LAMAR FINDING NEW VOICE — Cardinals playing long game with culture change

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, August 9, 2023

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BEAUMONT — After a 1-10 season, the Lamar Cardinals were in desperate need of a change. The school hired Pete Rossomando in January to take over as head coach and he began to immediately embark on his primary goal of changing the culture.

“Every day is a learning experience for us just because we haven’t been around each other for all that long,” Rossomando said. “Every day they are learning, and we are teaching. We want them to understand the standard and that they have to live up to it. They are learning that we aren’t going to accept certain things. We want a positive environment and guys focused on the process and not the outcome.”

Rossomando said athletes can trick themselves into thinking a new coach can automatically create new outcomes.

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“That is not how it works,” he said. “You have to work to flip the culture and attitude. It is really hard to flip the script from a 1-10 team to a winning program.”

Cardinals coach Pete Rossomando said the Lamar players are learning more everyday, with team leaders developing along the way. (Chris Moore/Special to The News)

The coach said he has already seen leaders emerge on both sides of the ball who can help set the tone for the program as it looks to find its identity.

“We have a transfer from Charlotte named Knox Boyd (offensive lineman),” the coach said. “He played for me. He is a Dallas kid, who has been to championships. He knows how to be tough.”

Rossomando also pointed out Jacob Dicharry, Sevonne Rhea and Kyndon Fuselier.

“Rhea is a tremendous human being,” the coach said. “He is a great worker and a guy you can look at every day as a model of consistency.”

Fuselier, who is a sophomore receiver and a Nederland graduate, said last year was tough.

“I like where the program is heading,” Fuselier said. “We are not where we want to be right now. We are improving every day and working on the little details. It is not going to happen over night. We want to turn it around.”

On the defensive side, Jaymond Jackson, Foday Jalloh and Raymond Stevens are leading the defense.

“Jackson has been a rock for us,” Rossomando said.

While the team has a lot of work to do to become a Southland contender, the team was a few bounces away from a decent season in 2022. Last year, the Cardinals lost half of their games by one score.

The team is going to run a multiple-look offense under Rossomando and a 3-4 defense.

Rossomando said the team can’t get too caught up in outcomes and must trust the work they put in.

“If we can prove to everyone we can work to a specific standard, that will help,” he said. “These guys might not believe they can win a game right now. If they win a game, they might think they have made it. When you win a game, the next thing you have to think of is how to get better and keep winning. Those are the dangers of taking over a program that has struggled.”

Rossomando has had some success turning around programs. He took over Central Connecticut State in 2014 and after three tough seasons, his team went undefeated in conference in 2017 and appeared in the FCS playoffs for the first time in school history. He has also worked with the late Tony Sparano at the University of New Haven.

As of now, the only game circled on Rossomando’s schedule is the first one against No. 8-ranked Idaho Aug. 31 at Provost Umphrey Stadium. The Cardinals open up Southland play against Houston Christian Sept. 30.