Canyon legendary coach Joe Lombard leaves lasting impact on A&M coach Buzz Williams
Texas A&M men’s basketball coach Buzz Williams holds Canyon girls basketball coach Joe Lombard in high regard for his character on and off the floor. [Photo credit Texas A&M athletics]
Since announcing his retirement on Tuesday, Canyon Lady Eagles Hall of Fame coach Joe Lombard has been bombarded by phone, emails and social media from his community, current players, former players, fans, the statewide media, as well as 100’s of coaches across the country all sending their most respectful regards.
During his distinguished coaching career that spanned four decades — that saw an immaculate 1,379 wins to only 133 losses, 19 UIL state basketball championships, seven UIL state cross country championships, and six Hall of Fame inductions — Lombard has left a lasting impact on many he’s come across.
Texas A&M men’s basketball coach Buzz Williams is one of those moved by the ambiance of the legendary Lombard.
Williams is a proven winner at the Division I level. Through his stints at the University of New Orleans, Marquette, Virginia Tech and now Texas A&M, Williams has coached in 18 NCAA Tournament games boasting a 10-8 record.
What many don’t know is, Williams has
Amarillo/ Canyon roots. Williams is married to Corey (Norman) Williams. Corey was a standout basketball player at Randall, helping the Lady Raiders to their first UIL Class 5A state championship in 1992 under late Randall coach Jim Wilcoxson.
Williams has built a relationship with Randall boys coach Leslie Broadhurst, who’s son Blair served as a graduate assistant for the charismatic Williams at Marquette.
Williams lives and breathes coaching basketball. He started as a manager at Navarro Junior College nearly 30 years ago, and has an obsession for studying different coaches.
Williams, 47, has gotten to know Lombard through trips to Canyon visiting his in laws, and says he has always been impressed to the character in which Lombard represents himself.
“I’ve studied coaches my entire career because that’s all I wanted to be growing up,” said Williams, who was named the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year this past season. “When you look at what coach Lombard has accomplished, it’s another world. You can’t find another coach that’s done what he’s done with that success rate. What impacted my heart is, he wouldn’t even tell you he was a coach unless you asked him.”
Williams, who mentioned Lombard in his introductory press conference when he was named the Aggies head basketball coach, says he’s had the fortunate pleasure of having a couple of breakfast meetings with Lombard. Williams is always stunned every time he and Lombard go their separate ways after those meetings.
“I’ve only had a few interactions with him (Lombard) and I’d always walk away from it with the same perspective,” said Williams who has a 258-160 overall record as a Division I head coach. “I’d walk away thinking I have to become a lot better person. I’d feel bad talking to him because I’d want to talk to him about coaching, then an hour later I’d realize he made me a better person. You can look up the numbers of wins and losses, but you can’t look up the numbers of hearts he’s impacted and lives changed for the better. I think that’s what his legacy stands on, and this is how you conduct life.”