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On Friday afternoon, regular traffic came to a halt on the Belleville Pike and Ridge Road to open the route for the funeral procession of slain Jersey City Police Detective Melvin Santiago. The 23-year-old rookie, promoted posthumously to detective, had been ambushed early Sunday, July 13, when he […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – The Rt. 7/Belleville Turnpike corridor which runs through Kearny’s meadows area and beyond is getting a lot of attention these days from state and federal transit agencies. For the past couple of years, contractors hired by the state Department of Transportation have […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Now that Trenton – even without a gubernatorial endorsement by the town’s Democratic mayor – has gifted Kearny $2.5 million in transitional aid and reduced its pension obligations by nearly $435,000, Kearny property owners can know what to expect. They’re still getting […]
LYNDHURST – It started as an alleged speeding incident and led to a frantic chase that ended in three arrests. Here’s the account given by Lyndhurst Police: Shortly after 2 p.m. on July 14, Patrol Officer James Goral pulled over a 2008 BMW traveling east on Page […]
Another one of East Newark’s own is poised to join the borough’s blue ranks.
Newly hired Police Officer Saul Gutierrez was placed on the borough payroll at a starting salary of $25,000, effective July 18, following his appointment by the local governing body on July 15.
He becomes the ninth member of the East Newark Police Department and he’ll be taking the slot being vacated by Officer Anthony Espaillat, who is leaving the borough after two years to become a detective with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, according to Police Chief Anthony Monteiro.
The 24-year-old East Newark native is slated to begin 21 weeks of training – with 64 other rookies from other police departments in his class – at the John H. Stamler Police Academy in Scotch Plains on July 28, Monteiro said. Read more »
Kearny police are hunting an assailant who used an aerosol irritant in an attempt to disable his victim and take the man’s cell phone.
Police said the incident occurred at 6:30 a.m. on July 13 on the 300 block of Kearny Ave. The victim, a 49-year-old Kearny man, told responding Officer T.J. Hernandez that he had been standing outside a laundromat when he was approached from behind and sprayed in the face with a “Mace-like” substance.
The attacker demanded the cell phone, but the victim grappled with the robber, who fled on foot, empty-handed, down Halstead St.
The victim, who also suffered a hand injury, was treated at the scene, where, police said, they recovered an aerosol spray container and a knife.
Det. Ray Lopez is investigating – interviewing witnesses and checking security videos from the area.
Other recent reports from the KPD blotter included the following:
Officer Sean Kelly was at Walmart at 3 p.m., speaking with store security about loss prevention, when he noticed a man moving rapidly through the aisles and pushing people aside. Police said he was clutching a package of razors, but had four more packs in his pocket. When questioned by the officer, the man reportedly identified himself first as Mark Bails and then as Curtis Bails. A fingerprint check revealed he was actually Derrick Bails, 52, of Jersey City, who was wanted by that city and the Hudson County Sheriff ’s Office, police said. He was arrested on those warrants and also charged with shoplifting and hindering apprehension. Police Chief John Dowie said Bails has a record of 17 prior arrests and nine felony convictions.
Shortly after midnight, a head-on collision between a pick-up truck and a taxi was reported on Passaic Ave. near S. Midland Ave. After conducting field sobriety tests, Officer Dean Gasser arrested the truck operator, Luis Lopez, 46, of Westminster, Md., for DWI and careless driving. Lopez was subsequently also charged with refusing to take an Alcotest. Police said Lopez was uninjured, but the cab driver and his passenger were taken to University Hospital in Newark.
Officer Jay Ward, responding to the report of a dispute at 1:30 a.m. at a Belgrove Drive residence, encountered Anthony Joana, 40, of Kearny, who tried to block the officer and then pushed past him, police said.
After interviewing the female complainant, who said Joana had struck her, Ward alerted other units, and the suspect was apprehended about a block away by Officers Pat Becker and Glenn Reed. Police said he had to be forcibly cuffed.
Joana was charged with simple assault, possession of drug paraphernalia (a marijuana grinder), resisting arrest and “throwing bodily fluids at a law enforcement officer” (for reportedly spitting on Becker).
