Cajun nation has suffered tough losses
The University of Louisiana athletic department has had to deal with some very tragic deaths since the beginning of the year.
It began back on Jan. 24 when Geri Ann Glasco, the 24-year old daughter of Cajuns’ head softball coach Gerry and his wife Vickie, was killed a multi-vehicle accident along Interstate 10.
Geri Ann had joined the staff just a few months ago earlier as the Cajuns’ new volunteer assistant coach.
During her playing career, Geri Ann was the SEC Co-Freshman of the Year at Georgia and was a two-time, first team all-region performer at Oregon.
Geri Ann began her coaching career in 2017 as a student assistant on Oregon’s staff.
She also served on the staffs of Mt. Hood Community College and Sandy High School and was a lessons instructor at The Bat Company before departing Oregon for Louisiana.
How strong in her faith that Geri Ann was, Glasco said in an interview, was one of the strongest coping mechanisms for he and his wife.
“She helped us a lot with her faith. It helps us knowing how strong she was in her faith,” he said. “If you’re going to lose a child, I’m telling you that makes a difference.”
Then in March, the Cajun nation lost two men that were long-time loyal employees.
UL Lafayette’s equipment manager, Lynn Williams, who served more than 30 years with the Ragin’ Cajuns, passed away at his home in Lafayette surrounded by his family.
He served as equipment manager since 1985 directly overseeing men’s sports and assists with football.
A Lafayette native and a graduate from Northside High School, Lynn previously served five years as a student manager at UL.
Leonard Wiltz who also worked for the University for more than 40 years, passed away at his home in Lafayette several days before.
Leonard was a 1997 Lafayette graduate.
He retired from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette after 35 years of service and later returned as a part-time employee in the athletic department.
Mastern St. Julien, Jr., died on June 3 at his residence.
A career that included the Lafayette Fire Department and Lafayette Parish school system. St. Julien then worked for the Hotard bus line as the driver for the Cajuns’ baseball and mens basketball teams.
Then the sad events of the last week when UL head baseball coach Tony Robichaux died July 3 after suffering a heart attack on June 23 at age 57.
He was the head coach for McNeese State for eight seasons before taking over as head coach at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he served as head coach for the past 25 years.
During that time, he became the winningest head coach in Louisiana baseball history with over 1,100 career wins,
He was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year four times, the All-Louisiana Coach of the Year six times and the ABCA South Central Region Coach of the Year four times.
And under his tenure, he led Louisiana to 12 NCAA Regionals, four NCAA Super Regionals and the 2000 College World Series. was the Sun Belt Coach of the Year four times, the All-Louisiana Coach of the Year six times and the ABCA South Central Region Coach of the Year four times.
And under his tenure, he led Louisiana to 12 NCAA Regionals, four NCAA Super Regionals and the 2000 College World Series.
I have covered sports in Acadiana since 1996 and saw Robichaux’s sons Justin and Austin high school baseball and then with the Ragin’ Cajuns.
I chatted with Coach Robe on several occasions and I was impressed with his genuine care and love for his family and players that he coached over the years.
But even all his accomplishments, Robichaux didn’t want to be rembered as a baseball coach.
“When I die, I don’t want to be known as a baseball coach. I want to be known as someone who benefited the lives he encountered outside of the field.”
“Nowhere in the Bible does it say how to be a great baseball player,” Robichaux said more than once. “But it’s pretty clear what kind of man you should become.”
“Teach them how to live right side up in a upside-down world.”
Robichaux did that.
“A man of deep, unwavering faith, integrity and moral character, Tony Robichaux stood for so much more than the game he coached,” UL athletic director Bryan Maggard said after his passing. “I will forever be grateful for how he prioritized the development of his student-athletes as outstanding young men first, and baseball players second.”
The Cajun nation will miss all these who passed away this year, but their legacy will live on.