SPORTS

Fontaine heads home

West alum to take over basketball program

By ALEX SPONSELLER
Posted 6/23/21

The Cranston West boys basketball team will be led by a new, but familiar face next season as now-former Pilgrim head coach Matt Fontaine is set to take over for Mike Monahan.

Fontaine, who …

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SPORTS

Fontaine heads home

West alum to take over basketball program

Posted

The Cranston West boys basketball team will be led by a new, but familiar face next season as now-former Pilgrim head coach Matt Fontaine is set to take over for Mike Monahan.

Fontaine, who graduated from West in 2006, is coming off his second-straight postseason appearance with the Patriots. Fontaine spent three seasons with Pilgrim and helped guide it back to the postseason in his second year after the program underwent a lengthy playoff drought. Fontaine’s head coaching record is 22-25 overall, but 19-10 in the past two winter seasons.

Fontaine returns to his home where he played and served as an assistant coach prior to Pilgrim, and  ooks forward to working with some old friends.

“This was not in theCranston West alum. I still have a lot of ties to the community, a lot of ties to the coaches, the programs. Guys like (Rob) Malo from baseball, Tom Milewski from football. I was comfortable at Pilgrim with the relationships I built there, I just had a baby in March, it wasn’t on my mind at all, really,” said Fontaine. “When it reopened I had some time to think about it. I talked to the people that I trust, family and friends, and it just seemed right to apply and to see how I could possibly help their program. They offered and I accepted. It wasn’t a long process, it was a timing thing.”

The decision was not an easy one. Fontaine was hesitant to even apply and spent the better part of a week weighing the move.

“I enjoyed my time (at Pilgrim), I was truly in it for the long haul and trying to build something for the long term. I started weighing those other options, having the opportunity to coach where I played high school. It just made sense. I literally wrote the reasons down on paper,” said Fontaine.

As for Pilgrim, the search begins for a new coach. The roster will have a new look next season as the Pats are set to graduate a large core of seniors including Tyriek Weeks, Peter Kay, Jared Reminder and Kenny Rix.

“The group they have, people are going to underestimate that group, and it is a very good group. It’s a great group of kids and student-athletes that will put a lot of work into that program. The kids they are losing had nothing to do with the decision and I told them that, I wanted them to hear it from me. I wish them nothing but the best,” said Fontaine, who broke the news to the team earlier this week.

Fontaine will be meeting with his new players and coaches in the next few weeks and he is looking forward to putting his fingerprints on a team that went 5-4 last season and reached the playoffs.

“I’ve got to see what we have, I’ll be meeting with some of the returning players that we have in the program. I just need to get in there and get to know them. Mike did a great job bringing them to where they are.

You know any time you play Cranston West that you’re getting into a physical, tough game. I’d like to keep that and add my own flair,” said Fontaine.

Fontaine also views this opportunity as a chance to clean the slate and learn from some of the ups and downs he experienced while turning Pilgrim around. “I spent three years at Pilgrim, so I can take advantage of the things I think I did well. I’ll admit that there are things that I wish I could do differently or have a second chance at, and in a way, I get that by taking over a new program,” said Fontaine. “There are things that I learned that I am going to bring over and try to establish. This first year will be big in establishing trust and getting kids to buy into our program.”

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