Officers Luis Moran and Daniel Esteves, on patrol in South Kearny at 3:30 p.m., stopped a truck for an equipment violation and found that the driver, Jason Patrick, 38, of Bayonne, had an outstanding warrant from Jersey City. Patrick was arrested on that and received summonses for the MV violation and for failure to provide proof of insurance.
At 11:30 a.m., units responded to an assault at Walmart, where a 23-yearold Jersey City woman said she had been kicked and punched by a man she knew. Officer Jose Canela located the suspect a short time later in the area of the parking lot. Tyrone Wilson, 24, of Jersey City, was charged with simple assault and was also found to have two Jersey City warrants, police reported.
The KPD was back at Walmart shortly after midnight on the report of an unruly shoplifter. Officers Chris Medina and Derek Hemphill arrested Charlie Jones, 25, of Newark, who allegedly had tried to leave the store with three TVs, with a total value of $4,300. He was charged with shoplifting and on a warrant from Newark.
Officer Chris Levchak, called to a male-female dispute on the 500 block of Chestnut St. around noon, arrested the male half — Christopher Beltran, 24, of Kearny – after a warrant inquiry indicated he was wanted by Kearny, police said.
Officer John Fabula, on patrol at Bergen Ave. and Forest St. at 7 a.m., stopped a Mazda pick-up truck for an illegal turn and found that the driver, Ernest Dieudonne, 59, of East Orange, had a suspended license and outstanding warrants from Bayonne, Union and Elizabeth. Police said he also found that the plates on the truck belonged on another vehicle. Dieudonne was charged on those violations and with careless driving. The pick-up was impounded.
At 1:30 a.m., Officer Tim Castle, responding to a motor vehicle accident at Passaic and Johnston Aves., found a Honda van resting against the bridge abutment and the “confused” driver still behind the wheel, allegedly holding a marijuana cigarette. Police said Castle removed the joint from the man’s grasp and removed him from the van, but he was unable to stand and could not account for the crash. Jose Melendez, 36, of Belleville, was charged with DUI, possession of pot, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of drugs in motor vehicle and refusal to take an Alcotest.
At 1:34 a.m., Officer Ben Wuelfing saw Danny Morales, 36, of Newark, panhandling in the lot at Quick Chek at Bergen and Kearny Aves. After Morales was found to have a Bloomfield warrant, he was arrested on that and Bloomfield authorities were notified, police said. Morales was also issued a summons for violating the Kearny ordinance against “begging for alms.”
– Karen Zautyk
By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Take the pill-popping Dr. Gregory House, from “House, M.D.,” and combine him with the concierge medicine of Hankmed on “Royal Pains,” and you’ve got TV’s newest — and perhaps darkest — TV doctor on USA Network’s “Rush.”
Dr. William P. Rush, played by Tom Ellis, is one of L.A.’s hottest doctors. It’s not because he’s a great diagnostician as House is — or just because he makes house calls like Dr. Hank Lawson does. But it’s because he’ll make the house calls for the rich and famous, and regardless of what he sees, he’ll keep his mouth shut.
And in the premiere episode, did he ever witness a lot that required discretion.
Without giving away too much of the plot, because we want you to watch the show and this first episode yourself, let’s just say Rush overlooked a professional baseball player who has a reputation for an intense temper and for laying his hands on his girlfriend. Read more »
As part of the observance of UV Safety Month, St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark, is urging its patients and members of the community to take precautions this summer against exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays which can result in serious skin damage and in some cases, skin cancer.
“Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States,” said SMMC primary care physician, Dr. William DiGiacamo. “UV rays from the sun are not only the main cause of skin cancer, but can also cause significant damage to skin including wrinkles, blotches and spots. Luckily, all of these effects from getting too much sun can be prevented,” he said.
DiGiacamo recommends taking the following steps to prevent skin cancer and reduce the risk of UV damage:
• Limit your sun exposure be tween 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.—when the sun is strongest.
• Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and remember to reapply frequently.
• Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
• Stay in the shade whenever it is possible.
• Check your skin regularly for changes.
“It is important to remember that one can get sunburned even on a cloudy day,” added Dr. DiGiacamo. “Taking precautions in the sun is vital when enjoying the outdoors—even if the sun is not shining strong.”
For a physician referral or more information about SMMC, call 973-877-5000, or visit www.smmcnj.org.
