Champagne brings energy to court

The UNA Lions basketball program has been run by Coach Bobby Champagne for the past nine seasons with an overall record of 140-113.


Before becoming head coach for the Lions, Champagne was an assistant coach for Georgia State, Louisiana Lafayette, Oklahoma and Washington State under coaches Kelvin Sampson and Lefty Driesell.

He has used their coaching techniques and others to prompt his coaching style, but there is also a different side UNA fans have become accustomed to: his energy on the court.

Q. What made you want to be a college basketball coach?

A.“I wasn’t smart enough to do anything else,” Champagne said. “Growing up, I had a lot of good coaches, and it was like a natural progression at South Alabama. I got lucky with guys offering me jobs and giving me a chance to coach and put my foot in the door.”


Q.What is your best memory so far as a coach?

A.“Being in coaching 29 years has all been good memories,” he said. “The long bus rides and building relationships with the players are probably the best part about it. I mean, I still keep in touch with players that I coached at Washington State 20 years ago.”


Q.What is your favorite part about coaching?

A.“The players are my favorite part of the coaching,” he said. “I have either met or coached players from all over the world and United States. Coaching has allowed me to visit every state in the union and some nice destinations like Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Alaska.”


Q. Do you have some hobbies that you do away from coaching?

A.“I used to try to play golf, but I don’t do that anymore,” he said. “My golf game is like my basketball team: I try to put up as many shots that I can on the golf course. My hobbies are being with the kids now because they are active doing their thing. I enjoy going to minor league ball parks with them.”

Q.  What is some of the music that you listen to?

A.“Oh, I listen to everything,” he said. “Well, let’s see what we got. We have Barry White, a little Rolling Stones, Mark Brossard and Matchbox 20. It’d probably be more on your classic rock and on Sirius Radio Classic Vinyl.”


Q.You are very animated on the sidelines. Have you always been that way with basketball?

A.“I have always been enthusiastic, and I like our players to play with a whole lot of energy,” he said. “I think sometimes the players can take on the personality of the coach out there on the floor.”

Q. What coach or player did you look up to growing up?

A.“My favorite player was Andrew Toney of the 76ers,” he said. “Growing up in Southwest Louisiana, I went to every home game the Ragin’ Cajuns played. I try to steal stuff from coaches all the time by reading books and learning some of their styles and techniques that I could use.”


Q. What is your favorite restaurant here in town?

A.“Oh no, you can’t do that because I would have people get mad at me,” he said. “I try to eat at as many of the local establishments as possible. I’m a big Food Network type of guy, but I like going to Bunyan’s, Ricatoni’s, Rosie’s and Staggs. At home, I like my cooking, but I don’t know if anyone else does or not.”


Q. March Madness is coming up soon. Do you get to watch any Division I ball?

A. “I try to watch a lot at night once everybody goes to bed at my house and I’m done with what I need to do with my team,” he said. “I watch a lot of college basketball. I think Syracuse and Kentucky are the two best teams in the country. I’m a classic North Carolina fan, I guess. I fill a bracket out with my kids every year, and usually my youngest son does the best.”