Page 4 - CHSCA Magazine Issue 2, 2019-2020
P. 4

  John Fontana, left, during his playing days at American International College in Springfield, MA.
proud that a great number of his players graduated from some of the finest colleg- es in our country and went on to success- ful careers.
Helping youth get a start in life post high school was a passion for Coach Fon- tana. He was a dear friend and is sorely missed.
– Bill McDougall Close friend and former SHS Freshman Baseball Coach
Ron Jones coached Plainville High from 1976 to 1984. He knew Fontana for more than 50 years.
“He was just a quality human being,” Jones said. “He was a very good high school coach and more of a quality hu- man being. It can never be matched; just an incredible person. In my first year in Plainville, I wanted to make our program like Southington and New Britain. We competed on the field, but we were great friends off the field. This is a tremendous loss for the state.”
Another Southington rival was New Britain and head coach Ken Kezer, who led the Golden Hurricanes from 1967 to 2004. In addition to compiling a 556-271 record at New Britain, Kezer served with Fontana in the Connecticut High School Coaches Association.
“This hasn’t been easy for me,” Kezer said. “John and I go back a long way and we are almost like brothers. We started competing together 50 years ago. We had some fierce competition. No one wanted to umpire our games when John and I got together, but we would shake hands and hug and go the other way after the game.”
Kezer said Fontana will be impos- sible to replace as Executive Director of the CHSCA.
“He is the Association,” Kezer said. “Nobody has done more for athletes and coaches than John Fontana. He’s the No. 1 person. He’s done everything for the coaches. He’s going to be missed like you won’t believe. No one will take his place. We will rally together and try to keep his legacy going.
“He was very honest and up front,” Kezer added. “He will tell you what it’s all about and he will do anything in the world for you. He’s behind the coaches 1,000 percent. Any time they had trou- ble, he was there to take care of them. He had our back and we had his. His play- ers respected him and he made men out of them. He’s a special person and they don’t come around like him too often.”
grandkids. I enjoyed listening to his stories. No matter the struggles of the day, they would bring a smile to his face and peace to his heart.
John was a man to whom integrity mattered. His heart was in his work and his passion for coaching, coaches, and kids showed through in all he did. For him, there was no finish line – there was always more to be done.
He will be truly missed but his LEGEND will live on for all eternity.
– Coach Barbara Hedden Cheshire Girls Track
Throughout his wonderful life, John Fontana positively impacted the lives of countless people. Whether as a coach, teacher, colleague, family member or friend, one thing is for sure: if John knew you, he cared about you and always had your best interest in mind. Any time spent with John was time well spent as he was so adept at imparting wisdom and insight, giving you reason to laugh or smile, and let’s be honest, you were never going to escape his company without a story, or two!
Amongst his family and friends, these stories have grown into folklore, but they’ve also served as a vehicle to help those closest to him gain a better under- standing into the many and varied ways he enriched the lives of all those he
encountered along his beautiful journey.
– Rich Heitz Girls Volleyball Banquet Chairman Southington High School
I have known John Fontana ever since my family moved to Southington some 40 years ago. He was the coach of my son’s high school baseball team, and my boss for the years I was his freshman team coach but most importantly he was a great friend.
I remember him for those long chats we had in his lower level home office where we would spend hours discussing the many players – both former and cur- rent – that played for his great program.
Of all the impressive things I remem- ber about John was his ability to act as a “door opener” for his players. In his 40 years of coaching more than 200 players received some sort of athletic scholarship because, in part, of Coach’s influence. Imagine that is an average of five play- ers per year for 40 years – an astound- ing number. It seemed to me that he knew every college coach in the country! This doesn’t even count the many non-South- ington players he helped with his far- reaching influence.
Coach often commented that he can help them get in the door but the rest is up to them to make it.
And make it they did as he was so

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