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Spotlight On Former Athlete: Stefni Lotief Softball 1987-90, Coaches 1995-97 & 2000-12

Stefni Lotief at a Glance

As a Player

UL’s first All-American, 1989, 1990

UL’s first Academic All-American, 1990

Career Pitching (UL rank):

Wins, 78 (4)

Innings Pitched, 747 (3)

Games Started, 104 (4)

Earned Run Average, 0.66 (2)

Shutouts, 55 (2)

No-Hitters, 6 (t4)

Walks Allowed, 60 (1)

As a Coach

601-145 as coach, co-head coach of Cajuns, 12 years

2003 team reached College World Series, ranked No. 6 in nation

2008 team reached College World Series, ranked No. 8 in nation

Each of her teams won at least 40 games, including 53-6 in 2012

11 Sun Belt Conference regular season titles

10 Sun Belt Conference tournament titles

7 times Sun Belt Coach of the Year

14 All-Americans

Stefni Lotief forever a part of UL softball history

By Bruce Brown

Written for Athletic Network

Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns finished the 2013 softball season where they always seem to be ‘“ in postseason NCAA Tournament competition ‘“ but for the first time since 2000 Stefni Lotief wasn’t in the dugout.

The school’s first All-American and Academic All-American as a pitcher from 1987-90 (as Stefni Whitton), Lotief relinquished her co-head coach’s duties in 2012 to focus on family.

She spent the last school year as Director of Advancement at Ascension Episcopal School, where daughter Chelsea and son Andrew are students, while husband Michael continued to guide the UL program.

‘œIt’s been a good opportunity for me,’ said Stefni, who also coached AES girls basketball and softball. ‘œIt has given me the chance to grow as a person, to do different things.

‘œMy daughter is 16 now, and my son is 12, and I felt I needed to be there for them. That was getting tough to do when we (the Cajuns) were on the road. I’ve had no official capacity with the (UL) team, but I also miss the competition.’

Lotief was one of the first breakout stars in the Cajun program founded by Yvette Girouard, a dominant pitcher in an era when pitchers ruled the ballpark and scores of 1-0 and 2-1 were common.

‘œI had a love of the sport,’ said Lotief, who was coached by her father Charles Whitton in the Houston area. ‘œI had the ability to be competitive, to go out and give my best effort every time I stepped on the field.

‘œAs I look around today, my dad was always very giving of his time. Fortunately for me, he was very competitive. He was all about excellence. I didn’t feel pressure. It helped me.

‘œI was that kid who would go early and stay late.’

Lotief earned a degree in marketing at UL, as well as a masters in business administration, but retained her interest in her sport by pioneering youth fastpitch softball with select teams in the area.

Then, when Girouard left for LSU in 2001, she was the logical choice to follow her mentor at the UL helm.

‘œI was assistant dean in the college of business when Yvette left,’ Lotief said. ‘œI had coached a lot (including an assistant’s role with Girouard), and I felt obligated to take the (UL) position.

‘œI guess I had always been around the game, and had coached a lot of players in our select program like Jill Robertson, who all turned out to be phenomenal young women. I had helped coach in college at UL and North Carolina, and I knew the nuances of the game.

‘œIt was how I grew up; it’s what I did.’

The encouragement of husband Michael helped make the move a smooth one. Then when he paired with Stefni in 2003, the program gained added momentum.

‘œIf not for my husband, I could not have done what I did,’ Stefni said of making the leap in 2001 into full-time college coaching. ‘œI was pregnant with Andrew when I took the job, and Michael’s support was crucial. Then when he started coaching, the offense got a lot better. He’s a real student of the game.’

Advancements in bat technology helped to fuel a different approach to the game than the pitcher-dominant days, although an Ashley Brignac or a Jordan Wallace can still shine.

‘œObviously, bat technology helped,’ Lotief said. ‘œCoaching and resources help. You also have the influence of baseball, where you’re not looking to score just one run.

‘œI’m amazed at what kids can do today. There have also been improvements in training, more sports-specific training that works on the core but also on the explosive elements you need.’

