Louisiana Tech head coach Sarah Dawson believes that her players should be the best they can be on and off the playing field.
Dawson, now 10 years removed from her playing days where she was an All-American pitcher at Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe), works tirelessly as a head coach to help mold her players into great softball players, top-notch students and first class citizens.
"I want these girls to leave this program knowing what it is to have standards for their life," Dawson said. "I want them to strive to go beyond what others may expect of them. I want them to consider the needs of others and understand how important and fulfilling it is to serve others. These were important lessons of life I learned from my coaches, and I want to pass that legacy on to the lives that I impact."
Part of Dawson's philosophy involves getting her players actively involved in service projects so they learn how to be an integral part of their community. During this past fall quarter, Dawson's players earned over 150 hours of community service, ranging from visiting nursing homes, working with area churches and helping with the Louisiana Tech student-athlete Halloween carnival.
In addition to community service projects, Dawson incorporates the NCAA's CHAMPS/Lifeskills Leadership Program on a regular basis with her team. Throughout the school year, Dawson arranges speakers to talk to her players about such topics as domestic violence, drugs and alchohol, sexual responsibility, interviewing skills, and other areas that will impact their lives.
Dawson and her coaching staff along with the players instituted a recycling program in the Louisiana Tech Athletic Department.
The Alpine, Calif., native also emphasizes education, and it has paid off during her tenure at Louisiana Tech. During her previous five years as Tech, 33 of her players have earned Academic All-Western Athletic Conference honors, ranking among the most in the league during that time.
Dawson, who has compiled a 101-193 record at Tech in her five years, has also had plenty of positive affect on her players on the playing field during her time at Louisiana Tech. Dawson's competitive spirit rubs off on her players.
"I took competition personally," Dawson said of her playing days at UL-Monroe. "As a pitcher it was me vs. the batter. At the end of the at bat, we knew who was better. I knew that if I was the best pitcher that day I would give my team the best opportunity to win."
She brings that competitiveness and dedication that helped her garner success as a collegiate and professional player to the Louisiana Tech program. Over the past five years her teams have set numerous records, including the two top single season hit performances (Amber Miles, 68 in 2004, and Emma Barnes, 67 in 2007) and single season home runs (Ashley Cameron, 10 in both 2005 and 2006).
Individual career records have also been set including career batting average (Emma Barnes, .345) and home runs (Ashley Cameron, 32).
Some of Dawson's teams have also set team single season marks, including RBI in a season (2006, 204), home runs in a season (2007, 32), batting average (2006, .284). In fact, Dawson's last three teams rank first, second and third in single season home runs.
Fourteen of her players have earned all-Western Athletic Conference honors, including at least one every year and a program-record four in both 2004 and 2006. Dawson has also had 10 of her players named to the Louisiana Sports Writers Association all-state team, while outfielder Emma Barnes was named the state Freshman of the Year in 2006.
And on numerous occasions, she has led her team to near-upsets of Top 20 teams, including a 2-1 win over Top 20 Fresno State in 2006.
Dawson's effect on her players can be seen in a number of different ways, including their lives following college. Three of her former players are currently coaching in the Division ranks including current Tech assistant Amber Miles as well as Marla Pinkston and Eric Chernicky.
Prior to coming to Louisiana Tech in 2000, Dawson served as an assistant coach at UL-Monroe from 2000 through 2002 and at Marshall University in 1999.
During her four years on the mound at UL-Monroe, she produced some incredibly impressive numbers that still rank on the NCAA Division I all-time single season and career records list.
In her career, Dawson amassed a record of 120-56 while registering 151 complete games, 1,242.1 innings pitched, 1,280 strikeouts and 74 career shutouts. Her complete games, innings pitched, strikeouts and career shutouts all rank in the top 10 in NCAA Division I history while her 120 career wins rank No. 6.
In 1997 during her senior season at UL-Monroe, Dawson earned a spot on the Louisville Slugger NCAA Division I All-American first team. During that year Dawson registered 446 strikeouts in 400.2 innings while recording 50 complete games in only 54 starts and amassing a record of 45-10.
She still holds the school record for career victories, lowest earned run average (0.69), inning pitched, strikeouts, shutouts, games pitched, games started and complete games.
She continued to be successful after her collegiate career, joining the Women's Professional Fast-pitch League in the summer of 1997, where she earned the first year league's inaugural Most Valuable Player award, ranking No. 1 in wins (30) and saves (4) and second in shutouts, complete games, earned run average and opponents batting average.
Dawson earned her bachelor's degree in finance from UL-Monroe in 1998.