Lauren Lombardi is the daughter of former MLB pro Phil Lombardi. Throughout her life, he coached her to be just like him: a prominent force behind the plate and in the box. She earned a full ride scholarship to CSU Long Beach and has been instructing players for several years.
Lauren grew up playing with her sister Julia in the William S. Hart Baseball & Softball Pony League, whose All-Star team won the 2006 ASA Nationals B rank title. Lauren earned the nickname “Rhino” because her father believed a good catcher must always be tough like one. The name would stick for her entire career.
From there, she played for prominent travel ball organizations like Mizuno Pride and SoCal 3D. She attended West Ranch High School and played a major role in two league titles. In the fall of 2011, during her Junior year, several schools attempted to recruit Lauren as a power-hitting catcher. She decided on the D1 University, CSU Long Beach. Her sister would later commit to the same school.
Lauren, as a freshman, led her team to victory as the 2014 Big West Champions, thanks to her grand slam in the deciding game. Lauren’s career faced setbacks with recurring knee injuries, but that didn’t stop her from solidifying her spot in several top-10 school records, including: single-season RBI’s (#1), career home runs (#7), career grand slams (#1), and career batting average (#2), among others. She earned many honors during her time, but none so unique as the Bill Bovee Determination Award, which was granted to her during the university’s Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony in 2019.
After college, Lauren was quick to continue her work in softball. With a few years of private lessons under her belt, she used her Education degree to pursue coaching and coaching-adjacent work instead. She took on the role as program manager, then director, for the Natasha Watley Foundation. Lauren worked alongside the former Olympic medalist to provide low-cost and free playing/training options for the underserved youth of Los Angeles. During this time, she also accepted a position as program manager and lead instructor for Softball University (first in Redondo Beach, then Thousand Oaks). Lauren loved the work she did with the players in these communities.
In May of 2021, Lauren lost her father to brain cancer. She decided to move home to SCV to be with family. The opportunity to honor her father’s legacy arose. Now, Lauren plans to coach at West Ranch High School and train players locally at The Farm. She’s a big believer of elevating the individual strengths of each player and knows what it takes to “Play Like A Rhino.”