The Monroe, La. native, in her seven years as a head coach (five with Bayou and two at Washington School) has compiled a career record of 224-62 for an incredible winning percentage of .783. This past year, the Lady Colts went 38-5 and won the AA State Championship which was LaSuzzo’s fourth state crown and first in AA as head coach of the Lady Colts. At a youthful 30 years of age, LaSuzzo still has plenty of mileage on her career to go.
LaSuzzo began her coaching career in 2005 when she was an assistant at Bayou under then head coach Brandi Vondenstein. Both Vondenstein and LaSuzzo played softball at Delta State University. After two years of being an assistant under Vondenstein, LaSuzzo became Bayou’s head coach in the 2007 season after Vondenstein left. Since then, LaSuzzo’s head coaching career has been in full swing.
With each year, LaSuzzo said she’s matured and there are still things that she learns on a daily basis.
“I think I’ve grown a lot,” LaSuzzo said. “When I was working with Brandi, I was an assistant. I didn’t have to make the big calls. I think whether I made the right decisions as far as being a head coach, I think it’s trial and error at first. I think I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to deal with seventh through 12th grade girls.
“They still teach me things everyday about how to handle them. I think it’s making me a better person being around them, and I hope that I’m giving them the same thing back. I’m always growing and I’m always learning.”
When LaSuzzo went into coaching, winning lots of games and state championships weren’t a main focus.
“I just went into coaching and still had the competitiveness in me,” a humble LaSuzzo, who is a graduate of St. Fredrick High School, said. “I just wanted to be a good influence and teach girls about the game. The game can teach you a lot as well. I just wanted to teach them, not only about the game, but about life. It just happens that I’m very blessed and God was looking over us.”
During LaSuzzo’s playing days at Delta State University from 2002-05, she was one of the team’s standouts. She played a number of positions including catcher, designated player and outfield. LaSuzzo played on the DSU team that went to the South Region Tournament in 2002 and was a key player in DSU winning the Gulf South West Division Title in 2005. On DSU’s all-time career lists, LaSuzzo is seventh in games played (211), eighth in doubles (28), tied for eighth in home runs (13), 10th in hits (173) and 10th in runs scored (107). She won the school’s Charles S. Kerg Award in 2005.
“Having been a player myself and knowing what they’re feeling and having been in the situations they’re experiencing, I can relate to them and know what they’re going through,” LaSuzzo said. “That’s a great asset to have.”
After guiding the Lady Colts in Class A State Softball Title in 2007, LaSuzzo left Bayou to be the head softball coach at Washington School in Greenville for two years in 2008 and 09. In those two seasons, the Lady Generals went 36-23 and went to the North AAA Tournament in each year. In 2010, LaSuzzo returned to Bayou where she’s been head coach ever since leading the team to three more state titles.
LaSuzzo said her time at Washington School played another important role in her growth as a coach.
“I was very thankful for Washington,” LaSuzzo said. “A lot of my girls here at Bayou play travel ball. They’ve been around the game a lot where as at Washington I had to kind of teach them more about the game and certain situations as to why you have to do this. I had to go a different coaching route as far as how to approach them compared to here.”
The Lady Colts were playing in AA when LaSuzzo first came to Bayou as an assistant. Bayou went 40-9 in 2005 but failed to win the state title.
LaSuzzo said there was a lot of emotion over this year’s championship.
“This is definitely one of the most emotional state championships that I’ve ever been a part of,” LaSuzzo said. “I really have no idea why. I think it was just so unpredictable. We just took it one game at a time. We never got too far ahead of ourselves. The girls sacrificed a lot and to see them be the last team standing I think that’s why everybody got so emotional. We saw it all come together. I couldn’t be more proud of them. They’ve worked so hard.”
LaSuzzo loved the atmosphere on this year’s Bayou team.
“They’re a great group of kids,” LaSuzzo said. “All of the girls are fun to be around. They all buy into winning, wanting to win and doing what’s best. Our dugout was cheering the whole time. They buy into the program and the tradition. I love’em.”
For LaSuzzo, Bayou Academy has become a second home.
“Bayou in general is a very special place,” LaSuzzo said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better place to start my career and still be there. It’s just a very special. I’m very grateful for that school, the girls and the program. It’s a place where when I go to work, I don’t feel like I’m going to work. My college coach (former DSU head softball coach David Kuhn) told me if you ever find something you enjoy in your life, you never have to work a day in your life. That’s how I feel and that’s always stuck with me.”