The end of an era: Lyndhurst’s native son Shoebridge retires after four decades

LYNDHURST – Tom Shoebridge is part of one of the most historic athletic families in Lyndhurst High School history.

His older brother, Ted, could very well be the best athlete in the history of the school. Ted Shoebridge was an outstanding three-sport athlete who went on to play quarterback at Marshall University and was tragically killed in the famed airplane crash in 1970 that eliminated the entire football team.

All Tom Shoebridge wanted was to be like his big brother and to keep the legacy of his deceased brother alive.

“When I was watching my brother play, I knew I wanted to be involved in sports,” Tom Shoebridge said. “I said I would like to do the same thing. I was about 17 or 18, when I realized I could stay involved and be a coach. Once I was old enough to know, my dream was to become a football coach.”

Tom Shoebridge was more than just a football coach, a title he held in his native Lyndhurst for 30 years. He was also more than a basketball coach, a position he held for almost 10 years.

Through those years, Shoebridge, the man who is beloved and known in his hometown simply as “Shoe,” took on another coaching responsibility – building the school’s track and field program.

“When I was an athlete, I was awful in baseball,” Shoebridge said. “My brothers were great in baseball, but I couldn’t play. So I went out for track and became a hurdler. And I loved it. When I became a teacher, they needed an assistant track coach so I did that.”

In 1978, Shoebridge was elevated to the role of head track and field coach and the rest was history.

“I started out with the kids who weren’t good enough to play baseball,” Shoebridge said. “And it got real easy to recruit kids when (Jim) Chizzie Vuono came on. The kids bought in. We enjoyed it so much. All of a sudden, 10 years became 20 and 20 became 30. It’s funny how things just happened.”

But recently, now at age 63, Shoebridge finds himself slowing down. He had knee replacement surgery last year that didn’t go well, that led to a dangerous infection and two subsequent surgeries that have yet to fully heal.

When the outdoor track season began in earnest a few weeks ago, Shoebridge realized that his time had come. He was retiring as the full-time track coach, turning the program over to former assistant and girls’ soccer head coach Kim Hykey. Shoebridge will remain on this season as a part-time volunteer coach, but his tenure as the head coach has come to an end.

“I just thought it was time,” Shoebridge said. “My knee hasn’t recovered yet. My wife Luann and I have other things we like to do, like to go to the Jersey shore or watch my godson play baseball (at Ramapo College). I’ll be here a lot as a volunteer. Whatever they need me for, I’ll be here.”

But after 40 years, Tom Shoebridge is no longer the face of Lyndhurst track. It ends a tenure that culminated in 275 dual meet wins against just 84 losses, 14 different league championships, either in the old Bergen County Scholastic League or the new North Jersey Interscholastic Conference. There were eight Bergen County championships, two NJSIAA state sectional titles in 2011 and 2014 and a host of memories.

Shoebridge also coached two former Observer Male Athletes of the Year in Patrick Rono and Petey Guerriero.

“It just goes to show you all the hard work of the kids, all the work they put in, paid off,” Shoebridge said. “That’s the true measure of the program.”

Shoebridge thanked the dedication of the kids for over the years.

“They were the ones who bought in,” Shoebridge said. “Every year, we got kids to come out and enjoy the sport. They eventually became champions. I’m so grateful that they all bought into the program.”

Shoebridge said that he will always remember the first ever league champion in 1985 and the 2011 season, when the Golden Bears won the “triple crown,” namely league, Bergen County and state sectional championships.

“It was the first state sectional title in 50 years,” Shoebridge said. “The kids made the program successful. Everyone knows in Lyndhurst that baseball is the king of spring. Well, we didn’t do too bad. I’m proud of these kids. It just goes to show you that if you put in the hard work, if you’re a good person and you work hard, then you’re already a champion. They believed in themselves and that was very rewarding for me as a coach.”

Shoebridge thanked some of the guys he worked with over the years, like Jim Corino, Arnie Perrone and Vuono.

“Those guys were my mentors,” Shoebridge said. “I watched their work ethic and how they carried themselves day in and day out. I owe everything to them.”
And then, Shoebridge remembered the two most influential people in his life, his parents, Ted, Sr. and Yolanda, who have both now left us – Ted, Sr. in 1996 and Yolanda three years later.

“They were the greatest coaches that I ever had,” Tom Shoebridge said, choking back tears. “MY mother always said that we lived at 613 Second Avenue but Lyndhurst is my home. That sums it up. Lyndhurst is still home to me.”

And the native son has called it a day, giving way to younger people the way coaches do these days. But it will be hard to replace what Tom Shoebridge was and is to Lyndhurst High School and the people of Lyndhurst. He’s like that old Shoe – no pun intended – that’s just too hard to get rid of.




Long-time Lyndhurst track and field coach Tom Shoebridge looks over the track at Lyndhurst High School, where he coached for the last 40 years, before recently announcing his retirement. Photo by Jim Hague


With his late brother’s name behind him, Tom Shoebridge hugs the rail at Lyndhurst High School, after retiring after 40 years as track and field coach. Photo courtesy of Tom Shoebridge




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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.”