When I was 17: Coach Yonta

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By: An-Vu Phan Sports Editor

With a whistle on hand, Coach Anthony Yonta is always challenging the students that he teaches to reach their full potential, whether its in the classroom or the gym. Yet, it is through challenges that he is where he is today.

Yonta was born in The Bronx, New York City, New York and attended Tappanzee High School in Orangeburg, New York. During high school, Yonta was as active as he is now, participating in multiple sports.

“When I was in high school,”  Yonta said, “I was playing football, baseball, and wrestled.”

Out of those three sports, the one that he would hold closest to his heart is football. Despite his dream of becoming playing through college and going pro, it took a self-evaluation upon reaching college to set himself on the path to the armed forces.

“I wasn’t happy with college and I was looking for a challenge,”  Yonta said. “The Marine Corps was it.”

Enlisting in 1980, he served in Elmaco Company, a unit in the Marines that focused on electronic maintenance. Though he wouldn’t get to serve overseas in his six years of service, he would still keep himself fit through physical training, something that would lead him to the classroom.

“I felt that physical education was the best path because I believe in being fit and keeping your body fit,” Yonta said.

Yonta began his teaching career at the private school of Alberta Magnus in New York, where he taught Health and PE and coached lacrosse, football and wrestling for a year before getting a job with the public school system in Kingston, New York. Upon moving there, he spent the first 13 years as an elementary school PE teacher before making the jump to middle school, where he taught at the same position for five years. Since then, he’s been spending the past seven years teaching at James River.

“You gotta be motivated to work,’  Yonta said, ”you gotta be humble in the respect that any job is a good job.”

Though his method of teaching can seem challenging at times, it is through Physical Education that he can truly pass on the life lessons that he had learned while growing up at this stage of life and beyond.