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He explained his philosophies and answered any questions the

players had. It was how he let those players know it was OK to

come to him with anything.

“It went well beyond the football field. I always remember

that first meeting we had when he became head coach and

how he stressed loyalty,” said Hon. Thomas I. Vanaskie, a 1975

Lycoming graduate who is now a Circuit Court Judge for the

United States Court of Appeals. “That was a great message that

meant a lot to me.”

Girardi didn’t just preach loyalty, he lived it. All his coaches

did. It’s why some of his most trusted coaches were with him

for the duration of his coaching tenure, which ended following

the 2007 season. Robb Curry ’69 coached with Girardi for all

36 years. Wiser joined Girardi’s staff after graduating in 1974

and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1977 and still

holds the position today under Director of Athletics and Head

Football Coach Mike Clark ’93.

That loyalty created the kind of family atmosphere Girardi

always wanted. His players were devoted to him, and to this

day still are. They speak of him in reverent terms and when

they see him, his players always greet him with a hug. Girardi

never forgets a name. The faces of those players have changed,

and occasionally Girardi will need some help pairing the name

with the face of one of his former players. But hearing that

name triggers a flood of memories like water crashing through

a broken dam. Girardi will immediately begin to spout off play

after play that made the player indelible in the 76-year-old’s

mind.

“He had a way of making everybody feel important, not

just the great ones,” said Clark. “I think he had a really unique

ability to interact with people and to make everybody feel

special, which is really hard to do.”

“Frank made it fun. I loved playing for the guy and I loved

practicing for the guy. He had a way of motivating you to go the

extra mile because you wanted to succeed for him,” Wiser said.

“I was very fortunate that Frank hired me and took me into the

family. He’s like my second dad. I learned a lot about the game

of football from Frank over the years, but I learned a lot more

about life and how to treat people.”

It’s why people just enjoy being around the jovial Girardi,

who always carries a smile on his face. Find him at any number

of Lycoming sporting events, including football games, and at

some point there will be a crowd around him as he holds court.

Just wait for it, at some point Girardi will induce a good belly

laugh of the men around him, whether they’re in their 30s, 40s,

50s or 60s.

Girardi traverses around Lycoming’s athletic events like

a politician, shaking every hand, listening to the stories the

people have to share with him and sharing stories of his own.

He’s more than just the former football coach at Lycoming.

He’s an institution. Maybe no coach or player in the Middle

Atlantic Conference is as recognizable with a program as

Girardi is with Lycoming. So much so that a bust of the

former coach stands at the entrance to David Person Field at

the Shangraw Athletic Complex.

And when that statue was dedicated and unveiled prior to

a 2012 game, former players moved heaven and earth just to

be there to see Girardi and his family remove the sheath that

had covered the bust since it had been installed earlier that

week. Girardi never worried about the legacy he was leaving

as a coach during his 36 years leading Lycoming. His focus

never wavered from the plan that he instilled in his first year;

there was no time to ponder a legacy. But since retiring as a

coach, he’s wondered at times how he got to this point. He

could spend hours rattling off the names of the people who

helped him reach this point, and given the chance, he just

might try. He knows it was never a one-man journey. It was

the journey of a family.

AND IT ALL STARTED WITH A HANDSHAKE.

257

WINS

29

CONSECUTIVE

WINNING

SEASONS

13

MAC CHAMPIONSHIPS

11

NCAA PLAYOFF

APPEARANCES

2

NATIONAL

CHAMPIONSHIP

APPEARANCES

#

32

LYCOMING COLLEGE 2016 SPRING MAGAZINE

AT H L E T I C F E AT U R E