BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ- To the athletes on the Governor Livingston Boys’ Soccer and Boys’ Basketball teams, Kevin Fontana is more than a coach; he is a mentor.
Fontana’s love for soccer and basketball is something that has roots in his childhood. He played both sports at a very young age, which has given him a deeper knowledge of the sports, leading to better coaching skills.
Not many coaches can keep a positive attitude after a tough quarter or period or a loss. But Fontana is always looking at the team’s mistakes and turning them into valuable lessons to help his athletes grow.
Having a positive attitude to swing momentum at half time or bring his team together is a key to Fontana’s success. One important lesson Fontana stresses for his player is “having that team first attitude rather than having them be out for themselves and picking each other up.”
Senior Chris Micca, who plays on the varsity basketball team, said, “He always tells us to keep our heads up and stay positive even if we have a rough game.”
To keep the athletes motivated, Fontana reciprocates the team’s energy, especially before a game or after a win. Even when the players aren’t strong or the odds are stacked against them, this helps the team become more positive and bring greater energy leading to wins.
Proving that this mentality is what works, senior Evan Accardi said, “Last year at our county game versus Union Catholic, we were the underdogs, and we crushed them.”
It is the energy that Fontana brings to the locker room pep talks that keeps the players going. He loves to hype up locker rooms, which is a big reason players love being coached by him.
These bonds inspire players, but they are also what motivates Fontana. The success of the team has been the most rewarding part of his coaching career. “The players are great to be around and when they are successful you feel the pride in that,” Fontana said.
For any aspiring young athlete, Fontana provided some insight into how to grow as a player. “Make sure you have a good focus on what you want to accomplish and what you want to get better at, and then focus on that and conquer the most important, and move on to the next.”
For Fontana, being a coach is more than achieving wins and championships. Because he is also a teacher, he always wants his players to learn something. The lessons his athletes learn make playing the sport, whether it’s soccer or basketball, more than a game. It makes the time on the court or the field more valuable for each and every player.