Lombardi: Varsity Swim Coach Hire Expected "Very Soon"

David Creed •

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Nantucket High School Athletic Director Travis Lombardi provided an update on the search for a new varsity swim coach during Tuesday's School Committee meeting. He revealed that a "swimming coach interview committee" has been set up to conduct the search, but did not identify who is on the committee. He said he expects an announcement to be made "very soon." The winter season is scheduled to begin in less than two weeks on November 28.

"The swimming coach interview committee is in its home stretch and an announcement on that will be made very soon,” Lombardi said. He said all other winter coaching positions are filled.

Willis Ferreira will return as the boys basketball coach while Rafael Osona will return as the girls basketball coach. Liz Collins will return as the girls hockey coach and Jack Moran Sr. will be behind the bench as the boys hockey coach after Scott Corbett stepped down from the position after four seasons.

Whoever the new coach is will have big shoes to fill. Pignato stepped down from his position after 19 years on the job leading one of Nantucket's most consistent programs that has produced dozens of college swimmers. Pignato declined to continue coaching under a new structure the school administration was attempting to implement, which would have removed him as the girls varsity swim coach. The school released the following statement to the Current upon request on the situation last month, saying they felt a change to the program's coaching structure was needed.

"Jim Pignato will not be returning as the Boys & Girls Swimming and Diving Coach for the upcoming season. The Athletic Department and School Administration felt that there was a need for a change in the coaching structure of the program," Lombardi and superintendent Beth Hallett said. "We presented this new structure to Coach Pignato and sadly Coach Pignato declined the proposed structure. The Nantucket High School Swim program has been extremely lucky to have had Coach Pignato at the helm for the last 19 years. He has positively impacted hundreds of swimmers not only in the pool, but as individuals outside the pool. We will be forever grateful for what he has given back to the Nantucket High Swimming & Diving Team. We wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors."

However, the feeling for a change to the swim team's coaching structure appears to be have been short-lived. Hours after this article detailing the three coaches stepping down was published on October 19, a document was sent out by the superintendent's office listing the winter sports coaching positions. On it, it says that the school is only searching for one varsity head coach, not two.

The positions listed are identical to the structure that has been in place for years with Pignato as head coach, Natalie Thompson and Olivia Gallugi as assistant coaches, and Drew Arent as an assistant coach/diving coach.

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Thompson and Gallugi confirmed to the Current in October when asked that they would not be returning and stepped down from their roles because of personal reasons and disagreements with the proposed coaching structure. Arent said he was undecided on his future with the program. So the school will need to find at least three new coaches ahead of the winter season.

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