The voice of USF Athletics, Jim Louk, will routinely put down his radio headset and pick up the pen to share his perspective on the history of USF Athletics.

Louk has been broadcasting games for 27 years and is the resident historian in the Athletics Department hallways ... This week he remembers the Sun Dome in Goodbye from an Old Friend.

Letters From Louk: The Class of 2011 - Monica Triner                                           

By JIM LOUK
GoUSFBulls.com

Bulls thrown out of ACC.  USF softball coach blames his own player.

Now that I have your attention, here is the story of Monica Triner, and how her USF softball team played its way out of the ACC while she played her way in to the USF Athletics Hall of Fame.

From 1996 to 1999, Conference USA didn’t include softball in its roster of sports.  As a result, the Bulls played in the Southern Atlantic Softball Alliance (SASA).  It was a conglomeration of teams including the Bulls and UNC Charlotte, but it was predominantly ACC teams including Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Florida State.

USF did the last thing any of those ACC teams expected. 

The Bulls dominated the league.

In four years, the Bulls went 39-9 in the SASA before finally moving to Conference USA in 2000. At the heart of that ACC domination was Monica Triner.

“When she came here,” laughs USF head softball coach Ken Eriksen, “we won the ACC Championship three years in a row.  ACC schools weren’t used to losing to non-ACC schools, so Monica about got us kicked out of that league.  She had that kind of impact.  She dominated from the start.”

Triner hit and pitched her way to the top of the USF softball record books, and next month her accomplishments will be recognized with her induction in to the USF Athletics Hall of Fame.

Eriksen remains unsurprised at what Triner achieved in a USF uniform.

“She was one of the best ballplayers I’d ever seen as a young lady 15 to 17 years old,” he said. “When she said she would come to USF, I knew we were going to be in the postseason immediately.  She was a phenomenal athlete”.

“It was a perfect fit,” recalls Triner.  “The things he taught me, I understood.  It was the right combination.  When I worked with him at camps, he told me to do things and I could do them.  We joked around a lot; sometimes you don’t have that.”

Eriksen had it figured accurately.  The Bulls did go to the postseason immediately, with NCAA Tournament appearances in Triner’s first year (1996) as well as 1997 and 1998.  It was a remarkable ascension for a young USF softball program that had just moved to fast pitch a few years earlier.

“She knew how to have fun,” says Eriksen.  “She had no problem with confidence in her abilities, but she was very gracious and very humble. She was the whole package.”

One of the biggest challenges was how to use such a talent. 

“She was the best shortstop who never played shortstop; the best catcher who never caught.  We just needed her in the circle,” says Eriksen.

“I would have played anywhere,” says Triner.

So it was settled.  Triner would pitch most of the time and play first base periodically to keep her bat in the lineup.

“Mo was the ideal teammate,” says Amber Wright, who played with Triner in 1996 and 1997. “She was competitive, talented, refused to lose and was a friend. She brought humor to the game.  She was just an exceptional person.  If you needed a ride home, she was the one you called.  She was always there, ready to be a good teammate and support you in any way.”

More than a decade after her final game, her statistics remain legendary.  Triner is first all-time in career wins with 92; first in innings pitched and strikeouts; second in saves; second in career batting average, and in the top five all time in home runs, hits, doubles and runs batted in.  But Eriksen says her legacy goes beyond the numbers.

“She was the pied piper for generations of softball players to come to USF.  We were fortunate to surround her with good players, but that was simply because those players came to USF because Monica Triner was here.”

“There is a reason that she’s the first softball player going in to the Hall of Fame,” says Wright.  “She was exceptional in every phase of the game.  She was the player that took us from being perhaps a little above average to being a national contender.”

Following her playing days, Triner went in to coaching, eventually electing to return to USF to be a part of Eriksen’s staff.

“It meant the world,” Eriksen said. “We had the best representative of Tampa Bay softball wanting to stay home and coach with her alma mater. She had opportunities to coach elsewhere. I can’t tell you how proud I was when she came back.”

Triner credits her teammates for her Hall of Fame honors.

“It’s fun to look back and think about all the memories we had. I remember people making fabulous diving catches and then having people come up to me and say “great game” when I hadn’t even thrown a good game; they just made really good plays behind me.  I tip my hat to all of them and say thank you because they helped me get here”.

Monica Triner’s USF career is a unique one.  When a player’s career stats are bordering on staggering, yet don’t really tell the entire story of that person’s influence on a program, you are looking at a very rare member of the Bulls family indeed. 

Such is the legacy of Monica Triner, as she becomes the first Bulls softball player to be inducted in to the USF Athletics Hall of Fame.

Jim Louk   Jim Louk
  Voice of the USF Athletics since 1983
When the 2011-12 academic year rolled around, Jim Louk began his 28th year in the athletics department at the University of South Florida and his fifth as Assistant Director of Athletics for Sales and Broadcasting.

Louk came to USF in 1983 as the radio play-by-play announcer for the Bulls’ men’s basketball team and served as the lead voice until the conclusion of the 1997 season. He then made the transition to football in USF’s inaugural 1997 season, and still serves as the team’s play-by-play announcer today. Louk will come into the 2010 football season having broadcast every Bulls’ game in their history – a span of 165 games.

Not only a contributor over the airwaves, Louk has also made his presence felt in getting other USF sports teams exposure on radio and television as well. Prior to the 2003-04 season only men’s basketball and football were consistently seen or heard in the Tampa Bay area. However, since then, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, women’s basketball, softball and baseball all make regular appearances on either radio, television or on the internet – via audio or video – with live streaming.

Truly the “Voice of USF Athletics,” in addition to men’s basketball and football, Louk has also frequently announced USF women’s basketball, baseball and softball games for both radio and television.

On the sales side, Louk heads up all season and group ticket sales for USF athletics while also overseeing a staff of three associates. The ticket sales team was part of a departmental sales effort that resulted in over 7 million dollars of USF game ticket sales in the 2009-10 academic year.

A native of Rochester, N.Y., Louk is a 1979 graduate of the University of Bridgeport where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Louk, his wife Barbara and their son Ross reside in Lutz.

Archives
05/14/10 - Fond & Funny Memories at Red McEwen Field
05/27/10 - Memories of Leagues Past
06/19/10 - Early Travel with the Bulls
06/23/10 - Home(s) of the Bulls
07/12/10 - 21 in a Row
08/25/10 - Bring Me the Head of Rocky the Bull
09/06/10 - Another Signature Win
09/15/10 - Happy 15th Birthday, USF Football
09/17/10 - Visit with Joe Lewkowicz
09/17/10 - Visit with Sherry Bedingfield
10/18/10 - The First Bowl Game
11/03/10 - Top 10 Wins in USF Football History
11/16/10 - 1990 Sun Belt Championship
11/23/10 - Visit with Dan Holcomb
11/30/10 - Visit with Kerine Black
12/02/10 - Visit with Ross Gload
12/10/10 - Let’s Just Get This Game Over With
01/19/11 - Way Out West for the NCAA Tournament
01/31/11 - The Best Road Trip Ever
02/10/11 - History of the NCAA Tournament in Tampa Bay
03/22/11 - Go For Broke - 1986 Baseball
06/09/11 - Goodbye from an Old Friend
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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