BRIGHT FUTURES — Drummer Brayden Thibodaux reflects on memorable senior year at Port Neches-Groves

Published 12:30 am Tuesday, December 20, 2022

PORT NECHES — While most of his classmates slept, Brayden Thibodaux woke at 3:30 a.m. Monday to head to the gym. After a two-hour workout, he returned home to shower, eat a breakfast loaded with protein and head to school. 

“I like going to the gym,” the Port Neches-Groves High School senior said. “I’m doing powerlifting this year. It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of time and energy put in. It’s blood, sweat and tears, pretty much.”

But even after waking up so early, Thibodaux is known for his kindness and high energy. 

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“He spends most of his days either helping people out when they need it or talking their heads off,” said fellow senior and Indianette Trisha Almaraz. “He’s just a fun person to be around. He always keeps you laughing and on your toes. He’s very energetic very early in the morning. He loves to be out and going.”

After spending one year in Bridge City, Thibodaux became a resident of Port Neches. And by the time he was ready for kindergarten, he found his passion. 

“When I was 5 my mom got me my first drum set,” he said. “And then I broke a bunch of the drum heads and I didn’t have a drum set anymore so I was pretty antsy to get back on the drums.”

Senior Brayden Thibodaux is on the PNGHS drumline. (Monique Batson/The News)

Thibodaux tried out for band in sixth grade with confidence that he’d land on percussion.

“I was pretty confident,” he said. “I wasn’t worried about it at all.” 

But it was a hobby that almost ended after three years. 

“I had doubts about being in high school band going into high school,” Thibodaux said. “But I’m glad that I stayed in it. It’s really fun.”

And for his final year of high school, the drummer was part of a historic football season that saw PNGHS in the state championship for the first time since 1999. 

“This year was amazing,” he said, citing the third round of the playoffs at NRG Stadium in Houston as one of his favorite moments. “That was my first time being in a professional NFL football stadium. And Round Five at the Katy Stadium — that was really fun. It was really loud. And then AT&T Stadium. Jerry’s World. That was super crazy because it’s an even bigger stadium than NRG and it was surreal because I was brought up as a Cowboys fan.”

As PNGHS prepares to go into winter break this week, the seniors will be halfway through their final year. 

“I don’t want to leave high school, but I do at the same time,” Thibodaux said. “I want to know what the college life is like, but I know it’s a lot of work.”

Thibodaux will be attending Lamar University in Beaumont to major in mechanical engineering — a career path he only recently found while taking pre-calculus. 

“Originally I never liked math but I was good at it,” he said. “But this year my pre-cal teacher, Ms. (Jill) Hamilton, she really struck something in me that made me really enjoy it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do going into this year. But ever since Ms. Hamilton was my pre-cal teacher, I’ve had a feeling that’s what I wanted to do.”

Almaraz, who will also be attending Lamar to become a social worker, said knowing she’ll have friends from high school with her is comforting. 

“It helps me to know some of my friends are still going to be local,” she said. “I’ll know they’re just down the street so I can still go see them.”