Fontenette talks vision for Valencia hoops 

Photo Courtesy of Greg Fontenette.

Valencia boy’s basketball coach Greg Fontenette has simple expectations for his program: work hard. Fontenette was named the new Vikings boys’ basketball coach last month and is ready to hit the ground running in summer. 

“It’s going to be hard,” Fontenette said in a phone interview. “I told them everyone’s going to have equal opportunity, but I’m probably going to work them so hard that they’re going to want to quit. Then, in that moment that they want to quit, that’s their tryout.” 

Fontenette has been with the program for the past three seasons and has a rich history of player development. 

The coach has worked with thousands of high school athletes as well as stars like Carmelo Anthony and Zach Lavine. 

The coach started easing into the role of head coach last season as the former head of the program, Bill Bedgood, gave Fontenette the chance to find his groove as a co-head coach last season. He gained experience with all the administrative and in-game work that comes with being a head coach and knew he wanted more. 

With Bedgood officially retiring, Fontenette jumped at the opportunity to take on the challenges of running a program. 

The coach didn’t want to cut his options just in case Valencia didn’t work out, and also was in the running for the same position at Castaic. However, just a few days after his official interview with Valencia and the William S. Hart Union High School District, Fontenette was told he was hired. 

Modern high school basketball has seen over and over again the collapse of a program after a successful coach leaves, mostly due to players transferring out. However, Valencia’s senior-heaviness of 2024 on top of Fontenette’s familiarity with the players at all three levels made the coach an easy choice to keep the program competing for a Foothill League and CIF title. 

The Vikings have won 40 games over the past two seasons, but the coach still aims find growth in every win, no matter how lopsided.  

“Our culture is going to be a winning mindset culture,” Fontenette said. “It’s not about just winning games, we’re trying to install this mentality in these young men that in our wins, there’s still opportunity to find ways to be better, so that our wins can be more efficient and can happen more often. And then in losses, those are also even bigger opportunities to find ways to grow as individuals and also as a team. It’s just a culture of perseverance. We’re looking for guys that want to seek that life of consistency, who are willing to want to go to work and want to put the work in even when they don’t feel like they need to do … I feel like if I can instill that mentality into these young men, the records and the accolades that the program is going to (achieve) are kind of just a byproduct of that.” 

Fontenette’s player development training came from some humble beginnings. However, his skill and passion for the game led to a rapid growth in the coach’s career. Although he may be pushing some of his development businesses to the side, Fontenette is excited to head the entire Valencia program. 

“If I didn’t start training at the Boys and Girls Club, when I was doing it completely for free for everybody, I don’t think I would have been sitting there at the desk having that interview,” Fontenette said. “It provided a lot of opportunity. It brought Skyy Clark and his family into my life. He bought a lot of people in my life that provided a lot of different opportunities for me to be able to grow and be where I am today. So it’s a bittersweet moment right now.” 

The coach’s experience with development leaves him with a heightened desire to be involved with the lower levels.  

“I’m not putting all my focus on varsity because I’ve been in skill development for 15 years,” Fontenette said. “Development is a major piece of my art, so the lower levels are just as important to me.” 

Valencia basketball begins camp on June 3.  

“I allow guys to take those risks in and find failures, but it’s what you do with those failures that’s the difference to me,” Fontenette said. “If you go out and you find a way to find a solution to what your mistakes are, you’re probably going to be staying in the game. But I’m not the type of coach that just pulls a guy out. Just for every single mistake … In countless years, I saw kids end our season go straight to AAU and they don’t develop. They’re literally playing the same way they did last year. So that’s kind of why I ended up taking Valencia because I felt like if I want to start affecting change like that, I’d have to be in a position like this to start and that’s really the main vision.” 

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