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Rituals of spring season are back

As my younger cousin ripped a liner through the infield at his T-ball practice on April 3, I couldn’t help but notice that spring had arrived.

Sure, technically spring arrived in mid-March, but with a calm breeze and warm air flowing through Riverside Park, spring finally seems to have arrived.

It’s not always the weather that gives that feeling either. The return of the sounds of the jubilant birds fill the air, whether its at normal times during the day or at the absurd times like coming home late at night. Other sounds like the wind through the now lively trees and the crack of a ball hitting a bat do it for me too.

As nature comes back to life, so does Major League Baseball, with a brand new season. Sure, many teams may not have high goals, but this is the one time of the year where many of those teams, the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros to name a few, still can have the hopes of making it to the fall classic.

To that effect, the two local teams have varying views on the upcoming season.

The Mets got great news in the fact that Johan Santana, the 33-year-old southpaw with a $137.5 million contract, was able to make his first start since September 2, 2010 when he tore a capsule in his left shoulder.

If Santana is able to build on his 5 inning, two hit, five strikeout performance on April 5, the team could head down one of two paths. If Santana pitches well but the lineup, which has had injury issues of their own, falters, then Santana could be traded, he would have to accept given his full no-trade clause. If the lineup does well, Santana and the rest of the starting rotation could help the Mets be a dark horse team in 2012.

Their city-rival Yankees, however, have a much different view on the season. As always, the Yankees are World Series or bust. The Yankees had remained stagnant for most of the winter, hoping to inch closer to the goal of a $189 million payroll. However, in January, the Yankees traded superstar prospect Jesus Montero for equally dominant pitcher Michael Pineda. However, Pineda’s spring training injury might prove to be a problem.

While the Yankees surely have enough talent to get them to the postseason, one can only wonder how much longer the older guys, Jeter, Rodriguez, etc. will continue to play like some of the best players in the league and become more of a burden.

Regardless of the outcomes at the end of the season, the thrill of baseball and spring’s return surely will wake up those still stuck in the winter hibernation.


-Anthony J. Machcinski

We’ve got mail


To the Publisher:

This past winter brought us crippling droughts and tornadoes, continuing unemployment, and partisan paralysis in Washington. I was really looking forward to March 20, first day of spring, balmy weather, blooming flowers, and the Great American Meatout.

According to its website (www.meatout.org), Meatout has grown since 1985 into the world’s largest annual grassroots diet education campaign. A thousand communities in all 50 states and two dozen other countries host educational events. They challenge visitors to turn over a new leaf on the first day of spring, to kick the meat habit, and to get a fresh start with a wholesome diet of vegetables, fruits, and grains.

The Meatout diet is touted by leading health authorities. I found it very easy to follow, and I feel great. I get all the recipes and other information I need by entering “live vegan” in my Internet search engine. I spice up my diet by exploring the rich array of delicious soy- and grain-based meat and dairy alternatives in my local supermarket.

-Kenneth Miller, Kearny


3 from W. Hudson cited as education facilitators

By Ron Leir

Three West Hudson residents were among more than 30 women from around the county who were feted March 14 at Hudson County’s annual celebration of Women’s History Month.

They were Mary Ann Dunphy, of Harrison; and Sandra McCleaster and Kathy Moss, both of Kearny.

The event, held in the Conrad Rotunda of the historic Brennan Courthouse in Jersey City, was co-hosted by Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and Bayonne Freeholder Doreen DiDomenico.

The women were honored for having “made a difference in our community and our world in the field of education or in support of expanding educational opportunity,” according to a county release.

The event also marked the centennial anniversary of the Girl Scouts of America.

“I am fond of saying that I was raised by women,” DeGise told the audience. DeGise’s mother and older sister raised him after his father’s death when he was still a small boy. “That is why I appreciate so much this chance each year to honor Hudson County women who have made a powerful, positive impact on our community,” he said.

DiDomenico, the only female on the county’s Board of Chosen Freeholders, said: “The National Women’s History Project, from whom the County adopts its annual theme, focused this year on access to college education for women. We chose to expand the theme of education and look at how it empowers women. We are honoring women who are school teachers, literacy volunteers, fundraisers, educational administrators, historical preservation advocates, business mentors, artists, counselors and legislators, all of whom through both professional and volunteer work, have inspired, empowered and assisted others through education.”

Mary Ann Dunphy has a B.A. in elementary education and a master’s in literacy education, along with a reading specialist certification and certificates from Seton Hall and Kean University in Holocaust education.

