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the Gauntlet

the official student-produced news site for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

the Gauntlet

the official student-produced news site for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

the Gauntlet

The Journey of Coach Lenny Paoletti

As we prepare to say farewell to the longtime Athletic Director of Saint Stephens, Mr. Paoletti, as he mentions his favorite moments at Saint Stephens.
Sarabeth Wester
Mr. Paoletti in his environment on the softball field

Throughout the history of Saint Stephen’s, there have been many well-known traditions; touching the Falcon statue at the MAC before sports games, Chick-fil-A Chicken Minis on Fridays, Mr. Forrester’s pre-dance speeches, and the beloved Cookie Break, among others. But one of the most prominent traditions is the three words you hear before every sports Gauntlet and assembly: “Good Morning Falcons!” which comes from the top of Athletic Director Lenny Paoletti’s lungs; waking up the crowd and awakening the Falcon spirit..  

Mr. Paoletti’s Falcon pride is what has made him such a pivotal figure during his time at Saint Stephen’s. At the end of this school year,  Paoletti will end his successful 10-year tenure as Athletic Director of Saint Stephen’s, but the impact he’s had on Saint Stephens will never be forgotten.

He has had a positive impact on many of the staff and students here at Saint Stephen’s. The associate athletic director, Coach Heather Hodges, spoke about how Mr. Paoletti impacted her.

“He’s obviously been a huge mentor for me,” Coach Hodges said. “He taught me a lot about the FHSAA which is our governing association and how that functions.”

Before he was a Falcon, Mr. Paoletti was the Athletic Director at a different school until the Saint Stephen’s board chose him to lead the Falcons to success. The Saint Stephen’s Board chose the right man, as under Mr. Paoletti, Saint Stephens has won ¾ of its accolades and trophies.

When Mr. Paoletti reflected on the greatest sports moments at Saint Stephen’s, the first game that came to his mind was the 2018-2019 District Championship soccer game against ODA.

Paoletti recollected when former soccer captain of Saint Stephen’s, Noah LaBelle, broke his ankle in the crucial championship game but played through the pain and led the boys to an overtime win against their rivals. 

“Noah LaBelle broke his ankle,” Mr. Paoletti recollected. “On one leg, he scored two goals in overtime to win it. Just heroic and the effort that impresses me the most.”

Mr. Paoletti followed that up by mentioning Fred Billy’s stellar SSAC football championship performance in 2016. The former Falcon QB had the game of his life, leading the Falcons to their first championship win.

“It was right after his mom passed,” Mr. Paoletti added. “Just for him to play the game was amazing, but his halftime speech when we were down by two touchdowns, fighting through all the tears, they came out at halftime and tore it up.” 

This passion and spirit shown by Fred Billy and the entire Falcons football team are characteristics that Mr. Paoletti thinks are present in each student-athlete. 

“It’s not always the superstars,” Mr. Paoletti said. “The ones you don’t think there’s anything there, and they turn into these great student-athletes.”

During Mr. Paoletti’s time at Saint Stephen’s, he has had many positive experiences and relationships with the people who work or attend Saint Stephen’s. The most special may have been his friendship with Freddy Falcon.

“I love Freddy, Freddy is awesome,” Mr. Paoletti praised. “I’ll never forget the unveiling of the new Freddy, this place went crazy, it was so fun.”

Mr. Paoletti described when the school held a large assembly to introduce the new Freddy Falcon, a larger and visibly stronger version of the old mascot.

With his departure from Saint Stephen’s, many may wonder what is next for the legendary Mr. Paoletti. 

“One thing that people don’t know about me is that I am also a big promoter,” Mr. Paoletti said. “I did that on the other side of the state where I came from, for eight years and I am probably going to go back to do that.”

Mr. Paoletti added on by mentioning his connections with the music industry.

“I’ve worked up a relationship with Florida Tech University,” Mr. Paoletti said. “They have a nice performing arts center, and I’m going to do six shows a year there and bring in great tribute acts.”

In conclusion, those who have attended Saint Stephens could all agree on how important Mr. Paoletti was to the athletic outlook of the school. As Mr. Paoletti pursues other endeavors, he will forever be a Saint Stephen Falcon. 

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About the Contributors
Bode LaBelle
Bode LaBelle, Staff Writer, Sport Updater
Bode LaBelle is a Junior and this is his first year writing for the Gauntlet. His alternate role is as the sports writer who edits the scores of the Falcons’ sports games on  the Gauntlet. His favorite music artist is Kanye West, his favorite tv show is Breaking Bad and his favorite movie is Inglourious Basterds.

Sarabeth Wester
Sarabeth Wester, Creative Director/Artist
Sarabeth Wester is a senior on The Gauntlet with four years under her belt of hard work in the newsroom as our Creative Director. Her favorite color is purple, she has a cat and a dog who she loves dearly, and she plays video games in her free time - her favorite being Fallout 4 even with it's imperfections. Her favorite movies are Days of Thunder, Top Gun, and Wall-E - she believes everyone should watch them at least once.  

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