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just looking for some feedback.....

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by NYdell, Sep 1, 2006.

  1. NYdell

    NYdell Guest

    our paper did a "where are they now" series on local athletes/figures from past years...

    ."Matt Lantier has little use for a scoreboard these days. The final score isn't the most important thing anymore.

    He graduated from LaFargeville Central School in 1994 as perhaps the greatest athlete the school has ever seen - before or since.

    He scored plenty of points on the basketball court and finished as the Red Knights' all-time leading scorer. As a baseball pitcher, he ranks among the leaders in career victories at the school.

    But sports have always been a vehicle for Lantier to achieve his missions in life.

    Now, as a teacher and coach near Boston, Lantier is in the business of turning kids into winners. And he couldn't care less about a final score.

    "I have to say that in high school it was all about winning for me," Lantier said.

    Twelve years after his final Frontier League triumph, Lantier thinks he finally realizes the importance of athletics in his life.

    "We realize, now, as coaches that the kids are always going to win just by playing."

    On June 25, the Boston Globe reported that Lantier, 30, accepted a health/physical education teaching position at Norwell (Mass.) High School.

    Lantier spent seven years at Trinity Catholic High School in Newton, Mass., where he did almost everything. He coached the school's basketball and baseball teams, directed the athletic department and served as the Dean of Students.

    But Lantier's true passion lies in passing knowledge on to kids. So the opportunity to move on to Norwell was too attractive to pass up. Plus, it's closer to the home of him and his wife of nearly seven years, Kara.

    "I enjoy teaching health and physical education," Lantier recently said while on vacation. "(Being an AD/administrator) wasn't really something I wanted to do for the rest of my life."

    Coaching may remain an option for Lantier, even though he may not get the chance to work in his areas of expertise right away. Whether it's track, or even tennis, Lantier is eager to leave his mark.

    "Coaching is coaching," he said, "I just want to get involved with the school."

    It will be hard for Lantier to top what he accomplished at Trinity, where he headed efforts to develop an athletic philosophy. Winning wasn't prioritized in the doctrine, which instead focussed on sportsmanship and achievement within the Catholic mission of the school.

    Lantier said it took some time, but teams eventually began to value participation above winning.

    "It really kind of separated our program. As a private school competing for students, it's hard to do that," Lantier said. "Trinity became more attractive for families with kids who didn't really dominate, but just wanted the experience of playing."

    The philosophy paid off this winter, when the basketball team received the Division 4 Sportsmanship Award. Lantier and his players made special efforts not to speak out against officials. As Lantier sees it, there isn't any reason to do so. The team won just a few games, but didn't blame its misfortunes on bad calls or bad breaks.

    The Falcons were honored at the Fleet Center in Boston, and Lantier said he wouldn't be surprised to learn that the nomination came from the individuals his team tried most to ignore.

    "My suspicion is it came from the officials. We made sure not to give them any trouble," Lantier said. "We just competed hard every night, and really had a lot of fun whether we won or lost."


    Lantier poured in over 1,200 points during his basketball career, but former LaFargeville coach Mike Lennox had never seen Lantier more ready to play a basketball game than on February 22, 1994, when the Red Knights traveled to Chaumont for a Section 3 Class D game against league rival Lyme. The Indians, who had defeated LaFargeville in five of the teams' previous six meetings, were again the favorites.

    "Those were good games, and LaFargeville was strong that year, too," said former Lyme coach Ken Towne, who is now retired. "We won a lot of close games against them. Pretty soon the law of averages caught up with us."

    By winning two consecutive "B" Division regular-season and playoff titles, Lyme was Lantier's main nemesis during his basketball career. Lantier dropped in 31 points as LaFargeville beat the Indians 61-54. The division's other standout at the time, Kyle Peters, scored 28 points of his own to nearly match Lantier, who nailed 17 of 18 free throws, many down the stretch.

    "I told him, 'At some point you may have to guard Peters,'" Lennox remembered. "He said back to me, 'I got it covered coach.'"

    When Lantier went up for a backward dunk early in the game, Lennox said he felt good about the Red Knights' chances. "The Lyme fans were just in awe of Matt," he said. "I'd never seen him so pumped for a game."

    Said Lantier, "I hardly remember anything about the game. I know we lost twice to them in the regular season, and when we found out we had them in sectionals, that practice was a lot of fun. I always enjoyed playing those guys, and had so much respect for them. Especially Kyle."\

  2. NYdell

    NYdell Guest

    Lennox saw some rare qualities in his student/athlete. He was impressed by the fact that Lantier, practically a school hero, held strong to both his Christian and family values. The athletic skills Lantier possessed made the package that much better.

    "Throughout his entire high school career, not only was he a great athlete and student, he was a great family man," Lennox said. "That obviously carried over to his professional career, too. There was no doubt he would be a good coach. He genuinely cares about everyone around him."

    Few relationships are as important to Lantier as the one he holds with his grandfather, Gerald Bristol, a resident of LaFargeville since 1950. Described as LaFargeville's "biggest fan" by his grandson, Lantier credits him for nearly every bit of success he has attained. Mainly, just for being there.

    "He didn't care if we won or lost," Lantier said of Bristol. "He taught me that playing meant staying involved. He was just huge in that respect."

    The two don't see each other much anymore, maybe once or twice a year. Their relationship is still as strong as ever, though. "When his high school teams play he always calls," Bristol said. "I usually get to go down there every year. Once or twice."

    Bristol said he is especially proud of the education Lantier received at Eastern Nazarene College. Attending ENC gave him an opportunity to continue his athletic career, which continued to flourish, in a Christian environment.

    Lantier batted .351 and went 4-3 on the mound as a junior to help ENC make its first appearance in the ECAC Division III New England conference final. He also played basketball there with his cousin and fellow LaFargeville alum, Jeff Bretsch (class of 1993).

    "The Christian influence made me realize what was most important," Lantier said. "It was a life-changing thing."
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