Proud day for Nutley athletics: Eight students sign letters to head to college sports

NUTLEY — Before he competed in the NJSIAA District 10 wrestling tournament Saturday _ a tournament that had to be moved to Belleville High School at the last minute due to a terrorist threat at his school on Friday _ Nutley High School senior Frank DiMaio was able to put his name on a scholarship letter to attend Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

DeMaio would eventually finish third in the District 10 tourney at 160 pounds, moving on to this weekend’s Region 3 tourney at West Orange.

But DeMaio wasn’t alone in his moment of glory recently.

“I like sharing the moment with my classmates,” DeMaio said. “We’re moving on together. It’s nice to share it with everyone. It shows the athletic ability that comes out of this school.”

Eight Nutley seniors got together to put their respective names on dotted lines, signing National Letters of Intent to head to their respective schools to participate in their respective sports. It was easily the biggest contingency of Maroon Raiders to ever go on to college sports from the same senior class.

DeMaio plans on majoring in physical therapy at Delaware Valley.

“All that stress about college is now off my shoulders,” DeMaio said. “It’s really a great day.”

Four products from the highly successful girls’ soccer program are moving on to college, namely Isabella Gonsiewski and Jillian DeSantis (LaSalle University), Lauren Holden (University of Scranton) and Maisie Jelley (Ramapo).

DeSantis didn’t know she was going to head to a Division I soccer program until two days prior to signing day.

“They actually reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to visit,” DeSantis said. “I went there and fell in love with it. I think this shocked a lot of people. But everyone is happy for me. It’s a really big day and I’m really excited.”
DeSantis was all set to head to Ramapo with teammate Jelley, but then the scholarship offer came along to join former teammate Gonsiewski.

“It’s a day that I will remember for the rest of my life,” said DeSantis, who will major in psychology at LaSalle with the hope of becoming a psychologist.

Holden will head to Scranton to major in business.

“It was a good fit for me,” Holden said. “It’s a smaller school and that’s what I wanted. I also wanted to go someplace where I could play soccer. I’m really excited.”

Jelley is headed to Ramapo to major in education with the hope of becoming a physical education teacher and possibly a coach.

“Maybe I can come back here and help out one day,” Jelley said. “I really liked the school when I went for a visit and I enjoyed being with the team. It’s so exciting to share this day with everyone and I wish everyone the best.”

Jimmy Quinn, the standout cross country and track performer, signed on to the University of Richmond. Quinn is undecided about his field of study.

“It means a lot to me to be part of the biggest group we’ve ever had,” Quinn said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Quinn said he chose Richmond after taking a visit to the school.

“I really liked the team when I met them,” Quinn said. “It’s a great academic opportunity for me. I made some good connections when I was there. It’s a pretty proud day for all of us.”

Quinn will join a fledgling cross country program at Richmond.

“They just started a cross country program there and they’re trying to bring track back,” Quinn said. “I think the recruiting class is all predominately track guys.”

Quinn said that he was really improving indoors when he developed tendinitis in his ankle that forced him to the sidelines. He hopes to be able to compete when the outdoor track team begins practices next month.

“I’m really excited to post some fast times,” Quinn said.

Another Nutley runner, Ellie McCreesh, made her intentions official to attend The College of New Jersey in the fall.

A few days later, McCreesh became a record holder, when she broke the school record for the 3,200-meter run in the NJSIAA Group III championships at the Bennett Center in Toms River. McCreesh was clocked at 11:51.04, the fastest time ever recorded either indoor or outdoor. It is quite a feat indeed.

Both Quinn and McCreesh should be standouts for the Maroon Raiders come spring.

Dan Caraballo, a pitcher and outfielder for the Nutley baseball team, will head to Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts. He will major in sports administration and business at Nichols.

“I was looking for a school that was a little secluded and nice,” Caraballo said. “I think the environment is what sold me. This day is just another chapter in my life reaching for my dream.”

Caraballo was asked how wild it was that he was signing on to a college, when it just seemed like it was yesterday that he was entering Nutley High.

“It’s really crazy how much I’ve grown,” Caraballo said. “And now I’m signing with a college. And I’m doing it with guys that I all grew up with. I think it’s really neat that we’re all going on to college together.”

Nutley athletic director Joe Piro expressed his sentiments about the proud day.

“I’m very proud of all the kids,” Piro said. “It shows their commitment to both athletics and academics. They’re all doing the right things. I think this day speaks volume for our athletic program, for our coaches and for the Nutley community. It’s a great day.”

The pride was certainly evident in the faces of the young student/athletes. It was definitely a day to remember for Nutley athletics.


It was a great day for Nutley High School athletics, as eight seniors signed on to their respective schools, the largest group in school history. Seated from left are Jillian DeSantis (LaSalle University), Maisie Jelley (Ramapo), Isabella Gonsiewski (LaSalle University), Ellie McCreesh (The College of New Jersey) and Lauren Holden (University of Scranton). Standing from left are Frank DeMaio (Delaware Valley University), Jimmy Quinn (University of Richmond) and Dan Caraballo (Nichols College). Photo by Jim Hague

Learn more about the writer ...

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.”