Nov. 4, 2013
(Note: This is the second in a series of five features on the Class of 2013 that will be inducted into the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 10 a.m. in the Waggonner Room of the Thomas Assembly Center. The public is invited.)
When former Louisiana Tech President Dr. F. Jay Taylor hired Bill Galloway away from Texas A&M in the summer of 1981, the Lady Techster basketball program had just won the first of three national championship titles.
It was Dr. Taylor's vision for the same type of national success on the softball diamond that led him to seek out the highly successful Galloway, who had guided the Aggies to more than 200 wins and three top five finishes in the AIAW ranks during the previous three years in College Station.
"Dr. Taylor is given a lot of credit for being the father of the Lady Techster basketball program which is true," said Hall of Fame women's basketball coach Leon Barmore. "He was also the father of the softball program. He built that field and hired Bill Galloway."
When Galloway left nationally prominent Texas A&M, he did so for a two-year-old softball program in Ruston that was no more than a club sport with a dream.
"Dr. Taylor had made a commitment with the facility and what they were able to do financially," said Galloway, who will be inducted into the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame this Saturday. "People don't realize that when that facility was built it was one of the nicest ones in the entire country. It meant a lot to be able to start something and know Dr. Taylor was going to be involved and supportive."
Galloway will join O.K. "Buddy" Davis, Walter Johnson, April Malveo and George Stone as the Class of 2013 in an induction ceremony Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Waggonner Room of the Thomas Assembly Center. The event is open to the public.
"It was more of a club sport that first year," said former Lady Techster Lea Ann Jarvis (1982-85). "Gary Blair recruited me to play softball at Tech. Coach Galloway got the job and came over from Texas A&M. I remember that first day and that first (team meeting). I knew that I had made the right decision to be a part of Louisiana Tech and its softball program."
It didn't take long for Galloway to turn Taylor's dream of national prominence into a reality as he guided the Lady Techsters to 52 wins in his first year. By year No. 2, Galloway and the Lady Techsters were headed to a sweep of Penn State in the regionals and a trip to Omaha for the Women's College World Series.
"Having two nationally ranked programs going to the (Women's) College World Series and Final Four ...that was about as good as it can get," Barmore said.
"That was awesome," Galloway recalled. "I think from our part, I think we fed a lot off of (the success of the women's basketball program). Their success meant a lot to our success. When we went into a (recruit's house) and they were familiar with the success of the Lady Techster basketball program, we would say we were following in the same path. It was a pretty awesome time.
"I can't speak for Coach Barmore but I can for us and our program that it really drove us. If they could be successful, then we felt we could compete on a national basis and do well. It was a great time for me and Louisiana Tech."
Jarvis, a two-time All-American who still ranks among the career offensive leaders in the LA Tech record books, said she remembers the excitement of advancing to the program's first national postseason tournament.
"It was pretty cool," said Jarvis, now living in Baltimore and working as the Director of Softball Operations for the Softball Factory. "In 1983 when we went to regionals and flew to Penn State, it was the first time I had ever been on a plane. That was back when only 16 teams got bids. It wasn't easy to get in. We had to compete against Texas A&M and South Carolina to get the bids.
"I remember flying to Omaha. I remember a banquet, and taking in all of the festivities and excitement. It was nerve-racking, but I remember it being an experience that we wanted to do again. It was fantastic. Having the opportunity to play in that type of setting was life-changing."
And it was just the start of a remarkable 21-year run in Ruston by Galloway, who has won more than 900 games in his head coaching career, including 725 during his stint at Louisiana Tech (1981-2002).
"It was an exciting time," Galloway said. "I respect that first bunch so much. They did persevere and see what it was going to be like. And they eventually competed in a couple of World Series so it worked out pretty good for them."
Galloway, who was inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2001, led Tech to eight NCAA Tournament appearances and three WCWS (1983, 1985, 1986). The 1978 Indiana University graduate also coached 11 All-Americans, 44 all-region selections and six Academic All-Americans.
His Louisiana Tech teams also finished ranked in the top 10 percent in graduation rate and grade point average, including finishing No. 1 or No. 2 in team GPA in five of his last six seasons in Ruston.
"The only thing that took a back seat to softball was academics," said former Lady Techster Erica St. Romain Brunson (1997-2000), who is now living in Patterson with her husband Thomas and six-year-old son Carson. "Coach Galloway's dedication to the sport and to us is really what still stands out in my mind."
"I think (academics and softball) go hand and hand," Galloway said. "It did for me. You can't make softball the end of everything. I told them that I want softball to be No. 1 when you are on the softball field, and I want academics to be No. 1 when you aren't. If you walk away from our program and you don't have a degree then we all lost."
As a coach, Galloway was old school. Hard core. Even he is the first to admit it. "I was probably too intense," he laughed. "Good Lord, bless their souls. I wouldn't have played for me back then. I was trying to have each player understand what we were looking for was the best you can be. I look back and marvel what those kids were able to accomplish. It was amazing."
Galloway's former players point to his tough-love style of coaching as one of the main reasons for their success in the game, and in life.
"His old-school style of coaching wasn't always the easiest to handle, but it taught me how to be a tougher competitor," said Amber Miles (2002-2005), who was a part of Galloway's last recruiting class and who played for the Hall of Famer her freshman season. "For that, I will forever be grateful.
"Coach Galloway knows the game of softball, and he made sure his players did too. He knew how to challenge us as players to get more out of ourselves than we often were giving. If you look at his track record, it obviously worked."
St. Romain Brunson agrees.
"He was kind of a diehard softball coach but also had us under his wing," she said. "He had a hard exterior, but he was pretty soft underneath."
"I look back at my career at Louisiana Tech, and he molded me into the type of coach I was for 17 years," said Jarvis. "It was because of him. He was a great teacher, a great mentor. He was tough, but I needed that type of coach who knew what buttons to push. He taught me so much about the game.
"He is a great man, not just a coach. He cares about people. He was constantly aware of what you were doing. Overall, it was a great experience playing for him."
But what made Galloway so successful as a coach?
"I would sit in dugout a few times a year and watch games," said Barmore. "I think without question he was a really good teacher of the game. He taught them how to play the game the right way. His ability to teach and develop a player is one of the things that set him apart."
"It is his love for the game and his great passion he brings," Jarvis said. "He has great knowledge of the game. Sometimes there are people that are born to be coaches, and I believe he was born to be a coach and influence young people's lives."
Galloway, entering his seventh season as the top assistant coach for East Texas Baptist, said that his success and selection into the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame is overwhelming to think about.
"I don't know if I can put it into words," he said. "It's not really about me. It reflects all of those players and what they did. Maybe we did something right, not just me but the players too."
While Galloway might try to deflect the spot light off of himself and onto his former players and coaches, the ladies whose lives he touched during his 30-plus years of coaching give credit to their former leader.
"His compassion and dedication to his players, their families, academics and the University are what truly made his career a success," St. Romain Brunson said. "His players were successful on and off the field because he did his job. The wins and honors were lagniappe."
On Saturday when Galloway joins the other four members of the Class of 2013, the enshrinement ceremony will take place in a room that holds fond memories for him.
"When I was at Tech, there were many nights that I would go into that room where all of those Hall of Fame plaques hung on that wall ... some people I knew and some I didn't," Galloway said. "I thought to myself, `These are some people who did some special things.'"
Welcome to the wall, Coach.