It takes a special person to manage a schedule as busy the one Andrew Antony faces almost every day.
After rising at 4 a.m. to milk cows, the Melrose-Mindoro High School senior then joins his classmates for a full day of schooling. Then, depending on the season, Antony heads to either the gridiron, the court, or the diamond for practice. Add in some weightlifting, dinner and homework, and there’s only a few hours left of shuteye before starting it all over again.
To Antony, however, it’s a lifestyle he’s not only accustomed to, but one that he thrives in and enjoys.
“I’ve always enjoyed just working hard,” said Antony, who will graduate from Melrose-Mindoro this spring and embark on a career working for Mathy Construction.
With his final athletic campaign — he pitches and plays middle infield for the Melrose-Mindoro baseball team — just getting underway, Antony will soon turn to that life after sports and school, a life of more long hours and more hard work.
“I’m looking forward to the working world,” Antony said. “I just kind of want to get my life started.”
Due to the dedication, drive, and remarkable ability to balance everything on his plate as a high school student, Antony has been named this year’s La Crosse Tribune Extra Effort Award winner for Melrose-Mindoro High School.
“He just gets up and does what he is supposed to do,” said counselor Jeff Arzt, who nominated Antony for the award. “He’s got a really good work ethic, and that’s just something that you can’t teach.”
Antony was raised as the youngest of three athletic-minded children by their father, Leonard, after their mother, Laura, died of complications from Wegener’s disease in 2001. While his time on Earth with her was short — one year, three months, and 22 days, a figure that has always been and will always be instilled in his mind — he’s spent his 18 years trying to become the man that he knows his mother hoped he’d become.
“I learned a lot of stuff about how loving and caring she was, and how she cared about us kids the most,” Andrew said of his mother. “She told my grandma to make sure that we knew she loves us and always will.”
That left Leonard, with the help of extended family, to raise Andrew, brother Derek and sister Kendra, and Andrew credited his father’s ability to always find a way to make it to whatever game was in season that night, despite a commute from Melrose to Winona for work that could easily take 50 minutes on any given day.
“He raised us very well,” Andrew said of his father. “He did everything he could to watch us all play. He’s always supported us and always will.”
Arzt isn’t the only Melrose-Mindoro faculty member to notice the effect Leonard had, and the impact he had as a single father.
“He comes to every event, always been supportive of school,” Arzt said of Leonard “He’s just one of those guys who is a positive force in the community.”
He’s been a perfect person for Andrew to emulate, a man who works hard, doesn’t complain, and accomplishes the task at hand.
“He’s never made any excuses, never used anything other than a positive attitude,” Arzt said of Andrew. “He’s always kind to other kids, he’s really a leader on the athletics field, and also a leader in the classroom.”
While Andrew had the grades to pursue further schooling if he desired, there was something about his inherent work ethic that led him to decide early on that he wanted to start getting his hands dirty soon after graduation.
His job at Mathy starts in June.
“That’s been my decision since sophomore year,” Andrew said. “For now, I want to have fun, finish out the school year with my friends, and then it’s time for the real world.”