Anthoine LaGroone learned his most meaningful life lessons on the football field. That’s why he still takes the field almost every day.
LaGroone, who graduated from Greenwood High in 2006, plays linebacker for the Carolina Cowboyz in the American Arena League. LaGroone is in his third year in arena football, having spent the last two with the Upstate Dragons of the Professional Indoor Football League.
As he’s kept football in his life, LaGroone said he’s seen himself grow as a man and a football player.
“I like to use my platform because I didn’t play college football coming out of high school at Greenwood,” LaGroone said. “I ended up going to a tech school and was going through some personal things. I ended up falling in love with (football) again.”
Recently, LaGroone received an offer to play arena football in Tokyo, Japan. He turned it down to stay closer to home, but he said he is awaiting tryouts and opportunities to play in the Canadian Football League.
LaGroone wants to be an example to young people in Greenwood. While most look up to LaGroone’s former high school teammates D.J. Swearinger or Josh Norman, they aren’t the only examples of how football steered someone like them toward a better life.
“Football is a live saver for me,” LaGroone said. “It teaches me more than football. It teaches me how to be a man, how to stay true to myself and how to prioritize my time wisely. It helps with your communication skills and brings you more relationships in life.”
LaGroone’s father passed away early in his life, in 1998, and the void that loss left gave LaGroone trouble growing up. But Greenwood High defensive coordinator Jimmy Towe lifted LaGroone out of a difficult time in his teenage years.
“I loved football, but I didn’t love it as much until I met him,” LaGroone said. “He was the one who really embraced me, really treated me like a son. He sat me down and really got me focused on what I need to be doing in life and in football.”
These days, LaGroone works during the day and heads straight to practice after work. It’s a demanding routine, but LaGroone says it is worth keeping football in his life.
LaGroone helps P.C. Quarles coach the Greenwood Raptors when he has time, and LaGroone is passionate about giving young people a second chance.
“We took some of them under our wings and you see what’s coming out of there, with the kids buying into the program,” LaGroone said.
The Carolina Cowboyz play at the T. Ed Garrison Arena in Pendleton. The Cowboyz are ranked fourth in the league after finishing bottom of the pack last season. LaGroone said the team was the laughing stock of the league last year, but the addition of himself and others players will change that.
“A lot of people are still laughing, but they just don’t know the work we’re putting in,” LaGroone said.