The Cajun program flourished under the Lotiefs’ guidance, with the ultimate prize ‘“ a WCWS crown – still the goal each year.

‘œIt’s a journey,’ Lotief said. ‘œYou work as hard as you can and try to be there at the end. That’s the ultimate goal, and the girls truly believe it’s possible. If not, why put in all that work?’

For many, one of the highlights of the 2013 season will always remain the day that Girouard was welcomed back to the fold after years of acrimony. It was a move that may signal long-overdue reunions of the program.

‘œIt makes all the difference in the world,’ Lotief said. ‘œWe’ve always said the program embraces everybody. I was pleased to see that.’

Lotief, who has enjoyed the year but remains open to new challenges in the future, was asked about her own legacy at UL.

‘œI hope I’ll be remembered as part of the family,’ she said.

That feeling was reinforced when she was named Outstanding Alumni of 2012 by the UL Alumni Association, a fitting flourish to years associated with the University.

‘œThat was one of my most proud moments,’ Lotief said. ‘œI’ve always tried to give back to the community. None of the things I’ve done professionally has meant more.’

* * * * * * * * *

 1989 Softball Team

  

Stefni and Michael Lotief enjoy pregame festivities with their children while tailgating during the 2003 football season.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Our rich athletic traditions were entrusted to the vision, hope, loyalty, and dedication of those former athletes and we will forever owe them a debt of sincere gratitude. May God bless each of them and their families.

Anyone with information, materials, pictures, memorabilia, etc., of the university’s former athletic program participants is requested to contact Ed Dugas at athleticnetwork@louisiana.edu Thank you.

The Photo Gallery Link located on the left side of the home page at www.athleticnetwork.net contains over 12,000 pictures of former and current athletes and support groups. Just click on photo gallery and when the menu appears, click on the sport or support group you wish to view. The years of pictures posted for that team or group will appear and you may click on the year you wish to view. One click on a thumbnail picture or narrative and it is enlarged; a click on the enlarged photo and it reverts back to the thumbnail.

The Athletic Network seeks to post pictures of each team and support group for each year they represented the university.

The stories of the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 honorees featured in the Spotlight on Former Athletes are still included in the News Page and may be viewed by clicking on “more news” at the bottom right of the News Box, scrolling down, clicking on the title of the story. Those spotlight features which are no longer shown in the News Page, have been moved to the Lagniappe Link of the “History of UL Athletics” located on the left side of the home page.

The Spotlight on Former Athletes announcement has also been placed in the profile of each honoree, excluding the pictures.

2013
Bruce Brown continued as feature writer.
May – Tennis Program – April 19-20 Reunion – Simmons, Cook, Albertine
June – Stefni Whitton Lotief,  Softball 1987-90, Coaches 1995-97 & 2000-12

2012
Bruce Brown continued as feature writer.
January – Ruthie Dugal, Women’s Basketball 1970-73, Volleyball 71-74, Coaching 1974 & 75.
February – Eric Mouton, Men’s Basketball 1987-92, Coaching 1994-97
March – Robert Dunphy, Baseball 1979-82
April – Dawn Broussard, Track & Field 1985-89
May – William C. “Trey” Coker, III Golf 1990-93
June – Danny, Baseball, 1977 & 78, and Meg Scopes Cook, Tennis 77 & 78, Coaches 78-84
July – Dr. Johnny Mack Hollier, Track & Field 1969-71 and Band 1969-71
August – John Bordelon, Football 1973-76
September – Courtney Hofland, Soccer 2006-2010
October – Anna Petrakova, Women’s Basketball 2001-05
November – Yvette Girouard, Volleyball 1972-75, Head Softball Coach 1981-2000
December – Byron Starks, Men’s Basketball 1990-94 and Coach 2007-09

