Longtime Orchard Park boys lacrosse coach Gene Tundo isn’t going away completely but has stepped down as varsity coach, a position he’s held since 1984.
Tundo shifts over to coach the modified team with his longtime assistant Larry Catalano taking over as the head of Western New York’s most successful lacrosse program.
Tundo is stepping down for family reasons he wouldn’t elaborate on but will remain head coach for the school’s football program. He also is coaching girls track this spring.
“I know the program is in great hands with Larry and will continue to do well,” Tundo said Monday. “I’ll miss this group of kids. They’re incredible. That’s the hardest thing to say goodbye to those kids.”
Tundo guided Orchard Park to its 23rd Section VI championship over the last 25 years last May and his Quakers put up the most fight out of Section VI’s champions last spring at Far West Regionals, dropping a heartbreaking 16-12 decision to Pittsford.
During his time with OP, Tundo guided the Quakers to three state finals. He ranks sixth all-time in the state in coaching victories with 541.
His favorite memory: “Going to state final and seeing our guys work hard to have success against teams they didn’t think we could beat,” he said.
That’s just one of many, actually.
He also lists coaching his three sons, helping them each earn All-America honors, as a fond memory, along with leading the Western Region to a gold medal during the now defunct Empire State Games 16 years ago.
“He put us on the map as far as the state tournament,” said Section VI chairman Ed Greenway of Tundo’s impact on the game locally. “They were able to beat Rochester and a lot of his players went on to play at the next level,” opening the door for other area talents.
“He took some great athletes and just sold them on the game of lacrosse. I think in that sense he not only built a power because of the athletes he had but kept it simple.”
With Catalano now the head coach of OP, that means Thursday’s rivalry game with Clarence will feature two new head coaches. Charlie Warkenthein succeeds longtime Clarence coach Mike Silverstein.
OP hosts the Red Devils at 5 p.m. Thursday in a rematch of last year’s Section VI Class A title game.