Ex-Chaminade catcher turned pro always put school first

Growing up on Long Island, Matt Colantonio heard what most kids hear: homework first, then sports.

That lesson stayed with him all the way through college and still sticks with him today as he prepares for his first spring training with the San Diego Padres organization.

Colantonio attended Chaminade High School in Mineola, and with hard work and dedication both in the classroom and on the baseball field, he was accepted into Brown University—a prestigious Ivy League school.

The left-handed hitting catcher was named captain and MVP of the Chaminade Flyers during his senior season. He was also named to the All-Nassau County and All-Catholic League teams and was named to the Long Island All-Star team and Academic All-League.

“I was so lucky to play under three great coaches at Chaminade in Coaches Pienkos, Lyons and Palmieri,” he said, “I feel like playing for them is what built my baseball foundations. The coaches at Chaminade taught the old school style of baseball and playing the game the right way, and I pride myself in continuing to play with those foundations.”

Matt Colantonio catching for the Brown University Bears in 2011. (Photo courtesy of Brown University Athletic Communications)

Matt Colantonio catching for the Brown University Bears in 2011. (Photo courtesy of Brown University Athletic Communications)

The combination of baseball skills and intelligence in the classroom brought him to Brown University, where those morals of “school first, baseball second” prevailed. He was an All-Ivy League Second Team selection in 2010 and 2011, and he led the Brown Bears with a .301 batting average, 31 runs scored, 41 hits, 12 doubles, a .426 slugging percentage and a .424 on-base percentage in 2011—his senior season.

“Matt was an all-around player for us,” said Brown Assistant Coach Brian Murphy. “Catcher is a defensive-minded position, but he was our most complete offensive player. He also took a lot of pride in his relationships with the pitching staff and served as our team captain. I would just tell him to enjoy his opportunity and to do everything possible to play for as long as he can.”

Colantonio said that playing baseball enhanced his academic experience at Brown.

“When you’re playing a sport that you’ve loved your whole life, and you get the opportunity to play it in such a great school as Brown, the academics are made easier in a way,” he said. “You are able to balance academics with baseball, and being able to take your mind away from the rigors of school work for part of the day is a positive.”

Since he knows his baseball career won’t last forever, he said he plans on putting his Brown education to work. This past winter, he spent some time back in Boston as an intern for several equity sales firms—preparing for his life after baseball.

“I want to make baseball my career, but in the event that it doesn’t work out, I am fortunate enough to have earned my economics and history degrees from Brown, which has provided me with some unbelievable connections, especially with the Brown alumni,” he said.

Whether or not baseball works out for him, Colantonio has a strong foundation for success in life.

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