Prayer Request: Coach Fighting Stage IV Cancer

Virtues: 

One of the beautiful aspects of SportsLeader is the community-family we have created throughout our partner schools.

We have a coach-family-school-community in much need of prayer right now: Darin Fontz of E.D. White Catholic High School in Thibodaux, LA.

If you would like to send a message of encouragement, please send an email to Athletic Director Mary Cavell.

May God bless you.

Virtue = Strength 
SportsLeader 

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Darin Fontz, far left, with his 2016 basketball team.

 

E.D. White girls’ basketball coach retires 
By Chris Singleton / Staff Writer

E.D. White Catholic High School started its new school year last week without a familiar and beloved face walking around the halls.

Darin Fontz, who has worked as a faculty member at E.D. White for 19 years and has served as the head girls basketball coach for nine seasons, said he has decided to retire from teaching and coaching due to his ongoing fight with Stage IV colon cancer.

Fontz, 51, said it was tough to retire from E.D. White, but he felt it was time to focus on his health. He will also get to spend more time with his family, including his wife, Celeste, and 10-year-old daughter, Lauren.

“I certainly wasn’t ready to give up my career at this point, but compared to my other options, I didn’t have much of a choice,” Fontz said. “I’m going to take it from there and keep moving forward.”

Fontz was diagnosed with cancer in March 2015. He had a 9 1/2-hour surgery to remove a tumor from his colon and a cancerous spot from his liver in July 2015. After going through chemotherapy treatments, he was declared cancer free by doctors in October 2015.

Fontz’s cancer went into remission for 10 months, but the disease returned when doctors discovered cancerous spots in his abdomen area in August last year. The cancer continued to spread despite chemotherapy treatments. He coached the 2016-17 girls basketball season while going through harsh side effects from the drugs.

Fontz said he will continue to seek new treatments in his quest to beat the disease.

“There’s no doubt about it – I have faith and I’m going to continue to fight,” Fontz said. “I’m never giving up.”

E.D. White athletic director Mary Cavell said it was difficult for the faculty to hear the news of Fontz’s retirement. Cavell said Fontz was a “selfless and fun loving teacher-coach” who had a deep passion for his job along with having a unique personality that warmed the spirits of everyone he came into contact with.

“Darin’s rosy cheeks, friendly smile and love for jokes were a part of the daily routine around the school campus,” Cavell said. “Darin has been a faithful servant, teacher-coach, and his imparting of the virtues of his faith will live forever in the students he taught and coached, as well as, in the lives of his co-workers who he influenced.”

SUCCESSFUL RUN

In the last decade, Fontz was one of the most successful girls’ basketball coaches in the area.

He had a 207-70 overall record in nine seasons as the head girls’ basketball coach. He led the Lady Cardinals to district championships in seven out of the last eight years, and he guided them to three trips to the state quarterfinal playoffs. 
Despite his health issues, Fontz had one of his best years at E.D. White last season when he led the team to a 28-2 overall record and a trip to the Division II state quarterfinals. The Lady Cardinals had a 27-1 record during the regular season. Their season ended with a 48-37 loss to state power Ursuline Academy, but Fontz said it was a memorable year.

“I’m glad I got to end my career on a high note at least,” Fontz said.

Former E.D. White girls’ basketball star player Michae Jones, who will start her freshman season at the University of Pennsylvania this fall, said the Lady Cardinals were motivated to play hard every night for Fontz, who remained committed to attending every practice and game despite being too sick to get out of bed on certain days.

Jones said the players often attended prayer services and sent inspirational – and funny -- videos and messages to him in support.

“When we first found out that Coach Fontz was diagnosed with cancer, the team immediately started brainstorming ideas of what we should do to bring up his spirits,” Jones said. “We could only imagine the pain he was going through, but we wanted him to know that his team was going to support him throughout his entire ordeal. I’m sure I could speak for the whole team and say that Coach Fontz will always have a special place in our hearts. We will continue to pray for his health and let God do His magic.”

Although he never got the Lady Cardinals to the state tournament, Fontz said he was proud of what his teams accomplished over the years.

“I’m proud of the program that we built over there. We built it the right way,” Fontz said. “We were never caught up in any scandals or anything. We played with the kids that came through our doors. We were always proud of that. That’s what made it special. We had some great kids. They weren’t all Division I athletes, but they were hard working smart kids who gave everything they had to the program. That’s what we loved about them.”

