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Why the NJ Scholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame Awards matter so much

Today, at The Pines Manor in Edison, New Jersey, the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association [NJICA] in cooperation with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association held its 2016 Coaches Hall of Fame induction.

It was Nelson Mandela who said that sports have the power to change the world, and today that power was quite evident as several of those who devote their time and energy to student athletes were honored.

When you consider that there are 435 public, non-public and independent secondary schools in New Jersey for the 2015-2016 school year, sponsoring 8085 varsity teams, requiring that number of head coaches – then it has to be a distinct honor to have been selected by your peers for members in the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association “Hall of Fame.”


[Pictured above Augie Elia, Carl Esposito, and William Klumpp ]

The history of the New Jersey Interscholastic Coaches Association, Hall of Fame, dates back to 1961 when all football coaches with undefeated seasons were honored.  A few years later, the NJICA honored coaches of all sports, and in 1983 the honor award program was renamed as the NJICA “Hall of Fame” and included all past honorees [2016 Coaches Hall of Fame Program].

Jack DuBois, Chairperson, HOF Committee & Asst Director, NJSIAA

[Jack DuBois, Chairperson, HOF Committee & Assistant Director, NJSIAA at today’s event]

With special thanks to Mike O’Brien and Bill McDermott from Wilson Sports Goods and the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association, the NJSCA honored those who make a difference to those who not only participate in scholastic athletic programs, but also the families and fans who also engage.


Tim Flannery, CMAA, AIC, CIC who is retired Director of Coach Education for the National Federal of State High School Associations [NFHS] spoke about how one important distinction between high school athletics and professional sports is that education is what matters most of all.  He talked about how it’s so important to model the behavior you expect from your team members.  Mr. Flannery was honored today with the Distinguished Award.

One of the most touching moments of the afternoon came when the inaugural Stuart L. Leon Umpire Award was given to the umpire who “best epitomizes the qualities and characteristics embodied by Stu.” The warmth exhibited by the Leon family when it embraced the inaugural winner of this award, John Augello, was truly significant.  Larry White, NJSIAA Assistant Director spoke fondly of his memories of the last Mr. Leon, and presented the award to this year’s winner, John Augello.

Larry White,NJSIAA Asst DirectorJohn AugelloStuart L. Leon Umpire Award

John Augello & Sharon Leon John and Sandi Augello

Richard Luongo, who according to his friend, David Reiss “was a young math teacher in Haddon Heights, New Jersey when he first met him” attended the ceremony and was inducted into the 2016 HOF this year, “despite an injury he sustained when he was going to do the clock for a football game.” Another friend of Luongo’s, T. Concannon said, “Richard is one of the finest football officials of his time-as well as mentor.” [ Mr. Luongo and his friends those who played when he was a young teacher are pictured below.]

IMG_6299NJCoaches7 David Reiss, T. Concannon, and another of Mr. Luongo’s friends who shared about his fine work as an official and mentor.




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Michelle has been a sports writer and analyst for many years. Now, as host of Neutral Court, sponsored by In The Zone, Michelle brings a new sports topic to the debate floor with each episode.
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