Page 9 - CHSCA Magazine Issue 2, 2019-2020
P. 9

Fontana: Always Striving for Perfection
 This article was featured in the Connecti- cut Coach Magazine in the winter of 2015 when John was one of the first inductees into the CAS-CIAC Hall of Fame.
By Paul Rosano for the CHSCA
When John Fontana was a junior at American International College in Spring- field in the mid-1950s, one Sunday his fa- ther called him up and said he wanted to take him up to Fenway Park. The brother of a friend of his father’s who worked for the Boston Globe had Red Sox tickets.
Fontana, a scholarship basketball and baseball player at AIC, went and after the game wound up in the locker room face-to- face with his idol, Ted Williams. Fontana had started the baseball season with a high batting average at AIC but was topping the ball and really was using his speed to get on base not his hitting prowess.
“I told him I kept topping the ball and he told me little things,” Fontana said. “How to use my eyes, how to practice my eyes, how to use a lead bat, use it every day. In 10 minutes he told me more about hitting than you can imagine.”
Alone with Williams in the locker room and facing his idol sitting on wooden stools, at the end of the conversation Wil- liams tapped Fontana on the knee and told him:
“You have to practice, you have to practice. When you practice, just don’t practice. You practice and in the back of your mind, you practice to be perfect,” Williams said. “Remember what I said the word is perfect. There are no mistakes in a person who is perfect.
“So when you think you’re tired, you’re not tired enough. You practice to become perfect. If you remember that word, you will become excellent. If you practice to become excellent, you will become good. If you practice to become good, you’re just going to be average.”
Fontana took those words into every he’s done since. He used them during his 41-year career as a baseball coach at Southington High School, in which his teams won 669 games, two state titles and finished runner-up six times, and as execu- tive director of the Connecticut High School Coaches Association for the past 27 years, during which he has had myriad achieve- ments for an organization that has grown
from several hundred members to more than 4,000 under his leadership.
“From this conversation, I took from him (Williams) and (used it) in everything I did,” Fontana said. “I just don’t like to do anything average. I like to do it bigger and better than anybody else. It can be done, with the help of people. You can’t do it alone.”
For his many accomplishments with the CHSCA, Fontana is among a group of nine individuals who will be the first inductees into the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s Hall of Honor this fall. The CIAC is recognizing outstanding leader- ship, contributions and service in education and athletics with this award.
Fontana believes it’s a great credit for the Coaches Association to have someone from the organization be part of the first Hall of Honor class. He said it says a lot for the people like his uncle, Joe Fontana, Tom Monahan, Steve Miska, Paul Kuczo, who started the organization back in the 1950s.
“To take someone in the first class, says a lot,” he said.
Fontana has had numerous civic and education affiliations over the years in Con- necticut and nationally. He served as Presi- dent of the National High School Coaches Association in 1992-93 after many years
of being involved with the CHSCA and then ultimately becoming its executive director.
His awards are many from state Coach of the Year in baseball (1975) to National Coach of the Year (1983) to induction into the CHSCA Hall (1987) with many out- standing and distinguished service awards from multiple organizations, including the Connecticut Association of Athletic Direc- tors (2011).
He’s also been inducted into the Na- tional Coaches Hall of Fame (1999) and American Baseball Coaches Association Hall (2000). The CIAC Baseball Tourna- ment was dedicated to him in 2008.
Since 1988, making the CHSCA the best coaches association has been his fo-
“When I took over the Coaches Asso-
ciation, I thought often about something I would institute, we had to do it in a global way,” Fontana said. “That’s why we went from that pamphlet that was a newsletter to the magazine we’ve got.”
The magazine, Connecticut Coach, is unrivaled in the country as a comprehen- sive and professional publication for a coaches group. The organization’s Hall of Fame, which is housed at Rentschler Field, home of the UConn Huskies, is not only im- pressive, it’s rare for a high school group
“It isn’t just me. It’s getting the right people to help and do it,” he said.
Fontana cites Bob Cecchini and Char- lie Sharos, with whom he talks and plans continually about the group’s endeavors and Larry McHugh, no longer in the CHS- CA but instrumental in many of the organi- zation’s accomplishments.
Fontana said he believes that the three major high school organizations in the state: the CIAC, CAAD and the CHSCA are now working together and in collaboration like never before and he’s happy with his participation in helping achieve this.
Overseeing the many committees that work in concert with the CIAC, playing a part in getting coaching certification orga- nized in a way that is effective and doesn’t duplicate what one of the other groups is doing, working for coaches rights on the regional and national level are just a few of the things Fontana has been involved with over the years.
“We’re on a good note (with the other two groups),” Fontana said. “It’s a good situation.”

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