CEDAR RAPIDS — They don’t feel the entire story is being told. They love Tony Lombardi and want everyone to know it.
“Football is an interesting game in that it’s really tough,” McCauley Todd said. “It’s mentally tough, as well as physically. It’s easy for kids to not want to do it. A coach is an easy person to blame (for that). I think it happens at every school. So I think this has been blown out of proportion a little bit in our case.”
Todd was referring to an investigation the Cedar Rapids Community School District is holding after receiving written formal complaints from parents about the conduct of Lombardi, Washington’s head football and baseball coach. The complaints allege numerous cases of verbal abuse and one case of threatened physical abuse against athletes, students and others on and off the football field.
Lombardi has been at Washington for six years, taking the football team to the playoffs five consecutive seasons, including a Class 4A quarterfinal appearance in 2011. He is to begin his first season as head baseball coach this summer.
Football players Todd, fellow senior David Tann and freshman Reagan Wilson gave unsolicited support for their coach to KCRG-TV9/The Gazette during interviews Thursday afternoon.
“I love him,” Wilson said. “Obviously, I haven’t had as much experience with him as some of the other guys … I’ve had him as a coach for track and then lifting weights in the morning, and I’ve never, ever felt he was abusive, or
that somebody needed to tell somebody (about something he said or did). Nothing like that.”
“I think he’s a great coach,” Tann said. “Something a lot of people don’t see are the things he does for kids outside of football. He picks kids up in the morning to get them to workouts. He’s helped a lot of kids try and get back on the right path (in life). The players … they can go talk to him about family problems and stuff that might be going on in their lives. He tries to help them out the best they can.”
Todd said Lombardi is the most knowledgeable football mind he has ever come across and thinks “he says some things that I feel some people take out of context.” Lombardi has experience coaching at the prep, collegiate and professional levels.
“It’s a tough thing,” Todd said. “Because I feel like to the parents that had kids that quit when they were freshmen, it’s easy as a young kid to go home and when your parents ask you why you quit, you say ‘Well, the coach is really intimidating’ Or ‘The coach said this, the coach said that to me, and I just don’t want to play any more.’
“I understand why some parents would be scared or intimidated by him because he’s a large personality. But he really does a lot of things to help us out off the field. He’s really a good guy, and I think he gets a bad rap.”
Support for Lombardi has come in comments following a story written on www.iowaprepsports.com and via e-mail and phone. Kristen Trovas of Cedar Rapids e-mailed The Gazette to relate a story about the support her daughter has received from Lombardi and his wife, Keri, who is the head volleyball coach at Washington.
Trovas’ daughter is a sophomore multi-sport athlete at Washington who deals with diabetes.
“Coach Lombardi would check on her (a lot) before her workout class, and at lunch, either he or Keri would check to see how her blood sugars were,” Trovas said. “My daughter thinks of Tony Lombardi as someone she can easily go talk to regarding even her personal issues. To think that a teacher/coach would care for your child like this was very amazing and comforting. They have 100 percent of my support. I wish we had more just like them to hold kids accountable for their actions.”
Comments are closed.