Fontz was also the head golf coach at E.D. White, helping the boys’ team win numerous district and regional championships. In 2016, Fontz led E.D. White’s boys’ golf team to a Division II state runner-up finish. The Cardinals placed third overall in the team standings at state earlier this year, but sophomore Nicholas Arcement won the Division II individual state title. 
Cavell said Fontz was always willing to work in any capacity in the E.D. White athletic department. He contributed over the years as an assistant football coach and worked on various video and photo slide show projects as a multimedia teacher. He was also an assistant coach on E.D. White’s 2007 state runner-up boys basketball team.

“In his years of coaching, Darin was a dutiful servant helping out where ever he was asked,” Cavell said. “Darin would admit that golf was not his expertise, but he was willing to learn all he could and would make sure the team received the instruction they needed to succeed. The young men under his care knew he worked hard to give them the opportunity to play and compete for titles at the high school level.”

Cavell said E.D. White is still in the process of naming a new girls basketball coach and golf coach.

Despite losing five seniors off of last year’s team, Fontz said he believes the girls basketball program will be in good hands under the next coach. E.D. White will compete in the new District 7-4A this season.

“We’ve got a nice core of young players coming back,” Fontz said. “The biggest obstacle is going to be the new district we’re in, but I’m confident they will continue to grow and have success. I wish them best.”

MAKING AN IMPACT

Fontz said he will remember many highlights from his coaching career, but he will always cherish the bond he had with all of his players.

Fontz said his goal was to make an impact on the lives of all students.

“That’s what it’s about. The X’s and O’s, they aren’t going to remember that,” Fontz said. “It’s going to be field trips and the lessons they learned. We used that as a stepping stone to further their own goals in life, and that’s the way they were able to get something out of it.”

Many of his former players said Fontz has played a major role in their lives. 
Jones said Fontz taught her the importance of never giving up in the face of adversity.

“One thing that I learned from Coach Fontz is to fight, to be determined and to persevere,” Jones said. “He stayed strong when the most of us would give up if we were in a situation like his. Coach Fontz may stay still have cancer, however, in my eyes he won his battle simply because he didn’t allow cancer to take over his life.”

Genna Larose, who graduated from E.D. White in 2013, reflected on all the hilarious moments she had while playing for Fontz.

“The best part about playing for coach wasn’t all the wins, but it was the way he was able to make the sport fun for everyone who had the honor to play for him,” Larose said. “He has made such a huge difference in the lives of all of his students and players. My favorite school memories are those playing for him.”

Aimee Landry Moran, who graduated in 2010, said she has kept in touch with Fontz over the years. She said Fontz taught her a lot about discipline and work ethic.

“He coached old school, so you weren’t playing if you didn’t earn it,” Moran said. “He taught me the value of keeping my head down and working harder than I did the day before, and that has stuck with me to this day and through my years in medical school. He is always pumped about the new gadget or technology he is using for filming or on campus, and talks with such pride about the team. He is a pillar of my high school memories and guided me to grow into the woman I am today.”

Lauren Bayhi-Ledet, a 2011 graduate who now works as a loan officer at First American Bank, said Fontz gave her the confidence she needed to not only excel in basketball but in life as well.

“If it weren’t for Coach Fontz instilling this desire in me and having faith and belief in me that I could go further, I wouldn’t be who or where I am today,” Bayhi-Ledet said. “He was a role model and a mentor for me in high school, and he still is and forever will be. He will always hold a special place in my heart, and the many memories that we shared will stay with me for a lifetime.”

Kristen Daigle, a 2012 EDW graduate who works as an assistant girls’ basketball coach, said Fontz inspired her to follow in his footsteps as a coach.

“Coach Fontz is a role model of hard work and sacrifice,” Daigle said. “It has been an honor to play for him and to now work for him. I hope to be half the coach he is one day. His love for the game and his love for the girls are evident in the way he lives his life.”

Fontz also had a great relationship with many of his player’s parents.

Marie LeBlanc, who works on E.D. White’s faculty, said her son, Jordan, played basketball for Fontz on the Cardinals’ 2007 state runner-up team and her daughter, Gabi, spent the last five seasons playing for Fontz with the Lady Cardinals.

“He is such a good man with a kind heart,” LeBlanc said. “He loves his family and gave a lot to the school. He touched my kids and I am thankful they had him as a coach.”