Coach’s Corner: with Michael Lotief
Selflessness tends to reward an individual, or a group of people, a lot more in the long run, than selfishness does. In this week's edition of "Coach's Corner", UL co-head softball coach Michael Lotief discusses selfishness, and how it fits into both sports, and everyday life. See this week's segment, below.
May 01, 2011 – what a day.
The day started out by US meeting RUDY Ruttiger (the Notre Dame football player whose story was made into the movie “RUDY”). He was in town for the Man-to-Man conference and the softball team got a private audience with him Sunday morning. I asked him, “Why did you do it?” (Walk-on to the football team, 5’5”, defensive end, play on the scout team defense for 2 years and be a human blocking dummy with no chance of ever being a starter and probably never dressing out for a real game). He said, “That was my dream”. To go to Notre Dame and walk-on to the football team. “I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. It took me 27 years to accomplish those 27 seconds.” WOW! I asked him if it was hard to do it with all the naysayers telling him it was a pipe dream and without the support of so many in his support structure – he said, he relied on his faith in God and the positive friendships. I said that to play on the scout team knowing you would never dress was an incredible SELFLESS act and he said the experience made him a better person and he knew that in turn he was helping make his Notre Dame teammates better too. He said, “I was having fun.” He said, “when GOOFY thoughts enter your mind, let them go. Remember the good stuff. When the playing days come and go, people will remember you for WHO YOU ARE and the difference you make more than any championship or award you will ever win”. SELFLESSNESS.
See my RUDY blog at: http://espn1420.com/coachs-corner-with-michael-lotief-7/.
Then we celebrated Gabby Bridges’ SENIOR DAY and played some softball. What an incredible celebration – like NONE OTHER. What a special day, not only for Gabby – but also for the RAGIN’ CAJUNS SOFTBALL FAMILY. At the end of the game, it was inspiring to hear Gabby tearfully thank so many people who made this experience so special. Gabby has truly lived a dream – started every game of her career except 2; played in a College World Series; getting a great education; allowed the experience to help her mature and grow as a person and into a team leader with self-confidence; made friends for life. In her comments, Gabby paid special recognition to all her teammates and sisters who “TOGETHER” embarked on the journey. She humbly deflected any attention and instead preferred to talk about the TEAM. SELFLESSNESS. I particularly enjoyed seeing all the former players and alumni in attendance; it gives me comfort to know that this program was built BY THEM (their sweat and their HEARTS) and that they still take pride in US and what it means to be a RAGIN’ CAJUN. Even though their playing careers are over, the alumni still feel the special connection to the next group of players and want to be there to support them on their journey and help them in anyway possible to achieve their goals and dreams. SELFLESSNESS. I especially am appreciative for the “LOVE AFFAIR” between the fans of this community and the members of the softball team. Our fans are the best fans in the country – INCREDIBLE HEARTS and when I approach them to tell them THANK YOU, every single one of them says, “Thank ya’ll for allowing us to be a part of something so special”. WOW. SELFLESSNESS. In their giving and sharing of their time, talents and treasures to this program and motivating US and making the softball experience so special, all they are aware of is how their lives are being “touched” and how in their giving to others, they really are receiving.
Then at the end of the day, the world finds out that: Osama bin Laden is dead. From September 11, 2001 to May 01, 2011 – almost 10 years after flying planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and changing our way of life, we kept our word and ACCOMPLISHED JUSTICE. It was fascinating to be up all night and to see HISTORY being made and to feel the raw emotions throughout our country -- college campuses and city streets erupting in celebration. (My undergraduate studies at U.S.L. was POLITICAL SCIENCE/emphasis on Middle East politics. That part of the world fascinated me and I thought I could solve the world’s problems; then I got involved in coaching softball and I realized I could not manage the problems of a group of 20 year old women).
Why and what were we celebrating? Hopefully, OUR SELFLESSNESS and SACRIFICE (and not revenge nor hatred). I think through the events of 09/11, we all have gained a deeper appreciation for living in this country. I know that we sewed American flag patches on our jerseys/uniforms as a constant reminder not to take our freedoms nor liberties or opportunities for granted. I know that after 09/11 and probably again now after bin Laden’s assassination, some people become fearful of another attack. But to me, this is an opportunity to express our appreciation for the SELFLESSNESS we continue to experience everyday throughout this country. We all remember the devastation of Hurricanes KATRINA & RITA – but my lasting memories are of all the people who felt compelled to come here to help “strangers” who were really “brothers and sisters”. Or I remember the firefighters at Ground Zero who flocked to New York to help. And now in Tuscaloosa, there is the destruction of the tornado and people are opening up their hearts yet again. In our gravest moments of need, the selflessness and greatness of this country shines through.
