Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The LuLac Edition #2779, November 19th, 2014


Our "Write On Wednesday" logo

 Former Pittston Area head football coach Bob Barbieri. (Photo: Citizen's Voice).
I though this would be a great submission as we approach thanksgiving. the highlight of my youth was the Pittston area/Wyoming area Thanksgiving day game.Pittston Area just gave Coach Barbieri a well-deserved and long overdue honor.
Dr. Joe Leonardi wrote this from what I think is a different perspective, not as a star players, but as someone who actually never really played very much, but even sill, Coach Barbieri had a lasting influence on his life.

Bob Barbieri --- Much More Than A Coach

by Joe Leonardi

I wasn't an athletic youth, but I always participated in sports related activities. As kids we didn't have video games, Facebook, computers or five hundred cable channels of nothing to occupy our time, so, we played outside; in the parks, in the streets or in vacant, or not so vacant, lots --- anywhere we could find a spot, we played sports. Football, baseball and basketball where the big three. But we also made up games that involved physical activity, we even had our own neighborhood Olympic Games. Being overweight, I wasn't the best, and I was often picked last, but still --- I participated.
Over the summer, between eighth and ninth grade, I decided I was going to go out for football. No matter how ridiculous it sounds in retrospect, I was going to play for the Pittston Area Patriots, Penn State Nittany Lions and finally, I would play in the National Football League.
Summer program was the first step along my path. My mom dropped me off at the front entrance to the high school and instead of turning right and going into the gym, I walked straight. Beyond a second set of glass doors my gaze was fixated on the trophy case. Little statuettes of championship seasons stared back at me, but it was the center item that had my full attention --- the number 44 jersey worn by Jimmy Cefalo.
I daydreamed about playing on the gridiron wearing the Pittston Area red, white and blue. I was lost in my imagination, completely oblivious to anything, or anyone. Suddenly, my day slumber was broken by a large hand that had fallen over my shoulder, it was that of legendary head football coach Bob Barbieri. A booming voice stated, "You are going to be part of this son."
I just nodded my head. It was as if the hand of God himself had touched me. He continued, "Cefalo was the best, a natural talent, but do you know what made him great?"
I couldn't speak. I simply stared at the jersey and then the coach. "In his time here he set track as well as football records, but no matter what he did, he didn't rely solely on his natural abilities." He paused for a moment and continued, "He worked and practiced harder than anyone else." Still awestruck I said nothing --- how could I? What do you say when a living legend is talking to you, and only you. So, I simply allowed Coach Barbieri to lead me down to the gym.
Even in my first year, Coach Barbieri pushed me as hard as he pushed anyone, I still remember as a sophomore, when I made a good tackle, he said to me, “Leonardi, now you’re impressing me.” I only was on the team for two seasons and I wasn’t very good. I never started, heck I barely played, but spurred on by Coach Barbieri, I worked hard, and enjoyed the game.
Most importantly, I took from those two years valuable lessons about hard work, maximizing potential, that winners are more than born and that even the best still had to practice.
If you live, or lived, in Northeast Pennsylvania, and are around my age, then you are acquainted with the names Jimmy Cefalo and Bob Barbieri. I never knew Jimmy Cefalo beyond a handful of meetings, but in addition to being Coach, Bob Barbieri was one of my high school teachers. His lessons extended far beyond the football field and beyond the classroom --- they extended well into life. They are lessons I used getting through boot camp, college, business and in my continued battle with obesity. In every journey I take, and when overcoming every obstacle that presents itself, the words of Coach Barbieri continue to echo within my head.
Author, Chiropractor, & Physical Culturist
Doc Joe Leonardi


At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice tribute.

At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a postive and upbeat posting. You need more of these yonk


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