Lyndhurst’s Pezzolla signs letter with Monmouth

LYNDHURST – When Giulia Pezzolla was growing up, she always thought she would eventually become a soccer star.

After all, that was the first sport she played when she was a toddler growing up all the way into high school.

And after all, it’s a sport where Pezzolla performed at the highest level, tallying more than 50 goals and registering more than 50 assists in her storied career at Lyndhurst High School.

But after she joined the track and field team, she realized that she was fast. Very fast.

“I really didn’t think about track until my junior year,” Pezzolla said. “That’s when things changed.”

Pezzolla became a standout in track and field for the Golden Bears, winning her share of county and state titles, earning just as solid of a reputation as a runner as she had on the soccer pitch.

As it turned out, Pezzolla became more of an attraction to college recruiters as a middle distance runner, earning offers from places like the University of Hartford and St. Francis of Pennsylvania.

But there was always one school that stood out in Pezzolla’s mind – Monmouth University. It’s the school that former Observer Male Athlete of the Year Petey Guerriero signed on to run track and play football.

“Definitely the size of the school attracted me,” Pezzolla said. “It’s not too big. And the atmosphere is great. They all welcomed me there and made me feel like I belonged there.”

Of course, speaking with an old friend like Guerriero helped. “I spoke with Petey,” Pezzolla said. “I always had Monmouth in mind.”

But Monmouth didn’t come forth with a scholarship offer until late in the process.

“I didn’t know in August what I was going to do,” Pezzolla said. “It was kind of late in the recruiting process. I was looking at other schools, but I always wanted Monmouth.”

That became a reality last Wednesday, when Pezzolla signed her National Letter of Intent to accept a track scholarship to Monmouth University.

“It definitely feels amazing,” Pezzolla said. “It’s definitely what I wanted.”
Pezzolla will compete in cross country for the first time in her life at Monmouth and will run distance races for the Hawks in the indoor and outdoor seasons.

“I like that,” Pezzolla said about running the 800 and 1,600-meter runs. “I feel the strongest doing those events.”

Needless to say, it was a great day for the Lyndhurst program, which saw Pezzolla’s soccer teammate Isabella Castagnetti (Holy Cross) and baseball standout Frankie Venezia (UMass-Lowell) sign National Letters of Intent to NCAA Division I schools two months ago.

Baseball player Jose Acta signed a letter to attend Division II Dominican College last Wednesday as well.

But the day belonged to Pezzolla.

“I’m super excited for her,” said Lyndhurst soccer and track coach Kim Hykey. “I don’t think Giulia has reached her top potential yet. She reached new levels here, but her best is yet to come. I think Giulia is her biggest competition, because she’s so hard on herself. But there’s so much more to her that has not been tapped yet. That’s what makes me super excited.”

Fellow Lyndhurst track and field coach Ed Tessalone echoed Hykey’s sentiments.

“I think her greatest potential is in the middle distances,” Tessalone said. “She’s made us all so proud over her four years here. It’s going to be a good fit for her going to Monmouth. It’s a good location.”

“She’s going to surprise some people,” Hykey added. “If she just believes in herself, she’ll excel.”

Pezzolla plans on majoring in special education/early education at Monmouth, with the hope someday of becoming a teacher.

“If not at home, then somewhere close,” Pezzolla said.

So now Pezzolla can continue with her training and preparing for a great outdoor campaign.

“It definitely takes a lot of stress out of my life,” Pezzolla said. “This took a lot of weight off my shoulders.”

For a school as small as Lyndhurst to have three NCAA Division I athletes in the same graduating class is truly remarkable. But it just goes to show the amount of quality athletes that are in Lyndhurst.




Lyndhurst High School senior Giulia Pezzolla (seated center) signs her national letter of intent, flanked by her parents, Doris Ann (seated left) and Gary (seated right). Standing from left are athletic director Jeff Radigan, assistant track coach Ed Tessalone, head soccer coach Kim Hykey, principal Laura Vuono and vice-principal Frank Venezia. 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.”