By Jim Hague
After a successful career as the head girls’ volleyball coach at Cedar Grove High School, Cristina Nicastro decided it was time for a change.
So Nicastro took a similar position at Nutley High School.
“It was very difficult to leave,” Nicastro said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better team. The parents, the administration, the community were all great. It was very hard to walk away from a program that I helped to build. We were pretty strong and I was looking forward to continuing with that.”
But last year, Nicastro took a job as a permanent substitute teacher at Nutley and things changed.
“I’m in the process of getting a certification to become an English teacher,” Nicastro said. “I started subbing in Nutley and I found it to be so motivating.” In fact, part of the motivation came from hearing the voice of athletic director Joe Piro.
“I listened to him on the loud speaker making the daily announcements and I was so impressed,” Nicastro said. “I sought him out in the building and talked to him. I just wanted to talk to him about sports. I wasn’t thinking about leaving Cedar Grove at the time, but I guess through that exchange, things progressed.”
The 28-year-old Nicastro, a former standout volleyball player at Verona and later St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, knew then that she wanted to move on to Nutley. In fact, she already had moved into the township.
“It was a perfect fit for me as a coach,” Nicastro said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better situation.”
Nicastro was introduced by Piro to the parents and the team in May and the response was tremendous.
“The turnout was amazing,” Nicastro said. “It was more than I expected. In fact, it was overwhelming. From that moment on, they were all behind me.”
Some 40 prospective volleyball players attended the initial meeting. Nicastro never had those numbers at Cedar Grove.
Nicastro then enrolled her new team in the Bloomfield summer league.
“It was just to get a feel of what we had,” Nicastro said. “We are also having open gyms every Tuesday night. I’m overwhelmed with the interest. The more girls that we have interested, the better the program can be. I am very pleased with the turnout.”
Nicastro and her assistant coach Jenna Dwyer, a Nutley product, have been monitoring the progress of her players.
“We have a lot of volleyball players in the district,” Nicastro said. “I want to be able to establish a winning volleyball culture in Nutley. I love the game and know the game. I feel like I can establish that in Nutley.”
Nicastro said that the open gym has featured girls who never played volleyball before to the returning players. The competitive Bloomfield league has been limited to those who played in the program last year.
“But the girls are so interested,” Nicastro said. “They’re out on the court and trying hard. It’s great. It’s been a little time consuming, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Nicastro only has two returning starters and six returning players from last year’s Nutley team that posted a 10-6 record.
“We’re changing everything,” Nicastro said. “We’ve introduced all new rotations. The girls seem to be very happy and I’m happy with their performance. I would like them to understand that volleyball is a mental sport. We are trying to simplify everything.”
Nicastro believes that the Maroon Raiders will have to be a defensive-minded squad this season.
“From what I’ve seen, we have to be a defensive team, so the main focus will be to get in the swing defensively,” Nicastro said. “If we focus on defense, I think it can pay off in the fall. We’re setting the tone for a very successful season.”
Nicastro said that she comes from a family that is totally involved in sports.
“My family is so involved,” Nicastro said. “My father comes to everything. My brother is now so ingrained in volleyball that he offers me tips. They are my biggest supporters. They’ll be at all the matches.”
Nicastro is excited about her opportunity at Nutley.
“I think it’s something that is very fitting,” Nicastro said. “It all fits well. Nutley is a great community with great people. I am looking to make my home here. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
By Kevin Canessa Jr.
If there’s one thing that makes our area special, it’s that there are numerous attorneys you can turn to for whatever the reason. And when it comes to workers’ compensation cases, right in our backyards is one of the state’s most noted workers comp attorneys.
John Pinho has had a presence in West Hudson for 17 years. During that time, he specialized in many different kinds of cases, including municipal court matters and much more.
But now, after operating a private practice in Harrison, Pinho has moved on to where it all began for him before he opened his practice — at the law firm of Javerbaum, Wurgaft, Hicks, Kahn, Wikstrom & Sinins, which has five offices in New Jersey — in Springfield, Newark, Freehold, Jersey City and Elizabeth — and one in New York City.
So why did Pinho opt to return to the first firm he’d ever worked for after 17 highly successful years in private practice, where he was his own boss?
