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Carnegie Boys & Girls Club pillar ready for retirement

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Assistant Executive Director Lou Trombetta, tosses out a player during a game of dodgeball at Carnegie Boys and Girls Club.
Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Lou Trombetta directs a student during a game of dodgeball at Carnegie Boys and Girls Club.
Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Lou Trombetta officiates a game of dodgeball as students (from left) Jaisen Hill, 6, of Carnegie, Quency Carter, 10, of Carnegie, Kameron Enscoe, 9, of East Carnegie and Lamont Bolton, 11, of Crafton chase down balls at Carnegie Boys and Girls Club.

Lou Trombetta heard the saying that he would know when it came time to retire.

For him, the moment arrived two years ago — but he continued working anyway.

“I fought it until now,” said Trombetta, the assistant executive director at the Carnegie Boys & Girls Club. “With the aches and pains of old age, a little bit of a bad back (and) grandkids, this is the right time for me.”

Trombetta, 63, will retire May 1 after 28 years working at various Boys & Girls clubs in the Pittsburgh area, including the past 13 at the Carnegie location on Washington Avenue. No replacement has been chosen.

But his time with the Carnegie club goes back further. He became a member of what was then the Carnegie Boys Club in 1955 at age 5, and stayed until he was 18.. He then volunteered at the club in the 1960s as an assistant camp director.

Trombetta was hired full time at the Carnegie club after he was laid off from a job in the trucking industry in 1985. When Carnegie merged with the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania six months later, Trombetta was transferred to the Shadyside, Sto-Ken-Rox, Wilkinsburg, Lawrenceville and Northern Area clubs before returning to Carnegie in November 2000.

“I thought, ‘I'll do it a couple years,'” he said. “This is 28 years later.”

Trombetta's impact at the Boys & Girls Club is felt most notably in the athletic program. When he arrived, 80 children were enrolled in an indoor soccer program and 50 were in a basketball program.

Now, the club boasts 234 children in a flag football program, 224 in floor hockey, 218 in basketball and 42 in golf.

“That draws children not only from Carnegie but from the surrounding areas to our club, which is good,” said Carnegie police Chief Jeff Harbin, who grew up with Trombetta on Seventh Avenue.

“Any time you can keep the kids physically active, that's certainly important, too. “In no uncertain terms, that was Lou's club up there,” Harbin said.

Trombetta also helps run the club's nine-week summer camp program, which has 100 children.

All told, the club has 600 to 800 members at any given time. Between 120 and 150 attend per day, either for the after-school program or evening activities.

Trombetta said the club is a place for children to learn values and get real-world experience in leadership and other important areas.

“You kind of know what school's doing and how they're helping the kids,” he said. “You want to pick up those other parts that you still feel is important to normal growth and expose them to it in the healthiest way possible.”

While a select few people have known about his impending retirement, the knowledge hasn't been “public public,” he said.

Dallas Trombetta, his youngest daughter, said the news came as a surprise to the family. “I think to myself that he would have to be forced into part time there because it's so much a part of him,” she said.

“I know my son was in tears. I didn't tell my son — he overheard it, and I had to explain it to him.”

Trombetta doesn't know whether he'll maintain a part-time presence at the club, but said now is the right time for him to give up the full-time job.

“The best way is to just make the cut,” he said.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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