"It's unbelievable the years you have coached. You have touched many people in a positive way over the years and people like me can't thank you enough. You have been an inspiration. I am grateful for your guidance and friendship. May God bless you." Those were the words of former University of Akron and University of Notre Dame football coach Gerry Faust.
That statement, made by Faust at Lindy Lauro's retirement testimonial in 1993, bears out the sentiments and love of most of the people in New Castle and Western Pennsylvania for that matter.
"Lucky Lindy" was "Mr. Football" in New Castle for many years. He was not so lucky, rather mighty good, and he'll go down in history as one of New Castle High's best football coaches ever.
For his efforts, Lauro was inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in ceremonies conducted in Cromwell, Con., on June 27. The Hall of Fame induction was part of a full week of activities that takes place annually at the NHSACA convention.
Lauro was nominated by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the NHSACA. It is one of the most prestigious honors that can be bestowed upon a high school coach.
Lindy, born in New Castle in 1921, gained widespread recognition in 1937 as a sophomore member of the Red Hurricane football team.
He threw for the game's only touchdown as Paul Brown's Massillon Tigers were upended after a 28-game win streak. After that loss to New Castle, Massillon went on to record 22 consecutive victories.
As a young sportswriter, I had the privilege of covering many of Lauro's games. You never knew what to expect with Lauro on the sidelines, and his attack was never the same. He came at you from all angles. His teams were always prepared and they knew how to win.
Lauro was named coach at New Castle in 1961. He retired in 1992, and what came in between was remarkable.
During his tenure, Lauro amassed a record of 220-104-15. With his 200th victory in 1987, New Castle became the only institution in the country to claim two coaches with more than 200 victories.
In 1991, Lauro hit another milestone when New Castle became only the fourth school in the nation to reach the 600-win plateau.
A mantle full of trophies
It would be futile to attempt to list all of Lauro's accolades in one short column. It would take a book. However, we'll touch on a few. He had six unbeaten teams and three WPIAL Championships. His teams lost in the finals three times. Lauro-coached teams captured 10 titles in the powerful Midwestern Athletic Conference, one of the toughest football leagues ever in western Pennsylvania. He was named coach of the year twice.
He also had the distinction of coaching 20 all-state first team players, five All-Americans and three recipients of the WPIAL MVP award, with Bruce Clark eventually winning the Lombardi Trophy in 1970 while playing for Joe Paterno at Penn State.
He also coached in the Big 33 Classic three times and directed numerous all-star classics. He also coached the small college all-stars against the major college all-stars at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. twice.
In 1990 he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Hall of Fame and was New Castle man of the year in 1968 and 1969.
Lindy attended the University of Alabama in 1941 but enlisted in the Air Force during World War II. Upon discharge, he played football at Pitt. He also played with the NFL's Chicago Cardinals, later coaching at Dickinson College and at Dayton.
Those who have not seen Lauro coach missed a real treat. In fact they may have missed seeing one of the greatest high school coaches of all time.