By Malcolm Butler
It’s the end of an era for girls hoops at Cedar Creek School.
Long-time Cedar Creek coach Gene Vandenlangenberg told the school administration and his girls basketball players Thursday that he is retiring from the coaching ranks.
He will remain at the school to continue teaching, he said.
“That’s what happens when you get old,” joked Vandenlangenberg. “But seriously, it’s something you don’t have a script for. Gail and I decided it was just time and that it was best for our family. We have kids (scattered around) and we wanted to have more flexibility with our schedules.
“The hardest part was telling the girls. You coach them and invest in them and they invest in you … and now I’m stepping away. That’s hard. But Cedar Creek is in a good spot and has a good nucleus of girls coming back. They are going to be fine, and I wish them well.”
The two-time Lincoln Parish Journal Girls Basketball Coach of the Year joined Cedar Creek in 1992 following a four-year stint at Weston High School where he coached boys basketball, including coaching current Ruston High boys coach Ryan Bond.
Vandenlanengberg coached boys basketball at Creek from 1992 through 2003 while serving as girls head coach from 1993 through 1996 and then from 2015 through 20023. He led the Lady Cougars to three semifinals appearances and to the state title game in 2022 where Creek fell to Southern Lab.
“During his thirty-one-year career at Cedar Creek, Coach Van has established an outstanding, highly-competitive basketball program that has garnered attention and accolades across our region,” said Cedar Creek School principal Cindy Hampton in a statement provided by the school. “The school is grateful to Coach Van for his many years of dedicated service to all areas of Cedar Creek Athletics. An experienced and beloved educator, Coach Van will remain on our faculty and will continue to serve as varsity boys golf coach.”
During his 11 years as the Lady Cougars head coach, Vandenlangenberg amassed a record of 288 wins and only 55 losses.
“I have been blessed for the past eight years to coach a great group of girls,” said Vandenlangenberg. “We have had some special seasons because of them. I really do feel blessed. It’s very humbling. This has been a great time later in my career to spend with a great group of young ladies, from both a talent perspective and as people. It’s been special because of the young ladies I’ve coached.”
Vandenlangenberg coached a number of district MVP’s including LA Tech’s Anna Larr Roberson, ULM’s Sarah Adams and current Lady Cougar Allie Furr. His players said they appreciated the impact he had on their lives.
“I’m so thankful to have had Coach Van as a coach for the past four years,” said Furr. “Coach Van did so much for not only me but everyone who got the chance to play for him. He truly wanted the best for ever player and pushed me to be the best and helped me become the player I was.”
“Coach Van was one of the most passionate and motivated coaches I’ve ever played for,” said Adams. “Whether he was sweeping the court or playing pickup with us during practice, it didn’t matter. He was not only dedicated to the game and to winning, but to making sure that all of his players felt appreciated and had fun playing basketball. He helped develop a culture of winning at Cedar Creek, and he will be greatly missed.”
“Coach Van always put 100% into his job whether it be coaching us, playing pickup against the team, or encouraging us in our years after high school sports,” said Roberson. “He is is not only a great coach but also a great leader and mentor to me on and off the court.”
Vandenlangenberg also spent time coaching the middle school at Cedar Creek (2003 to 2008) and served as an assistant football and baseball coach (2008-15) as well.
Hampton said that no definitive timeline has been set for replacing Vandenlangenberg, but that the school hopes to move as quickly yet deliberately as possible.