From Player to Coach the Full Circle of Baseball
By: Emily Bondi
“Work your hardest at what you love. Never give up on your goals and push yourself every day.”
Meet Coach John Bondi, a 23-year-old graduate of John Carroll University where he played baseball and graduated with a degree in Sports Studies and Business in May 2019.
Bondi is a Pittsburgh native who has been involved with Team All American since he was 10-years-old. First as a player and now a coach. Bondi has been playing baseball for 17 years and has coached for 5 years.
Bondi first started playing baseball when he was 6 for the community teams in Murrysville, PA a suburb of Pittsburgh. He was always the smallest kid on the team, but that never stopped him from playing his favorite game.
As Bondi got older, he started playing for Team All American, a travel team that allowed him to grow as a player and develop the skills needed to understand the game of baseball. Family vacations in the summer were always car trips to the next baseball tournament. Baseball was always a family affair where most Saturday and Sundays were spent in the hot summer sun playing double headers and drinking copious amounts of water and Gatorade to stay cool. Baseball has taken Bondi all around the United States and has given him a foundation for something he is truly passionate about.
Bondi spent his middle and high school years playing baseball for Franklin Regional and always enjoyed the spring break trips with the team down to Florida. “Going to Florida was always a great learning experience and we got to play other competition than we would during the school year.” Bondi said.
Bondi also played on the Murrysville Legion team in the summers while he was in high school which was coached by his dad Gus Bondi. Bondi's dad had a huge impact on his baseball career. “My father is my favorite coach I have ever had because he was the first person to teach me how to play this great game and was there for me throughout my career.”
The Murrysville Legion team was a great team to be a part of because most of the players all grew up and played baseball together from a young age. It was like the movie Sandlot, just a bunch of guys playing their favorite pickup game at Haymaker Park that was used as home field. Bondi said, “Going to states with the legion team is my favorite legion memory. We battled to get to that spot and had an unbelievable season.”
As a senior in high school Bondi knew he wanted to continue playing baseball in college. He knew it would be a lot of hard work with class, workouts, practices and games, but he was determined to keep doing what he loved on and off the field.
“My favorite college memory will always be waking up at 4:30 to be the first one at 6:00 a.m. practices to get the season started.” Bondi played at John Carroll University for four years.
During his college years Bondi started coaching for Team All American, a place where he once was a player. “I grew up in the program and know what the culture is supposed to be like for these guys. I love working with dedicated young men and watching them grow. Nothing is better than seeing a player you helped get an offer to a school or fulfill a dream.”
Bondi knew after graduation he didn’t want to hang up the baseball uniform yet, so he joined an 18 and over league, started working as Assistant Director of Sports Camps at Pittsburgh University and continued his coaching career at Team All American.
This year he is coaching Team All American 15u. His favorite thing about working with kids is, “Being able to build a relationship with them while watching them grow on and off the field.”
To say Bondi is a busy guy is a bit of an understatement, but he knew taking the job at Pitt University would allow him to grow both personally and professionally. “My dream job is to be a college coach one day, but I know taking this job at Pitt is allowing me to broaden my athletic experience and being able to work in Pitt's athletic department and running camps for them allows me to see another side of college athletics that many people do not see.”
Coaching is very rewarding for Bondi. “I hope my players see that hard work and dedication can change their life forever.” Bondi knows the game of baseball, understands the strategies, but at the end of the day building a relationship with your players on and off the field is important and can truly leave an impact on a person.
Keep an eye out for Bondi he might just be your next coach!
For more Western Pennsylvania sports stories, you can find Emily Bondi on Twitter