It was an easy choice, he says. Read more »
Belleville UNICO sponsors a bus ride fundraiser to the Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, Sunday, July 27. Cost is $30 prepaid or $35 the day of the trip. The bus will leave at 8:50 a.m. from the Senior Citizens Center, 125 Franklin Ave. A continental breakfast will be served at the center at 8 a.m. Call 973-759-9259 to reserve seats. (No last minute cancellations.) Mail checks, payable to Belleville UNICO, to: Gene Antonio, 436 Joralemon St., Belleville, N.J. 07109.
A Polka Dot dance party is set for Aug. 4 and a balloon making workshop for ages 8 and up is scheduled for Aug. 11 as part of Belleville Public Library and Information Center’s Eight Great Live Monday Nights series at 221 Washington Ave. Sponsored by the Friends of the Library, there will be a new show every Monday night during July and August at 6:30 p.m. Registration is required. Call 973-450-3434. These programs are for the entire family, unless otherwise noted.
Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center, 240 Belleville Ave., announces a trip to Caesar’s Casino, Atlantic City. The bus leaves Oakeside Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 9 a.m., and will return at 5:30 p.m. The $30 cost includes roundtrip bus transportation and $25 in slot play at the casino.
Reservations are required and must be paid within five days of booking to ensure a place.
There are no refunds on paid reservations. Call Oakeside at 973-429-0960 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday to Friday.
The Essex County SummerMusic Concert Series presents “Shadows of the ‘60s” at 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 25, at Brookdale Park. The tribute production show features music of the Four Tops, the Temptations and the Supremes. Admission is free. In another upcoming show, Tony Scally and Jazzmataz will be featured Tuesday, July 29, in a 7 p.m. concert at Watsessing Park. For more information, call 973‑239-2485.
West Hudson Brave Women Fighting Breast Cancer meets on the last Friday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. at the East Newark Senior Center, 37 President St. The group provides an atmosphere of warmth and comfort for patients and family. For more information, call Emma at 201-998-6828, Rosa 201-246- 7750, Fatima 973-485-4236 or email email@example.com. Together we will fight this disease.
The Town of Harrison sponsors a blood drive Wednesday, July 23, 2 to 6 p.m., at the Harrison Recreation Center, 401 Warren St., in the gymnasium. All donors who register July 21-27 will be entered to win one of 10 $25 ShopRite gift cards. Winners will be announced July 29. Donors must weigh at least 120 pounds, know their Social Security number, bring a photo or signed ID, eat a meal and drink plenty of water prior to donation.
Mary’s Traveling Seniors sponsors a five-day, four-night trip to Wildwood, Sept. 14 to 18. Final payment is due by Aug. 1. Price includes transportation, accommodations, breakfasts and dinners, entertainment, dolphin watch cruise, a visit to Cape May and Atlantic City. Cost for double occupancy is $482 and single is $90 additional. Deposit of $150 per person is required. For reservations and more information, call Mary at 201-998-1030.
Join Special Angels Recreation, an organization for special needs children, as they take on the Lyndhurst Police Emergency Squad in a kickball game Aug. 16, at 9 a.m., at the Lyndhurst Little League field on Riverside Ave. After the game there will be fun activities for all. For more information or to learn how to participate, call 201-804- 2469 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Lyndhurst Health Department is collecting donations for students in need. Items welcomed include backpacks, marble composition books, notebooks, dividers, loose paper, crayons, and 3-ring binders. Donations can be dropped off, prior to Aug. 31, at the Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., Suite 1, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. People with children in need of school supplies are asked to contact the Health Department at 201-804-2500 to schedule a pick-up of the needed supplies. Be prepared to give the child’s gender and grade level.
The Children’s Room at Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., hosts these events:
• Crazy scientist Brian Richards will introduce amazing experiments on Wednesday, July 23, at 3:30 p.m. The program is recommended for ages 3 and up.
• Children in pre-k to grade 8 discover more about making bubbles and get to stand inside one of their own Monday, July 28, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Registration is required for both events. Call the library at 201-804-2478 to register. Seniors are welcome to register for the following two programs hosted by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission Registration is recommended for both. Call 201- 777-2431 to register.
