Mar 3, 2022

There is a great line in the movie, “A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN”:


If competing at the highest level were easy, then everyone would do it. Ask yourself, “do you welcome the hard?” Can you overcome struggle and pain? Part of playing college softball or M.L.B. is answering the challenge of adversity.

Great movie and great admiration for these women who are “forever PIONEERS”!
Melissa Verde shown here with a TORN ACL during the 2008 NCAA Regional in Baton Rouge against L.S.U.. She hit the memorable GRAND SLAM on this swing in the top of the 3rd right after Holly Tankersley was intentionally walked in order to pitch to Verde.


There are swing instructors who think that the rear leg is the driver of the swing and that the scientific concept of proximal to distal is just simply wrong. They advocate that the rear leg gets “twisted” in the load and then when the hitter tilts backwards that the torsion in the rear leg is released instantly by UNTWISTING and that hip/pelvic rotation does not happen.


How did Verde maintain her power (actually increased her power production) with a torn ACL? She did it by more focus on her pelvis-lumbar-spine complex and as little as possible in her injured leg.

She did it by finding a pattern that allowed her muscles to share the workload and coordinate amongst themselves. Significant relationships occur between isometric co-contractions and force production as it related to offensive performance in baseball/softball. Those who can produce the highest forces and can produce them quickly will perform the best offensively.

A higher rate of force development is the goal of using isometric co-contractions in pelvis loading. Verde is the perfect CASE STUDY to emphasize the importance of pelvis loading, coiling and rotation versus back leg twisting & untwisting. Proximal to distal OR distal twisting/untwisting? With isometric co-contractions, the body uses the muscle, fascia, tendon, ligament tension network that communicates and coordinated inter and intra (biotensegrity).

PROXIMAL TO DISTAL IS FACT. It ALL starts in the lumbopelvic-spine complex. No matter what Verde’s swing “looks like”to the naked eye, because of the ACL tear and the physical limitations of what she could & could not do and the adjustments we made, HER SWING IS 100 % PELVIS-LUMBAR-SPINE DRIVEN.

During the 2008 season, Melissa Verde tore her ACL against the U.S. Olympic team in a March exhibition game at Cal State Fullerton and opted to forego an immediate, in season surgery in order to play the final two months of the season.

She missed the next few weeks (missed only 13 games) after tearing her ACL to consult with physicians and consider her options, and after the swelling went down, she braced up her left leg (her back leg as a hitter) and returned to the field, to once again be a starter and hitting in the 4 HOLE to provide the necessary protection behind Holly Tankersley.

Despite the significant injury, which would require surgery at the end of the season and despite the pain and instability in her knee, she showed some toughness, determination, grit and focus not only to overcome the pain of such a devastating injury, but also to be able to perform and mentally compete at HER BEST on the biggest stages without “feeling good” nor physically being at her best.

  1. She was named to the Sun Belt Conference All-Tournament Team, finishing the tournament with a .667 batting average & a 1.444 slugging %, including a pair of home runs and a double, five runs scored and a tournament-record eight RBI.
  2. In the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional versus L.S.U. in a scoreless 3rd inning, LSU opted to intentionally walk Holly Tankersley to load the bases and pitch to Verde. Verde, facing her former travel ball teammate/LSU pitcher, Codi Trahan, Verde blasted a towering grand slam over the right field wall to give the Cajuns a 4-0 lead and an eventual 9-4 victory. (WATCH VIDEO OF THAT GRAND SLAM BELOW).
  3. In the NCAA Houston Super Regional she led the team with a 1.000 slugging %, .727 on-base % with 7 walks; adding a solo homer too (WATCH BELOW) and leading her team to the WCWS.
  4. WATCH the video below of Michelle Smith (Olympic Gold Medalist) and Holly Rowe (cancer survivor), both who know a thing or two about toughness, at the WCWS give the account of Melissa’s journey and talk about her “toughness”during a great at-bat, 6 pitch lead off walk to start the 2nd inning of the WCWS.

Let’s watch Melissa’s grand slam swing during the 2008 NCAA Regionals against L.S.U. & let’s see how she adjusts “loading & coiling her pelvis” with a torn ACL on her back leg.

Read the full recap of that game:



All players who go through M.L.B or college softball careers have to be fierce competitors..

  1. In my opinion, there is NO CONTRADICTION between playing a sport with physical and mental intensity “WITH YOUR MOST COMPETITIVE PERSONALITY” and then being the consummate CHRISTIAN. When you walk onto the softball or baseball field, you are embracing a set of rules that demands competitive FIRE; learning to be COMPETITIVE is a learned “skill” and a “trained MINDSET” — ENDURE THE PAIN of wrongly being labeled and criticized just because you love to compete.
  2. YOU CAN BE POWERFUL & COMPETITIVE on the field, yet thoughtful and kind in the classroom— it’s not pick one or the other — YOU DECIDE which one is appropriate in the right circumstance —ENDURE THE PAIN of your decision, or better yet, society’s labels and archaic expectations, and the double standards and hypocrisy.
  3. Playing with fearless competitiveness is not unsportsmanlike. In fact, it’s the total opposite; it is actually a sign of respect for your opponent and the game and your team to be fully engaged in the game. To give anything but your very best every pitch is shameful — ENDURE THE PAIN of pursuing excellence with your most competitive personality.
  4. When you play “easier” against an inferior opponent or when you “let up” when you are winning by a large margin or if you take it easy against your friend in practice, that is actually demonstrating a lack of respect to the game and to your opponent and to your friend and to yourself — ENDURE THE PAIN of being ostracized and banned from cliques and the whispers and gossip behind your back.

