Yvette Girouard wrestled Wednesday about whether she would be in the stands for the NCAA softball regional this week at Tiger Park.
One thing she did know for certain.
“I will enjoy this one the most,” Girouard said. “I won’t be involved in the drama.”
The drama is her embittered legacy, the centerpiece of an uncivil war between LSU and Louisiana-Lafayette, who will both be in action at Tiger Park on Thursday. LSU opens with Central Connecticut State, ULL gets Northwestern State.
Girouard built both programs, taking both to the Women’s College World Series. Lafayette was and still is her home (she still has the keys to the family place in Broussard, though her residence is in Baton Rouge), and ULL was her alma mater.
Girouard was a near deity at ULL, leading the Ragin’ Cajuns to three WCWS appearances. That was of course until she left for LSU in 2001.
Suddenly she was vilified by many of the ULL fans who loved her so much.
A plaque honoring Girouard on the exterior wall of ULL’s ballpark, the one she raised funds to build, mysteriously disappeared. Business dipped at her family’s restaurant in Broussard. Aside from taking LSU to ULL for a pair of games in 2001 and a 2002 NCAA regional, Girouard never stepped foot inside Lamson Park again.
“I couldn’t even drive down Cajundome Boulevard (past the ballpark) it bothered me so much,” she said.
That was until this season, when apparently enough time had elapsed to thaw the ice over the Atchafalaya between ULL and Girouard.
“The fans and my old friends reached out to me and wanted to know if I was receptive to talking to Michael” Lotief, ULL’s coach. “He wanted to honor me and bring me back home. I said, ‘Yes, of course.’”
Wearing ULL’s colors of white and red, Girouard threw out the first pitch April 17 before ULL took a doubleheader from Houston. The crowd gave her a just — and long overdue — standing ovation.
“It was the right thing to do,” Girouard said. “You patch it up and go forward. I like that. No one should live with conflict in their life. It’s easier to be happy than to be upset about something.
“I made some mistakes when I left, but so did they, the university and the coaching staff. It was like a cat fight. But it had a lot to do with the fact I went to LSU.”
Girouard said she’s been told there will be more honors for her at ULL, maybe even her plaque going back up on the Lamson Park wall.
Meanwhile, there is a regional to play. Girouard will root for both but will be leaning toward LSU.
“Those are still some of my players playing for LSU,” Girouard said. “I didn’t recruit the ones at ULL.
“I hope they both do well. It’s a shame (they both can’t win).”
At least as far as Girouard is concerned, one shame is being righted.