Cajuns' Softball Coach Michael Lotief on character, the importance of losing, UL, and how the team and community support each other.

For Part I of this article, click here.

Talk about character.

Character is the core. It's the core of all success and excellence.

Character to me, is the willingness to fight in the face of adversity. It's the will to do the right thing, to take the right path when nobody else will. It's dreaming big when the odds are against you. It's chasing excellence every day of your life.

The kids in this program have character.

For sure.

When a student leaves here, what do you want to see for her?

First of all, that they leave here with a great degree, and a great education... with great friendships and memories.

But I think the game has prepared them for life. Stef and I tell all of our seniors on senior day, "You've been preparing for life. When adversity comes, you're going to know how to fight, and how to win."

The game of softball teaches them how to win. And I think they're going to make a difference in this world.

Talk about losing.

That's the game of softball. When a lot of people think of athletics, they think of football. It's possible to win 12 games in a season of football.

But in softball, you're going to lose 15 games, you're going to lose one third of the time. When a batter steps up, if she gets 1 hit in 4 at-bats, that's losing. Baseball & softball are games of failure.

These kids are so mentally tough. You have to have character to deal with failure, and adversity, and losing. You have to be resolved to fight through it.

I think adversity is a greater teacher of character than winning is. How you respond to adversity, how you respond to failure, how you respond to tough times; that's character.

It was in the tough times this season, that's when the team's character was molded and built. The pitchers were struggling early, the hitters failed, we lost in California, people questioned if we were as good as billed.

But the kids just went back to work. They didn't question themselves. They just became more resolved.

Stefni often says, "It's just a game."

You know, if you've ever had a parent with a terminal illness, if you've ever had a child go through cancer, drug abuse, illness, a birth defect... if you turn on the news and look at what's happening in Iraq, the kids starving in Ethiopia, you realize softball is just a game.

A lot of these kids think this is life & death, they think the outcome of a game will define them. When we say it's just a game, we're trying to put it in perspective; it's small compared to what's going on in the world. We help them prioritize. Softball's important, but it's not life or death. It's just a game.

Talk about this University.

I've been here my whole life. This is the greatest place to live. The people here are great, the culture here is great. People work hard here, but they love to have fun. They love their friends, they love their families. They are so loving & giving.

I have grown up here, I was a Ragin' Cajun since my dad took us to see Bo Lamar. We went on the Hawai'i trip [1977 football team] with Augie Tamariello and Sonny Roy. Ever since I can remember, I've loved the Ragin' Cajuns.

When I came to school here, it deepened my feelings... for the professors, for the traditions, for the pride in the athletics.

You mention our pride in athletics. Many of our fans complain that UL has underperformed over the years.

Maybe it's selective memory. I can remember Bo, the A&M football win, the Bobby Pascal basketball teams and Andrew Toney. I met Stef at the softball field, so there was excellence there. She and I went to the WCWS, I remember the trip to Omaha with the baseball team. Brian Mitchell, Brandon Stokley, Jake Delhomme, Hollis Conway, Andrew Toney, Kim Perrot... there have been a lot of great moments in our history.

When I was in school, we would line up 2 or 3 hours early to get the best seats for basketball. We would tailgate for football, sit in the baseball bleachers ragging the outfielders. For me, athletics was a big part of the culture here. It was fun, and we were proud of our school and our teams.

You mentioned selective memory. Do you think that's part of being a champion?

I tell our teams all the time, you have to be an optimist, a dreamer... to believe that anything is possible. You can't do that by sitting around moaning and groaning. I think greatness is achieved by the power of the human spirit. If you collect 25 or 30 people in a room and they commit to a common cause, miracles happen. I believe it. I've experienced it. I've been a part of it.

I've tasted it, I've lived it.

Talk about the importance of community.

Community is what gives meaning to our lives. You have to become involved in something bigger than yourself. Then you have to understand how what you do fits into the larger picture. It has to fit into a bigger picture than yourself.

Once you make a bigger contribution to the community, for me, that's happiness. It's all good.

That's what's great about the love affair between this community and our softball program. This community appreciates 'em, and loves 'em, and accepts 'em, and finds what they do worthwhile.

That in turn motivates these kids. It motivates them to work harder, to dream bigger, and go further.