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Softball 1980

1980 Lady Cajun Softball

The 1980 Softball Team participated at the club sport level. The pictures below were provided by team member Donna Clark (UL classes of '81 & '83). In 1981 the university fielded a softball team officially sanctioned by the Athletic Department.

Please scroll below the pictures for Donna's recollections of the 1980 team.

The University recently celebrated the 1981 Lady Cajuns Softball Team as the first when, in fact, the first softball team was organized in 1980. I recently found team photographs and a team roster. The list of players was prepared to serve as notice to the players' instructors that we would miss class for a game. This March 12, 1980 letter verifies that my claim is accurate.

I will attempt to explain the history behind the creation of this team. In 1979, I was enrolled in an HPED course that was a combined volleyball/softball course. Several of my classmates decided that we wanted to look into why USL didn't have a women's softball team as we had played high school ball and desired to continue playing softball at the college level. We spoke to someone in the athletic department about this and were told that there wasn't enough interest in women's softball. We argued this point and were finally told that if we had enough women come forward, the athletic department may entertain our request. We had flyers placed in all of the women's dorms and around campus announcing a meeting behind Bancroft in Hamilton Field.

A female graduate assistant named Jean (I seem to recall she had formerly been a USL volleyball player) met with us. About 60 interested women showed up for the meeting.

For a couple of weeks, we practiced on Hamilton Field using our own equipment. We even had an initial cut. The remaining players names were posted in the dorms and in the HPED department. I'm not sure what the time frame was, but at some point, Jean informed us that the athletic department had decided not to field a softball team. We were disappointed, but many of us vowed to pursue our cause with the athletic officials. We were referred to Ms. Sherry LeBas. I explained all of the events that happened thus far and informed Ms. LeBas that we were prepared to go the distance. I do not recall the exact number of men's sports at the time, but I do know that we didn't have the same number of women's sports. I mentioned Title IX because I had served on my high school's Title IX Committee as a student member. Ms. Lebas promised that she would speak to the Athletic Director (a male I recall) about funding a women's softball team for the next season.

The following semester, the HPED department had separated the volleyball/softball course into two individual courses. My roommate, Pat Pourciau and I enrolled in the softball course. Our instructor was Sue Spears. Several familiar faces had enrolled in this course because we were seeking an opportunity to play softball. We convinced Ms. Spears to approach the athletic department and ask about USL having a women's team. Sue Spears reported back to us that Ms. LeBas had gotten approval for us to start a team as a Club Sport. Furthermore, we were told, that if we were successful as a club sport, the University would then consider funding a collegiate softball team.

Ms. Spears had agreed to coach us for no compensation and we had to hold fundraisers to finance our expenses. After a couple of weeks of practice, we announced that we were ready. We received some old, broken hand-me-down equipment from the men's baseball team. (As the catcher, I distinctly remember wearing shin guards that were too long.)

We bought our own uniforms, paid for the use of Beaver Park, paid for umpires, and had to pay to have the field marked for each of our games. We were successful in getting a few state teams to come to Lafayette to play, but had to travel to several of our games. I think it was Sue Spear's van that we used to travel. Our fans consisted of close friends, immediate family, some dorm residents, and a few others. Because most of the campus was not aware that we had a team, I do not recall ever seeing any USL official at our games. However, we did prove that there was enough interest to warrant the University funding a women's softball team.

During this first season", I continued to play intramural softball. I was on the ROTC women's team and during a game tripped while circling the bases and tore the ligaments in my ankle. (I declined surgical treatment and as a result was told by the orthopaedic surgeon that I would never play any sports that would require intensive physical activity.) I then became the third base coach and team treasurer for the remainder of our short season.

On the enclosed disk, I have several action shots and a team photo. Even though the players' names are listed on the enclosed letter, I am sure of only a few players' names in the team photo. Kneeling from left to right are ?, Jackie Narcisse, Amy Boudreaux, Phyllis Scorsone, Janet Trahan, ?, ?, and me. (If you look closely at my right calf, you can see my cast.) Standing are Barbara Fontenot, ?, Patricia Pourciau, ?, ?, ?, Adrian Granger, Sue Spears, ?, ?, and ?. Amy Boudreaux, Pat Pourciau, and Phyllis Scorsone definitely played on the first intercollegiate team in 1981. Others from our 1980 may have as well, but I just can't remember even though I was a devoted fan of this team coached by Yvette Girouard.

In summary, I would like to assist in correcting USL athletic history. The 1981 team has continued to be celebrated as the first when, actually, our 1980 club sport team players were the real pioneers. During this centennial celebration, I would like to see the University finally acknowledge the women who fought for two years to establish a women's softball team.

The last 19 years have been tremendously successful for the Lady Cajuns Softball team under coach Yvette Girouard, however; I truly believe that none of it would have happened without the efforts of my classmates and Sue Spears who sacrificed the time and money it took to prove that USL could support and needed a women's softball team.

Please pass on this information and the photos to as many people as necessary to ensure that the Athletic History of the University of Louisiana - Lafayette includes the true, first USL Lady Cajuns Softball Team.

Donna Clark
Classes of 1981 & 1983

P.S. Donna submitted the above letter to me while I was serving as Chair of the College of Education Academic Showcase. Our committee continued to gather information after the Centennial Celebration. I was head of the department of Health & Physical Education 1975-1980 and attempted, along with Sherry Lebas who was on the HPE faculty and also serving as Coordinator of Women's Athletics,  to provide opportunities for the interest being shown by the students named in Donna's letter.

Donna and her leadership team took women's softball from a physical education class, to a club sport, to an official university athletic team in a very short period of time...and as is customarily stated, the rest is history. They were in "a league of their own" motivated by their pioneer spirit which included a desire to hone their skills and compete at a higher level. Each is owed a debt of gratitude, especially Yvette Girouard who accepted the post as head coach for the 1981 Softball Team, our first athletic department-sponsored softball team.
Peace, Dr. Ed Dugas

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