Ridgewood High School
Athletic Hall of Fame
Class of 2014
1971 Football, Basketball, Track and Field
Competing for a high school known for athletic excellence and in an era of multi-sport athletes, John Marshall’s accomplishments on the gridiron, hardwood and field events for Ridgewood High School makes him a worthy inductee into the Ridgewood H.S. Athletic Hall of Fame. A 1971 graduate of RHS, John excelled on the football field for 2012 Hall of Fame inductee Roger Sweeney. During the winter months John toiled for fellow 2014 Hall of Fame inductee Coach Jim Bruni and during the spring John displayed his talents out on the field competing in the shot put and discus for the RHS thin clads where he set school records that stood for decades.
John earned two varsity letters in football as a quarterback and running back. Coach Sweeney remembered John as, “A quarterback with good skills, but he would mean more to the team as a running back. John’s speed, toughness and strong arm were assets for an outstanding tailback. He worked hard at his new-given task. His talent, work ethic and personality would lead him to be the best running back in the county.” John was outstanding for a 7-2 Maroons squad that lost both games by a combined 5 points. John handled the punting, punt return, and kick return duties in his senior year and his 40+ yards per punt average was one of the best of his era. John was named first team All-Bergen County by the Bergen Record back when only 11 players were selected on each side of the ball. In basketball he was an outstanding “2” guard with a picture perfect and a deadly jump shot, a great man to man defender and one of the best foul shooters in North Jersey. He made second team all-NNJIL his senior year with a 16.1 points per game scoring average and was a leader of a team that was rebuilding following the outstanding 1969-1970 season. During the spring track season, John was “a field guy”, and what a field guy he was. Despite having the ability to compete on the track, he chose to concentrate on the shot and discus where he set school records in both events. His 51 foot shot put record stood until 1980 and his 157’11” discus record stood for 39 years until broken in 2010 with a 163’1” toss by Jack Simmons. John also jumped over 21’ in the long jump showing his versatility. He helped lead his 1971 Maroons track team to a Co NNJIL Championship and a state group 4 sectional title. The true three sport athletes seem fewer and fewer today. John Marshall was a true three sport athlete. Never weighing more than 185lbs, he excelled on the football field in the legendary NNJIL of the 1970’s. He competed on the basketball court for the Maroons in what some call the glory days of basketball in northern New Jersey, and even though he had the speed and quickness to compete on the track for Ridgewood, he chose to concentrate on events usually dominated by athletes much larger than him. His attention to detail and proper form allowed him to excel at three very different sports, and set records that stood for a very long time. Because of the uniqueness of his accomplishments in three sports and the demands for training and organization that that kind of involvement in sport demands, today’s athletes and students can look to John’s example of a life well lived through dedication to an ideal of excellence in multiple facets of his life. We are happy to bring John Marshall into the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame with the Class of 2014 to serve as an example, to all, of diversified excellence in a world narrowed by specialization.
John is a resident of Ewing ,N.J. today and works professionally as an Actuary in the insurance industry. But, sure to the diversified approach he took in his athletic life, he also is diversified in his later years by bringing hope through prison ministries throughout the state.
One friend describes John as “a quiet guy who needs to be recognized”. It is our pleasure to recognize John’s accomplishments with his induction into the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
1964 - 1971 Head Boys Basketball Coach
“Many describe Jim Bruni as a man and a coach who was loved by all of his student athletes “Brian Corcoran Class of 1970
Jim Bruni was more than a coach. He was a true leader who was capable of captivating his players as he taught them the fundamental skills of basketball and life. His approach not only improved the success of the individual but ultimately the Ridgewood High School teams as well. Jim's love of basketball had an immediate impact on his players when they walked on the court. But to his credit he instilled a lifelong appreciation of the game to each and everyone. Interestingly, with all his success Mr. Bruni was quite humble, at times even to a fault.
Coming to Ridgewood from Bogota, Jim brought a style of coaching that was ahead of his time. His understanding and ability to teach the fundamental aspects of basketball resulted in Ridgewood's best overall winning percentages of all time. Records starting from 1927 show that Jim's record of 110 wins vs. 54 losses, a winning percentage .671, is the highest in Ridgewood High School history. He is the only coach to have more than one season with a better than .800 winning percentage. In fact he had three, the three best! Inductee Frank Mozeleski 44-45 season was 15-3 .833, and John Smith's 80-81 season was 22-4 .846. However Bruni's 64-65 team 22-3 at .880 is the schools all time high. Jim continued his expertise with the 65-66 team a 20-4 and .833 then the 69-70 at 22-4 coming in at .846. One can only imagine if Jim Bruni remained at RHS how the basketball program wins would have accumulated. I think it is fair to say “There was not a better basketball coach at Ridgewood High before Jim Bruni and there has not been a better basketball coach since Jim's last day as Ridgewood's coach.
Jim had a unique talent to demonstrate a technique in its smallest terms. He would teach, literally, a step by step progression. His practices were detailed and thorough. He would segment the offense and defense into fine tuned periods that eliminated any wasted time. One of his sayings and a goal for his players was "STERLING". If players heard coach Bruni exclaim "sterling" they knew they had performed the offensive play or defensive denial to his satisfaction. However, Jim was more than just a fundamental coach. Jim had a unique ability to analyze opposing offenses and defenses and design a successful game plan often confusing other coaches. Often, coaches throughout the county would consult with Jim about basketball theory and techniques.
