Legendary Hampton coach Christy leaves behind lasting legacy
The final game of his storied high school coaching career was bittersweet for Hampton Lady Talbots coach Frank Christy. The all-time winningest coach in the state with more than 400 wins also has 15 section titles, two WPIAL championships, a 20-year streak of making the playoffs and several players who went on to college. Christy did all that while also acting as a positive mentor for hundreds of others.
His body of work is so great, Hampton athletic director Bill Cardone jokingly told Christy he would not accept his resignation.
“I told him he couldn't retire while I was still here,” Cardone said. “That is how much I will miss him.
“Frank is the ultimate pro. He is great with the kids and well respected as a coach from the youth all the way up to the college level. He is top-notch.”
Cardone's daughter played for Christy and speaks nothing but great things about the coach and his lessons, which last a lifetime.
“It has been a really good structure here at Hampton,” Christy said. “I am happy with what has occurred.”
Although he will miss the post he manned for 24 years, the coach said he is ready for a break from the stresses of coaching at the varsity level.
“There is always some pressure to keep everyone happy while winning games,” Christy said. “It is an interesting dynamic and is one reason after all these years I was ready to step away from the high school level.”
All the accolades and hardware aside, Christy said he will miss the people he was around the most. Players — current and former — coaches and even his long-time bus driver were part of the team.
“It became a close-knit group,” Christy said.
But Christy's closeness stemmed further than with those on his team. He also forged bonds with his opposing coaches.
Pine-Richland's Jodi Chmielewski played against Christy-coached teams in high school, and she coached against him, as well.
“It's hard to look back on his career and just pick a couple ways that he has influenced the game and the influence he has had on me both professionally and personally,” Chmielewski said. “I remember watching Frank coach and interact with his players even when I was back in high school playing against his teams.
“When I was hired at Pine-Richland, I knew I wanted to model our program after his. What I value most about my relationship with Frank is the time and caring effort he has also put into me as my mentor and friend. I think we've always been each other's biggest supporters and even after big games against one another we always get together afterwards.”
The relationship yielded more than just good feelings, however.
“One of the biggest things I learned early on from Frank was how to properly prepare a team and scouting report,” Chmielewski said. “His teams, hands down, are always one of the most prepared and toughest teams to play against — whether it be during the regular season or in the playoffs. I honestly can't imagine him not being on the sidelines next year. Our game will not only be missing the winningest coach in PA girls soccer history but also a true class act and friend.”
It is those kind of relationships people relate with Christy perhaps even more than his championships and wins.
“It was a fraternity built on respect and camaraderie,” Christy said. “We would help each other with scouting, instilling sportsmanship and respect. I am happy to see that.”
Christy was a positive influence on many, as proven by the commemoration section in the yearbook for the season put together by local sponsors. In the book, there are a few pages dedicated to former players and along with comments for their former coach.
“Some of them said that they remember how I was able to teach them things without them even knowing it,” Christy said. “Now it is them giving back, and it is good to see them involved. I am glad I was able to make a difference. That was the coolest thing.”
Christy may not be coaching any longer, but he assured the Lady Talbots nation that he will not be a stranger.
“I will be around to give my support,” he said.
In addition to all of the team accomplishments, Christy is a proud member of the Bethany College, Fox Chapel High School and the Hampton Sports halls of fame.
Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.