Written by Kristin Cacchioli Friday, 22 February 2013 00:00
Robert Malandro’s coaching awards are almost as numerous as the number of years he has spent coaching the Holy Trinity boys baseball team.
With a quarter-century worth of experience and five Catholic League Championships, Malandro has been paving the way for successful high school baseball players for more than two decades. Humble, enthusiastic and dedicated are only a few words that adequately describe the five-time NSCHSAA Coach of the Year.
After playing baseball all around the country with the Nassau County Police Department, Malandro found coaching to be the next natural step after his retirement. A Hicksville resident himself, Malandro began coaching baseball at Holy Trinity in 1989 after answering an ad in a local paper.
In 2007, Malandro was chosen to coach the Nassau County team at the Grand Slam Game at Ducks Stadium in Islip. Top baseball players from public and catholic schools on Long Island were invited to an “All-Star” game, led by select, well-respected coaches in the area. The game resulted in a loss for Malandro’s team, but the honor of coaching the talented group of baseball stars is a memory that will overshadow the score forever.
In 2010, Malandro became the first Catholic League coach to receive the Nassau County Coach of the Year Award. Earning this award was unprecedented and an immense honor, according to the Titans’ coach, and on Jan. 25, he received the 2012 Steve Lembo Memorial Award for New York State Baseball Coach of the Year.
Malandro admitted, “When I received the letter informing me that I had won this award, I immediately called up the scout who had sent [the letter] to me. I told him who I was and said, ‘Are you sure you have the right guy?’ I was so proud to hear that there was no mistake; I was humbled by it.”
Only someone who loves baseball like Malandro could attain such an extended list of accomplishments.
“Baseball is the number one sport in my life because it is a game of subtle strategy, which is hard to understand unless you’ve played. I also live for the competition and each new team. They become like your children and you want them to do well. I get extreme satisfaction out of the fact that 121 of my players have received Division I and II baseball scholarships,” Malandro said proudly.
After Malandro’s fifth Catholic League championship last year, five of his players bade farewell to their triumphant time on the Holy Trinity field and embarked on new journeys at Division I colleges. “We lost five of our best players and it will be hard to be as strong as we were last year, but winter practices start the first weekend after New Year’s and we are going to be very competitive,” an optimistic and confident Malandro stated.
For the upcoming season, with an influx of new talent and younger players coming up from junior varsity, Malandro looks forward to playing the other six teams in the small, but highly competitive Catholic League.
“I love coaching against all the other coaches; they are really great guys,” Malandro noted. “One of my favorite games is against Saint John the Baptist because their coach is an ex-Major League Baseball pitcher. Chaminade is another game I look forward to. It feels good to beat them because their enrollment is so much higher than ours and they are picked to win almost every year.”
Through all the rivalries and friendly competitions, it is difficult for Malandro to choose one season that stands out from the rest. He has had a special bond with each group of young boys and passing down his knowledge of baseball is something he loves most about coaching – something that has made the transition from player to coach more enjoyable than he had ever imagined.
“I will always miss the competition and the camaraderie [of playing], but what I have now with coaching is something that I get just as much satisfaction out of, if not more, than when I played. I do whatever I can to help the young boys achieve their dreams and teach them everything I’ve learned about baseball,” Malandro said.
One of the most important things Malandro has ever learned, he said, comes from one of his old coaches.
“He told me that the main thing about coaching baseball is to love your team. That is where you get the most satisfaction,” Malandro explained.
The coach said he has gotten a lot smarter as the years progressed. Although winning championships is the best part of coaching, he said that there is more to be learned from losing games and seasons.
“You mature as you go along and every year I have learned something new which I take with me to the next season,” he remarked.
With each new year comes a new, determined group of athletes with whom Malandro cannot wait to begin creating memories, sharing strategies and walking to the field on those warm spring days for a whole-hearted game of America’s favorite pastime. Malandro lives for baseball and has not only been a coach, but a role model and teacher, to the 25 Holy Trinity baseball teams that have flourished under his direction.