Lee Clark, long time Bergen County coach expressed these thoughts of Jim: “Jim Bruni was the best basketball mind I have ever come across. A coach could get more basketball knowledge from Jim than he could from major college clinics. He was a great coach and a better person." Additionally according to Lee, Coach Bruni had an opportunity to be a high school head coach in 1956. He passed on the position because Jim was more concerned about being properly prepared and not short changing his players than he was about being a head coach. Truly admirable!
Hubie Brown coached football, basketball and baseball at Fair Lawn High School. He coached numerous NNJIL contests against Jim and Ridgewood basketball. He then progressed to the collegiate level, first at William & Mary , then Duke and ultimately, to the NBA. A two time NBA Coach of the Year, Hubie is also enshrined in the National Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. While at Fair Lawn he remembers Coach Bruni as a "brilliant" coach. On numerous occasions they would meet at Ridgewood's famous Al's and Harry's dinner and talk basketball. Brown commented “Jim Bruni was the best with X's and O's and was a great mentor to many. Jim Bruni was recognized, not just in Bergen County, but throughout the state as a brilliant basketball coach."
More importantly Coach Bruni was loved. He had a way about him, that caused students to seek him out and become mezzmerized listening to all he had to say. Extremely blunt and factual Jim was loved because everyone knew he sincerely cared. Students and athletes alike knew Coach Bruni leveled with you never being concerned about being politically correct. Whether a student, player, coach or official sought his advice, Jim Bruni laid it all on the line giving always giving his honest assessment. Jim cared about basketball and Jim cared about his player’s deeply. As hard as he could be in demanding perfection in each of his charges, it was accepted because all knew Jim cared about bringing out the best in each individual.
Coach Bruni had a talent establishing goals for his players and instilling a personal pride of performance. This was a unique talent in the days before individual lesson plans and IEP’s became a common element in the educational landscape. A testament to his effectiveness in coaching the individual was reflected in his players constant communication with him seeking his council. This occurred no matter how much distance lay between themselves and the coach physically, from a time perspective or both. Coach James (Jim) Bruni is certainly a worthy inductee to the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame. He touched and changed hundreds of student’s lives with his wisdom and insight in what may be considered a short, but exceptionally bright career at RHS. Coach Jim Bruni is a shining example for all that is good with the teaching and coaching professions and serves as an outstanding model for all who wish to follow in his footsteps as an educator, coach or mentor to others.
Mark Romeo carved out Ridgewood High School's first 100-win career in varsity wrestling at a time when there were fewer matches each season in which to compete compared to today.
The four-year starter,who competed in the lower weights and never missed any appreciable time due to injury, finished with a record of 108-16. His win mark stood as the standard at Ridgewood High School until Brandon Giovanetti surpassed it in 2012 with 110 victories.
This past season, 2014 graduate Joe Oliva became the Maroons' win kingpin, finishing his four-year career with 135 victories against 22 losses. When Romeo competed, there were no wrestle back rounds in the county, district, region or state tournaments.
Mark Romeo was a 2001 Bergen County champion after having placed second his junior year and third his sophomore year. He was the first Ridgewood wrestler to win a county title since 1984.
Mark was a three-time District 5 champion (1999, 2001, 2002), the first Ridgewood wrestler to win three district titles, and a 2002 Region 2 champion, becoming only the third Ridgewood wrestler since 1965 to win a region title.
He was also a four-time Mahwah High School Tournament champion, only the fourth wrestler to accomplish the feat in 36 years, and was twice named Most Outstanding Wrestler of the season-opening competition in December, receiving that recognition in 2001-02.
In 1998, he became the first Ridgewood wrestler to win a Bergen County Freshman Tournament championship.
His senior year, Mark was named first team All-County and All-North Jersey Group 4 and second team All-North Jersey. He was named first team All-Suburban in The Ridgewood News three times, and, in 2000, he was the All-Suburban Sophomore of the Year. He was named first team All-League in 2001 and 2002 and second team All-League his first two seasons. Three times, he made honorable mention All-County.
At the end of his career, Mark held the school records for most wins in a season (34) and a career (108), most pins (70) in a career and best winning percentage for a season (94%) and a career (87%).
Mark served as a team captain his senior year, and, for his last three seasons; he was named the team's Most Valuable Wrestler and recorded the most pins.
Mark wrestled varsity at Trinity College for two seasons, earning two letters and finishing in the top five both years in the New England Wrestling Tournament.
Today Mark has entered the corporate world and wrestles with business decisions from his home base in London England.
Whether home or abroad Mark Romeo will always be a standard that other RHS athletes and students can look to as a beacon of inspiration as a member of the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014.
1989 Cross-Country, Track and Field
Jean Hughes comes from a running family. Her brother was a star at Ridgewood High School as was her older sister. Jean was successful at an early age, having won the Ridgewood 5th grade Election Day run. However Jean’s background and early interest was but a small for shadow to a great career in competitive running that was to unfold. In addition, she has been a great ambassador and role modelfor her team and the running community in general. Jean has had great impact from her first varsity team in high school to her mentoring young female runners today.
