Michael LaPlante is best known in this area as the former head coach of Jacksonville State University’s men’s basketball team. Currently an attorney in Anniston, LaPlante serves as board president for the RMC Foundation. The foundation is hosting a “Scholly Night” on Jan. 18 from 3:30-6:30 p.m. for all high school seniors in Calhoun County. Students can get help filling out scholarship forms and the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), as well as help with interview skills.
What is your connection to this area?
I have been in Alabama since 1996, and I have been in this area since 2000. Before becoming an attorney, I was a college basketball coach; that is what brought me to Alabama originally. When I got out of coaching in 2008, I went to law school. After I finished law school, my wife and I decided that we would stay here, so I could practice. My wife is administrator at The Surgery Center. Living in the community, you want to be as involved in the community as you can be, and two of the things I am passionate about are healthcare and the hospital, so I got involved with the RMC Foundation.
Where have you coached?
When I graduated the University of Maine, where I had played basketball, I became an assistant coach at Yale University. Then, I went back to my alma mater as an assistant coach. From there, I was very fortunate to get a job in the SEC at Auburn for four years before I became head coach at Jacksonville State. I loved coaching, but I did not love what it does to your family; there is a lot of traveling involved.
Is there a similarity between coaching and working as an attorney?
Coaching is communicating, and you are trying to bring the best out of people and trying to figure out how to motivate them. As an attorney, you are trying to help somebody during one of the most stressful times in their lives: whether it is a financial stress, potential to lose their freedom or the stress of a family situation. Communication is a big part of that. If you can do a good job of relating to them, you can make it a lot less stressful for your athletes or your clients.
What is the RMC Foundation?
The focus for the foundation is to help the hospital and enhance what the hospital can provide. Our second focus is community outreach. I have been with the foundation for two years, and I am now the president of the board.
Why are you involved with the foundation?
My wife and I share a passion for healthcare, and being part of the foundation was a way for me to try to get involved in the community with a cause that I care deeply about. My wife has been involved in this area’s healthcare for about 14 or 15 years. There is nothing that impacts Calhoun County more than healthcare.
Tell us about the RMC Foundation’s Scholly Night.
This is our second annual Scholly Night for all high school seniors in Calhoun County. We have partnered with Eastman for this event.
We bring in people from the financial aid and admissions departments at Gadsden State and Jacksonville State University to assist the seniors. Dinner will be provided, and all students that register to attend the Scholly Night will be entered in a drawing for a laptop. Call 256-741-6359 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register to attend.
Why is Scholly Night important?
A lot of students do not understand how the financial aid and scholarship processes work. One of the great things that we do for everybody that comes in is help them fill out their FAFSA form.
Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at email@example.com.