Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wimberly to Juggle Range of Positions

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wimberly to Juggle Range of Positions

Article excerpt

HACKENSACK -- Benjie Wimberly was candid Wednesday when he addressed his new football team for the first time.

"There are no days off," the newly hired coach told a room full of players in the Hackensack auditorium. "We need a full commitment."

The former Paterson Catholic coach also assured the Comets that they should expect a full commitment from him. Wimberly, 47, has three jobs and four children, but more than two decades of juggling jobs and family commitments have made this state assemblyman/ recreation coordinator/football coach a master multi-tasker.

"He's been doing it for over 20-something years, so it's almost something he could do with his eyes closed, pretty much," said Kimberlynn Wimberly, Benjie's wife. "He has a passion for it, and when you have a passion for multiple things it's easier to manage."

Hackensack players got an immediate sense for Wimberly's passion as he discussed expectations for a team that went 5-5 last season under North Jersey coaching legend Mike Miello, who retired Nov. 28 after a second stint at the tradition-rich, Group 4 school.

"He was real blunt," said Brandon Davis, a wide receiver/ defensive back who'll be a senior in the fall. "He said what we've been saying ever since the season ended, that we're shooting for a championship this year.

"I expect him to be a tough coach. I don't think there will be a drop-off at all from Coach Miello. I think we'll keep building. Coach Miello, he left behind a good base. He made us stronger people, on and off the field. I think that's the same thing we'll get from Coach Wimberly."

Wimberly's work with his players off the field made him an attractive candidate to decision-makers at Hackensack as much as his impressive record on the field. Paterson Catholic won seven state titles in Wimberly's 15 seasons before the school closed in June 2010, but Wimberly built many more long-lasting relationships with the players he coached and mentored, including Giants star receiver Victor Cruz.

"I think that's what's going to be great for these kids," Hackensack athletic director Ralph Dass said. "Just the role model that they're going to get, a coach they can look up to and see the good things that he's done even in his personal life. The kids are getting someone that's really going to care about them throughout their careers, throughout their lives, and who's going to teach them the right things."

The beginning of Wimberly's political career coincided with Paterson Catholic closing nearly two years ago, but Wimberly would've continued coaching the Cougars as a Paterson city councilman had the tiny, non-public school remained open. …

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