We celebrate the bravery of our military. Just this past week, I sat down and visited with a veteran of the Vietnam War (awarded medals of honor for his service and bravery for going beyond the call of duty). When I think of war, I think of young soldiers – 20 year old kids, sons of parents, husbands and fathers – who are being killed in combat or dying in explosions. I asked the vet, were you ever scared for your safety? He said, “my mind and thoughts were always on trying to figure out how to beat the enemy. Sure, I wanted to know why something went wrong, but more importantly, I wanted to figure out how to win and defeat the enemy. My thoughts were always about protecting my guys and making sure we stood together and that we had a winning plan. Me and my guys were never going to BACK DOWN.” Talking to him about war and being involved in face to face combat and gunfights and his experiences of watching some of his platoon members killed right by his side, and on more than one occasion facing his own reckoning of death, made me realize the bravery and selflessness it takes to be a soldier. While I listened, my emotions and thoughts were about my safety and how I would be scared to die and about what the hell we were doing there in the first place (my thoughts were about ME) -- it intrigued me that his thoughts were about the fight and his men, and about US and protecting our freedoms, and the United States of America, and doing his job to the best of his ability, with flawless execution. Amazing. SELFLESSNESS.
When I heard the details of the Navy Seals attack on Bin Laden, all I could think about was my friend from the Vietnam War – we all are indebted to them for their bravery and their service and their SELFLESSNESS, but true to form – all they know is that they were just doing their job and doing the right thing and fighting for justice.
What a priceless day.
How does SELFLESSNESS fit into team athletics? I would love to have a RUDY, a GABBY, my military buddy, the alumni, and all our fans on the same team. Selflessness is an individual’s DEDICATION to a cause; and in order to accomplish that cause you need the contribution and selflessness and dedication of many in that group or on that team. Selflessness involves having a sense of purpose that transcends just YOU; finding true meaning and intrinsic satisfaction in being a part of a group mission. Selflessness is understanding what “collective responsibility” means. It is about becoming involved in your teammates’ daily struggles and development and progress, and making a difference in that person’s life – making them BETTER -- change their way of thinking or hold them accountable or pick them up when they are down or whatever. Selflessness is about thinking less about YOU and thinking more about US. Get out of yourself and get into the TEAM. Your self-interest becomes what is best for the TEAM. In the military, that may even mean giving your own life for the cause or the success of the mission or to save your fellow soldier.
Selflessness is a standard of GOOD. It is being generous in spirit. A selfless person gives back as much as possible. She helps others and deeply cares. A selfless person always considers the whole picture before they ever entertain thoughts about themselves. She or he understands devotion to duty. A selfless person has come to the realization that self-sacrifice is the highest moral duty, virtue and value. He or she understands that those sacrifices are for the benefit and welfare of others less fortunate. They understand that their chosen PATH is all about service to others. They have overcome the “ME” mindset and “take care of #1” mentality; and replaced it with US and the best interest of the group. She understands TEAMWORK; 9 ballplayers thinking and acting as 1 on the softball field; ONE HEARTBEAT; all with the same motives.
In the game of life, our selflessness links us with humanity. It is in service to others that we find true meaning in our lives and justification for our next breath.
USA! We are blessed to be Americans and experience the selflessness of so many in this country. But we are still part of a “bigger” team that involves the rest of the world. As the rest of the world fights and struggles to model their TEAM after ours, our thoughts and prayers should be with them.
GOOD TIMES – A LOOK BACK:
The RAGIN’ CAJUNS TOP 10 Career Homeruns:
1. Danyele Gomez 83
2. Holly Tankersly 71
3. Gabriele Bridges 65
4. Lacey Bertucci 58
5. Alana Addison 57
6. Christi Orgeron 45
7. Stephanie DeFeo 43
8. Ashley Evans 37
9. Brittany Bryant 37
10. Jana Mower 32
The RAGIN’ CAJUNS TOP 10 Career STOLEN BASES:
1. Dorsey Steamer 149
2. Jerie Alexander 104
3. Vanessa Avant 75
4. Katie Smith 66
5. Vallie Gaspard 62
6. Erikka Murphy 59
7. Joni Podhorez 56
8. Karli Hubbard 51
9. Jill Robertson 50
10. Stacie Gremillion 50
The top 8 on the stolen base list were/are all SLAPPERS and outfielders too! Hopefully the slappers will quit all that “whining” – they “got showed some love”. WE LOVE YA’LL. SLAPPERS RULE!!!
GEAUX CAJUNS!!! Next week, COACH’S CORNER will take a week’s break because the conference tournament starts. Remember FAN & FAMILY NIGHT is Tuesday at the softball field – there will be a homerun derby and an awesome firework display. See you at the softball field next week!