April 15, 2003
By Bridget Veihmeyer
When Theodore Roosevelt used the phrase “speak softly and carry a big stick,” he was referring to his policy for international affairs. That same phrase could also be used to describe Andrea Loman’s presence both on and off the softball diamond. Though the Irish senior captain may not be the most vocal player on the field, Loman’s impact has been anything but quiet. A glance at a media guide or a chat with members of Notre Dame’s softball program will quickly show evidence of the third baseman’s influence.
Irish head softball coach Deanna Gumpf calls Loman the most gifted player she has ever coached.
“Her knowledge of the game is on another level, untypical of her peers. She is the kind of player that cannot be replaced,” Gumpf says.
Perhaps this unparalleled knowledge comes from a love of the game that has grown since Loman first picked up a glove at age eight.
Though a four-time most valuable player of her softball team at Riverside Poly High School, California native Loman did not intend to play softball in college. If anything, she would have preferred basketball, her true passion. Despite being a two-time captain of her high school basketball team, Loman eventually realized that her talents lay more in hitting homers than in hitting three pointers.
“Playing softball in college was the best thing to do for my future and career academically,” she says.
It was also one of the best things ever to happen to the Notre Dame softball program. Though Notre Dame was originally her fourth choice for college, Loman, at her father’s suggestion, agreed to visit campus. As soon as she arrived, Loman was drawn to the family atmosphere.
“Walking around campus, people said hello to you, not knowing anything about you. That was important to me,” she says.
Unlike many athletes who take time to find their niche, Loman did not waste any time in contributing to the team. As one of three freshmen in Notre Dame’s starting lineup in 2000, she started all 61 games at first base, where she remained until moving to the hot corner her junior year. Was this intimidating? Not for Loman.
“I have pretty much been doing that my whole life – just going out there and trying my best. I don’t think there was any pressure out of the ordinary,” she says.
However, Loman was facing pressure in a different way, trying to come to terms with the death of her best friend the summer before her freshman year.
“We were in a car accident together and I don’t know how I was fortunate enough to make it, but I was,” Loman recalls.
“So during my first three years, it was a huge challenge academically and athletically, just trying to make it easier on myself.”
Rather than let this tragedy get her down, Loman drew strength from it and used it as inspiration. She established her ability to dominate offensively and defensively, and was named the 2000 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. In doing so, Loman carved a leadership position for herself, which has only expanded since then.
For the past three years, she has continued her quiet domination of the game.
However, teammates and fans alike are well aware that her crash into the record books has been anything but quiet. Her stellar abilities have earned her a plethora of awards including 2000, 2001, and 2002 first-team all-BIG EAST, and 2002 BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player. Her career .981 fielding percentage makes her one of the top third basemen in the nation, and Gumpf notes that next season will be the first time in four years that other teams might be able to bunt successfully against the Irish after her departure.
“She has incredible game sense and knows what play to make at the right time. She shares this information with her teammates,” Gumpf says.
Thus, it only seems natural that Loman would be named tri-captain for her senior season, as proof that her example has indeed profoundly affected the team.
“It meant a lot to me because the coaches did not have anything to do with it. My teammates voted me a leader,” says Loman, who cites this as her greatest athletic accomplishment in the past four years.
Outfielder Megan Ciolli agrees.
“Drea (Loman’s nickname) is a great leader not only because she is very solid on the field, but also because she knows when to speak up and take control. That may not be very often, but when she talks, people listen.”
Loman, who chooses to lead by example, is proof that actions do indeed speak louder than words. There could hardly be a better model for her teammates to follow, as she will finish among Notre Dame’s all-time leaders in home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases and fielding percentage. However, like a true leader, the third-team All-American is more interested in team than personal achievements.
“I don’t have any personal goals,” Loman says.
“If I happen to get awards, then that’s fine. It’s just a tribute to the coaches and how well they’ve helped me along the way, as well as to my teammates who are always pushing me and making me a better player.”
So Loman continues on, not looking for the spotlight, just looking to achieve the team’s goals, which ultimately include a World Series victory. Dedication to this common aim and a strong sense of loyalty among the team has forged strong relationships in the Notre Dame clubhouse.
It is this bond with her coaches and camaraderie with her teammates, the sisters she never had, that will make it most hard for Loman to say goodbye. However, Loman, a management information systems major, is excited to enter the next phase of her life and to close the softball chapter.
Until then, opponents who may not hear her voice will certainly feel the power of her big stick.