Jean earned 12 letters in Cross Country, Indoor Track, and Spring Track while leading Ridgewood Track to “team of the century status” in 1988 and Ridgewood Cross Country to Undefeated dual, country, and sectional championship seasons. Between her high school, collegiate, and post-collegiate athletic career, she is one of the most versatile and accomplished cross-country and track & field athletes in Ridgewood High School and Bergen County History. She competed in every event from 400m relays through 5000m runs. She had speed and endurance,but maybe more importantly had a competitive intensity that was an inspiration to her coaches and teammates.
In addition to all of the team championships she was part of at Ridgewood High School, Jean earned first team All-Bergen County honors 8 times, All-State honors, and had one of the fastest times in the country in the 3200 meters in 1988 (10:43.8). She competed in the National Junior Championships against the best in the nation that year.
Her accomplishments at Ridgewood High School led to her earning a full athletic scholarship at Providence College where she competed in cross country and track for all 4 years. At Providence, Jean earned 12 letters, captained her Cross Country team to top finishes at the NCAA Division-1 National Championship and earned 1stTeam Cross Country All-American honors in 1992 by finishing 16th in the National Championship. She alsoearned All Big East honors in Track.
After college, Jean competed for the Nike Running Club and finished the 1996 New York City Marathon as the 99th overall female and the 57th American. She remained active in the competitive running scene for a number of years, coached cross country and track, and started a youth track and field summer camp. Today, she continues to promote running with all her spirit and energy.
Jean Hughes Buono is an accomplished runner and coach, a Collegiate All American, married to a track coach, a mom to three great kids, anda mentor to young runners. Ridgewood High School is proud to have her joining our Athletic Hall of Fame.
Chris Van Note
1981 Boys Soccer
The Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame is proud to induct Chris Van Note, class of 1981, for his accomplishments in the sport of soccer.
A three year starter at center mid-filed for Coach Dick Bennett from 1978 to 1980, Chris was a key member of teams that went 56-10-4, won two NNJIL league crowns, two Bergen County championships, and one Section 1, Group 4 State championship.
The consummate technician and playmaker, Chris’ strengths were ball control and distribution, infused by a level of tenacity that opponents feared. Van Note’s career statistics at RHS were 18 Goals scored and 24 Assists, with 17 assists doled out in his senior year. That total, at the time, set a school record.
Named Captain his senior year, Chris led the team to a 17-2-3 record, the league and county tournament championships, and was named first team all NNJIL, and first team All-County, contributing 9 Goals and 17 assists during the season. In his junior year, Chris was named second team all- league, and helped the Maroons to a 19-6 record, and a Section 1, Group 4 state championship.
In 1978, Chris’ sophomore year, he made the starting line-up at midfield, a rarity at that time for Coach Bennett, and was a critical member of a team that finished 20-2-1 and won both the league and county championships. Chris registered the winning goal in the County final versus Ramapo.
Van Note went on to play soccer at the University of Pennsylvania, captaining the squad two seasons, and in his junior year was named to the All Ivy League team. Injury limited his playing time after his junior season, yet he was given the team’s Most Courageous Player Award his senior year.
After college, Chris remained involved in the game, playing on competitive club teams, in the US and overseas. He also was a youth soccer coach to his three children, and follows the beautiful game regularly.
After many years in the corporate world Chris currently runs his own international consulting firm and does much of his work in Brazil as a civil engineer, the host of the 2014 World Cup, which he was able to enjoy front and center and in the language of the country. Chris is fluent in French, Spanish and Portuguese!
Home base for Chris now is Golden Colorado, but the world really is his home as it is for the game he loves. The Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame welcomes home Chris Van Note with induction to the class of 2014.
1974 Multiple Sports
In January of 1993 a letter was received by the athletic department at Ridgewood High School nominating Nancy Hogan as a candidate for what was going to be the first class to the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame. That class was never inducted and the hall of fame did not get officially organized until 2004, thirty years after the graduation of Nancy Hogan from Ridgewood High School. Hogan’s nominator states “Nancy epitomizes the high standards of conduct and sportsmanship we look for in our Ridgewood students”
When one looks at what Nancy achieved as a student athlete and then what she achieved as a coach of student athletes, it’s easy to see why the nominator in 1993 was able to make such a bold statement.
Nancy Hogan is a pioneer in the world of women’s athletic endeavor, being one of the first of many generations of women to benefit from the passage of Title lX legislation by the Nixon administration on June 23, 1972. Like her female predecessors in the 1920’s that benefited from varsity athletic competition at RHS, Nancy benefited from a forward looking school district that gave her the opportunity to compete before the forthcoming law demanded it.
While at RHS from 1971 through 1974, Nancy participated in five different sports recognized at the varsity level. Her sports were Field Hockey, Volleyball, Basketball, Softball and Track. She earned eleven varsity letters in those sports out of a possible twelve , started every game for each team in each sport she played her junior and senior seasons (RHS was a three year high school at the time) and was named Captain of the Field Hockey and Basketball teams her senior year. In June of her senior year at RHS, Nancy was named the first female recipient of the “Ridgewood High School Award for Excellence in Athletics” along with her male counterpart Bob Groat.This award is the highest recognition the RHS athletic department can give to an individual student and the award had been presented annually to each classes outstanding male athlete since 1914.Sixty years later Nancy finally broke the gender barrier.
