Video: Female Coach of the Year Ceremony - 2011
See Joe Lombard win the National Coach of the Year award six seasons ago.
Most coaches are happy with one state title. Joe Lombard has 19.
Most coaches would be happy with one 30-win season. Lombard has averaged 33 wins a year – in a 39-year career.
And most coaches would stick with the winning formula that won for them when they got started. Lombard has changed with the times.
So after winning his fourth-straight Texas 5A title at Canyon (Texas)
, and guiding a team with one Division I player to a 31-3 record and a No. 16 ranking in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Girls Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard, Lombard has been named the MaxPreps Girls Basketball Coach of the Year for the second time.
"When I moved to Canyon, I did not have any basketball skills," said Courtney (Sims) Woodward, who was a four-year All-State player for Lombard before moving on to Wichita State. "Everything I learned about basketball I learned from coach Lombard.
"His fundamentals go back to little details – how you follow through on a pass, for example."
Teaching is how he reaches success.
"We may not win the athlete battle," said Lombard. "But we have a chance to win the fundamental battle."
In truth, more than a chance, as his 1,292-120 career won-lost record shows. And of course it's no accident.
"I coach them from the seventh grade on up," explained Lombard, who teaches physical education at a school that brings seventh-graders onto the campus. "Fundamentals are stressed every day."
In addition, athletes take P.E. in the last period of the day, and that's another 45 minutes for Lombard to instill the basics – over and over again.
"We usually don't beat ourselves," he said.
Those 1,292 victims also know that he usually figures out a way to beat the other team as well.
"Defensively, we always try to take away one strength," Lombard said. "On the offensive end, it's all about team play. We will pass the ball five or six times if we have to."
When he first started out, Lombard was a traditionalist.
"Early on, we were post-oriented. But nowadays we alter the system to fit the personnel. Now we're more a dribble-drive, screening type of team."
And of course, a winning type of team as well.
"A lot of it comes from the tradition," said Woodward, who graduated in 1997. "You just want to carry on that tradition, you want to do it again. It's unspoken – you do things this way. If you don't do it this way, you need to find something else."
Lombard, unlike some legendary high school coaches, does not get kids to do things his way by screaming at them or singling them out at timeouts.
"His style is understated," Woodward said. "He's calm and quiet on the sidelines, and he's like that in practice too."
That daily contact helps reinforce the coach-player relationship.
"I try to touch base with each player every day," he said.
And the results can last a lifetime.
"Coach Lombard was a father figure to me," Woodward said. "There's probably a hundred girls who would say the same. I cherish my friendship with him more for that than for basketball."
Lombard sees himself as an educator more than a coach.
"As I get older, I'm seeing the big picture more clearly," he said. "Athletics are just a small piece of the educational process pie, but it's different than what they get in the classroom. Learning to be on a team is important – you have to play a role because not everybody is going to be the CEO."
But after 39 years, how much longer will he keep teaching those fundamentals, helping his students and, not incidentally, winning lots of games?
"I'm on the downhill. But I still really like it," said the 64-year-old, adding that he is already looking forward to next year. "We'll have to change some things to offset Angel (Hayden, his star player) not being there, but that's exciting to me. The season finishes up, and here we go again.
"It's one year at a time now, but I want to keep going."