Cranbrook welcomes New Head Coach, New Season
Nick LaFontaine is the new Head Coach of the Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood Cranes.
Coach Nick LaFontaine joins Cranbrook Upper School as head varsity football coach after nine years at Trinity-Pawling School in Pawling, NY. While at Trinity-Pawling, LaFontaine led the football program to an Erickson League Championship with an appearance in the New England Championship “Bill Glennon” Bowl and winning the “Mike Atkins” Bowl.
LaFontaine coached two Erickson League Players of the Year at quarterback as well as a Skill Player of the Year in the NEPSAC during his time at Trinity-Pawling. He also coached countless other All-NEPSAC and All-Erickson League selections and helped place over 70 young men in collegiate football.
Coach LaFontaine will also be a math teacher for the Cranbrook Upper School. Coach LaFontaine will be the first faculty hire at Cranbrook as head coach in over a decade.
“I believe being around and encouraging kids is important”, says Coach LaFontaine. “When the head football coach is in the classroom, the lunchroom, and the school play, then the kid knows that football is an important part of their overall life.”
He’s most proud of his success in generating positive experiences for student athlete. He enjoys seeing them become team award winners, captains, and being a successful part of their campus communities.
“I strive to give every athlete, regardless of talent, a tremendous experience. I want to get to know each young man on a personal level and serve as a mentor in their lives. A coach should challenge them to become the best version of themselves.”
Before Trinity-Pawling, LaFontaine coached college football for eleven years. He held positions at the University at Albany, Stonehill College, Amherst College, Salve Regina University, Norwich University, and his alma mater, Wesleyan University.
He was an offensive coordinator at various collegiate levels and has coached every position on the offensive side of the ball for at least one year collegiately. He played defense during his playing career at Wesleyan University.
While he loves coaching football, being a husband and father are his first priorities. He is married to Michigan native Regan Schubel LaFontaine, and has a son Lincoln, and a daughter Sawyer.
The Cranes held their regular mini camp in June with great participation from the team.
Coming off a tough year in 2020 filled with COVID-19 restrictions and the tragic loss of former Cranes Head Coach Ben Jones last summer, the program sought to direct its energy toward the upcoming season.
They found a great energy conductor in Couch LaFontaine.
“I wanted to get kids excited and engaged” said Coach LaFontaine. “It was good to see the players showing up and pushing each other. We got a good start on our fall campaign.”
Encouraging the kids to continue their works outs and conditioning over the summer, Coach Lafontaine stressed accountability and encouragement to the team.
“I want you to encourage each other and push each other to stay engaged. Text each other, spend time with each other, work out with each other”, said LaFontaine at the close of mini- camp. “Let’s learn to count on each other now, so we can count on each other in the fall.”
The team responded well to the challenge, forming teams to engage each other, and mentoring pairs between older and younger students. The players are using social media to stay engaged.
“Team Bravo working hard! @CoachLaf1”, said Cranbrook Team Bravo, while displaying photos of team members in the weight room on Twitter.
“Lil ladders never hurt. @CoachLaf1”, said Cranbrook Team Delta, while showing video of team members running the “ladders”, a foot agility drill using a rope laying on the ground that resembles a ladder.
Even the assistant coaches are getting in the act.
“Happy 4th from Coach Cut! Working out on holidays gives you the greatest motivation!”, tweeted Assistant Coach Seth Cutkomp to motivate the team.
There is energy and excitement abounding in the Cranes camp this summer.
New Season, New Division
After a disappointing season in 2020, the Cranes look forward to a new season.
After playing in the Catholic League AA-Division the last 3 seasons, the Cranes will drop down to the Intersectional I Division where they last played in 2017. Cranbrook finished 10-2 that year, its best record ever.
2017 also saw the Cranes win the CHSL Prep Bowl, its first ever MHSAA District Title, and making its first ever appearance in a MHSAA Regional game.
Cranbrook will see long time opponents such as Riverview Gabriel Richard, Macomb Lutheran North, and Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard. The Cranes will renew their rivalries with Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, Madison Heights Bishop Foley, and Clarenceville High this season.
They will also face former opponents Detroit Loyola, Redford Union, and Walled Lake Central.
“We are excited to play the game of football and to bond together as a team,” said Coach LaFontaine. It’s a new season and we want to be ready for it.”