Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

High School Sports Are All in the Family

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

High School Sports Are All in the Family

Article excerpt

North Jersey high school athletics is like one big family.

And now that the 2015-16 school year is over, it's time for us to go our separate ways, at least for a little while. Goodbyes are never easy.

I'm amazed at the talent produced by North Jersey schools. This past year, the area produced the best high school wrestler in the nation in Bergen Catholic's Nick Suriano and the best football player in the nation in Rashan Gary of Paramus Catholic. And I'm not going to qualify that statement with the word arguably. If there is anyone better in the country in either sport, show me.

North Jersey produced its best swimmer in decades in Teaneck's Jason Arthur. Hawthorne had its very own Supergirl in track phenom Kaitlin Salisbury. We also saw the rise of the Next Big Thing in Saddle River Day freshman girls basketball player Michelle Sidor.

And yet my thoughts bounce back to family. Think of the twins: the Dalys (Colin and Will) running for River Dell; the Corcorans at NV/Demarest (Victoria and Veronica) doing just about everything for the Norsewomen; and the Rienas boys at NV/Old Tappan (Tom and Will) setting records for the Golden Knights. Not to mention the countless brother-sister combinations wearing the maroon of Ridgewood, the purple and gold of Garfield and the green of Pascack Valley.

So, what school had the best the year in North Jersey? It's hard to argue against the Golden Knights of Old Tappan. Football and girls basketball coach Brian Dunn led both teams to sectional championships. And what did he talk about afterward? How thrilling it was to have his own kids - Thomas in football and Katie in basketball - along for the ride.

Not every coach has children by blood, but I know more than one who considers their players their own.

Joe Leicht has one of the biggest families of them all, as he coaches boys basketball at Wayne Valley and softball at Indian Hills. Helen Antzoulides is a role model for young women at Rutherford, where she coaches volleyball and softball. Emerson/Park Ridge wrestling coach Stan Woods - well, he's more of a grandfather really - now has a state title. Bergen Catholic golf coach Jim Jacobsen reached 1,000 wins, and I believe he would say he has at least that many sons. …

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