Saturday, May 17, 2008

Girardi Gala by Bill Byham

This Digest will be one that is coming to you after the fact. I wish it could have been different but I guess it is a case of bad timing.

It was back in March that a parcel came to us. In opening it we were told we were being invited to a Girardi Gala that would be held in the Pickelner Arena in Williamsport on the evening of Saturday, May 17, 2008.

The banner told us that the Girardi Family and Friends were in charge of what was to be a celebration of a football era at Lycoming College that, I would bet, will never be duplicated. This celebration was to center on Frank Girardi, Sr and his long time associate Robb Curry as both men were announcing their retirements from the College after being together, in success, for 36 years..

It only took us few minutes to agree that we would do all we could to make "The Gala". As it turns out we are going to have to leave four great friends doing our Second Annual Old Folks Weekend Away up in Eagles Mere so we can share the night with the assembled G-Folks.
I guess we should have entitled this - I Sat With Frank - Number 2. Not too may days ago we stopped over to the Athletics Building and found Frank "stripped". We have been going into his office for several years and it was always so warm and so filled with the photos and artifacts that spanned his 36 years as the College athletic director and his time as head football coach. This time it was just about empty. No pictures, none of the wall plaques but a set of commemorative footballs marking the steps and next steps along the Girardi Way.

"I guess there has been a move since the last time I was in here."

"Yes, I was over campus and made it official. Turned it (retirement notice) in. It was time to get that out of the way. Robb turned his in some time ago so we, with the exception of some leftover AD stuff, are finished at Lycoming.

Across the way was the office that had been occupied by Curry through this era. His office was also covered by Lycoming stuff. The walls were covered by the official colored pictures of every one of the teams who had formed the amazing 29 years of consecutive winning seasons. He also had recruit letters on his desk, a box of Lycoming football caps or a box of some other product that carried the Warrior logo. I took a sneak peak and that office had also been changed.
Keep in mind that Frank (Can I please use first names?) was the AD and the Coach. Robb was the associate AD plus the chief recruiter. He was, as I saw him, the planner and organizer of a lot of what was going on or what was going on later.

Add in Steve Wiser. The Bald Eagle Area ( Wingate, Pa) star who came to Lycoming to play football and wrestle for Budd Whitehill. Frank was assisting Budd so coached Steve as a player. When Frank became head coach he added Steve to his staff and the three men, along with a cast of hundreds wrote the Warriors name into the never to be forgotten history of NCAA D-3 football as Lycoming went national.

Many of that cast were coming in for the Girardi Gala Saturday. Over 500 of those invited had sent word to Lynn Girardi who told us, "Most of them are coming by themselves. Just think if they were bringing their wives. We don't know if the Arena could hold them."

It has been a crazy quilt story at the College since the end of the 2007 football season. The retirement as football coach by Frank Girardi. The choosing of Mike Clark as the incoming coach. The retirement of Robb Curry as Associate Athletic Director and Chief Recruiter. The resignation of Steve Wiser as an Assistant Head Football coach and defensive coordinator The resignations of most of the Girardi coaching staff. The return of Steve Wiser. The building of a new Clark coaching staff. The resignation of Frank Girardi as athletic director. The naming of Scott Kennell as the new athletic director. The resignation of Paul Cotton Mayer as sports information director. The resignation of Don Friday as head basketball coach and there will be the naming of the new Sports Information Director very soon.

I will bet that all of the above will not become a major talk topic at the Gala. The topic will be, "When I played........

Tell you what. I am already excited about the night ahead. There will be emotion to be sure but the celebration theme will come alive.

- Thats 30 -

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