte, who owns a 562-118 record. “God blesses a person to do certain things, and that’s one thing I’ve been blessed to do.”

With the new school year fast approaching, Boutte won’t have time to take the team to any summer camps to get acquainted with the players.

“The plan is to hit the ground running,” he said. “I look forward to a new challenge and new students, getting acquainted with each other so we can set goals and go about achieving them. I accept the challenge and I’m excited.

“… I know it’ll be a tough job, but we’ll put in the time and we’ll get where we need to be.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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