TOP NORTHSHORE COACH MOVES UPTOWN
De La Salle has made a move in an effort to improve its baseball program.
The Cavaliers have hired Mandeville's Rowland Skinner to replace veteran coach Lou Wineski, whose contract was not renewed. The 32nd-seeded Cavaliers concluded their season with a 4-0 loss to top-seed North DeSoto last Friday to complete an 11-14 season.
Mandeville went 11-18, missing the 5A playoffs this season after making the playoffs under Skinner in 2011 and 2012.
Skinner previously served as the head coach at Northlake Christian from 2003-2009, building a powerhouse program. He coached the Wolverines to consecutive state championships in 2009 and 2010.
Skinner, who also coached the Northlake Christian volleyball team to a state title in 2009, will double as De La Salle's defensive coordinator in football. He was the head football coach at Northlake Christian for two seasons, coaching the Wolverines to an 8-4 record in 2007, winning the first playoff game in school history.
"I am leaving a good place and great administration," Skinner said. "I wasn't looking to leave but I met with the De La Salle administration and you just sense something special. I walked away with the feeling that this place has a lot of potential and I really think it is going to take off. I was very impressed with the academics. They have a great indoor facility and many pieces in place."
De La Salle athletic director Tony Bonura feels Skinner has the qualities to take the baseball program to a different level.
"Rowland was a great player and he is a great coach," Bonura said. "He is a principled, quality person and a program builder which is what we sorely want and need."
Bonura feels De La Salle is a hot school, on the upswing, and that Skinner took notice.
"When people come to your campus and see what we are doing academically and the resources we are providing to athletics, it is a very attractive place to work," Bonura said. "We think that this is just one more sign that we are striving to be the best."
Skinner, who grew up in Metairie and at Girard Playground before his family moved north of Lake Pontchartrain when he was in eighth grade, is very familiar with De La Salle baseball.
"Everyone in the New Orleans area knows who the Cavaliers are," Skinner said. "We have played them in the past. They had just four seniors this year and I feel we can help develop the talent, on and off the field. De La Salle has a great baseball tradition, the results are there and we feel like we can capture the magic again."
De La Salle is landing Skinner at precisely the right time.
"He's a young guy and he's had a lot of success," Bonura said. "He grew up on the southshore. A lot of coaches I respect had connections with him and spoke about him as a person and his commitment to building a good program. That is what he did at Northlake Christian and what he was starting to do at Mandeville."
Skinner will join the impressive staff of football coach Ryan Manale as well.
"The fact that he is a great football coach as well makes it a slam dunk," Bonura said. "He has an enormous amount of coaching experience at a young age. We needed someone to build a program from the bottom up and he will do that. That is why we sought him out as our coach. Our baseball facility is second to none. We expect to and want to have success in baseball."
Skinner was a star baseball player at St. Paul's before playing at Millsaps, Bossier Community College and becoming an excellent player at UNO, helping the Privateers to a Sun Belt Conference Championship in 2000.
"I have been fortunate to be part of winning teams in many places," Skinner said. "We want to institute that winning attitude here and get to a higher level in quick fashion."