Signature Q&A: Jay Ladner

Jay Ladner is a Hattiesburg native (Oak Grove High School Class of 1984), and he played baseball and basketball at The University of Southern Mississippi. He enjoyed a few years of pharmaceutical sales after college, but being the son of a coach, he knew that was his calling. He spent two decades coaching at St. Stanislaus on the Gulf Coast, then a few years later he had the opportunity to coach Division I basketball at Southeastern Louisiana. He’s excited to be back where it all started, at Southern Miss.­

What is your idea of happiness?
On a personal note, my family. As a coach, you spend a lot more time with other people’s kids than you do your own. As far as basketball goes, watching a young man reach his potential and achieve success by the process of giving his best every day. That gives me my biggest enjoyment in coaching.

What is your greatest fear?  
As a coach, mine is of us not reaching our potential, from individuals to the team.

What is your most prized possession?  
My children.

Which talent would you most like to have?  
As a player, I wish I had a better ability to run and was faster than I was.

What do you most value in your friends?

Who are your heroes in real life?  
First and foremost, my dad. In the era I grew up in, Pete Maravich, Archie Manning and Dr. J (Julius Erving) were my heroes growing up.

Who is your favorite fictional hero?
Uncle Sam.

What was the happiest day of your life?  
The days my children were born, equally.

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?
I’m a huge ‘80s music fan. I have a bunch of favorite groups, but U2 is certainly my favorite. I like a lot of outlaw country music too.

Who are your favorite authors?  
Willie Morris and Rick Bragg. They are guys from the south, Alabama and Mississippi, and talk about things that boys here can relate to.

Other than the Pine Belt, where is your favorite place to be?
The Mississippi Gulf Coast.

If you could have dinner with anyone,dead or alive, who would it be?
That’s an easy one: Jesus.

What is your greatest regret?
I think that because of my profession, it would be spending more time with my children. You’re just gone so much coaching that you miss out on things they did, especially from traveling.

What words would people use to describe you?  
Easy-going, slow to anger and easy to get along with.

What is your present state of mind?
Anxious about the upcoming season with our new team.

What is your motto?  
Do the best I can every day.

What would you eat for your last meal?
Easy one. My mom’s red beans and rice and fried chicken.