By Dan Guttenplan
---- — Nick Mombello takes pride in his Newburyport roots, and he’s always wanted to pursue a career that pays homage to his hometown.
The recent Newburyport High graduate will take the first step in fulfilling that goal July 3 when he leaves for the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.
“I always thought it was cool that Newburyport was where the Coast Guard originated,” Mombello said. “I thought it would be cool to be in the Coast Guard. I learned I could go to college and do the Coast Guard. I love the ideals they have, and I can play sports at the academy. It’s the coolest thing ever.”
Mombello, who captained the Newburyport hockey and lacrosse teams as a senior, plans to play both sports at the Coast Guard Academy. He has also earned a third-degree black belt in karate at Tokyo Joe’s Karate Studio in Salisbury, where he also serves as an instructor.
“A lot of the focus and determination from karate transfers into athletics,” Mombello said. “A big part of hockey and lacrosse is being able to focus. It’s determining what I want to do and focusing to get better at it.”
On the ice last winter, Mombello captained the Newburyport hockey team to its first Cape Ann League title in coach Paul Yameen’s 10 years as coach. Mombello played the role of a disciplined, stick-handling defenseman on a team that recorded five shutouts.
“I loved playing hockey,” Mombello said. “Hockey has always been my No. 1 lifelong sport. I love it. The ability to play in high school with all of the guys I grew up with was a great experience.”
Mombello started playing lacrosse in middle school, and was a big part of a high school program that has posted a record of 58-14 over the last four seasons. He earned CAL All-Star honors this spring after serving as Newburyport’s top on-ball defenseman. Unfortunately for Mombello, he was unable to finish his career in the state tournament as a senior due to post-concussion symptoms stemming from a collision in practice. Newburyport coach Ed Gaudiano remembers Mombello’s attitude after suffering the head injury as a positive for the team heading into the tournament.
“It took him a little to get over it, but then he spoke to the team,” Gaudiano said. “He was at every practice and both playoff games helping out. He’d look out from the sideline and give tips. That’s Nick all the way. You couldn’t ask for a better teammate.”
Mombello said he has been able to resume his training for the Coast Guard over the last week, once his concussion symptoms cleared. He will spend July and August going through Swab Summer — a seven-week initiation period at the Coast Guard Academy similar to boot camp. In exchange for his free four-year education at the academy, Mombello will make a five-year commitment to serve in the Coast Guard after his graduation.
“As an officer in the Coast Guard, I don’t know where it will take me,” Mombello said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, so I’m excited to get started.”