Berean Christian School’s boys varsity basketball head coach John Lantz is the heart, soul and foundation of the Bulldog basketball program. Since 2008, Lantz has been the day-to-day leader of boys varsity basketball at Berean, and he is already making plans to be the head coach for a 14th year this coming season.
Lantz’s connections to Berean are deeper and stronger than his current role as basketball coach. As a high school student, Lantz attended Berean, graduating in 1982. After Berean, he played college basketball at Baptist University, then an NCAA Division III college in Decatur, Georgia.
While at Berean, Lantz was one of the stars of the school’s football and basketball teams. He liked playing football at Berean, but he loved playing basketball. He still loves Berean basketball.
“From 1980 to 1982, our basketball team won 48 games and lost only 24 games,” Lantz recalled. “And we were the district tournament runner-up each year. We helped set the standard of winning in Berean athletics.”
Lantz’s wife Lois teaches at Berean Christian School. She has been teaching at Berean since 1986. Their two sons, Johnny and Ryan, both graduated from Berean — and both played basketball for their dad. Johnny played his junior and senior seasons, while Ryan played all four of his high school years. In the Lantz household, everybody is a Bulldog.
Lois Lantz understands the importance of coaching basketball in her husband’s life.
“When John is coaching basketball, he is in his ‘happy place’ at Berean,” she said. “He loves his players, and he works to prepare them for life, as well as for the next game. His greatest joy is watching these young men go on to build successful, happy lives. He gives 100 percent all of the time and expects his players to do the same. He is ‘no-nonsense’ at game time and has even been nicknamed Coach Grumpy.”
Lantz went to great lengths to make sure that the recently completed 2020-21 basketball season was as fulfilling for his players as seasons have been in the past for other players, despite the ongoing precautions due to COVID-19.
“He worked very hard this past season to be sure that his players still got a chance at playing amidst the COVID-19 regulations,” Lois said. “He is as loyal and committed as they come.”
Berean’s Athletic Director Michelle Metzler appreciates the passion and commitment to excellence by the school’s boys head basketball coach.
“Coach Lantz is the epitome of what we expect from our coaches at Berean Christian School,” Metzler said. “His commitment to the basketball program is second to none.”
While Lantz enjoys winning basketball games as much as any other coach, his reasons for coaching high school basketball run deeper than the pursuit of victories and a trip to the state finals in Lakeland.
“I try to pass on to each team that I coach to love, serve and care for others, teammates and their families,” Lantz said. “Our goal is to be a light both in basketball and the game of life in our community.”
Lantz gets affirmation on his work as a coach when his former players drop by Berean’s gym during basketball season to visit with their former coach.
“One of the most rewarding parts of my role as the head coach is having former players come back and talk to the team and tell current players what it was like playing for me and the life lessons they learned,” Lantz said.
Those visits confirm the course and direction of Lantz’s basketball journey on the hardwood at his high school alma mater.
Along the way, Lantz’s teams have had many memorable moments to celebrate and remember. They have a winning post-season record (19-18), have captured two district tournament titles, four district tournament runner-up finishes, and have advanced to the Sweet 16 round on three occasions.
Lantz had a stellar beginning to his head coaching career back in the 2008-09 season.
“My best season was my first season,” Lantz said. “We were 23-7 and 10-0 in the district. We were district champions and ended up in the Sweet 16, losing to Grandview Prep, which eventually went to the state final that year.”
Lantz’s first team knew how to score, and it relished playing aggressive defense.
“That team averaged 70 points a game and only gave up 50 points a game,” Lantz recalled. “That 23 wins is the most wins in Berean basketball history. The team led all Palm Beach County schools by making 250 three-pointers. Trace Lanson had a school record 115 three-pointers, and my oldest son Johnny had 105 three-pointers. Our team also led all Palm Beach County schools in scoring. That was a fun season.”
One of the memorable chapters of Lantz’s time as coach was when he coached his two sons.
“When our boys were playing, I was thankful that we had more than one car at the gym, so I didn’t have to ride home with them,” Lois said. “The mood of the trip home depended on whether we lost or won. Many times, I saw the strain of coaching your own kids, for both parties. I did tell John the other day that I was really our older son Johnny’s first basketball coach, as I coached a team of high school girls at Berean Christian when I was pregnant with him.”
So perhaps both John and Lois Lantz actually share the distinction of being the heart, soul and foundation of the boys basketball program at Berean Christian School.