Welcome back: Dombrowski relishes return to court
After a two-year absence from competition, Annie Dombrowski decided to rejoin the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School girls basketball program in her senior season.
For more than just one reason, Lady Marauders coach Mark Moschella is happy she did.
The 5-foot-9 starting forward leads BG in rebounds with an average of nine per game, but also brings a leadership intangible which makes her an invaluable asset on a talented but very young Lady Marauders team whose roster is loaded with freshmen and sophomores.
“She brings a lot of senior leadership,” Moschella said of Dombrowski, also a four-year starter with the BG girls volleyball program who will play that sport on the collegiate level at Lock Haven University. “She’s very unselfish and she interacts well with our real young group, especially the freshmen.
“We have a combined total of nine players [five freshmen and four sophomores] here who needed an older player to show leadership skills, and Annie has stepped in and done an excellent job,” Moschella said.
After helping the BG girls volleyball program achieve a pair of trips to the PIAA Class A state semifinals, Dombrowski is comfortable on the big stage.
“I don’t have as much experience in basketball as I do in volleyball, but I’m used to playing in front of huge crowds and pressure situations,” she said. “I guess I bring some leadership to the basketball team. The players know that if they need something, I’m there for them, just like I know that they would be there for me.”
BG freshman guard-forward Karis Taddei is one of several young Lady Marauders who have benefited from Dombrowski’s influence.
“She’s really been helpful,” said Taddei. “She’s really encouraged the younger players. If any of us has our head down, she’s always there to pick us up.”
Dombrowski played basketball for BG’s ninth-grade, then decided not to play in her sophomore and junior years in order to concentrate on volleyball. But basketball was always in her blood.
“I missed it a lot,” she said. “When I wasn’t playing those two years, I would always shoot around with my friends. I think that coming back out for basketball was one of the best choices that I’ve made in my senior year.”
“She’s an excellent rebounder who has a done a great job for us on the defensive end of the floor, and she’s had some good nights on the offensive end as well,” Moschella said of Dombrowski, who was voted to the all-tournament team for the BG Holiday Basketball Classic in late December. “She’s one of the most coachable players on the team, and I have no doubt that her great volleyball skills have carried over to the basketball floor. She was one of our top junior high basketball players as a freshman, and we’re happy that she made the decision to come back and join our team this year.”
Along with maturity and leadership, Dombrowski also shows a spirited competitive drive, according to long-time BG girls and boys volleyball coach Bob Kasun.
“When you watch Annie play both volleyball and basketball, you can see how much she loves to compete,” Kasun said of Dombrowski, a two-time Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association all-state selection. “We have had some great volleyball players here over the years, but Annie is one of the top volleyball players I have ever coached at BG.”
Dombrowski played every position on the volleyball court except libero, and recorded a career total of 909 kills.
“I think that Annie’s ability to jump and spike in volleyball complements the timing involved in rebounding and jump-shooting in basketball,” Kasun said. “She made a huge impact on our volleyball team’s success, and I think she’s doing the same with the basketball team.”
Dombrowski is hoping that BG’s girls basketball team – which sports a 13-3 overall record entering this week – winds up enjoying as much success this season as the girls volleyball team did.
“We have three freshmen starters, but [considering] the amount of time they work and the way they play the game, I can’t wait to see how great they’re going to become,” said Dombrowski, who plans to study for a career as an athletic trainer in college. “I just want to thank my teammates and coaches for supporting me. I was really nervous at first about coming back to the basketball team, but I couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome.
“I don’t feel like I’ve ever left. It’s been great.”