Billy Addeo had just finished playing hockey after his junior year of high school at Paramus Catholic, when he came up with a unique way of keeping in shape during the off months from hockey.
“A lot of the hockey players at school all played lacrosse,” said Addeo, a native of North Arlington. “So I wound up playing lacrosse.”
There was only a slight problem with that picture. Addeo had never played lacrosse before, not for a single minute.
“I knew nothing about lacrosse,” said Addeo (pronounced AH-DAYO). “It was definitely an experience,” Addeo said.
And of course, what position on the field did Addeo decide to play?
“I wound up being the goalie,” Addeo said.
It has been said and duly noted that being the goalie in the sport of lacrosse is perhaps the most dangerous and most thankless position anyone can play in organized team sports.
It’s like being the bulls’ eye at a rifle range or target at a carnival dunk tank. You are asked to do anything to prevent this ridiculously hard rubber ball from going into a small goal, coming at you at supersonic high rates of speed from all sorts of angles.
Did we mention that the ball is deceptively hard? Of course, it is made of rubber, but it’s not exactly a Spaldeen.
Addeo was more clueless than Alicia Silverstone was in that funny teen movie of a decade ago.
“When I signed up, I had no idea what it was like,” Addeo said. “If I thought about it a little more, I probably wouldn’t have done it. But I knew I didn’t want to play any offseason sport. I was getting the chance to play lacrosse with my hockey teammates.”
There were times that Addeo wanted to know if he needed to have his head examined.
“I didn’t know how hard that ball could hit you,” Addeo said.
And lacrosse goalies are not as well protected as his ice brethren. In fact, the hockey scorekeeper wears more protective equipment than the lacrosse goalie.
A lacrosse goalie gets a helmet and facemask like the hockey goalie. Of course, there’s a stick and a catching glove.
But that’s all in terms of protective gear for the lacrosse net minder. There are no thigh pads or knee pads or blocking pads of any kind — just a uniform jersey and shorts.
“My first game, I was a little in a state of shock,” Addeo said. “I had no leg pads on and I got hit with the ball right on the shin. I couldn’t believe how much that hurt. I definitely screamed a little.”
The yelps of agony were heard all the way from Kinderkermack Road to Schuyler Avenue. But Addeo refused to give in to the pain.
“There were a couple of games when I went home and thought about not coming back,” Addeo said. “But we had a young team and I felt like the team needed me.”
Addeo played lacrosse for two years at Paramus Catholic and he then enrolled at Felician University.
When Addeo attended freshman orientation, he met a few guys who became some of his closest friends.
“I was sitting at orientation when somebody said that Felician had a lacrosse team,” Addeo said. “I said, ‘We have a lacrosse team?’ I told the guys at the table where I was sitting that I played lacrosse in high school. Well they said, ‘Our backup goalie just joined the (United States) Army.”
Addeo joined the lacrosse team at Felician and quickly bonded with the Golden Falcons’ head coach Brendan Bonacum.
“Coach Bonacum knows a lot of things that have helped me become a better goalie,” Addeo said. “Different drills and things that have me better. He taught me how to slow down and see the ball better. He gave me the confidence to clear the ball better.”
Seeing the ball is a key.
“I used to close my eyes a lot in high school,” Addeo said. “I used to close my eyes and pray that I’d stop it.”
Addeo has a twin sister, Jesse, who is studying nursing at Felician.
Addeo is now a junior at Felician, carrying a double major in criminal justice and cyber security. The Golden Falcons’ season ended abruptly in March, when the school shut down all athletic events due to the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19.
Addeo got to see some action in three of the Golden Falcons’ six matches they played before the season was halted. Addeo made five saves in 21 minutes of action. The Golden Falcons’ starting goalkeeper Pat Hemmer, a junior from Staten Island, was leading the nation in saves when the season ended.
“It was very disappointing,” Addeo said about the season ending. “We had a win for the first time in almost two years (an 11-6 win against Quincy College on March 8 in Romeoville, Illinois in what turned out to be the last game of the season). We had a lot of things to look forward to when Coach (Bonacum) broke the news, telling us the season was over. We were all devastated.”
Recently, Addeo received a reward for his dedication to the sport. He was named to the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) All-Academic team. It marked the second straight year that Addeo received Academic All-CACC honors. He’s the lone Felician University male athlete to receive Academic All-CACC for lacrosse in the school’s history.
Addeo spoke of the rigors of being a double major at the school while maintaining Academic All-CACC honors.
“It’s definitely difficult,” Addeo said. “Coach (Bonacum) makes sure everyone maintains a good GPA (grade point average).”
Addeo is carrying a 3.66 GPA in his junior year.
“It’s not easy at times, but I make sure I get the grades,” Addeo said.
Addeo knows that he wants to pursue a career in law enforcement, but he’s not quite sure exactly what road to follow.
“I’m not 100 percent sure,” Addeo said. “I’ve had a lot of people talk to me about the FBI and I have interest in perhaps becoming a state trooper.”
Earning Academic All-CACC honors for a second straight year meant a lot to Addeo.
“I take a huge amount of pride in it,” Addeo said. “Being an Academic All-League honoree, I’ve been able to prove my grades are just as good as they were before this year. It’s very important to know.”
It was especially essential since most of Addeo’s class work for the second semester was done online due to the coronavirus restrictions.
“It’s definitely different doing Zoom classes,” Addeo said. “But I just finished finals so I’m ready to work for the summer.”
It means helping his father, Bill, Sr., work on cars at the Lyndhurst Auto Body, to earn a few dollars here and there, while hopefully getting the chance to hone up his lacrosse skills.
“Maybe I can get together with a few friends and field some shots,” Addeo said.
At least now, Addeo knows he has a good future in lacrosse – and the rest of his life afterwards.
North Arlington native Billy Addeo, a junior at Felician University, was named to the All-Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Academic team for a second straight year. Photo courtesy of Felician University athletic communications
North Arlington native Billy Addeo shows the prowess in goal earlier this season for the Felician University men’s lacrosse team. Photo courtesy of Billy Addeo
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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.”