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Softball: A father, a daughter and a Ragin' Cajuns softball game 'a million years' in the making

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, March 12, 2021

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It’s a softball family.

UL Ragin' Cajuns coach Gerry Glasco and his wife Vickie raised three daughters who played college ball — Tara, Erin and the youngest, the late Geri Ann.    

Yet, Glasco wouldn’t have imagined  facing one of them as opposing coach.

“Never in a million years,” he said.

Yet there was Glasco last month, opening the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 2021 home schedule against Eastern Illinois and Tara Archibald.

“Obviously Dad is someone who played a huge part in my coaching career,” Archibald said, “so to be able to have that moment was pretty neat.”

It was emotional, too.

“I will say back when I was coaching travel ball I knew Tara ... was gonna be a good coach,” said Glasco, who took his first college assistant’s job at Georgia from 2009-14 and another at Texas A&M from 2015-17. “She was that kind of player.

“I could talk about eighth grade, losing the state championship, and her crying in the car when we’d go into eat pizza.

“I don’t like losing either,” Glasco added. “She inherited that.”

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Gerry Glasco gives fatherly advice

Long before becoming UL’s coach, Glasco — a Crab Orchard, Illinois, native — was an assistant at Johnston City High in his home state.

He remembers Tara, his oldest, informing him one season she’d volunteered to assist the coach at nearby Pinckneyville.

She did so with one condition: "I told him I’d call pitches against everybody except your team, because I know all your hitters," she told him, according to Glasco.

It was 2005 and middle daughter Erin’s senior season.

Later that year, their 34-0 team faced the club Tara was helping coach. A state championship tournament berth was at stake.

“I remember (Tara) calling me that morning and saying, ‘Dad, the head coach wants me to call pitches against your team,’ ” he said.

Glasco’s fatherly advice: “You owe it to your kids to call pitches. And I didn’t dream they would beat us.”

It was then Glasco knew.

“She’s my daughter, but she’s a bright young coach,” he said. “Really sharp.”

Dad, daughter share 'special moment'

Geri Ann played at Georgia and Oregon. She died in a 2019 multi-car accident on Interstate 10 near Lafayette, while working as a Cajuns volunteer assistant coach.

Erin played at Notre Dame and Texas A&M. A former assistant coach at Southern Illinois and North Texas, she now teaches in Texas.

Tara, who played at Southern Illinois, was a Georgia assistant from 2011-14 and later Illinois State’s pitching coach. Overlapping on the same staff as her dad for one season at Georgia, she was reminded where she got her fire.

“I’m pretty intense, pretty competitive, and when he gets me going I do,” Archibald said. “But, if anything, I try to calm him down a little bit.”

The mother of three got her first college top job in August 2019.

Earlier this year, after Eastern Illinois had games canceled, she scrambled to find opponents on a Southern swing. The subject came up during one of her daily phone calls with dear old dad.

“He said, ‘Did you find a game?’ ” Archibald said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’m playing at Southern on Monday.’ ”

A doubleheader in Baton Rouge.

UL’s home, Lamson Park, is 60 or so miles away.

“He said, ‘Oh really? … Well, you need to come play us,’ ” Archibald said. “I said, ‘I don’t know; how about practice?’

“He said, ‘No, I can’t let you practice on this field if you don’t play us.’ ”

Soon the two were exchanging lineup cards at home plate.

“It was a special moment,” Archibald said.

“You’re really proud as a dad,” Glasco added. “Extremely proud of my daughter, and proud of what she’s accomplished and excited about the future for her and her young team.”

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Losing isn't easy

Geri Ann’s loss hit UL’s softball community hard, making the Feb. 23 meeting between Gerry and Tara extra meaningful.

UL beat Eastern Illinois 9-0 in five innings.

Since then, the No. 14 Cajuns (13-4), whose Sun Belt Conference-opening series this weekend has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Georgia Southern program, have gone 8-4, including a split with then-No. 8 Oklahoma State, two losses to then-No. 11 LSU and a sweep last weekend at Memphis.

But for one game the result didn’t matter most.

“It’s just cool to be at Lamson Park,” Archibald said that evening.

“I usually don’t get to come because I’m working, so it was neat to actually to be in the environment, be with his team and see all the fans who I know have meant so much to our family in the last couple years.”

Father and eldest daughter shared rare quality time and their teams interacted more than most would.

“(The day) started off weird and crazy,” centerfielder Ciara Bryan said, “but to get the win, to get the win against his daughter … just for her to be here … it was a good feeling.”

Archibald could tell.

But naturally she took the loss hard.

All Glascos do.

When that state championship tournament was on the line during Erin’s senior season, her team lost 1-0 in 11 innings to the one Tara helped coach. Afterward, Dad could appreciate one daughter's joy, but he felt another's pain, too.

“I saw (Tara) and Erin … standing at the pitcher’s circle,” Glasco said, “both crying and hugging.”

It is what softball families do.

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