No matter how challenging your life may be, you need to change your mentality to persevere and get 1% better every day.
These are the words of Valencia Vikings assistant coach and now renowned basketball trainer Greg “Coach G” Fontenette. Engulfed in the life of basketball is the only way he knows to live.
His contribution to the athletes of the Santa Clarita Valley has gotten him so far that he has been able to work with renowned NBA trainers Alex Bazzell and Jordan Lawley and has even been offered to train in China for the Shanxi Loongs, but his path has led him back to coach at Valencia High School.
Fontenette’s journey has been nothing short of what hard work and perseverance can do for someone when given the right tools at his disposal.
“First and foremost, I give that glory to God first,” said Fontenette. “At one point I had lost my basketball scholarship. I tried to go the junior college route but got hurt again. It put me in a really dark place. I was suicidal but my grandma saved my life. My God used my grandma as a second chance.”
Fontenette started off his training career with an AAU program known as the VT Elite. After practice, players would stay behind and he would begin training them for free. Once parents got the word that he was training for free, parents started bringing more kids.
He would soon move to Santa Clarita where he would begin working at the community center for five years and train kids there for free. After his time at the community center, he would move over to the Boys and Girls Club in Canyon Country as an athletic director and ended up there for six years.
“Working with these young men and women got me to connect with them on so many levels,” said Fontenette. “I used to be at the bottom but I created a system for myself. I used what I learned in my younger days and instilled my knowledge into these young people. When they come into work with me, it’s more than just basketball.”
Fontenette’s training career took off thanks to Canyon High School standout Ben Taufahema, who is now entering his fourth season at Azusa Pacific University.
Many of the athletes in the area took note of Fontenette training Taufahema, and from there the rest is history.
Fontenette has trained players including high school athletes Adrian McIntyre, Skyy Clark, and Amari Bailey, SCV athletes Nathan Perez and Brandon Perez, and NBA athletes Carmelo Anthony and Zach Lavine.
With word spreading like wildfire to parents, players like Nathan Perez got the opportunity to learn under Fontenette thanks to his father meeting Fontenette at a barber shop, and asking him to train his son.
Nathan would go on to be a Saugus High School standout, scoring more than 1,000 points in his career, and is currently receiving offers to play at Cal State Eastbay and Northwest Nazarene University.
“Coach G has made a huge impact on my life. He’s like a big brother to me,” said Nathan. “He’s guided me every step of the way. He’s a great trainer that studies each aspect of your game. As a person he’s very fun to be around. He’s one of the best trainers around.”
Brandon, another standout player at Saugus, has worked with Fontenette for about four years and, thanks to the help of all the training he has received, Brandon has been able to commit to Western Oregon University.
“Coach Greg is much more than a trainer,” said Brandon. “A lot of people think he’s a trainer but he’s really a family figure. He’s made such a huge impact on my life. He puts others ahead of him and I’m living proof of that. The countless hours in the gym and it’s never ending. My love for him is unfathomable.”
Fontenette was exposed to NBA trainers thanks to Saugus boys’ basketball head coach Alfredo Manzano bringing him to a camp to meet Lawley. Under Manzano, Fontenette learned how to run a program and create defensive schemes.
“He’s committed to his work,” said Manzano. “Being able to give back and being able to help the kids out. That’s what this is all about, and in turn it has helped our program tremendously.”
Despite missing out on pro aspirations due to traveling being blocked from COVID-19, Fontenette’s road came full circle and led him back to the SCV with Valencia boys’ basketball head coach Bill Bedgood.
“He was huge for us,” said Bedgood. “A huge part of our success at the end of the season was because of coach Greg. He’s a very talented coach who doesn’t have any weaknesses. I really have nothing but great things to say about him.”