MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Not often do professional athletes return from stardom to serve their small home town community.
For Chad Fonville, the Lejeune High School varsity baseball head coach and special education teacher’s assistant, playing Major League Baseball is an experience he has used to help him give back to the community of Jacksonville, N.C.
“Baseball has given me a lot, and now it’s my turn to give back in any way I can,” said Fonville.
After graduating from White Oak High School in Jacksonville, N.C., Fonville attended Louisburg College with a baseball scholarship, before being drafted to play in the minor leagues.
“I was drafted out of college in 1992 by the San Francisco Giants in the minor leagues, I then played for the Montreal Expos which is now called the Washington Nationals,” said Fonville. “After that, the Los Angeles Dodgers picked me up in 1995.”
After starting for three years with the Dodgers, Fonville was traded and played for numerous teams including the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Constantly pushing himself to progress, Fonville learned lessons from baseball which proved to serve him and his home town well in the future.
With injuries and medical procedures bringing his career to an end, Fonville returned home.
“I wanted to give back with what I did in my career in baseball,” said Fonville.
Becoming a baseball coach was something Fonville always kept in mind while playing.
“I came here for a full-time job, and soon after, I started working here, a coaching job opened up, and I have enjoyed coaching ever since,” said Fonville. “I returned to my original high school to coach, but came to Lejeune High School after a couple of seasons.”
As well as being a coach, Fonville works as a special education teacher’s assistant at Lejeune High School, helping disabled children during the school year.
“I love it,” said Fonville.
“I never went to school for it, but I have worked with a lot of special education and disabled kids over the years, and I just fell in love with it,” Fonville said with a smile. “I love those kids, and it feels great to be able to give back to kids in that situation.”
Fonville has always worked hard and dedicated his time to any task, said long time friend Doug Erny, athletic director at Brewster Middle School.
“He always worked hard growing up to get where he is at today,” said Erny. “He brings that work ethic and drive to everything he does.”
Wherever life takes him or what the task is, Fonville is dedicated to his students, players and community.
“He has helped so many kids since he has been here,” said Erny. “He is the best man for the job. He mentors and pushes his athletes and students to always strive to be the best and never give up.”
Being a role model not only for his students and athletes, but also for the community is an important mission for Fonville.
“I want to be the guy everyone looks up to and people can say, ‘He did what he had to do, he gave all he could and works hard at whatever he does,’ and that is what I try to teach my kids now as their coach,” explained Fonville.
No matter the task, Fonville encourages everyone to work hard and never give up, because anything can happen.
“Always try to give your 110 percent, you never know what is going to happen,” said Fonville. “Just give it your all, in whatever you do. It doesn’t have to be sports, it could be anything.”
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