If you played sports in high-school or college, or your daughters do/did; you’ll want to thank Louise Crocco. Attending high-school in the early 60s, Louise found herself leading the charge for the availability and acceptance of girl’s sports. A naturally gifted athlete and coach, Louise is a legend in the world of high-school volleyball.
As the Athletic Director of a Catholic school in Fort Lauderdale in the 80s, Louise held a position very few women have had. Her 39-year career left a mark on girl’s high-school volleyball; a mark that won’t soon be forgotten. Louise’s won-lost record of 1,132-123 ranks number FIVE in national history. She was named National Coach of the Year four times and inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005, along with the likes of longtime pro star Karch Kiraly. Her teams hold every Florida record except for most consecutive state titles.
I am excited to bring you Louise Crocco’s story for week 20 of the Share Your Story; the Women the WSJ Missed series.
KUELLIFE: What are you pursuing now, at this stage of your life, that surprises you or might appear to others as if it comes out of left field?
LOUISE: I am semi-retired. I am also helping my brother who has a rehab center ‘First Step Behavior Health’. When I am not helping him I have two horses two dogs and a cat which I love very much and enjoy being with.
KUELLIFE: What’s a typical day like for you?
LOUISE: When I wake up I have a cup of coffee and look at all the business emails to set my day. When I am in North Carolina, my typical day is wake up, have a cup of coffee, check my business emails, take my beautiful babies, Lucy and Ethel, ( my beautiful Shih Tzu) out for a walk, and go see my other beautiful babies, Dandy and Rosie, my two beautiful horses. The afternoon I’m cleaning out stalls and dragging the fields and walking around looking at the beautiful area and nature in progress..
I also keep up with my niece, who is playing college ball up in North Carolina, and continue to watch my high school teams in the playoffs, hopefully to the state championship.
KUELLIFE: With what do you struggle?
LOUISE: The lack of common sense and kindness in the world.
KUELLIFE: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
LOUISE: I think if you do what you love and surround yourself with loving people it motivates you to have a happy life.
KUELLIFE: What advice would you give fellow women about aging?
LOUISE: We are very fortunate to have the chance to be this age. I think age is a frame of mind and not a number. Remember that aging is a natural part of life and you should try to embrace it. That doesn’t mean that we don’t try to do everything that would help you age gracefully. I think it’s important to stay active which helps you stay healthy.
KUELLIFE: What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?
LOUISE: I think vulnerability is to take a chance and put yourself out there to be either positively or negatively judged because of your decisions.
KUELLIFE: What are three events that helped to shape your life?
LOUISE: Moving down here to Fort Lauderdale from Albany, New York after my mother had a debilitating stroke. If I would have stayed in Albany I would not have been a teacher, coach, or Athletic Director. Athletics were not as available in the north for girls as they were in the south. I was fortunate enough to come to school in Florida where Sister Marie, the girl’s principal , thought sports were very important and also encouraged them for girls, as well as, boys.
KUELLIFE: Who influenced you the most in life and why?
LOUISE: My Mom and Dad. My mom as you see later in the question, had a debilitating stroke and the doctors said she would never walk or talk again; but she did. She gave me the drive to believe that I could do anything, and gender had nothing to do with it. She also showed me tenacity, to stick to what I was doing. She would always tell me the only time you fail is when you quit trying.
My dad had an incredible work ethic and was the epitome of truth and honesty.He taught me to pick yourself up and brush yourself off and be persistent in what you are doing and you will succeed. A man with less than an eighth grade education became very successful, due to his hard work and will to provide for his family.
KUELLIFE: What is the best advice you’ve been given from another woman?
LOUISE: Believe that you can do anything. Don’t use gender as an excuse. When I was in college I wanted to be a teacher and a coach. I signed up for a coaching course in college but when I arrived at the class I was told I could not take it because I was a female. When I told the girls that I was coaching years later they just could not believe that this could be possible.
KUELLIFE: What woman inspires you and why?
LOUISE: My mother and Sister Marie. These were women way before their time. My mother always said that woman can do anything they put their mind to. Born in an era where she had to quit school after eighth grade to help her family financially. She wanted to go continue her education but but it was very unsual at that time for women to go on to college. My mom really educated herself by reading and studying business. She was a very smart business woman, today she would probably be the CEO of a major corporation. She always encouraged me to do the best I could do to make things easier for women to come after me.
Sister Marie, A Sister of St.Francis, was another woman before her time. She was very instrumental in building a school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She was one of the founding principals of Cardinal Gibbons High School. She believed that sports were very important for a well rounded student. She was very important in introducing, not only the boys to sports, but also the girls at Cardinal Gibbons High School.
KUELLIFE: Are you grown-up?
LOUISE: I hope in may ways yes; but I hope in many ways no. Obviously, I am an adult; but, I also hope that I have the enthusiasm for life as a young child.
KUELLIFE: What do you do for self-care?
LOUISE: Stay active. I like to walk and see the beauty in nature. Mentally to love animals and the incredible feeling and unconditional love they give me.
KUELLIFE: And last but definitely NOT least: What are the top three things on your bucket list?
LOUISE: I guess I have been very fortunate, I really cannot think of any personal things. Except for maybe winning the lottery, haha. I would love to see more love in the world – more acceptance of each other and peace in the world.