Crusader Collegians - 9
"Smooth As Silk"

Sammy Trombatore, All State 1941
Sam Trombatore at St. Aloysius

Brother Ralph, S.C.
Brother Ralph, S.C.

Loyola basketball coach Jack Orsley
Jack Orsley

The quotation in the title of this article came from Loyola basketball coach Jack Orsley and referred to Sammy Trombatore ('41).
  • Sam first made his mark at St. Aloysius as a sophomore when he made the All-Prep JV team.
  • He started as a junior for new coach Danny Lyons and helped the Crusaders to a second-place tie in the Prep league.
  • Trombatore improved by leaps and bounds as a senior under Brother Ralph, S.C. As Sam recalled in a 1984 interview with Pete Finney of the Times-Picayune: Brother Ralph was a stickler for fundamentals. There were times during recess when he'd have us practicing dribbling and passing in the school basement. You played for him, and you could throw every kind of pass.
  • Sammy led Aloysius to its first state championship in any sport. Trombatore was named All-State after the Crusaders trounced Istrouma 37-16 in the finals.

The following season, Sam moved seamlessly to the college level.

  • The 5'11" G sparked Loyola to its first-ever Dixie Conference champion­ship.
  • One of Sam's Wolf Pack teammates was his Aloysius compadre Milton "Whitey" Jackson ('41). An older player who served as a "coach on the floor" was Johnny Altobello, who would coach Aloysius to four state championships from 1946-52.
  • Trombatore finished as the second-highest scorer on Orsley's 14-win team.
  • Jack praised his sensational freshman: He could hurt you as much with his passing and feinting as he could with his scoring. He could take a defensive man out of his sneakers. And he did it with the grace of a ballet dancer.
  • Sam Ciolino, a later teammate, added: Sam Trombatore could fake out people like you wouldn't believe. More people than you could count fell because of his fakes.
Whitey Jackson, Loyola
Milton "Whitey" Jackson


Loyola G Sam Trombatore
Sam Trombatore at Loyola

Trombatore led the Wolf Pack in scoring for the 1942-43 campaign.
  • At the end of another 14-win year, Loyola received an invitation to play in the National Association of Intercollege Basketball (NAIB) championship tournament in Kansas City.
  • But Jackson and a sub G were called to active duty with the U.S. Army Air Corps. In addition, starting G Bob Segura, a reserve officer attending the dental school, couldn't leave campus because of travel restrictions for military students.
  • Left with only six players, Orsley reluctantly turned down the post-season invitation.

The draft board still hadn't caught up with Trombatore as the 1943-44 season began.

  • With the Dixie Conference not active because schools lost so many players to the armed forces, Loyola competed in the New Orleans Senior Amateur Athletic Union league against teams from military units and local recreational clubs.
  • Sam exploded for 36 points - a normal score for an entire team in that era - against Kingsley House.
  • The Wolf Pack finished with a 21-3 record. Trombatore tallied 488 points or 25.7 ppg despite missing five games with a sprained ankle.
  • He earned an Honorable Mention on the Associated Press All-America team and the local nickname "Point-a-Minute."
  • The Times-Picayune described Sam's versatility: The way Trombatore made the goals was the thing! He made them from the left side, from the right side and from the middle - they all looked alike to him.

Finally, in April 1944, Sam departed for active service in the U.S. Army.

  • At first devastated by the loss of the player that he felt possessed more all-around ability than any other he had coached, Orsley benefitted from the additon of some older players leaving the service to craft an even better squad.
  • Loyola not only accepted an invitation to the 1945 NAIB Tournament but won it.

Trombatore returned to Loyola after his war service.

  • He played two more seasons, helping the Wolf Pack to a 16-9 record in 1946-7 and 21-9 in 1947-8. The latter season included two victories over LSU.
  • Loyola inducted Sam into its Athletics Hall of Fame in 1967. He is also enshrined in the American Italian Renaissance Foundation Museum's Sports Hall of Fame in New Orleans.
  • Sam died in 1991 at age 67.
Reference: Fight, Grin & Squarely Play the Game: The 1945 Loyola New Orleans Basketball Championship & Legacy, Ramon A. Vargas (2013)
Joe Winkler
Joe Winkler (SA '69) lettered as a DB at LSU 1971-72-73.
  • Joe had been a football and track star at St. Aloysius.
  • His senior year, the 170 lb HB won the Veterans of Foreign Wars outstanding athlete award for the month of September. Times-Picayune prep writer John Joly described Joe's qualifications this way:

    A two-way performer, Winkler played all the way on defense against the Tigers and was the team leader with five tackles and four assists. He broke up five Holy Cross passes. His inspiration and leadership - he's an alternate captain - have sparked the Crusaders to a contending position in District 5-AAA football.
    Winkler also had a big hand in the Crusaders' 28-13 win over Warren Easton, in which he carried nine times for 89 yards and scored two touchdowns.
    In the 13-7 win over St. Augustine he handled the ball 23 times for 102 yards and one score.
    For the season he's carried 39 times and gained 242 yards for a 6.2 yards per carry average.
    He's also one of the fastest men in District 5-AAA and last spring set Catholic League records of 9.8 in the century and 21.2 in the 220-yard run.

  • He made the Times-Picayune's 5-AAA offensive team.
  • He received the Most Valuable Player Award at the school's Winter Sports Banquet.

Winkler added the track MVP award to his football MVP.

Joe's LSU career culminated in selection to the 1973 Academic All-SEC team. Also, he led all college players on the academic All-American Team this past season when he posted a flawless 4.0 in business administration.

He has lived for many years in Houston.

Joe Winkler at St. Aloysius

Winkler at LSU



"Smooth as Silk"

Joe Winkler

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