Reporter: Ryan Verrydt
Strung from the rafters in the hallway outside the Durham College gym is a picture of a much younger Stan Bombino.
Now, with his hair greyer and no longer sporting a moustache, he is stepping down as head coach of the men’s varsity soccer team, 36 years after he led the OCAA in scoring as a player for the Lords,
“I believe it’s time for someone else to have a kick at it,” said Bombino.
He has a long and impressive history with soccer. He started off playing competitively at the age of 10 and, at 14, he broke into the professional circuit in the Motor City Soccer League. Bombino stopped playing at a competitive level when he was 38.
Since ending his playing career, Bombino has been busy. He spent time as club head coach and technical director of the Whitby Iroquois Soccer Club, technical director of the Durham Flames in the Canadian Professional Soccer League and, most recently, as club head coach and technical director for the Peterborough City Soccer Association.
“My first love, of course, Durham. I just loved coaching at the college because I get an opportunity to work with the young people there. I like the college environment,” said Bombino.
For the past 16 years, he and his brother Mario, have guided the Lords to a winning season 14 times as well as two OCAA medals and a Canadian bronze medal in 1999. His son Evan has also been the Lords strength and conditioning coach for the past four seasons.
“Every coach wants to surround themselves with someone they can trust. Coaching with my brother, he brought a different dimension. We kept it strictly professional. Even my son would refer to me as coach, not dad.”
Bombino had a good relationship with his players. Marco Trotta played for the Lords the last two seasons and was an OCAA all-star last year.
“I remember we were losing 1-0 to Centennial and I took the ball about 30 yards out and scored in the top left corner and there was a huge celebration and Stan was cheering. That’s a moment I won’t forget, everyone was laughing,” he said.
Matthew Sutton has been with the Lords for the past three seasons and, while he saw reduced playing time this year, remembers Bombino in a fun light. “We were sitting down at a restaurant in Ottawa and two of our teammates were having a meal with some ladies that we met there and just as a joke he sat down and started having a chat with them as well.”
Despite leaving the college to take a position as technical director of FC Durham Academy, Bombino had nothing but praise for college soccer and its athletes.
“The soccer at the college level is second to none. You probably have some of the best players in all of Canada playing there.”
One of the most memorable moments of his coaching career came during the Canadian championships in 1999. In the gold medal game, despite only letting in one goal, the starting goalie did not play well. The backup goalie started for the Lords in the bronze medal game and played so well that, after the game, a scout from the U.S came down and offered him a full scholarship. “Something like that happens every year, where somebody just goes above the call and does really well.”
There are still things that he would have liked to see done at the college. He talks about extending relationships to professional and semi-professional teams in the area like Algonquin has with the Ottawa Fury FC. Algonquin head coach Jimmy Zito is also a coach with the Ottawa Fury FC Academy, a semi-professional soccer club that plays in the North American Soccer League.
“I’d like to wish the next coach coming in much success. It’s an uphill struggle and it’s going to be very challenging,” said Bombino. “It takes that kind of support to have a national championship team.”