BizSPORTS continued from page 45 246-1. Lofty numbers to be sure, but they no longer drive him. “I don’t think about the wins and losses,” he said. “When I was younger, I was petrified of the wins and losses. Now I’m more concerned with us having a good effort every day … correcting mistakes, getting tougher and getting more prepared. If I can do that with the guys, the wins and losses take care of themselves.” There was a time when the numbers almost killed him – literally. In 1996, at the age of 42, the team plane had to be diverted to Savannah, Ga., after Gator trainers thought he was having a heart attack on a return flight to the University of Florida. After a day in the hospital, he was back at Florida with a new-found perspective. “I was wound up like a clock,” he said, recalling 1996. “When I did get home after a night in the hospital, I realized this wasn’t worth it. I have a
wife and four kids who are important to me.” That same year, Florida was one of the better teams in the country, finishing with a school-record 50 wins with just 18 losses. It finished third in the country after winning the Southeastern Conference. It was then he decided to concentrate on “teaching and preparing.” His intensity “sneaks in every now and again,” he said. “I won’t lie. When we get into a little bit of a tailspin we have to get this thing going and fixed. Coach John Wooden used to say, ‘the quickest way to get out of a losing streak is to not think about the streak, just go out and play and teach.’ It was the same for winning – just play and teach.” He has served as teacher to his own kids, as well. Lopez and his wife, Linda, are the parents of daughters Kristi and Kerri. They also have two sons, Michael and David, who are both UA students. Michael played four seasons for
the UA baseball program and will serve as a member of the coaching staff this season. David enters his fourth year in the program as an infielder. Obviously, Greg Byrne, Lopez’s boss, likes the coach’s style. “He is a great coach and cares about the young men in his program athletically, academically and socially,” Byrne said. “After the many years of coaching, he still has a tremendous fire in his belly,” Byrne continued. “He and his staff have recruited extremely well in the always-challenging world of college baseball, where you don’t know if the young man you sign will show up on your campus or turn pro out of high school. Most of all, he is a great human being, honest with his student-athletes and humble and grateful for the opportunities he has had.” And willing to sign an autograph or many at a dinner table if anyone asks.
With 38 home games this season, there are plenty of opportunities to catch the University of Arizona baseball team at Hi Corbett Field. For a complete schedule, go to www.arizonawildcats.com
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