SHRUB OAK, N.Y – Andrew Tripaldi has known both sides of the Lakeland/Walter Panas rivalry.

For the last six years, Tripaldi, a 2007 Lakeland High School graduate, has been the varsity head coach of the Walter Panas field-hockey squad. This spring, after having coached JV for two years and modified for one, he was set to take over as the Lakeland/Panas girls’ varsity lacrosse head coach.

“It’s been surreal feeling, coaching at my alma mater,” Tripaldi said. “I grew up as a Hornet, I coached as a Panther, and now I get the best of both worlds as a Rebel. I enjoy being a part of this community and I want to give back to it as much as I possibly can. I feel fortunate enough to be given this opportunity and I hope to make the most out of it.”

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Tripaldi credits Lakeland field-hockey coach Sharon Sarsen, a member of the Westchester Sports Hall of Fame, for kick-starting his coaching career.

“Well, I knew I always had a passion for coaching sports and working with athletes,” Tripaldi said. “When I got back home from graduating college that summer, I received a phone call from Coach Sarsen, asking me if I had any interest in coaching the modified field-hockey program. At first, I was hesitant to take the job, as I had little to no background in the sport of field hockey. But after a day or two of thinking about it, I took the job. I wanted the challenge of taking on a new sport and seeing if I could excel in it.”

Tripaldi said the same applied to the lacrosse season.

“I truly owe a lot of my coaching career to Coach Sarsen,” Tripaldi said. “She not only gave me my first coaching jobs in field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse, but she took me under her wing and taught me a lot about being a coach. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Coach Sarsen, and I am truly appreciative, and thankful, for everything that she has done for me.”

Having the experience of coaching varsity field hockey at Panas should help Tripaldi in coaching varsity girls’ lacrosse.

“It’s been a great experience coaching field hockey at Panas,” Tripaldi said. “When I first started, I was welcomed with open arms, and it was nice to see all the sports programs come out and support one another, which I think is great for the school community. Having coached varsity field hockey over the past six years will certainly help me with the highs and lows that we may come across during the lacrosse season.”

An individual highlight coaching Panas was earning the Conference 2, Coach of the Year Award in 2017.

“Field hockey was a whole new world to me,” Tripaldi said. “I never thought I would be coaching field hockey, let alone receive such a high honor. All I wanted to do was come in and turn the field-hockey program around and give the student-athletes the best experience possible. All coaches are deserving of this award, and to be recognized, and honored by them, has truly meant a lot to me.”

Tripaldi’s basketball highlight came during his senior year as a player when Lakeland made it to the Section 1 Class A finals at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, where the Hornets lost a classic contest to the eventual state champion, Peekskill.

“It was a great experience, one that I’ll never forget,” Tripaldi said. “As a high-school basketball player, the goal and the dream is to play for the championship at the Westchester County Center, and I was fortunate enough to do so. I remember the atmosphere and the energy in the building being electric, and it only intensified as the game went on. Unfortunately, we lost in a competitive game that went down to the wire, but it still was an experience I’ll never forget. I hope to get a chance to coach in a championship game one day.”

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