By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
Lou Lombardo of Rochester, N.Y. was named the 2009 USA Wrestling Beach Person of the Year. This new award is being presented by USA Wrestling's Developing Styles Program to a person who has made major contributions to Beach wrestling in the United States.
The award is being presented during the weekend of the U.S. Beach National Championships in Rochester, N.Y., July 17-19.
Lombardo has been a leader on the local organizing committee for the U.S. Beach National Championships and World Team Trials, which has been hosted in Rochester for the last three years. Lombardo is a Tournament Director for the event, and has been involved in all aspects of the planning, promotion and presentation of the tournament.
"Anything that brings exciting challenges and opportunities to the athletes adds a new dimension to the sport," said Lombardo. "You work hard but it is worth it because the kids have fun."
Lombardo provides tremendous energy and enthusiasm to the competition, working year round to build interest in the event and in the new sport of Beach wrestling. He has proven to be a master promoter, encouraging many others to get involved. Lombardo has helped get considerable media coverage for the sport and the event. Along with his colleagues, he has also held numerous Beach wrestling practices for young people each summer.
He is on the coaching staff of the Team Titan Worldwide Wrestling Club, a sanctioned USA Wrestling club that provides opportunities to wrestlers across upstate New York. Team Titan Worldwide has been a gold-level USA Wrestling club a number of times. Along with the Monroe County Sports Commission, the club serves as the local organizers for the U.S. Beach Nationals.
Lombardo served in his first year as the head wrestling coach at Irondiquot High School in Rochester this year. Previously, Lombardo spent 10 years as the assistant head coach at Greece-Olympia High School. He also served 16 years on the coaching staff of the Baker Boys Youth Wrestling Program in the community, working with pee-wee aged athletes. Lombardo was a wrestler at Jefferson High School in Rochester, and competed in several open competitions after his high school career ended.
He is the chair of the Scholastic Division for wrestling in the Empire State Games, the nation's oldest State Games competition. He is also the large school chairman for Section V wrestling in New York state.
At a Beach wrestling event, Lombardo is one of the most active people around, literally involved in every detail of the competition. He assists with registration, then helps set up and break down the wrestling venue. During the competition, he does everything from coaching athletes to hosing and raking down the wrestling rings. Whatever needs to be done, Lou makes sure it happens.
Along the way, Lombardo has learned to enjoy and appreciate Beach wrestling.
"There is a great deal of interaction between people at a Beach event. You don't experience the same atmosphere during the regular season. You get to be outside and expose kids to something new. Once they do that, they might try freestyle or Greco-Roman or something else. They learn to adapt to change. For me, this is another opportunity to help the athletes," he said.
USA Wrestling Beach Person of the Year
2009 - Lou Lombardo, Rochester, N.Y.