2011
Bruce Brown continued as feature writer.
January – Ashley Rhoney and Bret Garnett 1988 Tennis
February – Craig Perks Golf 1989 & 90
March – Eddie Baseball/Basketball 60-63,Coach 67;Ross Mouton Basketball 03-07
April – Kim Eisnaugle Chaffin Softball 1983-86
May – Grady Labbe’ Hunt Track & Field 1989-1994
June – Mike Heinen Golf 1986-89
July – Kyla Hall Holas Softball 1991-94
August – Charles Wimberley Track & Field 1953-56
September – Chris Gannon Football 1984-88, Coaches 1995-2000
October – Anne Corbello, Soccer 2000-02, and Ashley Delahoussaye, Soccer 2000-04
November – Nia Kiggundu Volleyball 1993-96

2010
Bruce Brown became feature writer.
January – Andrew Toney Men’s Basketball 1976-80.
February – Orlando Thomas Football 1991-94.
March – Rocky Guidry Football 1990-93, Track & Field 1991-94.
April – Track & Field Network & March 20, 2010 1st Annual Track & Field Reunion.
May – Keisha Ray Owens Williams Track & Field 1991-96.
June – 2000 College World Series Baseball Team.
July – Thirty Years of UL Softball.
August – 1970 Cajuns Measured Up (Football).
September – Boxing Program (1930-1947).
October – Dr. Sam Foreman Baseball & Basketball 1940-42
November – Rhonda McCullough, Women’s Basketball 1986-90
December – Athletic Network-from concept to reality-its mission and practices

2009
Ed Dugas served as feature writer.
January – Tim Thompson Men’s Basketball 1957-61.
February – Gene Bacque Baseball 1956 & 57.
March ‘“ Dr. Louis Bowers ‘“ Tennis 1956-58, Track 1955, Coaches 1964-66.
April – Dr. Carter Lomax, Jr. Tennis 1974-76.
May – Johnny Morris, Jr. Football 1927-29,Men’s Basketball 1927-30,Track & Field 1928-30, Golf 1927-28, Coaches 1947-49 .
June – S.L.I.I. Athletic Pioneers I
July – S.L.I.I. Athletic Pioneers II
August – 1912 – A Special Year – First L’Acadien
September ‘“ Glenn Davis Lafleur Football 1966-69
October – Bill Bass ‘“ Boxing 1938 & 39, Football 1938-40, Coach 1971-75 & 1983
November – Tom Nolan ‘“ Cross Country & Track & Field 1971-76, Coaches 1978-83
December ‘“ Military Personnel ‘“ Military Page posted

2008
Ed Dugas served as feature writer.
January – Alvin Dark Football, ’43; Basketball, Baseball, Golf, Track, ’44; Coaches, 1947.
February – Alyson Habetz Women’s Basketball 1991-95 and Softball, 1991-94.
March – Ron Guidry Baseball 1968-70.
April – Edgar “Glynn” Abel Baseball 1939, Track & Field 1937-39, Football 1937-39.
May -Christian Keener “Red” Cagle Baseball 1925-26, Basketball (M) 1922-26, Football 1922-25.
June – Paul “Buddy” Short Golf 1962-65.
July – Louis “Louie” Campbell Boxing and Football 1940-41.
August – Dudley Wilkins Track & Field 1933-35.
September – Brad Hamilton Football 1963-66.
October – Brian Mitchell Football 1986-89.
November – Kimberly “Kim” Callaway Morvant Volleyball 1988-91.
December – Kenneth “Mike” Stansbury Weightlifting 1956 – 1957.

2007

Ed Dugas served as the initial feature writer and continued until Bruce Brown began writing in 2010.
June ‘“ Michael Langston Football 1973-77;
July ‘“ Hollis Conway Track & Field 1986-89;
August ‘“ Leigh Hennessy Gymnastics/Trampoline 1976-1980;
September – Dean Church Basketball (M) 1961-65;
October – Dr. David Fisher Football 1946-49 Track & Field 1947-50;
November – Kim Perrot Basketball (W) 1986-90;
December – John McDonnell Cross Country/Track & Field 1966-1969;

Peace, Ed Dugas

Ed Dugas, Research Coordinator
Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Network 
athleticnetwork@louisiana.edu 
(337)482-0999