Name: Ya’el Lofton
Title: Coordinator Football Operations/Assistant to Head Coach
Hometown: Natalbany, La.
Claim to Fame: Three Decades of Duty
Trying to line up Coach O for a speaking engagement?
Better call Ya’el.
Since Nick Saban’s second year on the job, Ya’el Lofton has served as assistant to the head coach, organizing the calendar of the person some consider the most powerful man in the state: LSU football’s head coach.
If you’re looking for Orgeron, you’re not alone. A coach’s first year is always crazy, Lofton says, but when he’s “one of our own,” as is Orgeron, it’s even crazier.
“We’re just trying to get that spring calendar set,” says Lofton, noting Coach O’s long list of speaking engagements, from TAF events to Boys and Girls Clubs. “Once spring ball is over, we don’t have a break.”
“When you work in football at a major program like LSU, you’re never really off. We’re pretty much 24/7, all the time.”
Lofton has been “24/7, all the time” since 1987, when she began her career as a student volunteer in the recruiting office. That turned into a paid student gig the next semester and, a few years later, when the team’s defensive secretary left, a full-time job.
“I knew how to do the job, so I said, ‘Well, I’ll do it,’” Lofton says. “I worked for that whole season, and I never left.”
Since, Lofton’s been a bit of a utility player. Some offensive work here, defensive work there, but since Saban, she’s been the head coach’s right hand woman.
“It’s been great,” she says of working with three head coaches. “Personalities are different, but most head coaches are cut from the same mold when it comes to their philosophy and work ethic. I’ve been very blessed that I’ve been able to adapt to whatever they needed.”
Lofton is the longest serving of the ladies, and she’s the most bejeweled member of her family, with two national championship rings from 2003 and 2007. This, despite the fact that her husband, Andy, played for the Tigers for two seasons, including LSU’s 1988 SEC title-winning campaign.
Her father-in-law, a former NFL scout, takes particular pride in Lofton’s bling.
“When we got our first championship in 2003, he said, ‘I always wanted a Lofton to have a national championship ring,'” she says. “‘I just never dreamed it’d be my daughter in law.’”
In 30 years, Lofton’s collected a lot of stories. With coaches from Archer to Orgeron, she’s had plenty of source material.
Enough for a book?
“As many coaches and people as I’ve known in 30 years,” she laughs, “I think I’m going to get those people to pay me to not write a book.”
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