Having taught in Harrison for more than three decades, Dunphy has been an advocate for child literacy and, throughout the year, directs the children’s programs, including several summer programs, at the Harrison Public Library. Active in many community endeavors, she encourages her students to “give back” to the community.

Sandra McCleaster, a lifelong Kearny resident, is a career educator, having logged 30 years teaching in allied health education, currently as adjunct professor at Bergen Community College.

McCleaster is also a veteran respiratory therapist, educator and author. She is past president of the N.J. Society for Respiratory Care, a member of the Kearny Museum Committee and has served in the role of president/treasurer of the Literacy Volunteers of West Hudson since 2000.

Kathy Moss is starting her 15th year as an ELS tutor for the Literacy Volunteers of West Hudson, serving adult immigrant women. She helps prepare them for the U.S. Citizenship test, the TOEFL qualifying exam for university admission, and filling out applications for jobs and schools. She also provides background on American culture and navigates through any obstacles they run into living in their adopted land.

31 others from all over Hudson County were also honored as a part of the ceremony.

Commissioner hopes you mind your manners

Brian Haggerty (c), flanked by fans Rocco Mazza and Margaret Frontera at Lyndhurst Public Library


By Ron Leir


Are you one of those unfortunate souls who slurp their soup?

Do you “feel badly” when you’re unwell?

Are you comfortable plodding around in sneakers at a formal affair?

If you’ve answered “yes” to the above queries, then, dear reader, you are clearly in need of Brian C. Haggerty’s “Personal & Professional Life Skills For Success,” a prescriptive approach to functioning well in the world, no matter what your station in life.

It’s an “expansion and enhancement” of the Lyndhurst resident’s first book, “Mannerly Speaking: A Modern Framework for Social and Business Etiquette; Grammar and Public Speaking,” which was published last year.

So enlightening is his new text that the Belleville Board of Education recently engaged Haggerty, a member of the Lyndhurst Township Commission, to impart his insights to high school students one day a week for five weeks.

“I wrote it, more or less, as a textbook that could be adopted by schools,” Haggerty told a small audience invited last week to the Lyndhurst Public Library to learn more about the new book. “There’s a need and a calling for it.”

For the most part, the author drew rave reviews. Several people agreed that the social skills promoted by the book were missing from many of today’s citizenry – young and old, alike.

Evelyn Pezzolla, president of the Library Board, said: “I read the first book and Bryan does a wonderful job with it. We’re so proud.” She said that young people could benefit by a thorough grounding in both book’s contents.

As a former businesswoman, Pezzolla said, she discovered that, “It’s surprising what young people need to know and don’t (know).” When she was hiring receptionists, Pezzolla added, “it was surprising to see how many (job applicants) don’t know what to wear and are frightened to use the phone.”

Indeed, Haggerty’s new book touches on those issues and more, offering tips on “making the best personal presentation in each of three key areas in which we are assessed by others: the way we carry and conduct ourselves, the manner in which we speak and the way we dress.”

The book, he said, is intended as a “confidence builder” and a tool that will unlock doors for the otherwise uninitiated who haven’t learned these success skills, which are generally “not taught in schools and not promoted in popular culture.”

In a nutshell, Haggerty said, “it’s about being civil – creating an atmosphere where everybody feels comfortable … treating people the way you’d wish to be treated.”

On speaking well, “knowing what to say and how to say it” – as opposed to concentrating on speaking the “King’s English” – is essential for younger folks competing for a job or promotion, Haggerty said, “because employers, above all else, look for the ability to communicate.”

Common vocabulary usage pitfalls noted by Haggerty include the confusion between “I” (subject) and “me” (object); “irregardless” (wrong) versus “regardless” (correct); “I could care less” (meaningless) vs. “I couldn’t care less” (correct); and “lie” (recline or resting) vs. “lay” (put or place an object).

On conducting ourselves, people should pay attention to “being on time, being your word, being reliable,” according to Haggerty. Equally important, he said, are quick responses to dinner/party invitations and dining etiquette, such as how to properly engage in conversations at the table, understanding place settings and use of utensils, passing food at the table, not to mention bill paying and tipping.

On how to dress, Haggerty observed that “jeans, T-shirts and sneakers” seem to be the preferred mode for teens. What’s more, he added, “If I go to one more funeral where the altar boy is wearing sneakers under his robes, I’m going to scream.”

With that in mind, Haggerty is happy to outline the “classic dress codes,” aimed at “dressing for success,” whether it’s for a job interview or for a formal affair.

