“Tech Coach Shows Optimism for Baseball Team, On and Off the Field.”

Bruce

Brewer

4/2/12

Roberts

Feature Writing

 

“Tech Coach Shows Optimism for Baseball Team, On and Off the Field”

                Louisiana Tech University Baseball Coach Wade Simnoneaux sits behind his desk in the coach’s locker room. It is a cramped room with drink machines lining one of the concrete walls, the other walls look like they are covered in a wallpaper of baseball posters and enlarged autographed photos of great Tech players. The small room is filled to the brim with desks, equipment, and stacks of papers. A room that looks worn over the years, the floors scuffed by the infinite footsteps of cleated feet. The men that are gathered in this office look fidgety, and often glance quickly out the windows to see the approaching rain clouds. The locker room is filled with the scent of humidity and an approaching storm.

Despite the looks of the other coaches, Simoneaux appears calm and eager to talk. Simoneaux has been Louisiana Tech’s head coach for the past ten years. In 2007 he was awarded the WAC conference coach of the year. He has helped many young men go on to the professional level and graduate. “A main thing we look for when scouting players is the student athlete” Simoneaux said. Student obviously being the first word in that criteria. “We have to have kids that can make their grades here and survive the academic load as much as were on the road,” he adds. The young team of 12 Freshmen and only two seniors are certainly getting to experience what he means this season, the Bulldogs have been on the road for 17 of their 28 games so far. Simoneaux typically doesn’t like to play so many road games but with such a young team he felt it was necessary to get the team acclimated to playing big games in the road. “We’ve been humbled, humiliated, stomped on, and homered on the road, it’s something that our guys grow and learn from that, it makes them together, and it makes them better,” the coach explains. With so many young players and road games it seems that the odds would be stacked against the team to achieve academically. The freshman year is a crucial segment of college, it is a time when young students, even athletes become acquainted with college life and all of its stresses. Fortunately, the team members have been able to balance their education with their busy baseball schedule. Simoneaux says that all active members of the baseball team are staying on top of their studies and doing well in their classes.

If a college player is outstanding on the diamond as well as in the classroom they will most likely have a decision to make their junior or senior years. Many good players get drafted to play at a professional level before they graduate college. Simoneaux enjoys seeing good players get a chance to play at a higher level but he’s concerned about their future if they fail to get a degree. He likes to see the players that still have options if they don’t get drafted or just simply decide against signing with any team. He talks about one player in particular, Jeb Stefan a senior who maintains an upwards of a 3.8 GPA. Simoneaux became excited when talking about the player who has had the opportunity to intern at NASA over a summer and could possibly attend grad school at University of Texas at Austin. “I’d love for all of them to stay and get their degrees because that Engineering degree is going to take them a lot farther than baseball will,” Simoneaux says. “Those muscles wont tear,” he says pointing to his head.

Wade Simoneaux is not only concerned with his team’s grades but also strives for his team to be respectful towards themselves, their opponents, and the game. Simoneaux said the team and coaches do all the field work at J.C. Love field year around. He has seen through years of experience that this is a good way for the players and coaches alike to get a feel for the field and through their hard work earn the right to play on such a historic field. Since Simoneaux’s arrival in 2002 he has made several new additions to the J.C. Love Baseball complex. “Enhancing the batting cage, putting in the chair back seats, new press box, new score board, new back fence, and a rod iron fence,” surrounding the complex, he says.

Simoneaux has experienced the game of baseball from every angle. As a player while in college at Louisiana State University, Central Florida, and Nicholis State. A parent to his son, Thomas who is a Ragin’ Cajun at University of Lafayette and finally, a coach to many High School teams as well as assistant coach at ULL before becoming a Bulldog. Since then he has made a big impact on the Ruston community and Louisiana Tech. His wife Susan owns Powerhouse Tumble and Cheer right here in the Ruston community. His eldest daughter Mary Alice is an architect major that is projected to graduate soon and his youngest daughter, Caroline is a Regal Blue. Simoneaux feels blessed that the Ruston community and Louisiana Tech have been able to give him so much.

With so much season still to go it is difficult to project the outcome but Simoneaux is full of pride and quite optimistic for the rest of the season. The Bulldogs stand at a record of 14-14 thus far and constantly strive to improve. With someone such as Simoneaux on the teams back and calling the plays the Bulldogs stand a good chance of making this a winning season.

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