by Cherryl F. Cercado
Ask junior softball player Loree Grey whether she ranked sixth in SCIAC in hitting and whether she led the conference in doubles, and she would not be able to tell you the answer. The modest 21-year-old will tell you that she is not sure because she does not read the softball statistics.
“I don’t care what the statistics say,” said Grey. “If I don’t feel that I’m giving 110 percent on the field and I’m ranked first, it doesn’t make a difference to me. If I’m ranked last and I feel like I’m giving 110 percent in my heart, then that means so much more.”
Following in her older brother’s footsteps, Grey started playing hardball when she was six years old. Eventually, she moved to softball, and her passion for the game grew.
“I’ve never been the smartest in the class,” she said. “But softball was something I could do, something that I was good at, and it built my confidence.”
Grey was talented enough to be recruited by Cal State Long Beach, a Division I school. Signing a letter of intent to attend Long Beach when she was a senior in high school, Grey realized the following summer that she wanted to attend the University of La Verne.
“Division I is a tremendous step up from Division III, in all aspects,” she said. “In D-One, they own you. They tell you what to eat, when to go to sleep, when to exercise and what to do.”
“Loree could play anywhere at any level,” said Julie Kline, head softball coach. “We are extremely lucky to have her at La Verne.”
Grey felt that she would be more comfortable at La Verne and would be able to focus more on academics. Her parents were delighted that she chose La Verne and she has had no regrets. Her father, Steve Grey, is ULV’s chief financial officer.
“Like I’ve said, I’ve never been the smartest and I wanted to do well in school,” she said. “In D-One, they do a lot of traveling and they are constantly on the go. I didn’t feel like they were going to cater to my schoolwork.”
Grey, a diversified major, places an emphasis on her education. Her goal is to become an elementary school teacher and coach softball.
“I want to be a good teacher and a good coach,” she said. “I want to do for the kids what the two important coaches have done for me.”
The two coaches that Grey speaks fondly and highly of are Tom Tucker, her coach as a child and adolescent, and Kline.
“I didn’t have a lot of confidence and I was very self-conscious,” she said. “Tom showed me that I was a good player.”
Grey credits Kline with not just being a good coach, but also being a good friend. During her freshman year, Grey claims that she was caught up in all the “typical partying.” Kline helped her out of that mode, and her attitude toward academics and softball improved.
“The friendship between me and Julie was there automatically,” she said. “She has done so much for me off the field. I have a tremendous respect for her and there isn’t anyone that cares so much about her players than she does.”
Kline returns the compliment.
“One of the most rewarding things for a coach is to help and watch people grow both as individuals and as players,” said Kline. “Loree Grey is an exceptional player, and more importantly, an exceptional human being.”
As she has grown older, Grey has also noticed a change in herself. She used to be, as she describes herself, “very, very self-conscious,” and it was difficult for her to grow out of that thinking.
“I used to care about every little thing, and I don’t anymore. Now, as long as I live up to my potential, I’m satisfied,” she said. “I’ve learned not to get too down on myself, not to set unrealistic goals, and to keep going.”
She says that she has that “go, go, go attitude.”
Sophomore third baseman Liz Lomeli agrees.
“She’s very intense, a hard worker, a leader and a team player,” said Lomeli. “She’s important to the team because she’s the best person and she gets along with everybody.”
Grey gets her inspiration from the motivational books that she reads. “I like to think positively,” she said.
She then proudly shows off the team’s softball t-shirt she designed, which has the inscription, “Pain is temporary and pride is forever.” She took the saying from “all those books I read.”
Besides reading in her spare time, Grey also likes to spend time with her family. According to Grey, they are very close and she is grateful to her parents for their constant support.
“I knew my parents wanted me to come to La Verne,” she said. “But they didn’t push it. That’s just one aspect of how my parents have supported me and let me make my own decisions. They’ve traveled with me everywhere and they’ve always backed me up.”
Her father is proud of Grey’s accomplishments, both as a student and as a softball player. “She overlooked the fame and recognition of attending a Division I school to focus on her education,” he said. “I’m very proud of Loree’s performance. She has really done well and she has transformed from being a dependent freshman to being an independent person.”
With the help of her family, her coaches and softball, Grey has learned a valuable lesson in life.
“I can do what I want and I don’t have to set limits and boundaries for myself,” she said. “ ‘I can’t’ used to be in my vocabulary and it stops you from doing things in life. When I took it out of my vocabulary, I gained confidence and it has changed my whole life around.”