In North Arlington, kids learn from living legend

Rich Corsetto has been coaching basketball in gyms all over New Jersey and beyond for almost a half century.

For those who are not mathematics wizards, that sums up to a very long time.

Corsetto, the coaching vagabond, has seemed to settle down as he reaches his twilight years. Corsetto has been the boys’ head basketball coach at North Arlington High School for the last three years now, having enjoyed three highly successful campaigns with the Vikings.

And last week, Corsetto had another successful stint _ as the director of the Vikings Basketball Camp for youngsters at North Arlington High.

Close to 50 youngsters enrolled for the week-long tutoring session, which is guided by Corsetto and his dutiful staff that includes George Rotondo, Marcello D’Andrea and Bobby Crudele.

“I really enjoy it,” Corsetto said. “I have three grandchildren and I coached them when they were young. Coaching little kids is just great. They’re having a great time. Plus, it’s a good feeder system for our program. The kids get to know the coaches before they come to the high school, so it’s very beneficial.”

Corsetto said that the youngsters work on the basics of basketball.

“We go over fundamentals,” Corsetto said. “We put the kids together that have some experience with those just learning. It’s all one system. They’re all working hard. They’re learning and getting better.”

Corsetto has earned more than 725 wins in his illustrious coaching career that goes back to the days of Godfather earning best picture honors and Richard Nixon ruling the White House.

While his victories have come on either the collegiate or high school levels, Corsetto admires the dedication that young kids put into the game of basketball.

“If you go away from the week learning just one thing, then you’ve accomplished something,” Corsetto said. “We have a great staff of teachers. The North Arlington Recreation department is involved. To be successful, you need to have good people around me and I definitely have good people.”

Corsetto loves the eagerness of the youngsters.

“There’s nothing better than seeing a kid improve over the course of the week,” Corsetto said. “At the end of the week, when that kid dribbles the ball or makes that shot, you feel you’ve done something right as a coach. That’s what it’s all about.”

Declan Hughes is a 10-year-old camper from Roosevelt School. Young Declan came away remembering a catchy slogan.

“I learned how to grip and rip,” Hughes said. “I’m really happy. I learned a lot of stuff.”

It is vital to learn stuff at basketball camps.

“I’m fortunate to be here,” Hughes said. “Soccer is actually my favorite sport, with basketball second.”

Older brother Aidan is 13 and headed for eighth grade at the North Arlington Middle School. Aidan Hughes plays for both the North Arlington Recreation program and the town’s travel team, so he’s been around the block a few times.

“Camp like this helps me a lot,” Aidan Hughes said. “I’ve been playing for a long time, but there’s still a lot I need to learn.”

See, Aidan is a grizzled veteran of basketball.

“It’s a lot of fun and I love playing,” Hughes said. “Having a camp like this helps me shoot the ball better and shoot it properly. There are also guys here who are bigger than me.”

It’s safe to say that Hughes dominates when he’s down low.

“I can play all over, but I have to work against the bigger guys,” Hughes said. “It definitely helps.”

Joseph DiGregorio is 13 years old and also headed to the North Arlington Middle School. He has aspirations of making the travel team this season.

“I’ve played basketball with the (North Arlington) Rec program, but I’m trying out for travel,” DiGregorio said. “I love playing basketball. I have a hoop in my driveway and I also play in the schoolyards. Nothing is going to stop me this year. I’m very determined.”

DiGregorio was asked about the one thing he learned during the week-long camp.

“I learned how to be a better defensive player,” DiGregorio said.

Ah, a coach’s dream.

Jack Waddleton is a 10-year-old hoopster from Roosevelt School. He was asked if he had relatives from Jersey City, because the late George and the late Danny Waddleton (brothers) were both college basketball standouts during the 1950s.

“I guess basketball is in my blood,” said Waddleton, who did not know if he was related to the Waddleton brothers of Jersey City, even if it’s not a common name.

“It’s my favorite sport,” Jack Waddleton said. “I’ve learned a lot about shooting accuracy, my dribbling, just way too much to say. It’s been a lot of fun being here.”

Sean Manzo is an 11-year-old who is headed to the North Arlington Middle School.

“I learned a good amount this week,” Manzo said. “I have a hoop at the top of my garage where I play a lot. I also play Recreation and travel, so this definitely will help me out. I definitely came here to learn how to play better.”

That’s what the summertime is all about. Learning about sports and being with your friends. It seems like the mission was accomplished in the North Arlington High School gymnasium last week.


More than 50 youngsters were enrolled in the Vikings Basketball Camp at North Arlington High School, coordinated by head basketball coach Rich Corsetto (center). Photo by Jim Hague

From left, Declan Hughes, Joseph DiGregorio, Jack Waddleton, Sean Manzo and Aidan Hughes show off their ball handling abilities at the Vikings Basketball Camp at North Arlington last week. Photo by Jim Hague

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”