Players say farewell to baseball coach

Players say farewell to baseball coach

Brian Corbo may be leaving his position as Manhasset Secondary School’s varsity baseball coach, but team members said his efforts will still be present on the field.

Under his direction, Corbo took a program that was having trouble signing players up and turned it into a playoff team that went to the semifinals in 2012 and this year.

“Coach Corbo was truly a blessing to the Manhasset baseball program both at the high school and youth levels,” said Daniel Connolly, a two-time varsity captain. 

Corbo is moving on to be assistant coach for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy baseball program in Kings Point, after coaching in Manhasset for seven seasons.

When Corbo came on board there wasn’t much of a connection between players on different levels, and it wasn’t a full program, said an assistant coach, Chris Keen.

“The previous regime really only coached you when you got to the varsity level, whereas with Coach Corbo, as soon as you entered seventh grade you were a part of the program,” Connolly said. “When you were young you got to see how the varsity practiced, how they carried themselves, and how they won, which made you want to be a part of something bigger.”

“Kids on the varsity team now, I’ve known since the fifth grade,” Keen said.

Lacrosse has been the predominant sport at the school, but with a growth in interest and playoff success, baseball’s become a contender, Connolly said.

“Thanks to Coach Corbo we’ve earned respect from not only the Manhasset community, but the Long Island baseball community as a whole,” said a player, David Spampinato.

Those who worked with Corbo said he developed team members as individuals, not just as baseball players.

“I think the kids really felt that this was not just a two-month job for him, but that he was really invested,” Keen said.

One of the main principles Corbo instilled in the players was to behave with character, and he built a culture around that, Keen said.

“It’s more about who you are,” Keen said. “You have to be a good person and the baseball stuff is secondary.”

Connolly said he was concerned about how players were doing off the field, often asking how school was going, what other sports they were playing, and about college applications. Corbo always wanted to help in any way he could, he said.

Another value he impressed upon the players was accountability, Spampinato said. Players would be involved in every aspect of practice, not just focused on their positions. Keen recalled Corbo telling a parent their son doesn’t just play shortstop, he plays everything.

“Everyone was held to the same standards, whether you were the best player on the team or last guy on the bench,” Spampinato said. “With that in mind he becomes a coach you really want to win for.”

The junior varsity baseball coach, Mark Giardino, will be filling Corbo’s shoes, and he said that there isn’t much he needs to change.

“I’m looking to keep it going in the same direction that he built,” Giardino said. “He established that success as a by-product of hard work, not taking any short cuts.”

Giardino is a physical education teacher at the high school for grades 9 to 12. During his high school years he played baseball, and he fell in love with coaching during his six years as assistant for the Hauppauge High School baseball program. Giardino has coached the Manhasset J.V. team for six seasons.

“The only thing that I can bring to the role that he couldn’t is that I’m a teacher in the building. I can be there for the kids,” Giardino said. “I want to do as many things that he did, and continue doing them in the right way.”

Keen said Giardino is a passionate coach, and puts his whole heart into the game.

“I’ll ask him what he’s doing on a Friday night, and he says he’s writing lineups,” Keen said.

During Corbo’s last year, the program held its first alumni game, and it had a strong turnout, Keen said.

“We had 40-some players there, that’s all Brian,” he said. “That shows you the kind of impact he had.”

Keen coached with Corbo for all seven of his seasons, and he said his departure feels like they’re “breaking up.” But he said he’s confident that they’ve built a sustainable program that won’t fall apart without him.

“They expect Manhasset baseball to be a force now,” Keen said. “We want to continue that reputation.”

Coach Brian Corbo
Coach Brian Corbo

by Chris Adams

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