A tuxedo may be fine for some occasions, he said, “but I’m trying to bring back the white tie and tails as formal attire.” Some misguided folks are of a mind to appear in loud, colorful garb that only call attention to themselves, Haggerty said. Guests at a formal affair should dress the same, whether in white or black, he said, because “the purpose is to honor the event, not the individual.”

Civility says it all, Haggerty said. “It’s not about ourselves – it’s respect for each other in society. Each of us needs to embody civility to make a better world. Instead of yelling and screaming at each other, much better to hold back before you speak.”

No use blaming TV for broadcasting the frequent vitriol mouthed by critics or politicians of all stripes, Haggerty said. “We’re caught up in sensationalism today and the media is a reflection of what we the people want to see,” he said.

“That’s why I don’t write negative messages on email and, remember, given our technology, what you write is there forever, and, by the way, that’s why I use spell check,” Haggerty noted.

Also to be avoided like the plague, he said, is texting or taking a phone call during a conversation or at the dinner table. But here again, you can’t fault the instruments themselves for the lack of civility, he said. “Technology is an extension of who we are.”

And that’s why there must be a true commitment by people to engage in civil behavior, Haggerty said, because “you can’t legislate that. Nothing will change unless we, individually, change ourselves.”

“Personal & Professional Life Skills” (173 pages with illustrations) is available in softcover through amazon.com.


Around Town


Join Clara Maass Medical Center nutritionist Liz Nossier, for an informational and lively Lunch-N-Learn, “Healthy Diets for Diabetics” April 11, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Clara Maass Medical Center’s Greifinger Lecture Hall, located at 1 Clara Maass Drive, Belleville. Please park in the parking deck and enter through the Continuing Care Center Building.

To register, please call 1-888-724-7123, prompt 4. There is no cost to attend this event and parking is available in the parking deck and will be validated.


Trinity Episcopal Church, 575 Kearny Ave., Kearny, will hold a Flea Market Saturday, April 14, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tables are still available at a cost of $15 each or two for $25. For more information, please call the church office at 201-991-5894.

The next meeting of the St. Stephen’s Seniors will be held Tuesday, April 17, at 1 p.m. in Hedges Hall.

Trips to Atlantic City are planned for April 25, May 23 and June 27.  Please call Peggy for reservations at 201-998-9443.

The anniversary party will be held April 27 at the San Carlo at noon.

The trip to Monmouth Racetrack will be June 29.  Please call Tom at 998-8258 for further information.

A trip to Jefferson House in Lake Hopatcong is scheduled for July 11.  Please call Joan at 998-3578 for further information.


Hop on board to see the new $2 billion Revel Casino located in Atlantic City – next door to the Showboat Casino where your bus stops, compliments of St. Michael Leisure Club, Lyndhurst. The bus leaves St. Michael’s Church parking lot on Page Ave. at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 19. Price: $20. For more information, call Georgiana at 201-438-7847. Seats are going fast.

A spring auction, sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Masonic Club of Lyndhurst, 316 Riverside Ave., will be held Sunday, April 15. Doors open at noon. Donation is $5. Call 201-998-8248.

Lyndhurst Knights of Columbus Council 2396 hosts a Communion Breakfast Sunday, April 29, at the Senior Citizens Building, 250 Cleveland Ave., Lyndhurst. Tickets are $7. No tickets will be sold at the door.  Breakfast is served from 10 to 11 am. For tickets, contact Sal Russo 201-446-7244 or Nick Garafolo 201-893-2849.

A veteran’s ward party will be held Tuesday April 24, at the Chestnut Hill Extended Care Facility, Passaic, starting at 2:30 p.m. The American Legion Post 139, Lyndhurst rehabilitation committee will use the donation for this party to give out cash prizes and for treats for the players and also include those bed-ridden veterans that cannot participate.

The party is sponsored by Rebecca Brugaletta in honor of all the veterans that have served and especially those that gave their lives or were wounded.

For more information or to support these programs, please call 201-438-2255 John Deveney, American Legion post commander.

Birding for Beginners (Bird Identification)
A free two-hour Birding for Beginners class starts with a short session on birding basics at the Meadowlands Environment Center on Sunday, April 15, 1 p.m., in Lyndhurst, followed by a 90-minute walk in surrounding DeKorte Park. The event is run by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the Bergen County Audubon Society. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. You will have to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/BCAS events throughout the year. To R.S.V.P, contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@aol.com or 201-230-4983.