Upon graduation from RHS in 1974, Nancy pursued her undergraduate education at Montclair State through 1976 and then transferred to Rutgers University in the fall of 76.She graduated with a BS in Public Health Administration in 1978 and would go on to earn a Ed.M from Boston University in 1981.
While at Montclair Nancy was a member of the colleges Field Hockey, Basketball and Softball teams. Upon transferring to Rutgers she continued her collegiate athletic career concentrating on her number one game basketball, as a member of the Scarlet Knights varsity squad her junior and senior years 1976-78.Nancy played for the first full time female collegiate basketball coach in the country ,Theresa Grentz, an All American herself from Immaculata.While at Rutgers, Nancy garnered the nickname “Century Hogan” having scored the one hundredth point all five times the Rutgers Women’s basketball team broke the century mark during her two varsity seasons there.
Upon graduation from Rutgers, Nancy continued her passion for the game taking positions in the women’s basketball coaching ranks with stops as an assistant coach at Boston University, Harvard University, UMass Amherst and Tufts University. She served as the head coach at Regis College for four years and was head coach for the Bay State Games North East Region women’s collegiate team in 1987,88,92,93,98,99,2000,2001 and 2002.
Nancy states that she felt her high school teams “were always a force to contend with and well coached” and her opportunity to “teach the game of basketball to her collegiate players, to give back as others had given to her and teach the meaning of teamwork first hand”, as one of her greatest accomplishments and honors as a former athlete.
Today Nancy resides in Medford, Mass and is Vice President for Government relations for First Realty Management in Boston.
Nancy Hogan is a champion and leader in the development of women’s athletics not only at Ridgewood High School, but nationally. Her passion and accomplishment as an athlete and coach certainly speak to her nominator’s original statement in 1993.She does epitomize the best that Ridgewood has to offer. Always better late than never, the class of 2014 welcomes Nancy Hogan to the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
The "Ridgewood Invincibles"
In the era of the “leather head” and the invention of the forward pass, there were few football teams in New Jersey that could match the ability of the Ridgewood gridiron standouts of 1913.Their story would become a legend amongst sports fans who followed the Maroons in those days and beyond. The newspapers called them "Ridgewood’s Invincibles" and over the last century their story has been lost, but was brought to light again through coincidence, when the RHS gridiron squad of 2013 suffered almost to the day, 100 years later, the same fate as the stalwarts who in 1913 put on their pads and battled courageously for the glory and honor of Ridgewood High!
“The Arrow” fall quarterly for 1913 (published in the end of October) reported on the team.”Two hundred and six points! Just think of it! That is the total score which our record breaking football squad has rolled up in nine games already played. And better still they have won every game. Best of all they have not allowed an opponent to gain one single point. Considering we have played no teams which have been lighter in average weight, this is remarkable. Our team averages 144lbs. to a man. This is very light compared with other elevens. Whatever disadvantage we have suffered by lightness in weight has been more than counterbalanced by excellent team work, fast playing and fearless line-bucking”.
It was reported in the “Ridgewood Herald “that the secret to the team’s success beyond their fast playing and excellent team work had been a volunteer coach, Mr. G.Foster Sanford ,a Yale coach, who assisted the team during the first part of the season. Mr. Elson coached the team during the entire season. The structure of athletics during the period was very student oriented .The administration of the teams were put into the student managers hands and often times there would be a student coach or adult volunteer in charge. The managers would set the schedule for the team, usually a year in advance, and administer to the financial aspects involved with the running of the program. The athletic association at the time had adult season passes for sale for fifty cents and volunteer students would solicit the sales to support the team. Home games were scheduled on Saturdays and unlike today a second midweek game, usually scheduled away in Ridgewood’s instance, would be played. The Arrow reported that: “Early in September at the first practice, over forty candidates contested for places on the first team. The number was diminished by careful selection as the time for the opening game approached. Only those who possessed the best physical development and showed endurance to stand the strain and endured to the end, made the team”. The football schedule for 1913 included eleven scheduled games beginning with a home opener vs. Bloomfield on October 4. It was reported that “a big crowd gathered on our new athletic grounds (the current East Ridgewood Avenue site) to witness what proved to be a very close contest. “The Bloomfield team was evenly matched with our boys in weight, but was unequal to the fast rushes of the back field”. In the last quarter, Feeney (Parnell Feeney, Left Halfback) “after making large gains up the field rushed the ball over the line for a touch-down”. The score, Ridgewood 6, Bloomfield 0. That would be the start of a glorious run of ten straight victories including two over college units from Phi Kappa Sigma of Columbia University 6-0 and St. Francis College of Brooklyn 32-0.The team would defeat Belleville 24-0,Ridgefield Park 45-0,Paterson twice 12-0 and 25-0 and Bloomfield a second time 20-0. A game against Stuyvesant (Jersey City) on October 25 was cancelled due to heavy rain. Victory versus St.Benedicts of Newark 35-0 and Hackensack 20-0 took the team to the brink of the Northern New Jersey championship. A championship game scheduled between Ridgewood and Rutherford, two high school juggernauts, would determine who would be the number one team that year.
