Seasonal Sensation: RA senior builds on scholarship accolade

Published 12:13 am Saturday, October 8, 2016

Normally, it would be no big deal for Toni Perrin to go from season to season at Riverside Academy.

The talented and athletic senior usually has no trouble going from volleyball to soccer to softball to track and excelling at each.

“I think my body just gets used to it,” she said. “We have work outs in the back (of the school), so that helps me a lot.”

Last year, though, Perrin decided she needed a break.

“I was going into my junior year and I really didn’t know if I had the passion for volleyball that I used to when I was a sophomore,” Perrin said. “So, I was kind of, like, maybe I should give it a break to see how it will play out. It did give me more time to focus on school. It was more like a mental thing with me. I was just overwhelmed with everything.”

Something had to give.

With her schedule and mind full, and her heart set on a future in softball, Perrin quit the volleyball team in 2015. It just about killed her.

“It was hard to see them on the court,” she said. “Whenever they were playing their game against John Curtis last year, I was like, ‘man I wish I could be out there on the court.’ Just seeing their heart and their love for the game, I wanted to be a part of it.”

It was difficult on Riverside volleyball coach Margot Frederick, as well, but she understood.

“It doesn’t offend me,” Frederick said. “I’ll never ask her to choose because I know I will lose.”

After the year off, Perrin is back on the court for her senior season, helping the Lady Rebels reach unprecedented heights. The team entered the week 22-2.

“She brings a lot (to the team),” Frederick said. “She’s a really athletic kid and, at times, she even steps into a leadership role. She’s a leaper. She can really jump well.”

Perrin’s sacrifice was for the greater good, however, and it helped her achieve her ultimate dream this summer, when she was offered a full scholarship to play softball for McNeese State University under new head coach James Landreneau.

The offer came as a twist of fate, said Perrin, who just happened to be playing a softball tournament with her off-season team, the Louisiana Sluggers, at a park near where Landreneau’s son was supposed to be playing football. The boy’s game was canceled so the coach went to watch a little softball.

Perrin impressed him.

“He saw me hit a home run, then the next game I hit another home run, then the next game I hit another one,” Perrin said. “And then he was, like, ‘Man. I’ve got to have this kid on my team.’”

The offer came a few weeks later during an unofficial visit to the school.

“It just felt like home,” she said. “There was just something about it I loved.”

Perrin has been a softball player since she was 3, when her parents kind of made her choose between it and gymnastics.

“I was in gymnastics, too, and it was either you’re going to do gymnastics or softball,” Perrin said. “I chose softball over gymnastics. I think it was more because I just loved being outside. Outside got me. I just love it, just the environment that the fans give off, my teammates. I love being part of a team.”

She also excelled at the sport, earning All-Parish honors as a sophomore and as a junior outfielder. She hit .446 as a sophomore with five home runs; .528 as a junior with 56 hits, 42 RBIs and 53 runs scored. She also led the team in home runs in 2016 with 11. She was named to the Class 2A All-State team last season.

“She is a stand-out softball player,” said Riverside softball coach Tamra Regalo. “She’s very athletic, very talented. She’s been named the most athletic at the school two years in a row. That tells you a lot about how good she is, but it doesn’t tell you the kind of kid she is. She has worked really hard to get where she is.”