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The tried and true teacher-coach experience

Chemistry teacher and BHS squash head coach Steve Lantos coaches the squash team after a full day of chemistry classes. Photo courtesy of Steve Lantos
March 26, 2024

Editor’s note: This story is being published in partnership with The Cypress, the student newspaper of Brookline High School. Read the original story here.

Students slowly shuffle into the classroom to see the familiar sight of their teacher sitting at a desk, grading assignments. It’s hard to believe that just eight hours later, that same teacher will be standing on the sidelines of the court, passionately coaching their team to victory.

It’s not uncommon to have a teacher who also coaches a sports team. Their dedication and devotion to their work in education can be seen as a contributing factor to their success both in academic and athletic settings.

As a former BHS and Florida Memorial University basketball player, Associate Dean Kendell Jones began coaching girls varsity basketball in 2009 to give back to the community that gave him guidance and support throughout his childhood.

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“I felt like basketball did so much for me as a student and I feel like a lot of kids here at the high school at the time needed some guidance and could learn life lessons from basketball. So I want to be able to reach a good amount of kids by giving back,” Jones said.

Chemistry teacher Steve Lantos has been coaching squash for nine years. As the father of a nationally-ranked squash player, he advocated for a squash team that has seen great success over the years. He said that witnessing his students’ development in both their academic and athletic journeys has been one of the positive outcomes of teaching and coaching.

“Seeing people grow and seeing them develop and being a part of their success is what brings me great joy,” Lantos said.

Former Bridgewater State University athlete Emily Hunt, a wellness teacher and the girls varsity field hockey coach said she decided to coach to stay involved with the team aspect of sports and inspire young players.

“This is a great way for me to still be part of a team and then to hopefully get some younger athletes, high school athletes, to play in college and then go into coaching themselves someday,” Hunt said.

While balancing coaching and teaching may seem difficult, Hunt said she enjoys the bustle of the season, which also boosts her productivity.

“I love it. I love being busy. I actually do better when I am busy, and I’m in season. I actually tend to be more focused and more productive,” Hunt said.

Lantos said he likes the contrast between teaching and coaching. It provides his day with balance.

“There are two different worlds, but for me, it’s a nice balance of teaching and doing academics in the morning and then doing the athleticism and athletics and competitions in the evening,” Lantos said.

Sports and school may seem different on the surface but, according to Jones, there is a clear connection between teaching and coaching.

“You’re trying to educate young students about knowledge on a certain subject. So the comparison is the same,” Jones said. “I go in with a game plan for basketball in practice to prepare for a game, just like you would go into a class and teach students to prepare for a test.”

Lantos said his approach as a teacher and a coach focuses on independence.

“I believe a lot in student responsibility and students taking the initiative to do the work on their own. I believe and practice that strongly as a coach, that if you want to get better as a player, I can’t necessarily make you want to get better. You have to want it yourself,” Lantos said.

Jones said coaching allows him to be more involved and see more than just the academic facet of the students he coaches.

“You can get into the community more. Because if, as a teacher, your job for the most part is to teach this course or this content, and to be a more hands-on teacher, you want to get to know your students a little bit better,” Jones said. “I think coaching allows you to do that in a different way. So I would definitely 100 percent push teachers to be coaches and coaches to be teachers.”