• “Seeing the Light,” a brief history of New Jersey’s lighthouses and the U.S. Life- Saving Service, is offered by U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Instructor Chet Nesley Tuesday, July 29, at 6 p.m., at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 DeKorte Park.
• Grab a partner and dance the way folks did in the late 19th century at a free barn dance on Thursday, July 31, at 7 p.m. at River Barge Park, 260 Outwater Lane, Carlstadt. Carpooling is recommended since parking is limited.
• “Nature Draws Itself and Other Works of Art,” a digital illustration exhibit by Lyndhurst artist E. Jessie Monaco, will be on display from Monday, Aug. 4, through Thursday, Sept. 25, at NJMC’s Flyway Gallery in the Meadowlands Environment Center in DeKorte Park.
The Flyway Gallery is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday, excluding holidays. Directions to DeKorte Park can be found in the “About the NJMC” section of the Commission’s website, www.njmeadowlands.gov, or by calling 201-777-2431.
North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, presents a lecture by Civil War expert Bill Gent on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln Wednesday, July 30, at 1 p.m.
Borough residents are invited to a free outdoor concert featuring the Duprees set for Aug. 6 at Riverside County Park at 7 p.m. This concert is co-sponsored by the Borough Recreation Department and Inserra ShopRite.
Food vendors will be available at the park. Residents are advised to bring their own lawn chairs.
The Duprees are known for their romantic interpretations of some of the most popular songs from the ’50’s and ’60s.
Join Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, for the following programs:
• Movie and Craft: Children of all ages are invited to the library on Tuesday, July 29, at 6 p.m. to make a “Muppets Most Wanted” movie-themed craft. Children can stop by the library and make crafts while supplies last. • Science Workshop: “Kitchen Science” — recommended for ages 8 and up – is set for Wednesday, July 30, at 2:30 p.m. Registration is required.
• Essex County Environmental Workshop: “Soda Bubbles,” open to children ages 7 to 10, is set for Thursday, July 31, at 11 a.m. Registration is required. It’s open to Nutley Library patrons only.
• Science Workshop: “Weather Science,” recommended for ages 8 and up, is offered Thursday, July 31, at 2:30 p.m. Registration is required for this program which is open to Nutley
Less than a week after the robbery of a PNC bank in Kearny, the suspect in the holdup was in custody, arrested when he showed up for a court appearance in Passaic, Kearny Police Chief John Dowie reported.
Carnie Monts, 28, of Paterson, was booked at KPD headquarters last Monday, July 14, and was transported to the Hudson County Jail, where he was being held on $100,000 bail.
According to police, Monts held up the bank, at the corner of Kearny and Midland Aves., at about 2:30 p.m. on July 9. He allegedly warned a teller that he had a weapon, but none was shown.
Police said Monts fled on foot after being given approximately $3,000. A search of the surrounding area proved fruitless, but the suspect was soon identified thanks to a joint investigation by the Kearny and North Arlington police, the FBI and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, authorities said.
Officers began tracking him, including visiting his home in Paterson. They later developed information that Monts was due to appear in court in Passaic on the morning of July 14 on an unrelated matter, and Kearny Det. Mike Gonzalez and FBI agents were there to arrest him, Dowie said.
– Karen Zautyk
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Jaeli Torres is a 12-year-old resident of Rutherford. Her father and uncle were basketball standouts during their heyday at Rutherford High School, so it would be only natural for young Jaeli to want to learn about the game like her dad and uncle.
“My uncle set the record for most points there, so basically, I had no choice,” Torres said.
So in order to learn more about basketball, Torres came to Kearny recently to attend the Kearny High School Girls’ Basketball Camp. It’s been a fixture for the past decade at the school, run under the guidance and leadership of Kearny head girls’ basketball coach Jody Hill.
It was a beneficial week for Torres.
“I learned how to do most of the drills,” Torres said. “I learned how to do things in basketball with the older girls. I liked that. I took some hits, but it made me pick myself back up and get back out there. It was a lot of fun.”
That was the basic premise of the week. The 75 or so young ladies who attended the week-long camp got to learn a lot about the fundamentals of basketball, but had fun in doing so.
Carley Martin is an aspiring 11-year-old standout from Roosevelt School in Lyndhurst. Her father, Chuck, was the long-time head boys’ basketball coach at Lyndhurst.
“I learned how to do the weave drill,” Martin said. “I learned how to attack the front foot in playing one-on-one. I liked that they let us help the little girls with their shooting. I love basketball. It’s my favorite sport. I practice it every day.”
Ally Scrimo of Kearny was excited.
“I’ll be turning eight on Saturday,” proclaimed Scrimo, a student at Schuyler School in Kearny. “I learned how to jab step here. I feel like it’s made me become a better player.”
Ten-year-old Lindsay Chesney, a Kearny resident and a student at Garfield School, agreed.
“I’ve learned how to become a better player one-on-one,” Chesney said. “The camp has encouraged me and made me want to play more. I came here last year and wanted to come back, because I like basketball a lot.”
Kasey Vasquez is a promising 12-year-old from Harrison’s Washington Middle School.
“I learned a lot about ball handling,” Vasquez said. “I like to play guard, so this makes me more polished.”
Vasquez was excited to learn that Coach Hill was once a product of Harrison and went on to become one of the greatest players in the history of Harrison High School and a member of the Hudson County Sports Hall of Fame.
“That makes me even more impressed,” said Vasquez, who didn’t know about Hill’s background. “That can basically help my life, knowing I can be like her.”
Cheyanne Iverson (no relation to former Philadelphia 76ers great Allen Iverson) is a 12-year-old from Lincoln School in Kearny.
“This is the fifth year I’m coming to the camp,” Iverson said. “I love coming. It’s a lot of fun.”
Iverson was asked if she wanted to have the nickname of “The Truth,” like Allen Iverson.
“I don’t like that name,” she said. “I learned about moves and weaves. I feel like I’ve become a better player here.”
Like Iverson, Skyler Matusz is a 12-year-old student of Lincoln School in Kearny.
“I definitely learned a lot about ball handling and that helped me a lot,” said Matusz. “I’m a guard and that helps.”
Matusz did not know that Hill was a standout guard.
“Maybe I have to listen to her a little more now,” Matusz said.
Bre Costa is a 14-year-old who will be a freshman at Kearny High School in September. It was her first time at the camp.
“I learned about the camp at school,” Costa said. “I got a flier. It seemed interesting, so I decided to come.”
Costa plans on trying out for the Kearny High School team in November.
“Coming to camp made me love the game more,” Costa said. “It made me want to play more.”
That’s what Hill wants to hear – getting more girls interested in playing basketball. Hill’s camp is unique in that it is strictly for girls, ages 7-14. Sorry, no boys allowed.
“Every year, we tend to get a few compliments, because the camp is strictly for girls,” said Hill, who has had the camp ever since she became the head coach at Kearny 11 years ago. “The parents tell me that the girls love to come because it’s all girls. They all know that most places, boys dominate. This way, the girls get the most out of being here. They’re all on the same playing field.”
Hill said that she always tries to offer a little something different each year.
“I keep trying to improve it,” Hill said. “I learn as I go. I take experiences from other camps and bring them here. We’re always trying to do new things and fresh things. The counselors do a great job with that.”
Added Hill, “It’s a great feeling to see all the same faces coming back. Hopefully, it means we’re doing something right. Maybe we’ve inspired them a little to keep playing and keep coming back. We also try to make the camp as much fun as possible.”
Many of Hill’s former players return as camp counselors, like former Observer Female Athlete of the Year Janitza Aquino, currently a standout for nationally ranked Montclair State.
“We want the girls to get the most out of it,” Hill said.
Hill said that she never thought about telling the campers about her playing background.
“Maybe it’s just a modesty thing,” Hill said. “I don’t know. There’s some information about me on the flier, but I usually don’t have a tendency to talk about myself. I tend to talk about Janitza and what she’s done. I do have a tough time talking about myself. Maybe I have to do a better job of that.”
Hill said that she adores working with the younger players.
“I can see the passion and the love that these girls have,” Hill said. “When they come here, they tend to feel good about themselves. After the week is over, they come over and give me a ‘high-five,’ and say thanks. It’s very rewarding. They now come to camp, get the Kearny aspect of it and maybe they can stick with it and give it a shot in high school. We just want to make basketball fun for them.”
It sure looked like that mission was accomplished.
Hill credited sponsor AlarisHealth at Kearny, especially Bernice Marshall, for supplying the camp T-shirts. AlarisHealth provides health care services and technological innovations for post-operative care, short term rehab patients and long-term patients alike.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
The temperatures outside may be approaching 90 degrees in the hot summer July sun, but for two nights a week, things are just fine inside the Kearny High School gym, even with the fans blowing at full blast.
Kearny High School has been the host of a boys’ high school basketball summer league, with 13 different schools encompassing three counties. It has been a highly competitive and spirited league, organized by Kearny head boys’ basketball coach Bob McDonnell.
“The level of competition has been fantastic,” said McDonnell, whose own team has participated in the league.
Kearny has not hosted a boys’ summer league in several years.
“Back then, we had only six teams here,” McDonnell said. “Next year, we’re looking to expand it to 20 teams. We had some schools who got back to me a little late for this year. The interest is definitely there.”
Each team receives a regular schedule of 10 games. There will be no playoffs or league championship this year.
The Police Activity League helped to defray some of the cost of the league, as well as the boys’ and girls’ basketball camps, the boys’ and girls’ soccer camps and the girls’ basketball summer league.
McDonnell said that he also received assistance from the Kearny Board of Education to host the summer league.
“The Board of Education has been great in letting us use the facilities,” McDonnell said.
McDonnell reached out to his friends in the basketball coaching fraternity and got commitments from 13 different schools. North Arlington, Belleville and Harrison were also among the local schools to participate, along with Rutherford.
For McDonnell, it was a good chance to get to see what his new players are like.
“I only have two returning seniors, so what the league does is give me a chance to play some incoming freshmen,” McDonnell said. “We have a constant rotation of kids going in and out. Without the league, we would be unable to get any idea.”
McDonnell said that the league has served as an eyeopener.
“Some of these kids have never played on a level like this before, so it’s all new to them,” McDonnell said. “They’re working hard and doing well.”
McDonnell has been impressed with the development of Joe Sawicki during the summer league.
“He didn’t play much last year for us with the varsity, but he’s improved tremendously,” McDonnell said. “His confidence is building up. I think that will help him a lot.”
Joe Esteves is another Kearny player who has benefitted from the summer league.
“The more kids we get a chance to play on a varsity level, the better off we’ll be,” McDonnell said. “We get to see what the kids need to work on.”
North Arlington has benefitted tremendously from the summer league, winning five of its seven contests, including a solid win last week over Belleville.
George Rotondo, one of the top assistants for head coach Rich Corsetto, looks at the league as a golden chance for his program.
“We were able to get them in a full league close to home,” Rotondo said. “We lost three seniors to graduation, so we have some young kids getting some playing time. It’s a great opportunity for these kids to play together.”
Some of the basketball players have been doing double duty this summer. They have been attending football workouts in the morning, then playing basketball at night. People like Mike Paolello and Kevin Sequeira are standout basketball players who are getting ready for football season.
“Their dedication is tremendous,” Rotondo said. “This has been very good for our program. We’re getting a lot from this. It’s a great benefit.”
Edgar Carranza is another returning Viking hoop standout who will also play football this fall.
“I think playing in this league helps us out, because it gives us an idea about our incoming freshmen,” Carranza said. “They get to see what high school is like. Winning helps, but losing teaches us to be a little hungrier. It is a little tiring, going from football to basketball, but it will definitely help us get ready.”
Belleville High School coach Jim Stoeckel also believes the league is beneficial, win or loss.
“It’s great for us,” Stoeckel said. “I didn’t get hired last year until September, so there was no summer league to go on. This gives us the opportunity to have a head start. I’m not really worried about winning or losing, as long as we get better basketball wise. It’s great to get 10 games together. I can see that the kids are putting the work in to get better.”
Andre Velez is a junior on the Belleville basketball team.
“We’re getting a chance to work on team chemistry,” said Velez, a point guard. “That definitely helps. We’re getting ready for the winter now. We get to know who are teammates are and what they can do on the floor. We didn’t get a chance like this last year and that hurt us. Now, we know what we can do.”
The Kearny summer league runs Monday and Wednesday nights with games beginning on all three courts at 5 p.m. The league will run for the next two weeks.