It’s hard to get anything past Harold “Butch” Wax.
Much less a choreographed event such as last Friday’s naming of Denham Springs High School’s athletic fieldhouse in Wax’s honor.
“I did not expect that,” Wax said. “It was a total surprise and I didn’t know any of that was taking place until it happened. It was really a shocker.”
Wax, 75, believed he was solely on hand for Friday’s season opener with Denham Springs hosting Hahnville as a part of representing the school’s 1972 football team, which was recognized during halftime.
Wax was the defensive line coach on the only 11-man team the Yellow Jackets have had reach the state championship game. That group wound up tied 26-all with Hahnville and finished as the state runners-up because they had three fewer first downs than the Tigers.
With 22 of the 44-member team on hand, including Wax and fellow assistant Bobby Satcher, they were introduced to the Yellow Jacket crowd when Wax, who was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the team, was asked to take a step forward.
“I thought we were fixing to leave the field,” Wax said.
Wax, who prefers to deflect praise and share in any accomplishments, stood there in amazement as his legacy at the school played out, one achievement at a time until reaching the dramatic conclusion.
The school’s fieldhouse will forever bear the name Harold “Butch” Wax, an honor approved by the Livingston Parish School Board and one seemingly commensurate to the 42 years of service he dedicated to his alma mater.
“It was a well-kept secret,” Wax said. “It’s nice to get those compliments, those special words. It doesn’t come close to comparing to how much I enjoyed the time spent with the players, the different games and all the different things you go through. Denham Springs High School in general is a great place.”
Adding special meaning to the evening were the number of family members who added to the surprise, including Wax’s wife of 46 years Lois, their two sons Bryan and Brandon and five grandchildren.
Wax didn’t know any of them were there until he was asked to turn around to the visitor’s sideline, hitting him much like a blind-side blitz.
“It was special, no doubt about it,” he said.
The longevity of Wax’s attachment to Denham Springs High School began when he was a student, where he was a three-sport letter winner in football (quarterback), basketball (point guard) and track.
When he got into coaching as an assistant in football and basketball, Wax counted such purple-and-gold icons as Louis “Loody” Carlisle and Alton Leggette among his mentors who were on the ground floor of his career as a successful head coach.
Wax took over in 1975 as head football coach and athletic director and over the next 22 years was considered a pillar of the school, helping Denham Springs to a 152-84-2 record during his illustrious career, but more importantly he believed, touching the lives of countless players along the way.
He twice coached the Yellow Jackets to undefeated regular seasons in 1978 and 1983, was voted the district Coach of the Year five times and has been elected to both the Denham Springs High School and LHSAA Halls of Fame.
Wax transitioned into the next phase of his life of service at his alma mater, becoming the principal of Denham Springs High School in 1997. He held that position for 12 years until his retirement in 2010.
“It’s a big-time honor,” he said. “You see all the people that were involved over the years and they’re just as much of a part of it. Denham Springs High School has been a special part of my life. Most of my life, it’s been the life. From a personal standpoint, this would have to rank up at the very top.”
Even if he didn’t see it coming.