Howard Dobson, an LSU assistant coach, will spend the summer with the U.S. national softball team. The Sulphur-born Dobson got his start coaching in Southwest Louisiana. (Darin Wallentine/ Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, June 05, 2014 11:03 AMHoward Dobson’s path has taken him all over the continent.
But Dobson is a Southwest Louisiana guy.
Born in Sulphur, raised in Orange, Texas, Dobson played two years of baseball and graduated from McNeese State and stayed in the area coaching softball for a few years.
Now he’s an assistant softball coach at LSU, where he’s helped the Tigers to the Women’s College World Series, and even more recently, he was called up to be one of three assistant coaches for the United States women’s national softball team this summer.
Before he was on the national stage, Dobson went to McNeese and played in the outfield after two years at Panola (Texas) College. Dobson’s first year at McNeese was Tony Robichaux’s last (1994). He finished his McNeese career under Jim Ricklefsen.
“I had a blast. I loved playing there,” Dobson said recalling his time in Lake Charles. “When I left to go to Panola, I told Robichaux and those guys I was going to come back and play at McNeese. That was my plan and I got a chance to fulfill that goal. I love the area. I stuck around coaching softball in the area a couple of years before I left to take my career off.”
Dobson spent a year as a volunteer coach at LaGrange High School and helped coach a summer league team. He was on the Barbe High School coaching staff in 1997, when the Lady Bucs won their last softball state championship. Then Dobson spent a year coaching at McNeese before leaving the area.
From there, Dobson’s career included stops at Southeastern Louisiana, Houston and Oklahoma. He was the head softball coach at Southern Mississippi for four season before going to LSU.
This summer won’t be Dobson’s first time coaching at the national level.
In 2011, he was named to the national team coaching pool and in 2012, he got the call to coach the USA Elite team.
“They brought 35 to 40 players in and had a tryout to pick the national team,” Dobson said. “Once they pick the national team they have the other players who tried out compete against them. So basically I coached the JV-type squad against the national team itself. We toured around to different sites, playing in Ohio, West Virginia, just made a tour where the Elite team played the national team and held clinics.”
Last summer, Dobson coached with the USA national team for the first team.
“It’s an honor,” Dobson said. “Anytime you can put the three letters across your chest and represent your country in any capacity, it’s definitely an honor. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to do that. I have a great family that lets me do that as well. The coaching staff allows me to travel to do that and have these opportunities and experiences. It’s really neat to be able to work with some of the best players in the country. You play against these guys all year long in the spring and all of the sudden, now you’re working with them in the summer when you play for the world championships and those things.”
Now he’ll be back with the national team. The team will play exhibition games and compete in tournaments in California, Canada and Italy in preparation for the International Softball Federation Women’s World Championships, which are played in August in Haarlem, Netherlands.
For Dobson, the travel is one of the best aspects of the national team gig.
“We got a chance to watch Japan practice and warm up and play,” Dobson said. “The way they go about the little things is unreal. You see how we do things and how we do our offense and our practices and to watch another country do their practices is neat to see how they handle things. … It gives you something to bring back and try to incorporate with your team. It’s neat to see.”