Mr. Biondo on His Journey Through His Coaching Career and What He Has Learned from it

Tanner Ambrosio, Staff Reporter

Mr. Biondo has been coaching the Orchard Park boys varsity bowling team for 18 years, with two back-to-back sectional titles under his belt. After many wins, losses, practices, and moments he’ll never forget, he’s learned some very valuable lessons about his career. Mr. Biondo shows great dedication and pride in what he does in order to achieve the best outcome. He has been in the coaching business for very long, and it has proved to be worth it. Mr. Biondo agreed to do this interview to discuss the important lessons he’s learned from his coaching experience.

Where did you grow up?

Biondo: Orchard Park, actually Hamburg, NY but Orchard Park schools.

What got you into teaching?

Biondo: Actually, I took a public speaking course my freshman year at Mercyhurst College, and one of those features that I did in my public speaking course was teach somebody to do something, so I taught a classmate how to juggle in the class. So then I went, after my freshman year, I transferred to Canisius and in order to give him the athletic training program at Canisius, we had to choose either biology, psychology, or physical education as a major, because if you didn’t get into that athletic training program you had to have something else to fall back on ’cause they only accepted 12 people a year in the athletic training program. So I got into the athletic training program but I stopped with physical education. 

So I know you’re the coach of the boys bowling team, what made you want to become the coach of it?

Biondo: I think it was just the progression from being a teacher and being around sports and athletics that got me into coaching.

Why did you choose the sport of bowling?

Biondo: Uh, Mr. Ziccardi approached me and told me, “Hey, you know how to bowl and everything else.” He said, “I’m quitting this year, I’m not gonna do bowling anymore, is it something that you would be interested in?” and I said yeah and so basically there’s an opportunity for me to actually coach and have my own program and I was the varsity coach. I have briefly been assistant lacrosse coach and an assistant in wrestling, but this will be my own program. 

What was it like for you during your first year of coaching?

Biondo: So I had to take a couple of classes, took a couple of ABC bowling courses, PBA, you know, ABC bowling courses that first year, and then I’ve been the coach ever since.

What do you like most about being a coach?

Biondo: I think year to year, you know, just driving to achieve with the kids… But every year it’s a new, you know, for the most part, [you get] a new batch of kids, and, you know, after 20 years, you’ve coached hundreds and hundreds of kids. And I’m actually a competitive person, but I look forward to just having new kids, a new challenge… And when you graduate some seniors, you know, the new challenges to rebuild and, you know, work with some different kids, and I like coaching kids as opposed to just teaching in the classroom.

What goes into managing a team to keep it under control?

Biondo: I think the most important thing is to have clear expectations, because if you don’t have clear expectations as a coach, it’s going to fall off. So I think the key to managing it too, ’cause they have the expectations and make sure that they’re clear, and I think one of the things that we’ve been able to do over the last number of years is that we’ve always had clear expectations. So there is no gray area, I think that’s a key to managing. Talk about the overall management team, make sure you have clear expectations, and that you don’t make exceptions for anybody.

What type of challenges do you still face when managing the team today?

Biondo: I think the challenges that we face today is that there’s so much out there for so many activities and other things and other distractions for kids, whether it’s work, boyfriend, girlfriend, social media, video games, there’s so much out there ; there are kids who are getting so much input. I think there’s a lot of social distractions, and I think that sometimes can get in the way of managing a team and keeping the kids focused on team goals and personal goals.

How do you deal with these challenges?

Biondo: Just setting the boundaries and setting expectations and goals for each. Then setting team goals and setting personal goals, for each of the bowlers but setting our team goal, I think is important. Trying each day in practice, trying to keep your team focused on that team goal is most important in my opinion.

What is something you have learned from one of your students/athletes?

Biondo: As a coach, I’ve learned from my kids that you have to work on fundamentals every single day in practice and a good coach will make those fundamental activities fun and exciting, [and] a terrible coach will make it drawn-out and boring. So you got to practice fundamentals, but you got to make it exciting. You have to make it so the kids buy into those fundamentals. 

What important lessons have you learned from managing a varsity team? 

Biondo: I think that one thing is, although you can have clear expectations, I found the best way to treat kids is on an individual basis. Using the guidelines in my expectations that I have, but you have to understand that every kid is different. Not every kid is at the same level of maturity, not every kid is the same level of ability, not every kid is the same level of emotional maturity as well.

What have you learned from your team about winning or losing?

Biondo: What I’ve learned over the years since it’s taken me a little while to realize it, but one of the things that I go back to when we’re successful is because we displayed good fundamentals. Our fundamentals carry us, if we lose, it’s because we didn’t follow our fundamentals. We didn’t have good fundamentals, so I think what you have to do, whether you win or lose every day, you have to work on the fundamentals of bowling every day in practice. It can’t be a goof-off session where we just bowl three games and we’re getting out. There has to be some sort of practice. There has to be some sort of… something whether we win or lose. There has to be something integrated in practice that focuses on fundamentals, whether it’s a half-hour, an hour, or whatever. Whether you’re winning and whether you’re losing. You need to work on fundamentals every day because kids are kids, and kids are going to make mistakes. 

How has coaching affected your parenting and raising your family?

Biondo: I think a lot of ways that mirrors it because my daughter, I only have one child, and I’ve always had clear cut expectations of what my expectations are at home and there was never any gray area, either going to do this or not do this, and you know, I’m going to help you get to whatever goals you want to get to, but here are my expectations as a parent. Mrs. Biondo has expectations of me and I have expectations of her, you know, and that’s how we get along, and I think when you have too much gray area, that’s when we have miscommunication. And I think that one of the reasons over the last ten years is why our bowling program has been so successful, is that there isn’t miscommunication and everybody has parents and students alike have clear expectations.

What advice would you give to someone who also might want to be a coach one day?

Biondo: One tip is that young kids today feed off of a coach’s emotions very, very easily and I think it’s important for new coaches, especially in coaching today’s kids to curb their emotions and maybe try to hide their emotions a little bit, and be encouraging and everything else. It’s not to say that you’re not going to be mad, but in the heat of the moment during a match, you shouldn’t be doing a whole heck of a lot of coaching during a match or a tournament, you know, do your coaching and practice, you know, and you may assist in things that attribute emotions during a match and do most of your coaching at practice. If you don’t do most of your coaching at practice, you’re not going to be successful.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Biondo: Just kick back and I actually build plastic models, and I actually design and build my own furniture and I play a lot of golf in the summertime.

 

While being a coach of a varsity team can bring challenges to the table, it is still a very engaging process that is all with it in the end. Mr. Biondo has put in a lot of effort to make good connections and has learned valuable lessons that he can use for his life. If you are interested in more of what Mr. Biondo does, make sure to go and watch one of his bowling teams matches. Their first home match is December 9th, at Strikers lanes where they will be facing West Seneca West.