The City Winds Trio will be performing Strauss’ “The Blue Danube Waltz,” Handel’s “Water Music” and more at the Meadowlands Environment Center on Sunday, April 15, at 1 p.m. Hear classical favorites with a “water view” as this trio of flute, oboe and bassoon perform songs of the sea from around the world. Admission is $7/person; $5/members. For more information, call 201-460-2431, 201-460-8300 or visit www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec

The Third-Tuesday-of-the-Month Bird Walk with the NJMC and BCAS, will be held on Tuesday, April 17, at 10 a.m.
This free two-hour guided nature walk will include the Harrier Meadow  in North Arlington. The 70-acre site, usually off limits to the public, features ponds and tidal impoundments and birds aplenty – including a bird-banding demonstration.  The group will meet at 10 a.m. at the entrance to Harrier Meadow on Disposal Road or at the visitors’ parking lot at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst at 9:40 a.m. and to carpool. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute updates. You will have to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/BCAS events throughout the year. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@aol.com or 201-230-4983.

A program on Northern New Jersey’s Textile Workers & their Unions in the early 20th Century will be held at the Meadowlands Environment Center on Tuesday, April 17, 2 p.m. Northern New Jersey’s labor history is rich with the stories of the lives and struggles of immigrant textile workers.  Through historic photographs, artifacts and oral histories, Evelyn Hershey, of the American Labor Museum, explores the working conditions of the silk mills of Paterson and the woolen mills of Passaic, in the early 20th century.  Free admission Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst 201-460-8300 or njmeadowlands.gov/ec

North Arlington

Queen of Peace High School Girl Scout Seniors Troop 125 will be collecting items for Bergen County Children Services’ community group homes for youth in foster care.

These children, ages 5 to 12, have suffered sexual abuse and other trauma and receive intensive treatment services at these centers.

Gently used donations can be dropped off at the Queen of Peace Rectory garage, North Arlington, Saturday, April 21, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 22, from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Items desired are: games and toys, such as bikes, helmets (for ages 5-12), roller skates, board games, jump ropes, arts and crafts projects, coloring books/crayons/markers/glue, backpacks, duffle bags and small luggage for transporting personal items; household items, such as white sheets (twin), bedroom curtains (pink, purple, green, red), removable character stickers, bedroom wall decorations (wall letters to spell names) and colorful pictures.

North Arlington High School is having a spring book fair event to be held at the Barnes and Noble store, located in Clifton Commons. The event will be held on Wednesday, April 18. All are invited to visit the store or shop online to support the school’s literacy goal. Student work will be displayed and a surprise guest will be there.


American Red Cross’ Montclair Chapter, 169 Chestnut St., Chatham Room, first floor,

Nutley, hosts a blood drive Tuesday, April 17, from 3 to 8 p.m. Individuals who are age 17 and above, weigh at least 110 pounds and are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors age 18 and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Please make an appointment to donate blood today. Eligible donors can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org for more information and to make a blood donation appointment.

Matinee Fridays: Classic Films will be shown at Nutley Public Library April 13, 20 and 27 at 2 p.m. Please check the monthly calendar, flyer or Facebook for the titles of the films.

Pen to Prose Writers’ Group will meet at the library on Monday, April 16, from 6 to 8:30 pm. The group was formed to read works in progress, share accomplishments, critique works, give writing instruction, and provide encouragement and inspiration to aspiring authors. The group is free and open to the public.

The library will host a Teen Video Game Tourney Friday, April 20, at 3 p.m. Play Wii, Xbox or bring your DS to play each other.

Bloomfield’s baseball team poised to take next step

Bengals have veteran roster returning from 16-win team last year

Photo by Jim Hague/ Sophomore right-hander James Torres has already proved to be a fi nd for the Bloomfield baseball team, firing a superb game in his varsity debut against Morris Knolls last week.

By Jim Hague

Ask any high school baseball coach and they will all tell you the same thing. There is no substitute for experience.

That’s why Bloomfield High School coach Mike Policastro likes his team’s chances in 2012. Policastro has a host of players on his roster that have played at least one year with the Bengals’ varsity squad. Some have two years experience, with others having been part of his program for three years.

It’s an experienced bunch that not many teams have the luxury of having.

“We lost only three starters from last year,” said Policastro, who guided the Bengals to a 16-12 record last year and has led the Bengals to a 2-1 record in the early going thus far. “We have a bunch of guys who have played together for quite some time.”

If there’s one aspect to the game that Policastro has been stressing to his team, it’s being more defensive minded.

