LSU gymnastics legend D-D Breaux returns to Donaldsonville for television special

Michael Tortorich
WAFB anchor Lauren Westbrook, LSU gymnastics coaching legend D-D Breaux, and photographer Brandon Shackelford pose for a photo in front of The First and Last Chance Cafe in Donaldsonville.

WAFB recently produced a special chronicling the life of legendary LSU gymnastics coach Sara “D-D” Breaux, a native of Donaldsonville.

After 43 seasons of building the LSU program, the 67-year-old coach decided to retire this year. In telling the story of her career, the WAFB crew took a tour of the historic Ascension Parish city where Breaux’s journey began.

WAFB anchor Lauren Westbrook and photographer Brandon Shackelford accompanied Breaux as she went around her hometown.

“Is Michel here today?” Breaux asked as she entered Bellina’s Grocery store on St. Patrick Street.

As she rounded the corner, owner Michel Bellina could be seen smiling from ear to ear.

“He’d better be slicing ham!” Breaux said as she greeted her old friend.

The next stop was The First and Last Chance restaurant on Railroad Avenue.

“Go Tigers!” owner Julie Guillot said as Breaux entered. “You can’t come in without saying it!”

Later, Breaux was shown at the recently revamped Crescent Park along Mississippi Street. Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan was there to greet her.

Breaux pointed out her family’s house located on Chetimatches Street, where she said she had “a great small-town upbringing.” She grew up in a family of seven children.

“It was quite a community,” Breaux said while describing the relationships her family had with their neighbors.

In a letter to Tiger fans, Breaux recalled how her mother drove her to practice four times a week from Donaldsonville to Baton Rouge, and made clothes she wore for LSU competitions as an adult. Sadly, her mother passed away in December, which expedited her thinking about transitioning away from coaching.

“When we had no one in the stands, I could always look up and see the Breaux Krewe in my section,” she wrote. “I cannot thank them enough for the support they have always offered to me and this program.”

The WAFB special included interviews with former student-athletes, coaches, and family members. Breaux led the team from a time when the program struggled for recognition and resources, to the present, where gymnastics has gained a wide fan base.

Breaux finished her career with an overall record of 800-410-8. She led team to 35 appearances in the NCAA Championships, including a final-four finish and seven top-six finishes in 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

In closing her letter, Breaux said she will remain active with LSU as an ambassador. 

“I do bleed purple and gold and know firsthand all of the great things that LSU athletics and academics mean to our state,” she wrote.