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Two Monroe coaches to be honored

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MONROE, La., (KNOE 8 News) - Two area coaches will be honored as part of Bayou Jamb 2011, at ULM's Malone Stadium. 

Lifetime Achievement Awards will be presented to Coach Van Leigh of Monroe and the late Coach Henry W. "Woody" Boyles of Monroe.

Coach Van Leigh is known as "Mr. Track" within the Twin Cities. Coach Leigh came to Monroe in 1950 after graduating from LSU in Baton Rouge to teach science at Neville in the morning and P.E. at Georgia Tucker Elementary in the afternoon. During that time, Leigh discovered track was virtually non-existent in Monroe. In fact, there was not a high school track in Monroe until Leigh suggested one be built at Neville in 1958.

From that time forward, Coach Leigh has been closely linked to track. He coached track, football and basketball for 16 years at Lee Junior High. He also helped with track at Neville High School.

Coach Leigh is perhaps the single most prominent force in area prep track circles thanks to his untiring volunteer efforts to promote and direct local meets in and around the Twin Cities. Since the 1950s he has directed approximately 600 track meets as the clerk of course making sure each meet ran precisely and smoothly.

Coach Leigh was honored recently when Neville High School named its track meet "The Van Leigh Relays" after the longtime Lee Junior High mentor.

Coach Leigh is still actively involved in sports at Neville. He, with the help of his wife, Syble, handles preseason football ticket sales for the Neville Tigers.

The late Coach Henry W. "Woody" Boyles began his football career by playing for Coach Jim Malone at Northeast Louisiana Junior College. He was the first T-formation quarterback for the Indians and played from 1942-1943 and, after service in World War II, continued his football career at Northeast from 1945-1947. He then went on to play football for Tulane and graduated there. Following graduation, he was an assistant football coach at Northeast for four years and was the first baseball coach at Northeast. He was inducted into the NLU Sports Hall of Fame in 1986.

After several other coaching stints, Coach Boyles coached in Oak Grove from 1958-1965, building a program over those years that established Oak Grove as a premier football program in Louisiana. After another coaching job that took him to Caldwell Parish, Coach Boyles began teaching at NLU, but he also remained in high school coaching by taking over the football programs at various private schools in Ouachita Parish.

Coach Boyles coached at River Oaks High School from 1974-1980 and again from 1986 until his death in 1987. The River Oaks football stadium is named after him. He also coached at St. Frederick High School and later took over the football program at Ridgedale Academy in West Monroe. It was at Ridgedale that he had his first undefeated season, taking the LISA Class A State Championship in 1985.

Coach Boyles is ranked 34 all-time on the Louisiana High School Football win list, with 210 wins over a 30-year period. His all-time record was 210-83-10.

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