Like the 2013 football team who lost their North 1 state championship bid to Montclair early in December 2013 by the score of 33-0, so did the amazing team of 1913 one hundred years earlier, succumbing by the same score of 33-0! Disappointment was evident and many felt that if team captain Earle Hopper were able to play (he suffered a leg injury falling down stairs a few days before the game) and if they could have had their regular line up available (evidently some of the other regulars were also missing) RHS would have easily beaten the Rutherford eleven at Rutherford’s grounds November 22.
Ridgewood would play its final game of the season against the RHS alumni November 27. Playing to a 0-0 tie, the team finished their amazing campaign 10-1-1, scoring 226 points while only giving up 33 with 11 shutouts.
The names of the stars of the time were Earle Hopper (Capt) Fullback, Peter Pagano Left End, William Runk Quaterback and the afore mentioned Parnell Feeney at Left Halfback. The rest of the starting lineup included Peter Westerhoff at Left Tackle, James Hubbard at Left Guard, Stanley Todd Centre,Edgar Knowlton Right Guard, June Paul Right Tackle, Benjamin Sloat Right End and Lovett Keyser Right Halfback. Substitutes were Williams, Edgar Knowlton, Benjamin Sloat, John McKensie , Lorne Waddell, Harold Wandless and William McCready. Harold Cheel and Stan Wardell were the team managers.
As quoted in the Ridgewood Herald “A better record than this has never been attained by a high school team of Ridgewood” For setting the standard of play as Ridgewood’s finest athletic team of the time and for reflecting the willingness of spirit and character to achieve, which we now refer to as Ridgewood’s “Tradition of Excellence”, we proudly induct the 1913 Ridgewood High School Football Team into the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Ridgewood High School has long been known for its student athletes and the “Tradition of Excellence” they have created both academically and athletically. Donald Taylor is one of the special student athletes that walked the halls of RHS. He competed on the hardwood for the Maroons and went on to great athletic and academic success in college. Don then went on to a very successful business career. Being one of the best basketball players in RHS history has propelled him into the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame, Class of 2014. A 1961 graduate of Ridgewood High, Taylor was one of the most accomplished basketball players in Maroon’s history. A three year starter for the Maroon’s in an era where freshman did not play varsity,the 6’6” center led Ridgewood to the NNJIL Championship under Hall of Fame football coach Frank Mozeleski This was Mozeleski’s only basketball title at RHS. The Maroons finished 2nd in the Bergen County Jamboree in both Taylor’s junior and senior years including a tough 60-54 loss in OT to Bergenfield in the 1961 final. Taylor was not best known for scoring, but for his rebounding, defense and ability to block shots. He was incredibly adept at using his size to create openings for other players as Ridgewood finished the regular season at 16-1 his senior year. At the conclusion of his senior year where he captained the Maroons, Taylor was named First Team all NNJIL, First Team all Bergen County and Honorable Mention All-State. Taylor was recruited by Duke, West Point, and Navy before he chose to accept a full Navy ROTC scholarship to Yale. He played three varsity years for the Bulldogs where he was named captain of the team his senior year and finished with a 39-30 career record playing against some of the best teams in the country. Highlights of his Yale career include a Co-Ivy league championship with the Bill Bradley led Princeton Tigers in 1964. Don also faced great competition while playing at Yale seeing the likes of a Cazzie Russell led Michigan squad, Rick Barry’s University of Miami squad and UNC with Billy Cunningham with first year coach Dean Smith. Don also matched up against a strong UCLA team that included Walt Hazard, Gail Goodrich, and Keith Erickson, the year legendary coach John Wooden won his first NCAA title. After graduating from Yale, Don was commissioned into the U.S. Marine Corps as a regular officer in the summer of 1965. During his time as a Marine he competed on the Quantico Marine basketball team, which was used as a recruiting tool for the Marine Corps. After being honorably discharged in 1969 as a Captain, Taylor attended Harvard Business School and gained his MBA in 1971. He accepted a job with commercial real estate development company Trammel Crow and spent his entire career there. Over the years, Ridgewood High School has produced many great student athletes and many people who are very successful in their chosen profession. Don Taylor excelled in the classroom and on the hardwood for Ridgewood High School and Yale University. He honored his country with four years of servicein the United States Marine Corps and he earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. It is alumni like Don Taylor who have made an everlasting mark on the academics and athletics at RHS. In conclusion, it is Don’s kind of dedication to success in and out of the athletic arena that make us so proud of our well balanced “Tradition of Excellence” and make Donald Taylor very worthy of induction into the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
1993 Women's Soccer
In 1992 Ridgewood High School head girls soccer coach Jeff Yearing stated for a newspaper article that “Rachel Grygiel is every coach’s dream and every opponent’s nightmare”! Truer words have never been spoken about an athlete that has been inducted into the RHS Athletic Hall of Fame or any hall of fame for that matter. Beyond her productivity on the pitch, Rachel Grygiel reflected the complete embodiment of the term student athlete. While her exploits on the field were being looked at in amazement, her desire to achieve academically and to serve her community reflected the same passion and desire she brought to the field each day.
