September 5th, 2011

Elementary Excellence: St. Leonard

Sarah Newell

CSN Staff Writer

Elementary Excellence: St. Leonard
photo courtesy of St. Leonard

 New AD will use experience to lead student athletes

The following feature is a part of a weekly series called "Elementary Excellence" - a set of profiles that will spotlight Louisville area Catholic elementary schools and its athletic programs, teams, traditions and excellence in all aspects of sports. Do you want your school to be featured? Send us your recommendation to

The St. Leonard Wolverines are under new leadership this year. But with that said, Athletic Director Mike Gandolfo is ready to embrace new goals and challenges using knowledge from years past.

“I’m three months into the AD role, and this is my first full school year,” said Gandolfo. “I have experience though as I was the athletic director at St. Francis High School for four years after teaching at St. Xavier out of college.”

Gandolfo, who grew up at Holy Trinity Parish, said his wife and family are happy to be a part of the St. Leonard community.

“We fell in love with the school and family atmosphere here,” said Gandolfo. “Last year my wife left teaching at Assumption High School and started teaching at St. Leonard. And as for my role here, I have experience in the athletics background.  We have young kids, and I wanted to get involved to make sure all of the students have a good sports program.”

Gandolfo has a few new ideas for improving the St. Leonard Athletics Program.

“I think we want to develop more of a program feel, and I know how to delegate so it’s a group effort. I have great support from board, and that comes from the standpoint that everyone has a voice. I’m there to support them so they can do a better job. We are not a big school, but we want to develop all of the kids and skill levels for those athletes.”

While St. Leonard is a relatively small school, Gandolfo wants the athletes to have positive attitudes going into any game against any school- big or small.

“I want to set the tone that our size is not an excuse. The kids need to know they can be confident and have the skills they need no matter the size of our school. We just want to build and improve the mindset that they can succeed.”

St. Leonard offers a multitude of sports, including unique activities such as archery, for the young students. Gandolfo said that he is excited to gain momentum for all of the sports programs, as he hopes for the teams to flourish and grow in future years.

“Right now, we combine with Lourdes for football, and we’ve had really good football players come through. We also have a decent soccer history, and we’ve done well in basketball in years past,” said Gandolfo. “Our volleyball program is building. This year, it’s the first time that our school can fill our own teams grades 1-8. We are currently growing our K-2 program. The younger students used to just have soccer, but now we have flag football and volleyball. We are really excited about that. We are also doing basketball for grades1-2 this year.”

While the school is not going through any athletic venue renovations at this time, Gandolfo says it is a possible effort in years to come.

“We have a really nice gym facility, and there’s nothing really to improve in there now,” said Gandolfo. “Yet, outside, we have a small field. We want to eventually try to build out restrooms and concession stands.”

Gandolfo ultimately says he looks forward to a new year with new victories for the athletes as they learn life lessons to take with them to high school and beyond.

Said Gandolfo: “I’m a huge believer that athletics is a compliment to what you learn in the classroom. What you learn in classroom is important, but what you learn in athletics is an important vehicle to help you implement what you learn in the classroom and real life situations. Athletics enhance academics so much, and it sets you up to be successful when you have a career later in life.” 


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