The phrase "Fight Like Mike" became so much more than a slogan for Ragin' Cajuns Softball. It became their way of life over the last two seasons.

Michael Lotief's public battle with chronic throat infections threatened to take him away from the game he loves, but through cutting edge medical procedures and with the aid of top of the line care, Lotief is still pouring all his passion into his softball program. The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) selected Lotief to receive the Donna Newberry Perseverance Award back in September, but he finally accepted the honor this week.

The Perserverance Award is named after the late Donna Newberry, an iconic coach at Muskingum College and a NFCA Hall of Famer who passed away in 2010 after her battle with breast cancer came to an end. Lotief joins Notre Dame Head Coach Deanna Gumpf and the late John Keyes as recipients of the Perseverance Award.

Everybody in Cajun Nation pulled for Lotief to win his fight with health, and he continues to defeat his illness and live his live with the passion, determination and drive that make him such an incredible coach and mentor. He doesn't like getting much individual attention, but the NFCA made sure to recognize him for his fight.

Lotief credits his team for helping him through the toughest test of his life. The women of Ragin' Cajuns Softball, along with the other coaches and staff members, rallied around their leader when he needed them most.

It's been an emotional experience for Lotief, who tried to describe it in a statement through the university.

"We're living life together," Lotief said. "Don't think it's just softball, we're living life. Softball is just what brings us together."

The success on the softball is evident, with the Ragin' Cajuns reaching 14 regionals, seven super regionals and three Women's College World Series, but his impact on the team the last two years has been simply profound. The entire community truly learned what it means to "Fight Like Mike," and seeing him prowling the softball field for the Cajuns is a sweet sight for anybody who saw him at his most vulnerable moment.

Lotief does more than coach softball. He inspires the women on his roster on a daily basis, and the Perseverance Award only represents a small portion of the respect his name brings in the softball world.