Lombardino finds new family on basketball court

Family. To an athlete, that word refers both to the family they were raised with and the family they grew with both on and off of the sports season.

Family to an athlete means winning together, losing together, hurting together and succeeding together. An athlete, on any team, needs their second family in order to be fully committed to their goal, because together, any goal is achievable. Washburn University’s Lady Blues basketball team is a great example of this kind of family according to Cassie Lombardino, a senior center.

Lombardino first started playing basketball in the second grade on a Kerry Roberts co-ed team.

“I really enjoyed it,” said Lombardino “Then in the fifth grade I started playing for a more competitive tournament team called the Kansas Swoosh in the MAYB league.”

Lombardino then moved on to play basketball for Basehor-Linwood middle school and high school in Bonner Springs, Kan.

“I wasn’t ready to stop playing after that so I decided to play in college,” said Lombardino.

A few months later, after meeting with Washburn University’s head women’s basketball coach Ron McHenry for the first time, Lombardino signed with Washburn.

“I was very familiar with Washburn at the time,” said Lombardino. “I’m not sure how Coach McHenry found me but Washburn’s exceptional women’s basketball program was his selling point to me as an upcoming freshman.”

Family, according to Lombardino, means everything both on and off the court.

“My teammates and I spend so much of our time together and all are pretty much going through the same things,” said Lombardino. “The girls make it really easy and are a great reminder of why this game is so fun.”

Between the rigorous practice schedules and the daily academic priorities, the girls spend almost all of their time together.

“Being apart of this basketball team is so much more than just coming to the gym everyday,” said Lombardino. “It’s like having a second family, it’s hard not to get to know everyone very well.”

McHenry, according to Lombardino, has also taught the team aspects on working as a family himself.

“Coach Mac is a great coach,” said Lombardino. “His coaching as taught me that in order to be successful at something, you have to invest your time and energy in it.”

Together, Lombardino says that the Washburn Lady Blues can face any opponent.

“We were taught to never give up and that when things are tough,” said Lombardino. “You just have to tough it out together; we’re ready.”