‘Hillbilly spirit’: Alex Conti set to retire from Fredonia

Alex Conti, right, is shown with Athletic Director Greg Lauer.
OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen. Fredonia physical education teacher and coach Alex Conti is set to retire after the school year concludes. He has served the district as an educator for 29 years. Conti, right, is shown with Athletic Director Greg Lauer at the dedication of a banner to honor Don Reinhoudt.

Being a coach is not just a job; it is also a privilege. One of Fredonia’s greatest coaches of all time is well aware of that as he bids farewell to the district he has called home for his illustrious coaching and teaching career.

Alex Conti submitted his letter of resignation from the Fredonia Central School District for the purpose of retirement, effective July 1. He has served the district as an educator and coach for 29 years.

Before accepting his letter of resignation, with regret, Board of Education President Brian Aldrich said, “If anyone ever asked me of Fredonia Hillbilly spirit, there’s one name that comes to my mind, and that’s Alex Conti.”

Aldrich, who said he has known Conti “for a long time,” also joked that he had threatened to decline Conti’s letter of resignation.

Aldrich referred to Conti, a Chautauqua Sports Hall of Famer, as a “tremendous athlete” and a “tremendous spirit.”

Alex Conti, left, is pictured with Christopher Conti.
OBSERVER File Photo. Fredonia’s Alex Conti, left, is pictured with Christopher Conti at their enshrinement to the Western New York Wrestling Hall of Fame in March of 2019.

Superintendent Dr. Brad Zilliox addressed Conti to credit him for assisting in the transition for Zilliox as he took over as the District’s Superintendent. Zilliox also noted Conti’s substantial impact on local wrestling.

“As a former wrestling kid and coach, I also appreciate everything you’ve done for wrestling here in the local area and beyond,” Zilliox said.

Conti, a women’s freestyle wrestling coach for Team USA at the Pan American Games in 2015, was a key figure in forming a female wrestling team at Fredonia a year ago. He was in attendance to witness the first competition between girls wrestling teams in Chautauqua County when Fredonia traveled to Chautauqua Lake to make history in Mayville last winter.

Zilliox also credited Conti’s impact as an educator. “I see on a daily basis your interaction and good nature and good humor with our students and staff. (That is) much appreciated,” Zilliox added.

High School Principal Darrin Paschke noted the “mutual respect” he and Conti have shared over the years, even during disagreements. Paschke joked, “I hope Alex may have learned one or two things from me, but I certainly took a lot from Alex.”

Paschke continued to thank Conti for the culture he brought to Fredonia. “Alex has been a tremendous, tremendous influence on the students at our school, not just as a Phys Ed. Teacher, but just as a good human being,” Paschke said. He also noted some of the unnoticed things that Conti does, such as mentoring students in need of a role model to instructing each physical education class how to properly navigate a fire drill each year.

“The respect, the discipline, the care and the love that Alex has given our kids is really second to none,” Paschke said.

Conti responded to the comments from his peers by stating, “I’ve been very, very fortunate.” Conti noted that throughout his years at the school when he was a student, he could not think of one person he did not like. Growing up to then become a teacher and coach of the children of many of his former classmates made the job even more special.

“I have to thank the Board for the opportunities that they gave me to go out and coach. I greatly appreciate it,” Conti said.

Conti then received a lengthy, well-deserved round of applause.

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