Trust me, I want my daughter, Chelsea, to be the “perfect lady” when she is in church or at work or at a family dinner, but when she gets on the softball field or in a competitive situation, I want her to COMPETE.

My “favorite” daughter, Chelsea, “gained” from her experiences of playing college softball with me as her head coach because I made sure it was a competitive, learning environment.


  1. I do not ever want her to be bullied or taken advantage of — that’s the “gain” from learning how to express her most competitive personality while playing college softball.
  2. I want her to GAIN confidence and self-esteem because she encountered adversity and “desirable difficulties” on the softball field and learned how to deal with it not only in actual GAMES but also in controlled practice environments that simulated the scenarios & made her make decisions where the emotions & outcomes were REAL.
  3. She “GAINED” persistence and learned grit and determination when faced with real challenges and desirable difficulties – so did Verde, and a whole bunch of others too.
  4. She GAINED knowledge of how to accept responsibility to manage her own world, which involves dealing with adversity and struggle and PAIN. 4.0, honor graduate, member of the Student Athlete Academic Committee, and the moral courage to “speak TRUTH to power”.
  5. She found and GAINED independence by not needing to be co-dependent or coddled for every failure. Look at her “stats” below; she redshirted but practiced everyday in 2016; then in her redshirt freshmen year in 2017 she only had 5 at bats, she could’ve actually been a starter, but had no starts because her role on “that team” was as a pinch runner scoring 20 runs. Trust me, she was not coddled by me for sure; yet she “learned” and accepted her role with enthusiasm, gratitude and pride, and we valued and appreciated her selfless contributions, her pure motives and her positive leadership that enabled us to WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS TOGETHER.

I know that the college softball experience (and probably all meaningful athletics) is a great tool to prepare student-athletes how to endure some pain (desirable difficulties) and to handle adversity. I’m grateful that both my wife and my daughter got the opportunity to compete and play “THE GAME”. It completed their educations and taught them invaluable lessons and values plus they “gained” confidence, persistence, determination and independence. WINNERS. CHAMPIONS.

My wife, Stefni – who is a fierce competitor & two time All American on the field but the perfect “lady” as a mom and business owner and teacher.

NO PAIN, NO GAIN means to me: by enduring some PAIN, by embracing the struggles and by considering the difficulties as “desirable learning opportunities” during the player’s baseball/softball career, then they WILL GAIN “CONFIDENCE & SELF-ESTEEM” and the valuable experience of how to fight through the pain and make real decisions while dealing with the real emotions associated with those struggles.

I believe the baseball/softball experience is a great vehicle to teach these young men & women the valuable life’s lessons on how to COMPETE and learn how to find and express the competitive parts of their personalities that truly allow them to pursue excellence.

Hopefully, we all agree that hitting involves the “right MINDSET”. Here is the video of Melissa Verde’s solo home run in the 2008 SUPER REGIONALS against Houston with a “torn ACL of her back leg”. Remarkable!


After the SUPER REGIONAL win, we loaded our bus and it was off to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series. The following is an excerpt from a ESPN/Graham Hays article that he wrote after this same team with a “hobbled 3rd baseman on a torn ACL” beat Florida, the #1 overall National seed.

Trust me, we were grateful and joyfully singing karaoke and thankful to be on that bus on our way to OKC!

Having lived through it all, I agree 100% with his observation that we were “the BEST DOLLAR-FOR-DOLLAR SUCCESS IN THE SPORT”!

And the reason why was because of the learning environment we created. It was the investment of our own time, treasures & talents to help others grow, learn & develop day by day by day, year after year after year. It was our BETCHA CAN MINDSET. It was because we allowed our players to endure some PAIN and some desirable difficulties in a controlled environment, with the clear explanation of our pure motives & philosophy to all involved that those experiences would help those players learn and grow and GAIN because of it. And it would allow us to play in and win some BIG GAMES.

Sometimes, it is the HARD THAT MAKES IT GREAT!



About the Author

Mike Lotief coached 17 successful years as either the head softball coach or co-head softball coach with his wife Stefni Whitton Lotief at the University of Louisiana from 2002-2017 with an overall coaching record of 731-176 (80.6 winning percentage). Every season, the Ragin Cajuns softball team advanced to the NCAA tournament and also advanced to three (3) Women’s College World Series (2003, 2008, 2014) and from 2012-2016 advanced to five (5) straight NCAA Super Regionals. Coach Lotief produced over 40 All American selections and his 2017 team lead the nation in scoring and was ranked in the Top 10 in home runs, slugging percentage, on base percentage.

The coach is a cancer survivor (twice) and was the first person in the U.S. to receive the Pro Trach device. Mike and Stefni spearheaded and raised the funding to build the new softball stadium in 2009 and the new softball indoor hitting facility in 2015. They are proud parents to Chelsea, who played softball and graduated from the Univ. of Louisiana in 2018, and Andrew, who is a junior at Louisiana studying Mechanical Engineering.

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