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University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduate Austin Robichaux strode across M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park on Tuesday night, a walk he’d made many times as a Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns pitcher from 2012-2014.
He was after a diploma, not strikeouts.
Robichaux earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies during Fall 2020 Commencement ceremonies for UL Lafayette’s University College.
Robichaux left the University before his senior season after being drafted by the Los Angeles Angels to play professionally. His return fulfilled a promise he’d made to his college coach – and father – Tony Robichaux.
The elder Robichaux, who coached the Ragin’ Cajuns for a quarter century, died last year.
Austin Robichaux completed his degree requirements online, while juggling pro baseball, a full-time job after his career ended, and family. He and wife Sara are expecting their first child.
“I couldn't be more excited. First, because of how much (my dad) preached I needed to get my degree, and how proud I know he is,” he said prior to the ceremony.
Although Tony Robichaux led his teams to more than 900 wins, a College World Series appearance, and No. 1 national ranking, the coach set higher standards for his players off the field.
“It’s my job to prepare them for life after baseball,” he once explained during an interview with La Louisiane, the magazine of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Robichaux required all players sign a code of conduct called “Robe’s Rules.” He also reminded them daily that character trumps throwing strikes or hitting home runs.
His son was no exception.
“My dad taught me not only the game itself but the game after baseball, which is life. Ultimately, my dad's biggest thing until the day he passed away was: ‘life isn’t just baseball, because baseball comes to an end,’” Austin Robichaux said.
It’s a message he routinely delivers to developing pitchers he instructs as head of baseball operations at the athletic training facility Ragin’ Cages. “I remind them that someday you have to be the man that God intended, and it's not just about baseball.”
Robichaux, however, drew on the discipline he learned while playing the sport – and the values his father instilled in him – while completing his degree.
“It was definitely tough, but if there's one thing that going to school and playing a Division I sport and going to school and playing a professional sport does is, it teaches you time management, and a big thing my dad taught me, as well, was time management," he explained.
Professional baseball delayed me from getting my degree, but here I am 6 years later! Thank you to the University for allowing my mother to be apart of the ceremony. And what place better than the house that Robe built. I know my dad was in that dugout one last time last night! pic.twitter.com/86y858eh4k— Austin Robichaux (@AustinRobichaux) December 9, 2020
Learn more about Austin Robichaux’s academic journey and baseball career.
UL Lafayette’s two-day Commencement ceremony concludes Wednesday with ceremonies for the colleges of Engineering and Nursing and Allied Health Professions, and the Graduate School.
Learn more about Fall 2020 Commencement, including ceremony schedules. View livestreams of individual Fall 2020 Commencement ceremonies.
Photo caption: Former Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns pitcher Austin Robichaux, shown with mom Colleen Robichaux, returned to M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park Tuesday for Fall 2020 Commencement ceremonies. Robichaux, a member of the Louisiana baseball team from 2012-2014, received a bachelor’s degree in general studies that he earned online after completing his pro baseball career. Photo credit: Rachel Rafati / University of Louisiana at Lafayette