Policastro did some research about last year’s team and found out that the Bengals could have changed the results in eight of their 12 losses if they made fewer errors.

“It was definitely our weakness and it cost us in a lot of situations, especially in the counties (the Greater Newark Tournament) and the states (the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV),” Policastro said. “Our pitching wasn’t bad. We just could have played better defense behind the pitchers.”

One of the main reasons why Policastro likes his team this season is the pitching depth, led by senior lefty Zeb Smith, who won five games as a sophomore, but only two last year as a junior. Again, having the ace of your pitching staff with three years varsity experience is a blessing.

“We didn’t play well behind him last year,” Policastro said. “We should have won more games when Zeb pitched. He’s our top pitcher and has been throwing well.”

Senior Andrew Coco, who was the Bengals’ No. 3 pitcher last year, has been elevated to the No. 2 position in the rotation. Coco struck out 11 in his first outing against Columbia.

Another solid pitcher is sophomore righty James Torres, who pitched a gem in his first varsity start last Thursday against defending state sectional champion Morris Knolls, scattering six hits and striking out seven.

“James has been pretty impressive,” Policastro said. “We knew coming into the season that he was a proven pitcher, from what we saw in American Legion over the summer and in the fall. We just had to get his confidence up. Once he had the confidence, we knew he was going to be a good one.”

Junior left-hander Christian Ferri is the team’s No. 4 pitcher.

“I’m ecstatic about our pitching,” Policastro said. “I think we have a nice staff.”

Junior Michael Carter, the son of Bloomfield head football coach Mike Carter, is the team’s leadoff hitter.

“When Michael was in seventh grade, we had him play Junior American Legion,” Policastro said. “When he was in eighth grade, he played Senior Legion. He started for us right away as a freshman and we knew right away that he was going to be a good one. He’s been very consistent.”

Need proof? Well, as a freshman, Carter had 35 hits on the season and batted .388. Last year, as a sophomore, Carter batted .382 with 36 hits. That’s uncanny consistency.

Second baseman Devin Radziewicz is another key returnee. Radziewicz earned All-Super Essex Conference honors last year, batting .370.

“He’s a four-year starter and a two-year captain,” Policastro said of Radziewicz. “He’s batted third for us since he was a freshman. He’s a good leader and he’s going to have a good senior season, because he’s gotten bigger and stronger.”

Radziewicz is slated to play at William Paterson University in the fall.

Shortstop Jared Guglielmino is another key returnee. Guglielmino has been on the Bengals’ varsity roster for three years. He belted a solo homer against Morris Knolls Thursday.

Senior Josh Caruso is the first baseman. He’s off to a solid start, having a two-run double against Columbia and a two-run single against Morris Knolls.

Senior Matt Chiaravolotti is the team’s starting third baseman who also serves as the team’s closer. He’s another who has three years of varsity experience.

“There are not many teams around who can put a team on the field that has played together like this one,” Policastro said. “They know the game and know how to play the game.”

Senior Anthony Giamo is the team’s catcher who has been improving with every game. Giamo never caught before high school, but has developed into a fine backstop.

“Each year, he’s gotten better and better behind the dish,” Policastro said.

Policastro knows that he has the makings of a special team.

“We’re trying to instill the importance of pitching and defense with this team,” Policastro said. “I think they’re starting to believe in the things we preach. We had 11 scrimmages in the preseason and we didn’t hit well. We’ve played good defense so far and I love the way we’ve been pitching.”

The Bengals have a highly competitive independent schedule, facing perennial state powers like Bayonne, Old Tappan, Roxbury, Wayne Valley and Pequannock. They will also square off against local rivals Belleville and Nutley in the weeks to come and will face Montclair and West Essex in Super Essex Conference divisional games.

“So far, so good,” Policastro said. “It’s just a matter of staying together and making sure that they believe in themselves and believe in each other. I think if that happens, then good things will happen.”

Count on good things happening with the Bengals all season long.





Hall of a year for retired Kearny tennis coach Venezia


Photo courtesy Kearny High School/ Long-time Kearny High School girls’ tennis coach Ray Venezia (c.) was presented with a plaque for being inducted into the NJSIAA New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame at the Pines Manor in Edison last month. Flanking Venezia are Kearny athletic director John Millar (l.), a fellow member of the coaches’ Hall, and Kearny guidance counselor Tom Fraser.


By Jim Hague

He spent 42 years as a teacher in the Kearny school system and devoted a good portion of that time teaching and coaching tennis.

So when Ray Venezia announced that he was retiring last year as a teacher and as the girls’ tennis coach at Kearny High School, there had to be a fitting sendoff. It came when the Kardinals won the Hudson County Tournament last spring, the first time ever that Kearny won the county crown after competing for many years in the rough-and-tumble world of the Watchung Conference.

“We went like 35-1 over the last two years in Hudson County,” Venezia said. “If we had been in the county all these years, we would have done well.”

Venezia was enjoying retired life, doing an assortment of things.

“I’ve been keeping busy,” Venezia said. “There’s always something to do. And I’ve been playing tennis quite a lot.”

But for all intents and purposes, Venezia thought his career was over and his association with Kearny athletics had come to an end.

That was, until Kearny athletic director John Millar contacted Venezia, asking for a resume.

“He was going to nominate me for the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame,” Venezia said. “I had no idea if I had a chance.”

Sure enough, Venezia’s incredible resume was sufficient enough for the NJSIAA to elect him into the Coaches’ Hall of Fame. Venezia received his award last month at a luncheon at the Pines Manor in Edison.

Venezia became only the second tennis coach from Hudson County to ever receive the award, joining Bill Broderick of Bayonne.

“I was happy,” Venezia said. “I was surprised and I was honored. It’s a great achievement, considering that there haven’t been many for tennis.”

Venezia, who retired with more than 400 career victories under his belt, coaching both the girls at Kearny High and the boys at Rutherford, is a member of the Kearny High School Athletic Hall of Fame, earning entrance in 2005.

“But this is an honor from the entire state,” Venezia said. “I couldn’t believe that there are 8,000 varsity coaches in New Jersey and to be among the best is an amazing honor. I went to the luncheon and saw all the coaches from all over the state. It really does make everything worthwhile.”

Venezia was fortunate enough to coach several players who went on to play collegiate tennis, like Jayne DeMichele (Rutgers-Newark), Dragona Trivic (Drew), Angie Garma (St. Peter’s) and Kate Sudol (NYU).

“But the thing I’m most proud of is that I had four players chosen as News 12 Scholar-Athletes,” Venezia said.

Nadia Oliveira (1996), Trivic (2003), Jane Ronan (2008) and Lauren Ronan (2010) were all featured among the state’s best scholar/athletes on the weekly segment on News 12 New Jersey.

Venezia also spent a lot of his time teaching tennis to others. For 10 years, he was the director of the Arlington Players Club Junior Development Program and ran the Kearny Recreation summer tennis program for eight years.

Now, Venezia is enjoying life in retirement, but got to enjoy the fruits of his hard work one final time last month. He became only the eighth Kearny coach in history to gain induction into the NJSIAA Coaches’ Hall of Fame.

“It’s nice that you can get recognized for doing something you did for so long,” Venezia said. “Kearny is really not a tennis town. It’s a blue-collar town. But getting recognized for coaching tennis is such a great feeling.”

Venezia wasn’t the only local coach to gain induction to the NJSIAA Coaches’ Hall of Fame last month. Former Lyndhurst girls’ soccer coach Lori DeLuca, who also retired last year, was honored as well as part of the presentation. There were 21 coaches statewide who gained induction this year, a great way to honor and recognize the incredible talents of New Jersey’s dedicated coaches.





Homers come to those that wait

Photo by Jim Hague/ North Arlington junior outfielder Katie Rouski.


By Jim Hague

As the North Arlington High School softball team played Becton Regional last week, junior outfielder Katie Rouski strode to the plate with the bases loaded.

Rouski’s teammate, Ashley Gandulla, offered some encouragement.

“She said, `Hey, Katie, why don’t you hit a home run?’” Rouski said. “I said, ‘I’ll be lucky just to get a base hit.’”

Gandulla was asking a lot, considering that Rouski had never hit a home run in an official varsity softball game before.

“I hit one in a scrimmage, but I don’t know if it counts,” Rouski said.

It doesn’t.

As it turned out, Rouski belted a grand slam for her first-ever varsity home run.

Her next time up, Rouski came up with two runners on base. Gandulla barked out the same words she did to Rouski just an inning before.

“She said the same thing and I said, `Now, you’re really crazy,’” Rouski said.

Sure enough, Rouski did it again, this time hitting a three-run homer. For a girl who never hit a homer before, she was certainly collecting homers in a rapid pace.

“I remember running off the field and hearing my mother (Carol), yelling, ‘Hey, what did you eat for breakfast,’” Rouski said.

Rouski’s day wasn’t done. Later on, she belted an RBI single, giving her three hits, two homers and an astounding eight RBI.

