From Player to Coach
Lou Bernardi (B.S. ’11) has made a pitch or two in his day. And, it hasn’t been hard for him to pitch himself as someone who could provide coaching at the collegiate level. It all began at New York Tech, where he was a pitcher for the university’s baseball team and later an assistant coach. After graduating, Bernardi played professionally for the St. George Roadrunners of the Golden Baseball League and the New York Federals within the New York State League. “After this, my first coaching job was with New York Tech,” he says.
Bernarndi would go on to become the pitching coach at Iona College and assistant coach at SUNY Old Westbury, and recruiting coordinator at LIU Post. He is currently the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the United States Merchant Marine Academy, serving in several capacities, including assistant instructor and faculty liaison for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
In addition to the experience of playing for New York Tech, Bernardi’s criminology courses, and one particular class, made a tremendous impact. “It was a public speaking class,” he says. “It taught me a lot about how to engage with other people, how to speak the right way, how to present yourself. It was the perfect class for that time in my life, and some of the things I learned in that class still stick with me 10 years later.”
He also learned a great deal about leadership as an assistant coach for New York Tech’s baseball team. “I had to mature very quickly. Now, I was coaching players that I had been teammates with,” he says, adding that he realized he had to let the players know he wasn’t necessarily their buddy. “There has to be that mutual level of respect, but as the coach, you also have to maintain that level of authority.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bernardi was also part of a different kind of team. As a member of Valor Sports, he helped to support frontline workers. “They were saving people every day, and I wanted them to know that there were people in the community who had a platform and truly appreciated what they were doing,” he says. Bernardi assisted with toy and food drives, handed out thousands of meals to first responders, and more. “It’s changed who I am,” he says of the experience.
Bernardi has been recognized for his efforts on and off the field. Collegiate Baseball Newspaper named him the 2021 Pitching Coach of the Year. Also, in 2021, he received the Power of Inspiration Award from the United States Merchant Marine Academy for his commitment to the Academy and the community. He was also presented with an honorary membership with the New York Tech chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success.
In September 2020, Bernardi joined the New York Tech Alumni Advisory Board. He remembers how alumni were there for him, and he values making it easier for others. “Hey, it wasn’t so long ago that I was a student, too,” he recalls.