Strong in stature and character, no one was going to beat Rachel physically nor would they be able to out think or finesse her. Rachel worked very hard to maximize her technique and skill on the ball and became a master strategist in applying her skill to the tactical situations she faced during competition. Rachel usually won her individual battles, but most importantly she used her individual capabilities to raise the level of her team’s ability to win by raising the level of her teammates. She would do this by exerting a “never give in” attitude that presented itself through her gritty determination to find a way to succeed. To describe Rachel as being a coach’s dream is meant to reflect her unselfish attitude about putting team above self. Rachel would play anywhere at any time if she felt it contributed to the teams capability to win. Spending most of her playing time as a central midfielder and part time forward, Rachel in her senior season (after an injury to a key team member half way through the season) volunteered to move to central defense to help shore up the RHS back line. She emphatically embraced the teams’ philosophy “that if your opponents can’t score they can’t win” With Rachel leading the charge, the 1992 team amassed 20 wins against 3 losses with 1 tie. They were league and state sectional champions, losing a trip to the county finals on a last second goal vs. Northern Highlands with 32 seconds remaining. The same kind of fate awaited the team in the state semi final loss to Westfield on a goal scored with six seconds remaining in overtime. That team which Rachel led as a co Capt. finished ranked #8 in the state and held the #17 ranking nationally during the season. .
Over the course of Rachel’s four varsity seasons at RHS the team became a prominent force in the Bergen County and New Jersey High School soccer scene. Rachel Grygiel helped four RHS varsity teams to four League (NNJIL) titles with an undefeated league record of 57-0-2 while amassing an overall record of 66-10-2 .She contributed to Ridgewood’s first state sectional championship in 1989 (a thrilling 1-0 victory vs. Kearny) and a second state sectional championship in 1992 with a significant 4-0 victory vs. Immaculate Heart Academy. The 1991 team reeled off 20 consecutive wins (still a record at RHS) before losing a heart breaking “first” county final 2-1 to Northern Highlands. In 78 matches played while Rachel was a member of the Maroons ladies soccer squad, the team outscored its opposition by over 400 goals with 444 scored for RHS and 40 scored against. The team compiled 54 shutouts in the 78 matches due in part to the team’s defensive tenacity that Rachel helped engrain as a matter of pride. Never letting her personal ambitions over shadow the team, Rachel always showed complete humility when it came to her individual accolades. Over all Rachel is ranked #5 on the all time scoring list for Ridgewood with 71 goals scored to go along with 44 assists. She was named first team All NNJIL (when it was a twelve team league) three times, First team All Bergen County Twice in 1991 and 1992 as a midfielder, Named to the New Jersey Girls Soccer Coaches Association First team all state in 1991 and First team all North Jersey in 1992.She was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Regional All American team in 1991 and selected in December of 1999 to the Bergen Records All 20th Century team as a midfielder.
Upon graduation from RHS Rachel made her way to American University and then transferred to Georgetown University. She received her BA as a history major from their college of Arts and while at Georgetown she was a member of the women’s Div 1 soccer team .She co captained that team during the 1996 season and was awarded the Big East’s “Defensive Player of the Week Award” during that season. She continued her education at St. Peters College receiving her Masters Degree in Public School Administration. Rachel went on to work three seasons 2002-2005 as an asst. women’s soccer coach at Stevens Institute of Technology, helping it gain its first NSCAA post season appearance. Like so many of our RHS Hall of Fame Inductees, Rachel has also been on the cutting edge of outstanding work experiences. From June 1998 until February 2001, she was the production coordinator for ABC News Nightline with Ted Kopel.Starting in September 2001 Rachel began a professional career as a Social Studies teacher and Digital Media Coordinator at Hoboken High School in Hoboken New Jersey. In 2011 she was one of four teachers honored nationally by Princeton University for excellence in teaching. In conclusion, Rachel Grygiel is a winner and champion by every definition of those words and is, by example, a beacon for others to follow. She is a great example of Ridgewood’s proud “Tradition of Excellence” and an outstanding addition to the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
1976 Boys Gymnastics
What does an 8 year old boy do when he is fascinated by the movie “Trapeze” that starred Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, he becomes a state champion gymnast! That is exactly what happened to John Cerf and why he began his path to becoming one of the most accomplished gymnasts of his day and eventually a member of a national champion college team. John tells the story of how after watching the movie “Trapeze “he immediately went out on his front lawn and taught himself a front flip. John willingly tells of his early childhood days, running with a group of boys whom he describes as mostly “ending up in jail” after which,he moved to Ridgewood with his Dad at age 12.
Not knowing if his son was going to get back on track or not, their worries were curtailed when John met Ridgewood Hall of Fame Gymnastics Coach Tony Napier. John recalls seeing Tony doing a handstand on top of some playground equipment was impressed by him,and recognized him when he showed up to run an after school gymnastics program at Ben Franklin Jr. High School.
Along with Coach Napier, John was influenced by his neighbor and son .The father was Dominic Nizza and his son, John, was very interested in gymnastics, especially the Pommel Horse.
They had made a make shift horse from cinder blocks covered with plywood and carpet using old gas pipe fittings for the handles. Dominic would dump grass clipping around the bottom to use as a mat.
