Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

900th Win for Jasper

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

900th Win for Jasper

Article excerpt

HILLSDALE - Room 237 is about as far away from the basketball courts at Pascack Valley High School as possible.

"Maybe they are trying to tell me something," quips girls basketball coach Jeff Jasper.

The room is decorated with a Presidential timeline poster, some thick books, a Harley Davidson statuette - Jasper loves to ride. It is the classroom where Jasper teaches classes in History and Government. They are two of his passions.

His other passion has made him the most successful girls basketball coach in New Jersey. After the Indians' 63-21 victory Saturday over Dumont in the opening round of the Bergen County girls basketball tournament, he is the first New Jersey girls coach to hit 900 wins, and the second basketball coach in the state to reach that number - St. Anthony's Bob Hurley (1,064 wins entering Saturday) is the other.

But if coaching is really nothing more than teaching, perhaps Jasper's win total should actually be higher.

"He has more than 900 victories, because 180 days a year, he gets a victory in the classroom," said Pascack Valley principal Tom DeMaio. "He is a phenomenal teacher. There are so many kids that are affected by him that never set foot on a basketball court."

"Kids rejuvenate you every day," said Jasper before Saturday's game. "Kids always respond to great attitudes. It doesn't matter what the expectations are, people will say you have to set the bar high and they will reach for it. That might all be true, but they will always respond to great attitude. If you give them tremendous energy, effort and enthusiasm every day, they will match it."

For 40 years at Pascack Valley, Jasper, 67, has brought that spirit to work with him. It is as much a part of him as his shaggy hair.

There was a moment for him, one he doesn't fully share, when he was in Vietnam when he figured out his calling.

"I visualize the night probably way too often," said Jasper, "but it's what drives me to do what I do. It's always been about. ... I always felt like I wanted to make a difference."

When Jasper returned home, he came to Pascack Valley for an interview for a job. The principal at the time asked him where he saw himself in five years. Jasper replied that he wasn't sure where he was going to be tomorrow, much less in five years.

"He said, 'Whoa, don't you have any plans son?' " said Jasper. "I said, 'No, I'm just really happy that I'm here.' "

That's why asking questions about Jasper's future is foolish. His stock answer is that he will leave when he stops being relevant, and when it stops being fun. …

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