Corinne Lombardo lasted all of a minute until she started welling up with tears. It was understandable, as the Gilroy High senior talked about her best friend, Celeste Perales, at the beginning of her signing ceremony to play field hockey at Kean University. In front of family, friends, teammates and coaches, Lombardo experienced a tidal wave of emotions as she reflected her thoughts on March 14 in the school library.
While Lombardo might have gotten a bit unhinged during the event, she was often poised playing midfielder for the Gilroy High field hockey team. Keeping focused is one of the many positives the coaches of Kean University—a Division III program in New Jersey—saw in Lombardo.
“She (Kean University coach Leslie LaFronz) liked my vision and how I could see the field, especially because I play midfield,” Lombardo said. “She was looking to rebuild the team and thought I would be a good aspect of that. I’m more of a passer and sets plays up, and I like to be more of a distributer to make sure I get the ball where it needs to go.”
Even though Lombardo played for a travel ball lacrosse team, she didn’t receive any attention from colleges until she sent out her highlight tape video to 10 different schools last summer. For prospective college players, it pays to be proactive. Once the Kean University coaches pored over the video, Lombardo had gotten their attention.
After some communication, the Kean coaches watched Lombardo at a tournament. When Lombardo took a trip to the East Coast to visit prospective schools, Kean wasn’t at the top of her list in the beginning of her search. By the end, however, it had become her No. 1 choice.
“I really like big cities, and it’s close to New York City,” she said. “I really liked the campus and how spread out it was, and I was really feeling it after I had visited there. It was the most interesting school for me, along with the best fit.”
An all-MBL first team selection last season, Lombardo started playing field hockey the summer before her freshman year. Lombardo, who is the youngest of six children—and the only girl—credited one of her brother’s ex-girlfriends, Alex Kachakji, for introducing and helping her develop a love for the sport.
“I felt like it was one of those things where she wanted to help me because she really liked me,” Lombardo said. “She really influenced me, started to practice with me and that is when I met with (Gilroy assistant) coach Shayna (Robledo).”
Robledo and head coach Adam Gemar were in attendance, and both had complimentary things to say about Lombardo. By Lombardo’s sophomore year, she realized playing field hockey was something she loved and wanted to do in college. Thanks to her determination and focus, Lombardo gets to do just that.