There weren’t too many gymnastics facilities at the time, but John Nizza made a pair of rings to hang from a tree in his back yard and a former Springfield College Gymnast gave the boys a 1932 pommel horse that John said would “tear his hands apart like a cheese grater!” Later the boys would sneak into a gymnastics school to practice on Sundays and also received coaching from RHS graduates Don Bauer and John Thorton at the Ridgewood YMCA.The Pierce family and Randy Pendergast (now owner of Paragon Gymnastics School)are also given credit by John for contributing to his gymnastic development.
Tony Napier was hired to be the coach of the newly formed gymnastics team at Ridgewood High School and practice on the make shift equipment as well as after school programs must have moved John to develop a degree of capability. In 1972, Coach Napier invited John to join the Ridgewood High School Boys gymnastics team as he was entering the ninth grade.
This was a golden age for high school gymnastics in New Jersey.RHS supported two full teams for the boys and the girls, both coached by Tony Napier and both formidable powerhouses in the sport on a state level.
In 1974 John Cerf was the state champion on the Pommel Horse and was named The Record’s Athlete for the Week for that accomplishment. In 1973 and again in 1974, John was the All Around Boys Gymnastics Champion in Bergen County.
In 1974 John took a third in the All Around at the New Jersey State Gymnastics Championships and led his team to the Bergen County Championship.
Although competing with an injured knee for most of his senior season, John put on a great performance at the New Jersey State Championships at Trenton State that November taking a second in the state All Around competition, missing a first by a slim 1.05 points.
Unfortunately just two years after John completed his great run as a gymnastics athlete at RHS, the program was dropped and shortly after, the sport was dropped by the state of New Jersey (NJSIAA) as a sport recognized for state championship recognition for boys. Today the girls gymnastics program still exists at RHS, but only a handful of schools continue to support the sport at the interscholastic level.
John went on to Springfield College and competed on the gymnastics team his freshman year and was a member of the 1977 Div II National Championship team at Springfield specializing on the pommel horse.Unfortunately an injury knocked John out of his sophomore season at Springfield and at the end of that year he decided to take a break from the rigors of college life to become a New Jersey State Trooper!
John decided to move on from the world of law enforcement and returned to school at the New York Chiropractic College 1982 through 1985, becoming a Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine. In 1999 Dr. Cerf completed his Bachelors of Science degree from Regents College in the SUNY system located in Albany,NY.
Today John practices chiropractic medicine in Jersey City and also works as a consultant and lecturer for the insurance industry.
He also coaches gymnastics at various schools and was able to coach his three children in the sport. His son was a state champion and made it all the way to level ten, before retiring because of his size. Today he is attending college on a baseball scholarship. One of his daughters coached college gymnastics.
With an incredible story of perseverance and determination, Dr.John Cerf sets an example of self determination through hard work in and out of the athletic arena. We are proud to welcome him to join his RHS coach Tony Napier, as a member of the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Ridgewood High School has competed in the sport of football for over 100 years, having fielded its first team in 1908. In all of those years through all of those games, through wins and losses and the occasional tie, no one in RHS history has thrown the football for more yards or more touchdowns than Paul Tornatore. Competing for the Maroons in the mid 1980’s, before the invention of spread offenses, the option read and rule changes that have turned the sport into something “old-timers” might not recognize, Tornatore put together the two greatest passing seasons in Ridgewood Football history. The fact that his records still stand today, over 25 years since they were set, is what makes Paul Tornatore such a worthy inductee into the Ridgewood H.S. Athletic Hall of Fame.
Tornatore took over the controls of the Ridgewood offense in the fall of 1985, his junior year, and completed 94 of 166 attempts for 1,483 yards and 18 touchdowns establishing a new single season passing standard for Maroon QB’s . He followed up his record setting year with an even better senior season completing 113 of 196 attempts (57.7%) for 1,748 yards and 19 touchdowns as the Maroons finished the season 9-1. For his career, Tornatore threw for a total of 3,231 yards and 37 touchdowns which both still stand as school records as does his 362 passing attempts and his 207 career completions. His 58% career completion percentage puts him second on the All-Time List to Dan Burns and who guided the Maroons to a State Championship in 1991.
Tornatore’s individual accomplishments helped lead Ridgewood to great heights as a team. An 8-2 record as a junior including big wins over Bergen Catholic, Paramus Catholic and Don Bosco garnered Ridgewood a playoff berth. His senior season was as spectacular for the Maroons as it was for him. The team finished the regular season 8-0 including what should seem to be impossible today; a second straight year of wins against the parochial high schools including a 17-14 win over St. Joseph’s, and consecutive wins over Paramus Catholic, Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco by Scores of 37-7, 28-6, and 42-7 respectively. For his efforts and accomplishments the 6’1” 190lb Tornatore was voted First-Team All-NNJIL, First Team All-Bergen County, unanimous First Team All-Area, and First Team All-State Group IV by the Star Ledger. He was also honored by the Bergen Record as the “Athlete of the Week” for his games against Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco. A solid four year career at UMASS followed his career at Ridgewood High School and Tornatore has continued to be involved in the sport as a coach in the Ridgewood Junior Football Association.
