Frank Lombardo '85, faculty member and Varsity Girls' Basketball Coach, has seen many special moments and matches during his 27 years of coaching. However, the January 3rd win against Sacred Heart High School was extra special to him. It was his 500th career victory. For him, it was more than another win. It was a true validation of his athletic program which is rooted in character, determination and structure.
"Winning my 500th game was an amazing feeling," said Mr. Lombardo. "It was a great accomplishment. This was made through many years of hard work and dedication by the players who came through this program."
Lombardo is a product of the Crusader athletic program. He played basketball as a guard under then-coach Timothy McDonald. Under McDonald's direction, he learned how to be organized with practice habits and practice scheduling. "He was very structured in terms of the fundamentals and teachings in his practices," said Lombardo.
After graduating from college, Lombardo coached at Connecticut College for one year. He received a phone call from Ed Generali asking if he would be interested in coaching Holy Cross's Boys' JV Basketball.
"I saw this as a great of way getting back into the building," he said. "I learned a lot from him (Ed). After three years of coaching the boys, a position opened up to coach the Girls' Varsity Basketball team."
The rest is history. Many players have come and gone over the past 27 years. All share similar stories and sentiments regarding Coach Lombardo and his intense, highly structured program.
"His program hasn't changed at all," said Megan Dwyer '05, Director of Student Activities, who played for Coach Lombardo as a student. "He is consistent and dedicated. He sets very high expectations. The 500 wins symbolize more than wins. It shows how he gets his players to play harder and to reach levels they didn't know they were capable of reaching."
Ms. Dwyer also applied a little math to this amazing victory. "Some seasons, he went undefeated," she said. "but when you think about it, he had to average 21.8 games per season in the years that he coached. He's winning at least one post-season game to get this honor."
His current team captains – Meah Austin '18, Julia Mecca '18 and Aiyana Ward '18 – echo Ms. Dwyer's sentiments.
"A high standard had been set her when we arrived," said Meah. "We work very hard to uphold that standard."
Aiyana had a huge learning curve when she arrived as a freshman. "It is different when you come in and learn how to play competitive basketball versus Catholic middle school basketball. I was at the bottom of the bench when I came here. Thanks to Coach Lombardo, I learned how to play in a very structured system."
"We spend a lot of times with Coach Lombardo outside of practice too," said Julia. "We have pasta parties at his house. We see him outside of practice. He is way calmer."
"I want my players to leave the program knowing how to work hard with integrity and how to deal with adversity," said Lombardo. "Those are the things that we try to teach them while they are here so that they can be successful in college and in life."