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Spotlight on Former Athlete: Brian Soignier - Football 1994-99 & Track & Field 1995-99
Soignier finds perfect place to learn from life, help others
By Bruce Brown
Life may not be perfect for Brian Soignier, but it's hard to argue with his situation.
The former Ragin' Cajun two-sport performer in both football and track is married to his high school sweetheart, has two sons who bring joy in different ways and he helps people to feel better every day as a physical therapist.
What's not to like?
The trick is to take setbacks and turn them into assets, something Soignier has made an art form.
Losses? He turned them into learning experiences.
Injuries became opportunities to gain perspective on life, as well as identifying with the pain of others.
In many ways, life was a carnival at Cecilia High School. Soignier played any sport the Bulldogs offered, lettering in football, basketball, baseball and track and field, sliding easily from one season and task to the next.
He played quarterback in football, leading CHS to two state finals in his final two seasons.
When the spring came, he would move smoothly from baseball practice and pitching to throwing the javelin in track.
When it came time for college, the choice was easy. He would have the chance to compete in two sports at UL, which also happened to be the academic destination of Cher, his future bride and love of his life.
“I had the chance to compete in two sports that were having success, and someone I loved dearly and wanted in my life was going to go there,” Soignier said. “It checked all the boxes.”
The opportunity didn't have a traditional Cinderella ending, featuring bowl games and javelin titles, as injuries blocked the door.
But it did set the stage for a meaningful life, productive adulthood and long-lasting friendships, which are just as important..
First, though, came the small town lessons learned in Cecilia.
“You could do everything at Cecilia, be a multi-sport athlete,” Soignier said. “Coaches did a good job of working with us on that. We were a triple-A high school, so we needed all the athletes we could get,
“We had guys like Jamaican Dartez, Anthony Clement and Ed Singleton, We always told Anthony and Ed to get off the bus first. Anthony was 6-7, Ed was about 6-5. We always wanted them first off the bus when we went somewhere.
“I remember the Breaux Bridge game my senior year. Breaux Bridge was always the game of the year. It was standing room only, people packed around the field. I could throw a touchdown, and could see the faces of my classmates (nearby) on the sidelines.
“They had the best defense in the area, but we had a great game. Really moved the ball on them. It was a great showing.”
While that night was special, the Bulldogs' two losses in the Superdome Classic brought them down to earth. But it didn't spoil Soignier, who learned from both experiences.
“The failures in life don't define who you are,” he said. “Coach (Tony) Robicheaux used to say, 'There's winning, and learning.' That's something I may not have understood as an 18-year old high school quarterback.
“It made me work more. Life is going to be hard. You are not always going to win. That's something you understand better at age 45. You can work hard for an opportunity and lose, which you classify as a defeat. But you're better prepared for it.”
Stokley, Lancon and injuries
Soignier began his Cajun football career behind the school's all-time passing leader, Jake Delhomme, at the height of success enjoyed by coach Nelson Stokley and two Big West Conference titles.
He learned from and became close to Delhomme, who led an historic win over Texas A&M in 1996 before parting for the NFL.
As a scout team quarterback, Soignier enjoyed bantering during practice with starting cornerback Tim Sensley, who has become a lifelong friend.
He was coached by Gerald Broussard, who encouraged Soignier's dream of becoming a physcial therapisr and whose son John is a member of Soignier's team now.
Coaching legend Lancon was Soignier's event coach in the javelin, but assistants Tommy Badon and Boo Schexnayder were equally influencial.
Coaches and leaders like Stokley, Lancon and baseball's Robicheaux can help an athlete realize the bigger pictiure – something that came in handy for Soignier.
He never got the chance to fill Delhomme's shoes as the UL quarterback, as injuries changed the picture.
“My junior year, we were playing at Texas A&M, and I got knocked out with a knee injury,” Soignier said. “(Wide receiver) Brandon Stokley hurt his knee in that game, too. We watched it together on the sidelines.”
What they saw was a 66-0 loss as A&M avenged the previous year's upset at Cajun Field.
“We were going to Arkansas my senior year,” he recalled. “I was named the starter on a Monday, captain on Thursday and I dislocated my throwing shoulder that week. They moved me to receiver.
“That injury ended up hurting me in track. I had begun to do well in several events (javelin, decathlon) and had some marks that might have had a chance at a national ranking.
“But you learn from that.”
What is important
“People are important,” Soignier said. “I always wanted to help people, and I can use my experiences to relate to those who need my help.
“Everyone's different. You could have three different people with torn ACL's, and you'll have three different approaches.You want to be helpful. You want to be impactful.
“The same principles apply to everybody. There are core values you keep as a whole.”
When possible, Soignier and Sensley have conducted sports camps to relate to young students. The focus can have a wide lens.
“We talk with them about having impactful relationships, how to be a better husband, father, better in the community, a better student,” Soignier said. “How to bring love and unity to a lot of people.”
Those are messages Soignier is glad to share with sons Leighton and Abram as he marvels at their differences and interests.
“Abram is the one who's into sports,” Soignier said. “Leighton is into the arts, into acting. I was afraid at first he wouldn't get the fulfillment you get in sports, but in some ways he gets more.
“It's all the same thing in either area. You have to work hard, focus, be accountable, be a good teammate – to succeed.”
With such basic notions in place, you can succeed even if a team doesn't.
It's something Soignier knows and puts to use as he relates to some 200 people under his wing at MTS Physical Therapy and Wellness, the official physical therapy provider for the Ragin' Cajuns.
Recent TV ads noted that only 2 percent of college athletes go on to be professionals in that sport. Brian Soignier arrived at a much more valuable destination.
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Click here for the 1998 Football Photo Gallery.
Click here for Brian's Athletic Network Profile.
Click here for the 2007-present annual/chronological listings of the Spotlight on Former Athletes.
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