PSS Winter '13

PULTENEY STREET SURVEY - WINTER 2013

Hobart, Success and Gratitude

by Katie Kilfoyle Remis

Jeff Tambroni ’92

FIRST JOB: Youth Lacrosse Coach

CURRENT JOB: Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach, Penn State

Ask Jeff Tambroni ’92 about his rewarding and successful career as a lacrosse athlete and coach and you will repeatedly hear the words “grateful” and “Hobart.”

Tambroni is entering his third season as head coach of the men’s lacrosse team at Penn State. In 2011, he led the Nittany Lions to a 7-7 record and their first-ever Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament berth and was named CAA Co-Coach of the Year. In his second season, the Nittany Lions went 9-6 with a second straight trip to the CAA semi final game. In October 2012, Tambroni was inducted into the Upstate New York Chapter of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Prior to joining Penn State, Tambroni spent 10 seasons as head coach at Cornell University where he guided the Big Red to a 109-40 record and three NCAA Final Four appearances, including the 2009 national championship game.

He has earned numerous honors along the way, including being named USILA Division I Coach of the Year and Field Turf/NCAA Division I Coach of the Year two times. Tambroni was also the 2004 and 2009 Ithaca Journal Male Coach of the Year and a three-time National Coach of the Week.

Out of all his achievements, however, the most meaningful one was earned as a lacrosse player during his years at Hobart College.

“By far, the greatest honor was the opportunity to represent Hobart and be part of its national championship team in 1989, 1990 and 1991,” says Tambroni. “There is no greater accomplishment or feeling than being part of something bigger than yourself and sharing that moment with 44 other guys. After the games, we got to come back and share it with the school and the community. That experience will last a lifetime, and I’m so grateful for it.”

Tambroni seemed destined at an early age to play and coach lacrosse and to do so at Hobart. The youngest of three boys, he grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., where lacrosse was extremely popular. He played on his first team when he was only seven. In 1986, he attended a fierce matchup between Syracuse University and Hobart College. Both teams were ranked No. 1 in their divisions, and they battled on a picture perfect day on the HWS campus.

“It was an amazing experience for me,” recalls Tambroni. “The stadium was so packed that I had to sit on the stairwell. It was a battle between David and Goliath, and Hobart won 16- 13. I was inspired by a smaller Division III school being able to beat a powerhouse. I knew then I wanted to go to Hobart.”

He achieved his goal, and as a player at Hobart, Tambroni was named the MVP of the 1990 NCAA title game. He left Hobart tied for seventh on the school’s all-time scoring list with 202 points, graduating in 1992 with his bachelor’s degree in American studies.

His first job was as a coach and teacher at the Heaton Mersey Lacrosse Club of the English Lacrosse Union in England. After one year across the pond, Tambroni was fortunate to return to Hobart College, where he served as an assistant lacrosse coach for three seasons, helping the Statesmen reach the 1994 NCAA Division III national championship game.

“I was in the right place at the right time, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity,” says Tambroni. “It was the chance of a lifetime to work under B.J. O’Hara ’75 and Danny Whelan ’85 and also to be a coach at my alma mater.”

As Tambroni has moved on to larger institutions like Penn State, he has tried to recreate the supportive environment that he thrived in at Hobart.

“Hobart has a unique atmosphere where a player can get to know every coach and every administrator very well. Creating that same sense of family is more challenging at a bigger school, but I’ve found we can do it on a smaller scale,” says Tambroni. “I share the values I’ve learned about being a great teammate and being accountable to each other. It’s all about 45 guys working together and attempting to create unity within that group. As a coach, that is your goal: to create a family or team out of the people in your organization.”

Tambroni carries that sense of family, and all its responsibilities, with him 24/7. “Being a coach has many of the same dynamics as being in a family. It has relationships and elements of human nature. The day doesn’t end at five. If you want to do it well, you need to be available. That is also the beauty of it. You get to take what you learn as parents and bring it to work. You need to tell the kids what they need to hear, when they need to hear it; not just what they want to hear. You need to hold them accountable, regardless of distractions, and hold them to their pursuit of lofty goals.”

Tambroni counts his wife and three daughters at the top of his list of blessings. But his experiences at Hobart follow close behind. “I had my most meaningful and memorable relationships while going to Hobart,” he says. “It’s amazing that a school so small in size and numbers was such a powerful experience. I am really grateful for having had it.”

 

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