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Trinity Catholic honors ‘winningest coach’

Posted By September 12, 2014 | 11:34 am | Local
Coach Barbara “Bardy” Stevens is flanked by Father Peter Joyce, pastor of Saint John Paul II Parish, and Josie Citta, principal of Trinity Catholic Academy,
Coach Barbara “Bardy” Stevens is flanked by Father Peter Joyce, pastor of Saint John Paul II Parish, and Josie Citta, principal of Trinity Catholic Academy,

By Mairgread Gray
CFP Correspondent

SOUTHBRIDGE – More than 100 people gathered last Saturday evening to celebrate and honor Barbara “Bardy” Stevens at the LaSalle Reception Center for her award-winning accomplishments as coach of Bentley University’s women’s basketball team.
Father Peter Joyce, pastor of Saint John Paul II Parish, welcomed everyone, and noted that Ms. Stevens’ mother Betty was in the audience.
“It is wonderful that you are here,” he said.
Cindy Scott, assistant athletic director at Bentley in Waltham, said, “Barbara is admired and so respected on campus. She is an unbelievably wonderful person.” Ms. Scott enumerated all the outstanding work Ms. Stevens has done in the 28 years she has been at Bentley.
Her team of 12 to 15 young women, called the Falcons, won their first-ever Women’s Division II National Championship with a come-from-behind, 73-65 victory over West Texas A&M in the championship game in Erie, Penn. in March.
“How good can any one coach be? Truly, she is one of the top two coaches. Barbara has been offered higher paying coaching positions, but she chose to stay Bentley,” Ms. Scott said.
“In 28 years at Bentley, she averages 27 wins a year. She has coached over 900 games, and is the fifth-ranked coach. Barbara is the all-time winningest coach of the year. Five times she was a Division II National Coach of the year. It is unprecedented! Her program won more times than any other.
“At 35-0 this year, Barbara’s team was undefeated. Her peers inducted her into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. She does it the right way in a school that is very academic. She believes the most important thing is to be good people – not win games. And, I’ve brought you all (green) national championship T-shirts,” Ms. Scott concluded.
Ms. Stevens, who hails from Southbridge and went to St. Mary’s School,  graciously thanked everyone.
“Thank you is so inadequate. Thank you, Father Peter, for recognizing my mother,” she said.
She brought a video titled “Unfinished Business” which told the story of the Falcons and their team spirit. She thought winning a national championship with her team was possible. Playing for a championship was a blend of talent and playing unselfishly.
“We think of the team first. There was not one ounce of panic, not one ounce of doubt,” Ms. Stevens said. And the 2013-2014 season saw the Falcons undefeated.
“That’s what I did last year,” quipped Ms. Stevens. Laughter filled the room, as it did often throughout the speeches.
“Winning is great, but you need life lessons and skills. You learn commitment and teamwork. You learn how to deal with failure. It is a measure of who you are. I’m a stickler for preparation. They will get my very best every day. It is a lifelong dream to win a championship. Play hard, play smart, and play together. Thank you, it is such an honor.”
Maura Power, Trinity Catholic Academy physical education teacher, said Ms. Stevens was a role model and leader, and hoped to empower her girls the way Ms. Stevens empowered hers.
Josie Citta, principal of Trinity Catholic Academy, said Ms. Stevens’ level of work ethic was remarkable. “Young women need role models like Barbara,” she said.
State Rep. Peter Durant and state Sen. Richard Moore presented Ms. Stevens with congratulatory citations. Mr. Moore signed his citation right on the spot. They too, called Ms. Stevens a true leader, a very good leader and a role model.
Sen. Moore said they were honoring one of the great women basketball coaches in the country.
Father Joyce gave Ms. Stevens a certificate of recognition. He posed the question: “Does anything good come out of Southbridge? Lots of good things come from Southbridge. We celebrate a great woman – a champion in our midst. She spoke to her team as in a classroom – play like champions.”
He echoed her words spoken earlier: Play hard, play smart, play together.”
Ms. Stevens coached at Clark University for seven years, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for three, before going to Bentley University. She is 59 years old.
“Honestly, I am overwhelmed and tremendously, tremendously humbled,” she said of the love, affection and honors given her this night.
Years ago, there were three Catholic schools in Southbridge: St. Mary’s Grammar, Marianhill High, and St. Mary-Marianhill Junior. They combined in 1988 to form what is now Trinity Catholic Academy.