Frank Girardi, a native of Williamsport and 1957 Williamsport Area High School graduate, has paved a career in athletics and, in the process, has risen to legendary status for his successes.
Girardi, a longtime head football coach for the Lycoming College Warriors of 36 years (1972-2007), has garnered prestigious attention over the span of his career. He's been inducted into four hall of fames and earned awards from a number of organizations, including his most recent acceptance of a lifetime achievement award at the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Football Foundation's annual banquet in March.
Now, he will return to where it all began to claim the first Distinguished Alumni Award to add to his growing list of accolades, presented by the Williamsport Area School District Alumni Association. He will be honored with a plaque during a brief ceremony before the Homecoming football game at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Millionaire Stadium.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF LYCOMING COLLEGE
The first Williamsport Area School District Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to Frank Girardi, former head football coach for Lycoming College, during the Homecoming ceremonies for Williamsport Area High School at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Millionaire Stadium.
"This is a great honor for me to be chosen for this first award - not only for me, but for my family," Girardi said. "Williamsport has always been a special place to me, and I am certainly very appreciative of this very prestigious award."
The Distinguished Alumni Award was created to honor outstanding and significant achievements made by graduates of WAHS, according to the Alumni Association, which began its operation early last spring to reconnect and engage alumni.
After leaving WAHS as a star running back in the 1950s, Girardi attended West Chester University as a letterwinner under coach Glen Killinger while earning his degree in health and physical education. He graduated from the university in 1961.
Girardi served as head coach of the Jersey Shore Area High School football team before joining the staff at Lycoming College in 1969, when he began as an assistant coach under Bud Whitehill before taking the reins in 1972.
He concluded his 36-year run in 2007 as one of the most successful coaches in NCAA history, compiling an overall record of 257-97-4, ranking him 15th in all divisions in victories, according to the college.
Girardi is one of only 29 coaches to record 200 or more victories at one school. He guided the program to two national championships in 1990 and 1997, and led the Warriors to 13 Middle Atlantic Conference titles, including seven during the 1990s and 11 NCAA playoff berths. His success at the college yielded 29 consecutive winning seasons.
As a result, his coaching career has led to his induction in the Lycoming Athletics Hall of Fame, West Branch Valley Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania State Sports Hall of Fame, and West Chester University's W. Glenn Killinger Hall of Fame. In 1999, he was the first recipient of the Robert W. Maxwell Football Club's Tri-State Coach of the Year Award. After the 2007 season, ESPN Radio 1050/104.1 honored Girardi with a lifetime achievement award and announced the award will carry the title "The Frank Girardi Lifetime Achievement Award."
"I believe that any success I have enjoyed is the result of many people who have helped me: players; coaches; friends; and a strong, supportive family," Girardi said. "In any aspect of life, if you are credible, trustworthy and can communicate, success will follow."
Girardi and his wife, Lynne, have four children, Cathi, Jerry, Frank and Justine - all of whom are also graduates of WAHS and Lycoming College - and 10 grandchildren.
Now retired, he and his wife are enjoying involvement with their church and community, as well as doing some traveling. They're also "following our grandchildren in all the activities in which they participate," Girardi added.
"I am pleased to have Mr. Frank Girardi represent the alumni of the Williamsport Area School District as the inaugural recipient of the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award," said Susan Swank-Caschera, president of the Alumni Association. "Personally and professionally, he has excelled in his career and passion as a football coach."
"We are Millionaire Proud to claim Frank Girardi as one of our alumni," said Superintendent Dr. Kathleen R. Kelley. "He has distinguished himself in athletics throughout his career. We wish him success in all his future endeavors."
For more information on the Alumni Association, visit www.wasd.org/alumni.