In high school, Luke Fontaine battled with the best long-distance runners in the state of Maine for Cony High School.
Now, after four years at the University of Miami where he ran and studied nursing, Fontaine is now an emergency room trauma nurse in Stamford, Connecticut.
"It gives you that rush that racing did," Fontaine said.
Fontaine has been busy at Stamford Hospital as it sits about 35 miles outside of New York City which gives them even more traffic in and out of the ER. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, he says "it's been pretty crazy recently."
"As a nurse in the ER we are the front line for people coming into the hospital," Fontaine said. "We have two ways of people coming in. The first is ambulance and the other is triage or the main lobby. Once I get a patient we determine their severity level and then while getting vitals and assessing the patients we figure out what labs need to be ordered or the meds that may need to be given and start by putting in an IV and getting blood work."
Fontaine is always thinking on his feet as a nurse, just as he was on the track. The Cony star won the Class A 1,600-meter run his junior year and earned a third-place finish his senior year. He also earned a fourth-place finish in the 800-meter run his senior year at states.
Maine went through a golden age of distance running during Fontaine's time as Brunswick's Will Geohegan, now a Nike-sponsored athlete, battled with Fontaine and other division-I commits during their high school careers. Fontaine remembers those times fondly.
"There were plenty of battles with Geoghegan throughout the years," Fontaine said. "With me having more losses than wins towards my senior year, it seemed like it used to always pan out the same way in races where he would lead and I'd try and hang on and use my kick. I'm glad to say I got to race a pro athlete for most of my high school races."
After high school, Fontaine took his talents to South Beach and attended the University of Miami. Geohegan attended Dartmouth, Cheverus' Jack Terwilliger would also go on to attend Dartmouth while Edward Little's Jeremy Theriault went to Boston College.
Miami turned out to be a great choice for Fontaine who thrived in the distance events just like he did in high school, running cross country, indoor and outdoor track.
"In Miami I ran all four years in all three seasons," Fontaine said. "It was quite a change training for indoor in Miami because we trained outdoors. It was nice to not be trapped indoors but also tough because when racing we went to race on 200-300-meter tracks instead of how we practiced on our outdoor 400-meter track."
The switch back and forth from different tracks became common-place for Fontaine and a move to longer-distance events proved wise for him.
"I switched events from the 1,500-meter up to 5k and 10k during those four years with some good success at the 5k in my senior year. I ran a 14:51 my senior year to put myself fifth-best all-time in school history."
Nowadays, Fontaine is on the front lines of a busy hospital. He works to find out what to do with each patient as they enter the ER.
"Things do change from patient to patient, especially ones that are more critical," Fontaine said. "Then you may have two nurses on one patient to take care of them. We deal with everything in our ER since it's a level 2 trauma center. We also are stroke certified and we have specialists that place stents on heart attack patients to help with the opening of the arteries that supply the heart with blood."
It's stressful, but Fontaine is happy with the career he chose.
"All in all though, I love ER nursing and medical life," Fontaine said. "I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's not a job when you do what you love."
As for his running days, Fontaine misses his other family he was a part of.
"High school track was great," Fontaine said. "We had great coaches and a lot of my friends were on the team which made it not a sport but a small family. I really miss the week in and week out training and seeing what teams and runners were coming up on the schedule. I also miss our weekly pasta dinners prior to meet day."