We had no idea when we came up with the tagline, “Life’s 2 Short 4 Just 1 Sport” that 2-4-1 would grow into an international movement. But, one of the truly special things about growing 2-4-1 has been the opportunity to find local champions throughout the world. Our network of 2-4-1 communities seems to expand each day, but sometimes that expansion happens in our own backyard. One of those local champions is Max Fantl, our Camp Director in Farmington, Connecticut (one town over from our flagship location at Kingswood Oxford in West Hartford). Max is going to lead us off with a series of guest blogs that we intend to share with you at least monthly over the next year as we introduce you to the many “locals that make us global”! Max is our youngest Camp Director, and as such, his story resonates especially with so many kids being forced to specialize or being kicked out of sports because they happen to be late bloomers. We hope you enjoy!
Greetings 2-4-1 Community!
I am excited to write the first guest blog. As a former two sport collegiate athlete, I am passionate about the multisport philosophy. I have lived it almost my entire career, and I love that I can share my enthusiasm at 2-4-1 Farmington. To explain why I am fully invested in the 2-4-1 core values: the importance of PLAY and the many benefits of playing many sports, I wanted to share my sports journey.
In my early teens, I was focused solely on soccer and played club year-round. But in middle school, I hit that awkward teen phase. I quickly went from one of the best players to one of the last off the bench. It seemed everyone around me was quickly developing in size, strength, speed. I would be a late bloomer. This was a very frustrating experience, one that is familiar to many teenagers. But two positives occurred during this time that set a course for my athletic career.
First, I was so upset that I tried to quit. With my parents’ permission, I told my coach that I didn’t want to continue. Luckily, Coach, Zeke Seguro, is a true legend. He simply wouldn’t let me give up. He truly made me believe that I would grow out of this phase and succeed. Though I was struggling and not producing for the team, he comforted, supported, and encouraged me to stay the course. So I did, and later, that decision would reap its rewards.
Second, my mom forced me to pick up a lacrosse stick and play for my town team. I simply did not want to, and I begged not to go. But she held strong, and that first practice greatly shaped my life. From that very first day, I was truly passionate about lacrosse. It was something besides soccer that I could work at, be invested in, and PLAY.
Coach Seguro was right. I grew out of the awkward phase. In high school, I returned to being a top-level varsity athlete, and now, in two sports. Thanks to hard work in both, I had more opportunities for college than I could have imagined. Eastern Connecticut State University offered me a spot on the soccer team. But, senior year, after a highly successful, all-state lacrosse season, I wanted to play lacrosse as well. My sister played both at Vassar, so thanks to her, I knew it was possible at a D3 school. Luckily, both Eastern coaches allowed me to pursue a multi-sport college career.
Thanks to the support of these coaches, I had so many positive experiences on both teams. Most importantly, I learned from two top-level coaches who shaped me in different ways. With the opportunity to excel at two sports, I thrived and succeeded at both. Instead of off-season, sport specific training, I continued training and conditioning while playing the other sport. Also, I gained twice the number of teammates and lifelong friends.
At 2-4-1 we always talk about transferable skills. What does this mean, and why is it important? Lacrosse made me a more physical forward on the soccer field which helped me to beat my defenders and score goals. My endurance and speed from soccer made me a true up and down midfielder in lacrosse. Thanks to two different types of training, as well as twice the opportunity to compete, I became a better athlete. I also experienced more seasons of success and unforgettable moments such as conference championships and NCAA tournament appearances. I attribute the accolades and awards that I earned (all conference, all state, all region, all American, conference player of the year, etc) to being a multisport athlete.
When I reflect on my journey, while the success was great, I do remember that it wasn’t all easy. It took hard work. However, if I had quit club soccer, I do not think I would have had the same successful career. Had lacrosse not provided respite, I could have easily burnt out from soccer. There is no perfect model. But when I look back, I have zero regrets. Playing two sports kept both fun and provided tremendous personal growth. Now, with my career in sport, I have a well-rounded perspective for my jobs as 2-4-1 Camp Director, elementary P.E. teacher, and girls’ varsity soccer coach.
I will leave you with the takeaways from my multisport journey
1- PLAY wins. Sometimes the best moments were the small sided games at practice, unorganized pickup games in the offseason, and even just kicking or throwing the ball around with a friend. It is important to have fun, and it should be encouraged.
2- The multisport philosophy works. One sport enhances another by building experience and confidence. Specific athletic movements can absolutely translate from one to another. And, most importantly, finding interest in another sport can decrease burnout in the others.
3- Gratitude. I am so thankful to my lifelong coach, mentor, and friend, Zeke Seguro, for sticking with me and believing in my future. Athletes need more coaches who support rather than give up when players struggle. I often share with teens about the awkward phase, so they are encouraged to stay the course. And thank you to my parents for the lacrosse stick and support! Sometimes you just need to try a new sport. At 2-4-1, we encourage it!
Thanks for reading my story!
About Max Fantl
Coach Fantl was a two sport all-state athlete at Hall High School, playing soccer and lacrosse. At Eastern Connecticut State University, he earned all-american, all-region, and all-conference honors playing both soccer and lacrosse. In his senior year, he was the first ECSU male athlete to be awarded both Athlete of the Year and Sportsman of the Year in the same year. After college, Max spent a year in Manchester, England acting as an ambassador for the sport of lacrosse by helping to grow the game internationally. He went on to be a graduate assistant lacrosse coach at Castleton University, coached club and high school lacrosse in Los Angeles, and was a assistant soccer coach at ECSU. Currently, Max teaches K-4 Physical Education in Farmington. He formerly coached JV Boys Soccer at Hall High School and is now the Varsity Girls Soccer coach at Farmington High School.