Anthony Fontana became the Union's latest Homegrown signing earlier this week on Monday, and his journey though the Union organization has been a long one. Fontana joined the Union Juniors in 2010 at just ten years old, and was among the first cohort of students to enter our independent school partner YSC Academy in 2013.
From the beginning, Fontana had the potential to become a star. The first time Academy Director Tommy Wilson saw him play was during his years with the Union Juniors, at a tournament with more than 100 teams present. Wilson said that Fontana was the one who really made an impression. Even at age 14, his thoughtful decision making and ability to play with his head up made him stand out from the crowd.
Wilson went on to say that Fontana’s attitude and work ethic are second to none. Head of YSC Academy Dr. Nooha Ahmed-Lee, and Director of College & Career Counseling Beverly Brooks, both said Fontana's work ethic on the pitch equaled his dedication to his studies.
YSC Academy has been able to tailor Fontana’s high school experience to the unique demands that come with being a high-school student who has played in the USL with Bethlehem Steel since his sophomore year, and who will play in MLS for his senior year. His curriculum and schedule were developed to allow him to train with the Steel alongside some of his other classmates while other students are in class, and then to work with his teachers while his classmates have their own training.
YSC Academy offers specialized classes such as “Pathway to the Pros,” which was created specifically for student-athletes who sign professional contracts prior to graduation. All of the coursework at YSC Academy is designed to develop students into self-directed learners, as well as to balance their academic and athletic responsibilities. Dr. Ahmed-Lee said that at YSC Academy, “students are supported and encouraged to own their education and take charge of their intellectual and athletic futures.”
YSC students have continued to succeed using this approach, as it brings out the best in the students, helping them strive for more in school as well as on the pitch. With such an innovative infrastructure in place, Philadelphia Union puts itself in an enviable position that promises elite prospects a platform to meet their highest potential on and off the pitch.
With Fontana's homegrown contract and dedication to get his high school diploma, there's no better example than he.