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.





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