Kayla Lombardo is a catcher and third baseman from Pompton Plains, New Jersey. Aside from receiving accolades on the field (First Team All-Atlantic 10 in 2013 and Atlantic-10 All-Championship Team in 2014), she also shines in the classroom, being named to the Spring 2012 Atlantic 10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll in 2012 and the Atlantic 10 Academic All-Conference Team in 2014. She is a career .291 hitting with 17 homeruns and 83 RBI in 150 games played with the Rams.
The Fordham Ram: What made you want to come to Fordham?
Kayla Lombardo: Fordham just had everything that I wanted academically. With career opportunities and then with softball, it was the best combination of all the things I was looking for out of my college experience. I wanted a competitive team, I wanted a great academic school and I wanted a way to jump start my career. So, Fordham has enabled me to do all three of those things.
TFR: How was the transition to the third base position for you?
KL: It’s actually funny. I came in a catcher and I turned into a third baseman, but now I’m back behind the plate. So, it’s been hard adjusting, at least this year, for me to my old position. So when I came in it was like I had to master something I had never done on the collegiate level. It’s so different to go from high school to college, so it took me a while to get it down, but I feel like last year I really figured out how to play third base, and then it was almost like the rug was pulled out from under me in a sense, but in a good way because at least I had the experience catching from high school. It’s so much constant learning, it’s never stagnant. You’re never comfortable at this level. You’re always learning, so if I’ve learned anything at all, it’s that I haven’t really learned a whole lot to begin with.
TFR: Which position do you prefer?
KL: On this team, this year, I prefer to be behind the plate. I think that it allows me to be a better leader. It keeps me involved with every single play. It keeps me in tune with the pitchers. On last year’s team, we had a great catcher in Gabby Luety and we had a great shortstop in Elise Fortier, but for me I think the best was brought out in me with me being next to [Fortier] last year. But, we don’t have [Fortier] anymore, so now I kind of have to take that role and assume that role and I feel like being behind the dish has enabled me to assume that role better.
TFR: How do you feel in that leadership role?
KL: It’s a natural thing I think for me based on my personality. I’m a very competitive person by nature. I’m a go-getter by nature. I’ve embraced that role. It’s presented its struggles for me at times because, like anything else that’s new, it’s hard to adjust right away, but in time I feel like I’ve adapted better and having the support of my senior class, we have a huge senior class, and that’s been very vital to our success. Just knowing that they have my back too, that I’m not alone in this, that has really helped me to become a better leader.
TFR: How hard is it to be a student athlete and find that balance in a place like Fordham?
KL: It’s tough. No doubt about it, it’s very challenging, but I think that as Division I athletes, we are primed for this, we are prepared for this. From the time that we’re freshmen and we come in we know that it’s going to be difficult. When you come to Fordham, you know what you’re getting yourself into, you know that it’s going to be a very challenging academic workload, you know that you’re playing the top teams in the country as a softball player and you’re expected to perform. It’s tough, but they wouldn’t have recruited us if they didn’t think we could handle it. I think Bridget [Orchard] does a good job in recruiting people who can take on that workload and who are consummate student athletes and not just athletes.
TFR: Do you have a favorite memory?
KL: My favorite memory is winning A-10’s in 2013 just because it was such a dramatic game. We beat St. Joe’s 6-5 in the championship game. We were not expected to win conference that year, we went through a lot of personal struggles as a team and then we just pulled together in the end and we had such a dramatic game. It was the craziest game I’ve ever played in. I think anytime you do something for the first time it resonates with you, so for me the first will always be the best.
TFR: How far do you think the team can go this year?
KL: Well of course we would like to go all the way to the end. I think one of our problems this year has been not focusing on the here and now. So, of course we’d love to go to Super Regionals of course we’d love to go to the World Series, but we have to focus on beating NC State on Friday. That’s the next step for us. The college softball season is a process. It’s not something you can say is going to be one way or the other, so for me to be able to predict where we’re going to be in May is impossible. I have to focus on Friday, and that’s all I see right now.
TFR: You have been writing articles for ESPNW: “The Life and Times of an NCAA Softball Player.” How did you get involved with that?
KL: Once again, I’m kind of competitive by nature and I’m quite persistent in what I do on and off the field. Everything that I do in my life, I do 100 percent. Writing is something that’s just as important to me as softball. It’s what I want to pursue with my career, so I know that I have to make myself stand out. I reached out to ESPNW editors and I formed some relationships with them over the summer and I just stayed on it. This is what I want to do and I’m going to make it happen, so I just made a way to make it happen. I really just wanted to tell our story. I knew that our story would be a special one this year, no matter how it started. I know that it’s going to finish in some special way, just knowing how the college softball season goes. I wanted to take this opportunity to tell that story on a national level, on a national platform where people could really see what it’s like to be a college athlete instead of just what they see with the numbers. There’s so much more there, and I wanted to make sure people knew what it was all about.