That’s the general salute when one sees the incomparable West Essex softball coach, Andrea Mondadori-Llauget. Next spring, when you say Mondo, more than person on her coaching staff may turn their head, now that Andrea has announced the hiring of none other than her legendary dad, Steve Mondadori to the staff.
Steve enjoyed a tremendous high school coaching career, at Emerson High and later St. Mary of Rutherford, before ‘retiring’ from coaching. If you know Steve, the word retirement doesn’t really apply to him, as he’s constantly working on building something, or spending time with his family.
But Andrea admitted being a little surprised when Steve approached her about a return to coaching.
“He asked about being a volunteer assistant with our team,” said Andrea. “And, to be honest, I was shocked, but obviously elated.”
For years, Steve and Andrea’s teams would oppose each other in the EDSAF & Emerson Softball Benefit Tournament, or the ‘Mondo Bowl’, as I’ve often called it.
To be serious, the tourney benefits Ari Solimando, a 2004 Emerson High graduate and former catcher for Steve, who was paralyzed in an accident back in 2003.
The tournament, generally held in mid to late April, is still a thriving success, even though Steve had retired from coaching three years ago. Andrea’s West Essex team continues to play in it, and Steve and his family are always front and center in making the event a big-time success.
“I was 6-2 against him,” Andrea said, with a laugh. “Our teams started playing each other in the tournament in 2005. It’s always been a lot of fun. Now, we’ll get to coach together.”
Andrea expects her dad to help the Knights with the short game of softball, as well as base running.
West Essex is returning a number of key players from last year’s club, which advanced to the Essex County Tournament championship game. A majority of the 2016 roster should be underclassmen, as well.
“He’ll be a great asset to our staff, with his experience, and obviously, my knowing the kind of coach, and man, that he is,” said Mondadori. “I think our kids will enjoy playing for him, and learning the game from his prospective.”