There was only one down side to the day. The Vikings lost the slugfest, 20-17.

“It felt great, but if we won, it would have been better,” Rouski said. “It just didn’t work out that way.”

However, nothing is going to diminish Rouski’s coming out party at the plate.

“I really didn’t think much about it, but after the game, when we put it all together, it was pretty amazing,” Rouski said. “In fact, it was surreal.”

What capped her day was a sensational catch that Rouski made in right field. She dove for a sinking line drive and made a backhand grab.

“I hit the ground and my knees were all cut up, but I held onto the ball,” Rouski said.

“She made that catch like Ron Swoboda in the 1969 World Series,” veteran North Arlington coach John Galante said. “It was one of the best catches I’ve ever seen. She had the two homers, the RBI single and capped off the day with the fantastic catch. She definitely had one of the best all-around games I’ve seen in a very long time.”

For her efforts, Rouski has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week, the first honoree in the spring scholastic sports season.

Rouski has been a jack-of-all-trades since she joined the NA softball program. She was a third baseman and outfielder in the past, but last year, she stepped up and volunteered to be the team’s catcher when no one else would do it. It made her mother, Carol, a former standout catcher during her playing days at North Arlington, eventually earning a place in the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame, very proud.

“I was fine with it,” Rouski said. “It was something I always wanted to try. I like being able to play multiple positions, because I get to see different things. It’s fun.”

Rouski, who also plays volleyball and basketball at North Arlington, said that she spent a lot of last summer getting ready for this softball season, playing for a travel team in Lyndhurst that featured players from rivals Lyndhurst and Queen of Peace.

“It was definitely interesting,” Rouski said. “There was no pressure. We were fine and we all got along. I guess all the pressure of being rivals was off. It was really good for me to get better in softball, keeping my softball skills going.”

Rouski also has a personal softball coach in her mother, who owns a softball training facility called Diamond Academy in Westwood, where both Rouskis work together.

“My mother has always been a great influence on me,” Rouski said. “We’re always together, catching, hitting. She still has it. She’s the one who encouraged me to be active.”

The elder Rouski played the same three sports during her days at NA, graduating in 1977.

The younger Rouski also takes hitting lessons from personal coach Lisa Rizzo, who works at Diamond Academy with the elder Rouski.

“It’s definitely helped,” Katie Rouski said.

Galante saw glimpses of Rouski’s improvement last year, when she batted .340.

“She always had a good swing, but now, she has power with that swing,” Galante said. “This was definitely a breakout game for her. She was our No. 5 hitter last year and was third on the team in RBI. Because of her mother, she knows the game. But Katie is a workaholic and always wants to get better. She’s improved a lot and in order to strengthen the team, I put her in right field this year. I’ve moved her around a lot and she’s never complained.”

Rouski knew that she needed to improve her game this season.

“I’m the only junior on the team, so I knew I had to step it up,” Rouski said. “I’m still working on it. I guess people are going to expect more from me, expect me to do this every game.”

Well, if Rouski was able to duplicate this game again, it might raise just a few eyebrows.

“It’s definitely a game I’m always going to remember,” Rouski said.

As well she should.

Control your emotions

Troubles! Problems! Worries! Stress! If you think these emotions have become a part of your life, then you really need to sit back, pause and think about what matters to you the most. If this is work related, then you are probably carrying your burden home to your loved ones. Similarly, if you are having domestic problems, then your work and professional aspects will suffer.

It is best to compartmentalize your emotions and to help you do that I suggest a technique that has worked well for a lot of people including myself: Take any small plant of your choice and have it grow in a planter just outside the door to your home. I like to call it my “Problem Hanger.” Before you enter your house, be sure to leave your work issues and problems outside by touching a few leaves of your plant, thereby hanging all your worries onto them before you enter your place to be with family. Next morning, on your way out to work, touch the plant again to pickup your worries and you can work on them once you are at work.

This strategy may sound silly at first, but it does help in training your mind and yourself to keep your office problems away from your personal life. And there will be a few times where you may feel like you had too much on your mind when you chose to hang those worries onto your plant but the next morning, you may have fewer problems than the night before. This is because when the mind starts working, there is no end to the material it can keep creating, but when you choose to come back to a certain issue after some time has passed, you begin to look at it in another light and surprisingly it may not look as intense as it probably did before.

This is the beauty of time. It helps you deal with your situation. But the true art of living lies in the fact that one must learn to never let your emotions control you. You need to be constantly checking yourself. You should be the one holding the reins to control your emotions and not vice versa. This can be easily achieved with a little effort and mind training, but it is possible. Try it. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Trust your instincts. You can do it.


Visit Shweta Punjabi at her website solutionsbyshweta.com for more information or email her at magictaara@yahoo.com

Kearny Police Blotter

Early on March 30, the Kearny Vice Squad intercepted a 57-year-old Kearny resident they had placed under surveillance after observing what appeared to be a drug transaction at Kearny and Stuyvesant Aves. A search of the man, identified as Clifford Boan, turned up 19 glassine folds containing heroine stamped “Chris Brown.”

Boan was arrested on charges of possession of CDS, possession with intent to distribute, intent to distribute in front of a library, and intent to sell in a school zone, and taken to Hudson County Jail, Kearny, where he was held on $75,000 bail.

That night, Officer John Fabula and Sgt. Anthony Limite responded, separately, to a report of a domestic dispute on Chestnut St. Limite arrived first and came upon an individual armed with a knife. Limite, along with Officer Fabula pulled out their service weapons and de-escalated the situation, disarming the man without the use of force. But even after being taken to the ground and handcuffed, the man continued to be combative.

At one point, the man pushed Fabula in an attempt to get away, only to be forced back to the ground by the officer. The 21-year-old Kearny man was charged with terroristic threats, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a weapon, violation of a restraining order and found to have two outstanding warrants from Jersey City and Kearny. No bail was set based on the restraining order violation.

On April 1, Officer Jay Ward reported to K-Mart where a security employee had detained a customer for allegedly taking $125 worth of Nicorette lozenges and a box of Nicorette gum. The man was then placed under arrest. During a search, Ward discovered that the man, 26-year-old George Sousa of Kearny had three small bags of heroin stamped “Big Blue.” Sousa was charged with shoplifting, possession of heroine, and possession of paraphernalia.

On April 1, just before midnight, Officers Chris Medina and Dean Gasser were on patrol on Bergen Ave. in the area of Schuyler Ave. traveling westbound when they saw a car traveling the opposite way with its headlights turned off. After finding a safe place to make a U-turn, the officers caught up to and stopped the vehicle. During the pursuit, they saw the vehicle pass over the double yellow line. After they stopped the vehicle near Schuyler and Bergen Aves. and asked the driver for his license, the man produced an expired license and insurance card. The man continued to rummage through an empty glove box. The man finally produced an Essex County ID card identifying him as Martin J. Richard. A check of the name found that he had a suspended license. The man was taken from the car and placed under arrest. Officers detected a heavy odor of alcohol on him. Based on failed sobriety tests, the officers confirmed suspicion that he was intoxicated. The man, 47-year-old Martin Richard of Elmwood Park, was charged with DWI, careless driving, improper passing, failing to exhibit a registration or insurance card, driving while suspended, failing to use headlights, and refusing to take an alcohol test.

On April 3 around 3 p.m., Officer Sean Kelly responded to Bergen Ave. and Belgrove Dr. on a report of a melee involving a baseball bat. Kelly then received backup from Sgt. Charlie Smith and Officer Pat Becker and Brian Wisely. They found the combatants. The man wielding a bat was disarmed and, after questioning everyone, officers arrested two men: 20-year-old slugger Hugo Villanueva of Kearny was charged with possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. The intended victim, 22-year-old North Arlington resident Derek Gaters was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Lyndhurst. Both were taken to headquarters and processed.

Later that day, at 11 p.m., Officers Mike Santucci and Tim Castle responded to the 300 block of Forest St. on a call of a disordery resident in a dwelling. The officers were directed to the second floor where they encountered Brandon Tice, 18, of Kearny, who was highly intoxicated. The resident didn’t want him in the house because of his disorderly behavior.

Given his state of intoxication, the officers attempted to get him help and assisted him down next to a wall but Tice told them he didn’t want their help and punched Santucci in the groin. Santucci and Castle then attempted to take Tice into custody, but Tice tucked his hands underneath his body in an attempt not to be cuffed. The officers eventually got his hands behind his back and cuffed him. Tice was taken to headquarters and charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.

Officers Brian Wisely and John Fabula responded to Davis Ave. on April 4 around 8:30 p.m. on a report of a dispute. In a hallway, they encountered a highly distraught individual in possession of a large knife. The man informed the officers that he wanted to die. After the officers calmed him, the man put the weapon down. Police called for an ambulance to transport the man to Bergen County Hospital. The weapon was confiscated.