Small acts of kindness are a hallmark of Florida State softball coach Lonni Alameda. Not necessarily because of what she gives, she said, “but because of the way it makes you feel. When you are positive in a lot of areas, you seem to be a happier person. And when you get a group of happy people around each other, great things can happen.” Coach Alameda and her happy Seminoles proved that in June, riding their positivity to the championship of the Women’s College World Series and sprinkling tender mercies along the way. “She gives her life to softball, and when I say softball, I mean the players and the game itself,” ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza said of Coach Alameda, who recruited Mendoza to Stanford. “She will give her heart and soul.”
Or bus. When top-seeded Oregon was stranded on the way to its first game in the eight-team national tournament because of a flat tire, Coach Alameda dispatched the Seminoles’ bus to get them to the game. After all, Florida State didn’t need the bus until later in the day. It was just sitting there, so why not? “That is so her,” Mendoza said, adding that when someone − anyone − is in need, “competition goes away.”
And, when she learned that Oregon sophomore Mia Camuso left her jersey on the bus, Coach Alameda hopped in a rental car and hand-delivered the jersey. “To have someone come and get it from us would have taken away from the time for the player to have her jersey, so that wasn’t even an option,” she said. “I know as a coach myself that I would just want it to be there ASAP, so that it is less stress for the team and the player. So I didn’t really think about it; it’s just what you do. And a lot of people would have done that, not just me.”
With the obstacles cleared thanks to Coach Alameda’s quick-thinking selflessness, Oregon cruised in its opener, 11-6 over Arizona State. The tournament didn’t get off to the start the Seminoles hoped, though, as they fell to UCLA. But they fought their way through the elimination bracket, beating Georgia, eliminating Oregon and defeating UCLA twice to advance to the final, where they swept Washington. After 15 years as a head coach, 10 at Florida State, Coach Alameda claimed her first national crown. “If I could pick a coach who deserved it, it would be Lonni Alameda because she’s given so much,” Mendoza said. “When I saw her win it, it was the softball gods giving someone what they deserve.”
Though Coach Alameda believes in karma, she won’t connect the dots between the acts of kindness and the national title. “I do not think, by any means, that the national title was won by doing this,” she said. “But we do enjoy being around each other every day because we do small acts of kindness and the other little things that we do.” In her case, the little things have added up, not only to a national championship but a Musial, which seems to resonate in a special way with members of the baseball and softball communities.
“You could argue that (Stan) was one of the best, but when you can be a great player and a great person and represent the sport you play with class and compete with pride and passion, it is what every player and coach hopes to achieve,” she said. “To me, that is what Stan represented within the game of baseball and for sports people in general. It is a complete honor to be recognized.”