It all started when Lisa Knecht saw Cardinale face St. Scholastica against Hannan in a regular season game last season.
The Chapelle graduate coached at Infinity Volleyball Academy South, and she came to watch some of her club players. Then she thought to herself, “Man, I wish I could do this.”
Sometimes wishes come true, as Cardinale was recently named the new head volleyball coach at St. Scholastica.
“By going to Chapelle and attending a girls’ school, I know how much those years meant to me. I just wanted to be there again. I spoke to the children’s hospital. I talked to my husband. I spoke to myself. I spoke to God. It worked out in the end. It’s been great so far,” Cardinale said.
The former All-State player at Chapelle was also a 4-year letter winner at the University of Southern Miss as a defensive specialist/libero. She has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and attended the LSU Health Sciences Center to earn her doctorate in physical therapy. She currently works as a physiotherapist at the Children’s Hospital.
Cardinale said she has always had a passion for volleyball and has coached in age groups from 9- and 10-year-olds to high school players.
“I think the biggest thing I like about volleyball is that it’s such a team sport,” she said. “You rely on all aspects of the game. But as a libero it all starts with the pass. I always took a leading role in volleyball and tried to enthuse my teammates. And when I felt that reaction back, I always wanted to give more. I want to give everything I can to these girls, and I hope it motivates them, and that they can give it back to me.”
St. Scholastica athletic director Charles Richard said Cardinale had checked all the boxes the pigeons were looking for in a head coach.
“She has a lot of knowledge. She is passionate about the sport and we were looking for someone who was young, dynamic, knowledgeable and who could continue to drive the program forward. She ticks all those boxes and she’s already creating some excitement,’ said Richard.
Cardinale replaces fifth-year coach Pete Bertucci, who also ran the program from 1997-2000. Bertucci is stepping down to spend more time with his family, but he will stay on the staff to coach junior varsity and assist Cardinale.
Cardinale said she is excited to share her passion with her players.
“I know my life changed in the best way during my high school sports years,” she said. “I know I am where I am today because of the coaches who guided me through my high school days. That is what I want to pass on to these kids. I am most excited to share my passion and knowledge about volleyball and life in general. I want them to develop and get better on the pitch, but also get better off the pitch.”