Many young men have played the role of signal caller for the Maroons over the years. Legendary names like Stroker, Van Yperen, and Hartung, as well as 1,000 yard passers like Strait, Biasi, and Bourke .Of course we also must recognize the recent young guns like Duran, Kaliades and Locke that have all stood behind center for Ridgewood, but none of the aforementioned came close to putting up the passing numbers of Paul Tornatore. It is those numbers and the success the Maroons enjoyed as a team during his time at quarterback for RHS football that makes Paul Tornatore a Ridgewood High School Hall of Fame Inductee class of 2014.
1984 Girls Tennis
The Ridgewood High School girl’s tennis program has a long and storied history of both individuals and teams leaving their marks in the RHS record books. Michele Marangi is an individual whose career set both individual and team records that have stood the test of time. A 1984 graduate of RHS, Michele was the leader of a program that won numerous championships as she compiled an individual 80-13 record over her four years competing for the Maroons.
During her freshman season in 1980-1981, she played First Team Doubles with Liz Luongo and in recognition of their efforts in helping Ridgewood win the NNJIL Championship they were voted FirstTeam All-Bergen County at First Doubles.
Her sophomore year Michele jumped up to the very competitive First Singles slot and after competing against the very best singles players in the County and leading Ridgewood to an undefeated season in league play, she was voted Second Team All-Bergen County.
As a junior, Marangi led Ridgewood to the Group IV Section I State Championship from her First Singles position, won the William Paterson Tri-County Singles Tournament and was selected as the First Team All-Bergen County First Singles player.
She came back her senior year to captain the Maroons as they went undefeated in NNJIL play, and won the Group IV Section I Championship again, before losing in the New Jersey Group IV Finals. In recognition of her stellar season, she was once again selected for the First Team All-Bergen County tennis team at First Singles making her one of the few athletes in Bergen County history to be selected for the All-County Team four consecutive years.
After her graduation from Ridgewood High School and a year at Mary Washington, Michele transferred to Muhlenberg College where she competed for three years for the Mules. Her Muhlenberg career ended up being as impressive if not more impressive than her Ridgewood HS career as she compiled a 63-9 combined singles and doubles record including going 22-1 in 1986. She led Muhlenberg to three consecutive MAC Northeast Titles and MAC Northern Division Championships in 1986 and 1987.Marangi was the first player in program history to win an individual conference title including the MAC doubles crown in 1987 and the MAC singles title in 1988.
In recognition and in honor of her achievements, Michele was inducted into the Muhlenberg College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996. Continuing a theme seen in many of the members of the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame; Michele continues to be active in the sport of tennis as an instructor. Her many accomplishments on the tennis courts for RHS and Muhlenberg College, and her continued passion for her chosen sport of tennis make her a very worthy inductee into the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall Of Fame in the Class of 2014.
The "Streak of 44"
1990 Boys Lacrosse
Seven Hundred and sixty five days. That’s how long the Ridgewood High School Boys Lacrosse team went without a loss between 1990 and 1992. And in that span, a group of student-athletes, coaches and administrators made history and helped to change the athletic landscape in Ridgewood.
If people in Ridgewood were asked about the sport of lacrosse during the late 1980’s, besides a host of blank stares, the best response might have been “Oh, is it that thing where kids run around throwing with butterfly nets?” But that was about to change.
In only its fifth year as a program, Ridgewood High School’s lacrosse team showed signs of improvement. In 1989 the team was undefeated in the regular season and made the state playoffs for the first time. However, that was just the beginning of a rise to state and national recognition that would carry the reputation of Ridgewood High School lacrosse forward to the present day.
The 1990 team had high expectations for their season and going in to an early season match up with perennial state powerhouse Mountain Lakes, they would be tested. That afternoon Ridgewood was given a lacrosse lesson they would use as a means of inspiration, through humiliation, losing to Mountain Lakes 14-4. It was the last time Ridgewood would taste defeat for more than two years.
Over the next 25 months, the team would dominate the entire state, winning two league championships, two state championships and setting the record for most consecutive wins in the history of New Jersey lacrosse with a run of 44 victories in a row thereby creating what will ever be referred to in Ridgewood High School lacrosse history as the “The Streak of 44”.
Head Coach Steve Jacobson and Assistant Coaches Bob Turco, Craig Chiesa and Bob Blakely built a powerhouse that won games over the course of the streak by an average score nearing 11 to 3.During “The Streak”, the team scored 470 goals while only allowing 120. The team only trailed at half time once while never giving up double digit goals in any game. During “The Streak”, Ridgewood produced 21 all-league players, 20 all-state players, 7 All-Americans and 2 New Jersey State players-of-the-year.
On May 3, 1992, when the streak finally came to an end, it wasn’t just town or state news…it was national news with the USA Today reporting that the Ridgewood Boy’s Lacrosse team had finally lost a game. But by that point, everyone in Ridgewood knew what lacrosse was and the rest of the state and the country knew what they would face whenever a Ridgewood lacrosse team stood across from them on a field in competition, a fierce desire to succeed and a burning desire for victory.
The 1990, 91 and 92 Teams would like to thank former Athletic Director Dave Vanderbush, past Ridgewood Junior Lacrosse Presidents Dave Fuhs, Mark Jackson, James Sullivan and former District Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics Dave Marsh for their hard work and constant support.
The 1990-19992 RHS lacrosse teams embody what we recognize today as the Ridgewood High School “Tradition of Excellence” and rightly deserve their place as one of the great beacons of inspiration in the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame.