Kearny remembers fallen star Velazquez with pre-game ceremony

A three-foot high poster of Adrian Velazquez now permanently adorns the wall outside the locker room at Harvey Field in Kearny and Kearny head boys’ soccer coach Bill Galka was trying to find the words necessary to talk of his standout player, who tragically was killed in a car accident last March.

“Adrian was loved by so many,” Galka said as emotion forced his voice to crack. “He had great personality, but there was a little devilish part of his personality. I miss his rosy cheeks.”
Velazquez played last season for Rutgers-Newark and had a highly successful freshman season as a defender for the Scarlet Raiders, before his life was tragically cut short in Delaware in a crash that killed another friend and seriously injured a Rutgers-Newark teammate.

But Velazquez, who was only 19 at the time of his passing, will forever be remembered as a standout Kearny soccer player.

And Galka thought it would be a good way to honor Velazquez, placing the poster of Velazquez outside the locker rooms where the teams dress before playing home games.

The Kardinals opened their regular season Saturday with a 2-1 victory over Union City.

“We want this to be a place to remember Adrian, where he played so many times,” Galka said. “We are dedicating the season to him.”

So the Kardinals have AV-17 (Velazquez’s uniform number) on their uniform sleeves.

“It’s our way to remember him,” Galka said. “We have so many good memories of him.”

Velazquez’s mother, Tania Rivero, thanked everyone for the outpouring of love. Flowers were placed at the foot of the poster, much like the flowers that adorned Harvey Field’s entrance in March after Adrian’s untimely passing.

“You can see how much he meant to everyone,” Rivero said. “He enjoyed life and he enjoyed playing soccer. This place was always special to him when he was playing. I’ll remember all the days of him playing here. We are so honored to see this here. It’s just amazing. The amount of support that everyone has shown us, the town of Kearny, the school, everyone, it’s just amazing. It’s never easy as a parent to lose a child, but to have him honored in this way, it’s amazing.”

Adrian’s younger brother, Daniel, is a freshman in the Kearny soccer program. He was honored to be able to wear No. 17 just like his late brother.

“It means a lot to me,” Daniel Velazquez said. “I know he would have been happy having a day like this. Seeing the picture here makes me miss him more. I will always think of him when I play this year. This is a good day.”

Javier Velazquez, Adrian’s father, agreed.

“A day like this makes me very proud,” Javier Velazquez said. “He was such a young man, but he was loved so much. He lived his whole life in Kearny and loved living here. It means so much to us as a family to have this here. It also shows how much he was loved by everyone here. I wish we all weren’t here for a day like this. I’m not happy for the reason, but this shows how much he meant to everyone.”
And Velazquez will forever be remembered by everyone who visits Harvey Field in the future.




Kearny head boys’ soccer coach Bill Galka addresses the group at the dedication of a poster honoring the late Adrian Velazquez, who was killed in a car accident in March. Velazquez, who was a three-year varsity player at Kearny, played the 2017 season at Rutgers-Newark. 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.”