Veterans Day is an opportunity to honor military veterans and thank all those who have served in the United States Armed Forces. This year, we want to recognize a veteran in our community with years of dedicated service to both our school and our country.
Chris DeAntoni—a 1988 Kent Denver graduate and currently the Head Sports Performance Coach and Assistant to the Athletic Director at the school—enlisted in the U.S. Marines in 1994 and served more than 22 years before retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2017. His time included two deployments to Iraq as an Infantry company commander, two stints in Afghanistan with Marine Special Operations and three other deployments to Central and South Asia. His last assignment was as the Director of the Special Operations Training Group.
Upon retirement, DeAntoni returned to work in education. After three years as a strength coach at Valor Christian and Regis Jesuit High School, he was delighted to return to his alma mater and lead the Sun Devils’ strength and conditioning program.
We caught up with DeAntoni to learn more about his service and how it helped shape him into the person he is today, as well as celebrate the work he does now to positively impact our student-athletes at Kent Denver.
Kent Denver: As a graduate of the school, what was the most important thing you learned in your time as a student at Kent Denver?
DeAntoni: While my parents were obviously the most important foundation, Scott Yates and the football program taught me much about the importance of work ethic, genuine selflessness and being a leader who loves his people.
Kent Denver: When did you first think about joining the U.S. Military? What inspired you to do so?
DeAntoni: My first recruiting letter was from West Point, and my parents (who were both in the Peace Corps) gave that an immediate thumbs down! It wasn't until I had been teaching Latin for a few years that I decided the military was something that was on my heart.
Kent Denver: How did your years of service help shape you into the person you are today?
DeAntoni: First and most important, my faith in Christ grew immeasurably stronger. I have a deeper understanding of the value of all human life. I learned the importance of genuinely loving those you serve as a leader, how to be demanding yet humble with peers, and the importance of soliciting input from everyone that surrounds you—leaders and led.
Kent Denver: What does Veterans Day mean to you?
DeAntoni: It is important. Kent Denver does so much to be inclusive by bringing a depth and breadth of experiences (to the school). I appreciate that the community recognizes this valuable type of diversity.
Kent Denver: What are some of the challenges facing military veterans today? What can we as a country do to help honor and support those who’ve served?
DeAntoni: Veteran suicide is a pandemic. It is estimated that over 22 veterans kill themselves every day. The last two months have been excruciatingly painful for those who served in Afghanistan. Thanking for one's service is appreciated, but if you want to support veterans, listen to the stories they tell. While some may prefer not to discuss their experiences, just listening to someone's story builds a bond, and this can start to break down the dissociation that many veterans feel with the civilian population.
Kent Denver: What made you want to return to education after your years of service?
DeAntoni: I loved my job (in the Marines) and would have kept doing it forever, but our kids were getting ready to go into high school, and the moving and deployments were getting pretty tough. My family has borne a burden far beyond mine, and I owed it to them to have time together in a stable set of circumstances. I love coaching and building young men and women with unbreakable spirits and resilient bodies.
Kent Denver: What do you love most about working with student-athletes at our school?
DeAntoni: I love seeing beautiful mechanics and movement, creating healthy habits for life, and building confidence regardless if someone plays a sport or not.
Veterans Day is a federal holiday observed annually on November 11 to honor those who have served in the United States Armed Forces. To all our military veterans—those in our community and beyond—thank you for your service.