Baseball: Community mourns for UL coach Tony Robichaux during Sunday visitation
Victoria Dodge, The Advertiser, July 8, 2019
The Rajun Cajun Baseball team is reflected in the eye's of their Head Coach Tony Robichaux as he talks to them about the task ahead. The Cajun's will begin their quest to return to the College World Series in Omaha Nebraska on Friday in Baton Rouge in a game against Tulane. John Rowland/The Advertiser (Photo: The Daily Advertiser)
Hundreds of people stood in line Sunday at the Cajundome Convention Center to pay their respects to University of Louisiana at Lafayette baseball Coach Tony Robichaux, with Ragin' Cajun and McNeese State jerseys, wedding pictures and piles of flowers adorning his casket.
The public visitation held Sunday, along with a Rosary prayer, attracted fans, players and families touched by Robichaux during his 25 years as a legendary UL coach. He died Wednesday, days after suffering a heart attack.
Friends, family and fans pay their respects to Coach Tony Robichaux at the Cajundome Convention center. Sunday, July 7, 2019. (Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network)
While waiting in line during the public viewing, people spoke of how surreal Robichaux's passing felt and how the realization of his death had set in. Others said he was the most principled human they had ever known, and how this public recognition was more than deserved.
"Every player that ever talks about him always says the same thing," Frank Brown, a UL Diamond Club fan, said after he took a moment to pay his respects to Robichaux at the Cajundome. "That they're a better person now because of him."
The public visitation offered those attending an opportunity to write their memories of the coach or to leave in one of three boxes their favorite "Robeisms," the sayings that he made famous.
A video of Robichaux's recorded interviews and speeches was on display as hundreds of people waited in line to visit his casket. People of all ages paused to pray or spend a last moment with this man who had been an institution at the university and in the community.
"God gave you the option to make a difference in people’s lives," he said in one video. "I’m a baseball coach, that’s it. But that’s not who I am."
"It's not dishonorable for your ability to fail. It's dishonorable to fail your ability," he said. "Only time we lose is when we fail to learn."
The Robichaux family, 13 relatives including wife Colleen, sons Justin and Austin, and daughter Ashley, greeted visitors who came into the Cajundome to offer condolences. Nearby, the casket holding the beloved man known as "Coach Robe" sat bathed in light.
Some visitors cried with the family, while others laughed as they spoke of fond memories. Many hugged and embraced one another.
"I told Colleen the world is a better place because of Tony and she said, 'Oh I know'," Brown said. "I think everybody knows at this point."
Anthony Babineaux, assistant UL baseball coach, said Robichaux was more than just an extraordinary UL baseball coach.
"The way he led his life his how you should lead your life," Babineaux said. "And that was the biggest thing he tried to get over to me and to our players, and really everybody that he came in contact with every day.
"Doing it the right way, doing it the Lord's way," he said. "I was asked about his legacy before and that's no doubt going to be his legacy. What he did with these kids and how he prepared them to be men and face the world once they got past us."
Babineaux said more than 150 players have reached out to share their condolences.
Visitation also will be held at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church on Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A funeral Mass will follow.
Burial will take place in Crowley following the funeral Mass. Geesey-Ferguson Funeral Home of Crowley is handling arrangements.
Contact Victoria Dodge at email@example.com or on Twitter @Victoria_Dodge