Manteno school remembers beloved coach

November 1, 2011 (MANTENO)

The 37-year-old was out for his morning run before school started.

Blanchette leaves a wife and four young children. And he also leaves a school body at Manteno High School devastated by the news.

Coach Blanchette was the head wrestling coach and assistant varsity football coach.

Tuesday night some of the wrestlers met at the school.

"At first it seemed unreal," said wrestler Zachary Zielinski. "And then coming into this room felt like he was going to walk in and he never did."

"We just got to keep him in our hearts," wrestler Anthony Franc said. "Everyone has to be leaders this eyar, push their team and we have to step up. That's what coach Blanchette would want."

Manteno Principal Paul Russert said Blanchette was a mentor and father to many.

"He taught them respect, he taught them responsibility," Russert said. "He took it further than the athletic area. He taught them values in life."

Russert brought Blanchette on to coach in 2006 and then to teach when Blanchette got his teaching certificate last year.

Russert said Blanchette's influence went beyond the classroom.

"I still walk in and I see pieces of coach Blanchette everywhere in this school," he said. "He touched all the walls and made this a better school."

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