WATCH: Lotief On 700th Win And Handling Cold Weather
Not many coaches reach 700 career wins in any sport. Mike Lotief reached a massive milestone in his coaching career, but in one of his proudest moments he decided to deflect the praise.
Lotief preaches a selfless mentality to all his players. Whenever they receive an individual award, he always gives them recognition but reminds everyone that they couldn't do it without the support of their teammates. After reaching 700 career wins this weekend, he explained why he didn't feel right being the only one to receive credit for it.
"It seems very archaic to me that in athletics they attribute wins and losses to a single person," Lotief said. "I don't know who came up with that idea, but to me it's very counter-intuitive."
Lotief's Ragin' Cajuns often use the term "us" in a large sense of the word. Nothing is about "me" or "I." The term "us" goes beyond the team too. It involves the fans, the university and the community. It refers to all the people that help keep this program primed for success.
In an eloquent speech at the end of his press conference (speech starts at 9:06 mark in the video above), Lotief reminded everyone that the university has been committed to the sport of softball for the last 35 years. Even when the administration couldn't help or provide what the team needed, the community stepped up to fill the need.
Lotief wanted to thank the entire Ragin' Cajuns family for helping him reach 700 wins, from the fans in the stands to the players on the field and the men and woman behind the scenes.
"One person doesn't do it. One person can't do it. It's a family, it's a village. We like to say, it's us. It's all of us together pulling in the same direction. From the bottom of my heart, I'm so grateful and thankful to be a Ragin' Cajun," Lotief expressed sincerely.
Lotief takes great pride in coaching the Ragin' Cajuns Softball program. Him and his wife, Stefni, built their life around the team and the sport they love. After reaching 700 wins, his only goal is to keep adding to that tally.
The team is off to another solid start this season. With all the wins so far this season, Lotief is actually more proud of the way they dealt with the few losses.
What makes Lotief the happiest about the way his team played so far this season?
"That our early struggles didn't put us in a tailspin. That it just motivated these kids to continue to be hopeful, and continue to work and continue to get better," Lotief explained.
Louisiana mowed down the competition at the Ragin' Cajuns Invitational Tournament, racking up 71 runs in only six games. Lotief's teams always swing the bat well, and they're getting production all throughout the lineup.
The top of the lineup is performing like veterans, new faces like Daniella Chavez, Beth Ashley and Lexie Comeaux are stepping up in the middle of the lineup and Kassidy Zeringue and Kelli Martinez are turning the lineup over consistently. There are no holes in the lineup right now.
"This team is going to be good offensively," Lotief said honestly. "We talked early on about getting some flow and giving us an opportunity to have some time and giving these players a chance to play together."
The Cajuns mashed 17 home runs in the tournament. It was an impressive offensive performance, and one player stood out in particular.
Comeaux was responsible for six of the 17 home runs, and she went 9-for-15 with 15 RBI in the tournament. Her performance in the tournament earned her Hitter of the Week honors from the LSWA and the Sun Belt Conference, and it proved that she is settling in at the plate.
Lotief said Comeaux's emergence came as no surprise to him. He knew the talent she possessed, the rest of the country is just starting to learn what he already knew.
"I just thought the first couple weeks, she wasn't comfortable," Lotief pointed out. "I think she was prepared for opening day, but I think it's taken her a couple weeks to get comfortable and get in the flow."
It's not just Comeaux feeling the flow either. DJ Sanders is one of the hottest hitters in the country, Haley Hayden and Kara Gremillion are setting the table at the top of the lineup, and Aleah Craighton, Chavez and Ashley are driving home a ton of runs. This lineup is dangerous, and don't expect them to cool off any time soon.
Speaking of cooling off, things are going to get mighty cold this weekend up in Boone, North Carolina.
"I hate to be cold. They said the forecast is snow," Lotief said. He also joked that he might try to find a way out of being on the field, "I think there is an NCAA rule that you can't play when it's a certain temperature. I want to see my doctor tomorrow to see if I can get an excuse."
Luckily for Lotief, he won't have to get a medical excuse to avoid freezing his butt off. The series was officially cancelled due to bad weather, so Lotief and his team will avoid the snow and ice.
The Ragin' Cajuns are already heating up early in the season. Now that Lotief has 700 wins under his belt, it's time to keep adding to that total.