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Gene VanHook is used to people calling him "Coach" or "Teach." But until recently, no one ever called him "Doc."

All that changed on his second day as principal of Jennings (La.) High School, when Mr. VanHook delivered a baby.

During the noon lunch hour, a student began complaining of stomach pains and had gone to the attendance office to arrange to leave school when it became clear she was in labor. Before the police and an ambulance could reach the school, Mr. VanHook, a former basketball coach and mathematics teacher, was pressed into service as an obstetrician.

"Thank goodness she was full term and had a normal delivery," says Mr. VanHook, a 13-year veteran of the local school system. "If not, it could have been disastrous."

The result was a healthy, 8-pound boy. Mother and child are doing fine, Mr. VanHook reports.

Although Mr. VanHook has fathered three children of his own, he'd never been involved in their delivery, he says, except for a close call when his wife went into labor in the car on the way to the hospital. But they made it in the nick of time.

Lacking experience, his first venture into obstetrics was "pretty tough," recalls Mr. VanHook.

Jennings is a rural parish and does not have alternative facilities for pregnant students to continue their studies, Mr. VanHook said. "They continue to attend right up to the moment," he said.

Mr. VanHook is hoping he can get back to his usual job description. ''It's my first delivery," he says, "and, hopefully, my last."--gb

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