In my first few months at UConn, I only ran into Coach Looney a few times. He worked closely with the pitchers and catchers but wasn’t around every day at practice (as a 1.5 hour commute on the Mass Pike stood in his way.) However, once preseason and season started, he became another voice of knowledge and experience day in and day out.
You could always count on coach Looney for a story, a joke or simply a smile. With his immense understanding of the game, he could help no matter what kind of situation you found yourself in. Whether it was pitch count, base running, game strategy or random rules and regulations; Looney knew it all. Coach Looney was a person that always stressed the importance of a team’s communication and togetherness. He reiterated time and time again that an individual’s decisions and actions on the field can affect the entire course of a game.
In my first tournament as a Husky, I was playing third base in a close game against Minnesota at Florida Gulf Coast. In an early inning, I let a ball drop in foul territory that I should have caught. In my mind, it was just one more strike for the batter. It turns out that this would not be the case. That same batter, later in the at-bat, got a base hit and ended up scoring what would turn out to be the go ahead run. Upon entering the dugout after the inning, I got an earful from Coach Looney. To this day, I remember that play and how much Coach Looney instilled in me that night that every single decision I make in a game will affect my teammates and our success somehow, in either a negative or positive manner. He instilled in me the notion that everything we do as players on this team reverberates throughout the team and shapes the outcome of an inning, a game or a season.
Off the field Coach Looney just enjoyed the ride. Traveling the country with 20 plus college girls and an all female coaching staff for three straight months every year would drive most men insane. But Mr. Looney always had a good time and just embraced the experience of being able to watch us develop as a team from game to game. He was our comic relief, Washington D.C. tour guide, source of obscure trivia and the first one to remind us that we were all just a bunch of SCRUBS!
After decades on the field Looney never lost that passion and love of the game. He passed a little bit of that desire and drive on to all of us, and for that we are grateful. I feel privileged not only that I got to play for him but that I got to know him as a person. He truly was an amazing man who will be missed very much by everyone involved in the UConn softball program. As we dedicate our upcoming season to Coach Looney we will bring with us the memories, love, laughs and warm smiles he helped us to create along the way.