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WHERE ARE THEY NOW?     February 2009

Now an Assistant, Galloway Still a Part of the Game

By Lacy Lee Baker

NFCA Hall of Famer Bill Galloway, one of the pioneers of women’s collegiate softball, retired as Louisiana Tech’s head coach in 2002. Retirement didn’t last long for Mr. Galloway, as he’s now back on the softball field as an assistant at East Texas Baptist.


You gave up coaching once. How did you get back into it?


I retired, and I played some golf and fished, but the next summer, East Texas Baptist asked me if I would work with their pitchers and catchers. I drove back and forth, about 100 miles each way, from Ruston, Louisiana, to Marshall, Texas, to do it. I did that for a couple of years, but the commute was a little too much. Eventually, the school was able to offer me a paid position, so my wife, Liguya, and I moved to Marshall.


How do you like being an assistant coach?


I love it. It’s sort of like being a grandfather. You get to enjoy being around the kids, but when it’s time to go home, you can. There’s plenty to do, but it’s not overwhelming.


What are your main responsibilities?


I work mostly with the pitchers and catchers, and do a little bit of recruiting. Being an assistant has really given me a new perspective. As a head coach, you always felt that you had to get it done and get it done now. Being an assistant, you can step away and view the total picture, while the head coach has to be in the mix and doesn’t have that luxury. I wish I could have taken a leave of absence to be an assistant for a while during my head coaching days.


When I came into the game, I was always hearing about you and your grass infield at Louisiana Tech. How did that come to happen?


There used to be a lot of grass infields in the South. Baylor used to play on one, and two or three other places. But, in my case, it was really the Louisiana Tech president who wanted one. We were one of the first schools to have our own field (instead of playing on recreational fields), and it was fully lighted. It was finished in 1981. Louisiana Tech has always had an outstanding women's basketball program and a large contingent of women's athletics fans. At that time a lot of them were older people, and the president did not want them to get dusty when a strong wind came along during a softball game. Grass was a lot harder to maintain, which is why most city fields were dirt. 


Did you like it?


I loved it. During the years, I kept records of play on the grass compared to a dirt infield, and there were fewer errors than on the dirt. The ball was a little quicker off the grass than dirt. Back in 1984, we played Cal Poly Pomona in NCAA regionals. They also had a grass infield, and the NCAA did not allow grass infields for championship play. We had to play the competition at Golden West College. 

I had always thought that you came over to the sport from the grass infields of baseball.


No, I actually was a men’s fastpitch player. It was 1971 or 1972, and I was playing for a team in Elkhart, Indiana. The owner of the team wanted some volunteers to go help with the women’s team, and he would treat us to supper. I really wasn’t expecting to see what I saw. These women and girls could play, and my jaw dropped. I helped a few more times, and then later on, the younger girls came to me and asked if I would help start a girls fastpitch team. Two of the girls were Diane Stephenson (a former Indiana University head coach and now an assistant with Iowa) and her sister. Diane was really a player. Although she was only in eighth grade, I knew she was going to be good.


How did you get to be a college coach?


I worked in a factory for eight years, and never had the dream of going to college. I always thought that college was for rich kids or smart ones, and I wasn’t either. But, my friends and family convinced me that I could do it. So, I went to Indiana University and volunteered to help out with the softball team. Ann Lawver was the head coach and eventually, the assistant position became a paid one for $800 a year. In 1978, I became the head coach at Texas A&M and then went to Louisiana Tech in 1981. I was there 22 years before my retirement.


Since you’ve been in many roles in softball coaching, what advice do you have for the younger coaches of today?


To be your own person. To develop your own philosophy and concept on how to win, and then sell that to your team. You’ve got to believe in it and stick with it. I know how coaches of today can be swayed. Parents, fans or other coaches can pull you this way or that, but you’ve got to believe in your own philosophy. There are lots of roads to get to Rome, but find one that you like and stick with it.


Even though I started coaching forty years ago, the game hasn’t really changed. You still have the rise, drop and change- up. It still takes sweat and hard work to succeed. If I was a younger coach, I’d spend a lot more time learning how to deal with players on the mental and emotional level, rather than the balls and bats stuff. How are you going to discipline, what do you say after an injury to help the player get back on her feet, what do you say after the big loss to help the team rebound and look to the future?


But, although the game hasn’t changed very much, the players who play it have, mainly because our culture has changed. Twenty or thirty years ago, there weren’t many choices for the kids, but look at what they have to choose from today. They can be doctors, lawyers and engineers, so softball may not the total centerpiece of their life.


It sounds like you still enjoy it, though?


Yes, I love it. It keeps you young. And, as much as you want to win, it’s all about the kids. It’s basing your decisions on what you can do to help them go through. Nothing is better than having a player come back to you 10 or 15 years later and say, “You did a lot for me. Thank you.”