Sunday, March 02, 2008

My Hero, an "unaverage Joe".

I met Coach Joe Lombard at the state tournament in 1999. I asked him what made him successful, expecting to hear him say something like "hard work, diligence, attention to details" or the like. However what he said caught me completly off guard. You do not hear coaches make statements like the one he made. You might hear preachers reply similarly, but even then, sadly enough, I do not think that it would be a popular response from them. Here I was, sitting beside one of the, if not the, greatest basketball coach, literally, in the world. I held his complete attention and was so unprepared to hear what Coach Lombard response was upon hearing, I thanked him, shook his hand and left with out another word said or question asked.
Coach Lombard shared with me the greatest advice that anyone could have given me. He said, "Son, you have to love your kids."

Here are a few of Lombard's accomplishments.
1 He has built a resume of stunning success with 13 state titles, four in the last five years.
2 One of those state champion teams, the 2002-2003 team, was also crowned nataional champions.
3 His teams have never won fewer than 25 games in a season.
4 He has averaged 33.3 wins per season with only an average of 3 losses!
5 He has sent approximately 90 players to the next level.
6 He was state runner up two years in a row as the boys basketball coach in Nazereth, Texas while he was also coaching the girls team who won the state championship both of those years.
7 He has also won 4 state championships as the cross country coach in Canyon.
Canyon's Lombard gets career win No. 1,000
AP Sports Writer

AUSTIN — When the inevitable finally happened, there was no fist pump, no yell and no jump for joy. Joe Lombard simply clapped quietly, turned to give his wife a kiss and hugged his children.

For a coach who just secured his 1,000th career victory with his 14th state championship, Lombard celebrated with quiet dignity.

"I feel like an average Joe," Lombard said after his Canyon Eagles defeated Kennedale, 59-43, on Saturday in the Class 3A final. "Obviously it's a special day. I feel honored. I was called to this profession."

Lombard is just the fifth girls coach nationally to reach the 1,000-win milestone and has done it with astonishingly few losses. In 30 seasons coaching in the small towns of Canyon and Nazareth, his career record is 1,000-92.

Ironically, Lombard's first game was a loss, making for a miserable drive home in the dark in West Texas. Actually, he lost twice that night at Hartley. His junior varsity squad lost as well.

"That was a long night," Lombard said.

There have been very, very few like that one ever since.

Located in the ranchland and rugged terrain of the Panhandle, Canyon is just a few miles south of Amarillo. The Eagles have won eight state titles in 25 seasons under Lombard, six since 2000. His 2002-2003 team was ranked No. 1 in the country by USA Today.

The current players were determined to make their mark in such a proud history.

"We didn't win all 1,000 of them, but to be on the team to give him this one is pretty incredible," said senior Jade Tinner, who scored 19 points Saturday.

Sensing his current players might be feeling the pressure, Lombard assured them that he'd return next season — he's only 54 — and they can just as easily get the win in the fall.

But there was no chance the Eagles were leaving Austin without it.

To read the story in its entirity click HERE.

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