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Heart of a Coach
May/June 2012

Q&A with Andy Lopez
Head Baseball Coach
University of Arizona
 

“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?” – Jeremiah 12:5a (ESV)

As one of just three coaches in Division I history to guide three different schools to the College World Series—including one national championship—University of Arizona baseball coach Andy Lopez is considered among the game’s all-time elite. But past accomplishments aren’t what drive this veteran coach. Rather, it’s the God-given responsibility he feels to teach values and life lessons to his players.

STV: What’s been the most memorable moment of your coaching career?
AL:
It’s hard to top the 1992 College World Series Championship at Pepperdine. The more time that passes, the more I realize how special that was. But there have been many great things I’ve been able to experience as a coach, and I feel tremendously blessed. I never dreamed I would be doing what I’m doing. It was never my plan to be a baseball coach. I’ve just done the most I can with what the Lord has given me.

STV: Given your coaching experience, what’s one piece of advice you’d give young coaches?
AL:
The late Cal Poly Pomona baseball coach John Scolinos, who was a dear friend of mine, once told me, “It’s all trivial.” I’m glad I wrote it down because my young coaching mind didn’t comprehend at the time that he was imparting wisdom to me. He was basically saying to do your job, do the best you can, and play to win. But it really is all trivial when you consider everything that’s going on in the lives of our athletes. The responsibility coaches have to develop young lives is so important.

“The responsibility coaches have to develop young lives is so important.”

STV: What do you hope to instill in your players?
AL:
We try to base our foundation on three things: discipline, mental toughness and accountability. We want to teach our players to have the discipline to do what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it—to have the mental toughness to get through the ups and downs of the long college baseball season. We want them to understand that every decision they make—everything they do from the time they open their eyes in the morning to the time they close them that night—makes a statement about their values.

STV: How has FCA and your relationship with area representative Richard Lopez impacted you?
AL:
Richard has been a blessing to me personally. We meet once a week, attend the same church, and he also serves us as an extension of FCA to our team. FCA is a fantastic organization with the pure motive of sending people like Richard to pour into the lives of these young men. I always feel blessed on Thursday nights when I see my guys meeting with him to study the Bible after practice.

STV: What do you feel is your God-given purpose in your position?
AL:
Every day I’m seeking God’s wisdom, courage, insight and knowledge, and I pray that He would use me as His instrument—that people would encounter the living God through me.

Many coaches base their future on how well their young men hit, pitch and play defense, but I know that ultimately my future is in the hands of my Father. The hope that I have is not in young men or baseball knowledge, but in my Lord and Savior and His promise to never leave me or forsake me.

 
ABOUT THE COACH:

Alma Mater: UCLA (1975)
Family: Wife – Linda; Children – Kristi, Kerri, Michael and David

Division I Coaching Career:
-
Pepperdine University (1989-94)
     1992 College World Series (Champions)
     1992 National Coach of the Year

-University of Florida (1995-2001)
     1996 and 1998 College World Series
     1998 National Coach of the Year

-University of Arizona (2002-Present)
     2004 College World Series


FCA Staff Quote:
“Over the last 10 years, Coach Lopez and I have become very good friends and have shared many great prayer times and fellowship. The Tucson community has a lot of respect for the way he lives out his faith, and we are so blessed to have him leading the Wildcat baseball program.”
                                                                                                                   – Richard Lopez, FCA Area Representative, Tucson, Ariz.

Courtesy of Arizona Athletics

--For more stories about faith and sport, visit www.sharingthevictory.com, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. To subscribe to STV, click here.


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