Dominic Fantozzi Reflects on His Years at St. Joseph’s Prep

Most high school students will acknowledge that the beginning of high school brings with it an assortment of challenges. That was certainly true in Dominic Fantozzi’s case.

Today, Fantozzi is a senior at St. Joseph’s Prep and one of the captains of the Hawks’ hockey team. But as he prepared to enter high school Fantozzi, a Haverford Township resident, found himself at a proverbial fork in the road, deciding whether to continue in public school by attending Haverford High or enrolling at the Prep. When he chose the latter, he knew his life was going to change. Fortunately, he had hockey teammates to help show him the way.

“When I was in the eighth grade I was on a team with a couple kids from the Prep that were freshmen,” Fantozzi recalled, “and they told me just to get ready; ‘It’s going to be very hard but we all got through it. You’re going to struggle at first (but), you’re going to get through it.’ So, they just kept pushing me along and supporting me along the way.”

Thanks to the support of his club-hockey teammates, Fantozzi had a sense of what he was in for when he began his freshman year at the Prep. But he found the environment to be challenging nonetheless.

“It was very difficult,” he said. “I’m not going to lie. We had to take Latin my freshman and sophomore years and that was really hard. 

“I never knew how to study before, I never really had to and then I came to Prep; it was like a slap in the face. I had to learn really quick how to study and time management, and get all my work done before I had practice and games.”

Fantozzi who also plays baseball at the Prep (he’s considering playing club hockey or baseball in college) found himself studying nightly during the week rather than socializing with friends

“I chose to stay home and study,” he said, “because I knew in my first month at the Prep if I slacked off on any little bit I would be in big trouble by the end of the week with all my work. So, it was a little tough in the beginning … But in the end, it’s worth it in my opinion.”

Fantozzi notes that the St. Joseph’s Prep faculty encourages students to reach out for help if they’re struggling.

“They want us to come to them right away, meet with them and take extra time to focus on what we need help with,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been hearing since my first day, freshman year; ‘If you need help, come see me. That’s what I try to do and it really helped a lot.”

Fantozzi admits he was hesitant to approach his teachers for extra help at first, but eventually overcame his reluctance. “Once you do it, it’s so much more worth it in the end,” he said. “It’s intimidating at first, but once teachers keep saying it and you really see your grade and realize you need help, it becomes your only option.
“I struggled my freshman year in World History and my teacher (Jason Zazyczny) was amazing. He was no nice. He became the principal the next year, he was the old principal before that. He was a great guy and he was the one who made me realize (the importance of asking) for help. Because they’re not going to bite, (the faculty) is going to be real nice about it and help you.”

As a captain, Fantozzi is being counted on for leadership. How he goes about providing it depends on the circumstances.

“I try to be vocal,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s not always there. But when I’m passionate about something like during a game or with a big game coming up, I’m always going to be there, trying to get the boys hyped for the game, getting ready for the game.

“There will be times when I don’t know what to say and there will be times I know exactly what to say.”

As one of the veteran leaders of a young hockey team, Fantozzi recognizes setting a positive tone for his teammates. “I think the biggest thing for this team is most of them are young,” he said.  “So, me and the captains and all the seniors need to set an example. 

“The first day of practice all these kids were questioning whether they’d be good or not and I told them ‘Don’t think like that. Keep practicing and once we all fit together, the wins will come.”

The Hawks have had some ups and downs this season; they’ve dropped their first two Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference games (A third, against Malvern Prep was postponed on February 22). But Fantozzi is confident better days are ahead.

“It’s been a little bit of a struggle,’ he said, “because we can’t really get everyone together. Because we’re only in school twice a week, and one of the days that we have practice, nobody is even in school, so it’s harder to get everyone to the rink.
“We haven’t clicked yet. But I feel like once everybody gets together and we can start practicing and playing more, we’ll start clicking a lot better.”

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