Leadership Lessons, Coaching College Baseball & Kicking Cancer's A$$ with Gee Cassard

Published: Apr 19 2021

Gee Cassard is the Head Baseball Coach at Ascension Catholic High School in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. We first met when he recruited me to play baseball at Nicholls State University, where he was the Assistant Coach / Head Recruiter at the time.

Coach Gee gave me a chance to play Division I baseball, and for that I'm forever grateful. I don’t know how my life works out if he doesn't give me a shot.

In this episode, we spend significant time swapping baseball stories. We recall games & road trips we shared at NSU at the turn of the century, which included "the bus trip from hell"—we went up to UL-Monroe for three games, west to Dallas for a rest stop, before driving up to Kansas to play the iconic Wichita State Shockers. Then we drove south to Texas State University for a controversial series that ultimately took us out of contention.

We reminisce about Rondon Anderson's "walk-up" song: Project Chick by Cash Money Millionaires. Also, we discuss Rondon's moonshot homeruns and the whip he could generate with the bat ala Bryce Harper. And I share what Matt Overman (former Nicholls St. Ace & Miami Marlins signee) remembers about Coach Gee.

I tell the story of a game we struck out 17 times against Lamar University pitcher Clay Hensley. As a San Diego Padres pitcher, he gave up Barry Bonds' 755th homerun, before getting suspended by MLB for steroid use. Gee & I also discuss how much steroids were part of baseball's culture in those years.

We recall a game at Turchin Stadium against 9th-ranked Tulane [at the time], in which I was ejected from the game after arguing whether I should be allowed to take first base after getting hit by a pitch (HBP). I had never heard Coach's perspective on that game, which is forever etched in both our minds due to the homeplate umpire's outlandish behavior. My first-ever collegiate grand slam was overturned due to a beta boy umpire named Eddie Newsome.

Additionally, we discuss Nicholls State's lack of resources during those years. Coach Gee said we weren’t on equal footing. "There were times when they [athletics] weren’t fully funded. [Nicholls State] didn’t have the budget for recruiting, operations, and at times, [11.7] scholarships.

We also discuss Coach Gee’s colon cancer diagnosis & how he survived. He says he rejected symptoms initially, thinking nothing was wrong with him. It wasn’t until he was referred to a doctor that he found out he had not one, but two tumors.

His advice to listeners is to always monitor your health, listen to your body, and go see a doctor if something doesn’t feel right. He says colon cancer is not an old man’s disease and could happen to any of us—women included—regardless of age.

Gee's wife, Courtney, was amazing throughout his ordeal. He tells the story of when they first learned of his diagnosis—their parents were crying in the hospital waiting room, and Courtney stood up and said, "Look, we're not crying. We're gonna kick cancer's ass."

And they did.

Insightful discussion with a man I greatly respect & admire. Gee might be my favorite guest of all time.