Every year, Seton Hall University does a great thing especially for the young women athletes in New Jersey.
On “National Girls and Women in Sports Day,” the school hosts a luncheon honoring the top female athletes in the state. Sponsored in conjunction with the NJSIAA, the state’s governing body, the luncheon brings together all the top athletes, selected by their respective schools, to receive an award at the luncheon and perhaps hang around to watch the Seton Hall women’s basketball team play.
Three area standout student/athletes were selected to attend the luncheon and receive an award, namely Sydney Pace of Kearny, Melissa Torres of North Arlington and Cynthia Ferreira of Harrison.
These three fine young ladies were chosen because of their athletic prowess as well as their contributions in the classroom.
Ferreira, who is a phenomenal basketball player at Harrison, was completely floored by the event.
“For me, it was a great opportunity to be in a room full of great athletes,” Ferreira said. “It was amazing. I thought it was a great accomplishment. It was a great way for me to represent my school, my town and my community. It was really incredible.”
Ferreira said that she liked having the opportunity to meet and greet other fine athletes.
“I got to talk to a few girls,” Ferreira said. “It was cool.”
Pace, the standout three-sport athlete at Kearny (soccer, basketball and softball), was also in awe of the festivities.
“To think that there are all these great athletes in the room and I’m one of them,” said Pace, who has overcome two major knee surgeries in order to continue her career. “It was great recognition and a great honor.”
Pace, who has committed to play softball at William Paterson University, said that she was impressed to meet Maria Pepe, the first girl to ever play Little League baseball. Pepe, a Hoboken native, went on to have a fine career playing college softball after her breakthrough in Hoboken more than 45 years ago.
“I found her to be very inspiring,” Pace said.
Pace also got to meet some of the current William Paterson softball players and head coach Hallie Cohen.
“There were a lot of college athletes there, but I was glad to see the team’s shortstop (Rachel Wasilak, who ironically is the daughter of former Kearny head softball coach Bob Wasilak) was there. There was a sense of pride being there. It was definitely a different experience. I was able to see other girls there.”
One of whom was Torres, who once played softball with Pace for a North Arlington travel team years ago.
“I remember how Joanna Sica went last year and represented North Arlington and I was happy for her,” Torres said. “The fact that I was chosen to represent North Arlington this year puts me in the same category. I was honored to be chosen, very honored. I was definitely happy to be there. It was proof that my hard work paid off.”
Torres is headed to Rowan University in the fall to study athletic training.
It was fitting that Torres represented her school, because she tore her ACL in the first game of the soccer season and will have to sit out the entire basketball and softball seasons.
“I was surprised I was picked because of my ACL,” Torres said. “I didn’t think I had a chance.”
Torres said that the rehabilitation process “is going well,” but she won’t recover in time to play sports again for the Vikings.
“I’m hoping that I won’t miss softball season,” Torres said. “But we’ll wait and see. I played all three sports since freshman year. It stinks having to sit out.”
But Torres drew strength from her old friend and teammate.
“Sydney has actually gone through this twice,” Torres said. “So I can handle it.”
Ferreira doesn’t know her college plans just yet.
“I have a couple of letters that I have I have to respond to,” Ferreira said. “Right now, I’m just trying to focus on my school work and the season. We’ve had our ups and downs this season, but we’re all in it together.”
As were the three local ladies in it together at Seton Hall last weekend.
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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.”