While growing up in Lyndhurst, Maggie Fodera played soccer her entire life, back to the days when she was just beginning to walk.
But as she got a little older, Fodera realized that she could compete in track and field as well, much like her older brother, Christopher.
“I was always pretty fast and pretty tall,” Fodera said. “I grew up watching track and I thought that maybe it was something I could do when I got to high school.”
Kim Hykey, both the girls’ soccer and girls’ track and field head coach at Lyndhurst High School, knew that Fodera had the athletic ability to compete in both sports.
“I knew she always liked the competition,” Hykey said. “She also liked the individual training. She had all the goods to do both.”
There was never any doubting Fodera’s talents as a soccer player. Her height and size made her a tenacious defender.
“She’s smart, strong and composed,” Hykey said. “She gets such good touch on the ball. She just beats people with her size and strength. No one can bring the ball to the middle of the field against her. She really can do whatever she wants.”
Fodera had such a good senior year for the Golden Bears on the soccer pitch that she earned All-Bergen County honors, the first Lyndhurst product to earn All-Bergen honors since her head coach Hykey did nearly 20 years ago.
But Fodera fell in love with track and field from almost the minute she tried it out.
“It’s an individual sport,” Fodera said. “I had to hold myself accountable for all I did. It was up to me doing a good job. In soccer, I can play defense, but only so much did I make an impact. I was super fortunate to always have a solid team with me. But in track, it was all on me. I couldn’t depend upon anyone else and I liked that.”
By the time Fodera was a sophomore at Lyndhurst, she was already making her mark in track and field, especially the hurdles.
“I was hitting my times and breaking records,” Fodera said. “I thought maybe I could make something good out of track. If I’m this good at it, maybe it’s something I could do in college.”
Recently, the soccer star Fodera took the next step in her athletic life, when she signed a national letter of intent to attend Bryant University in Rhode Island on a track and field scholarship. Bryant is a NCAA Division I institution.
Fodera was worried that she was not going to be able to secure a scholarship, because she missed out on the entire outdoor track and field season last spring due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic that canceled the entire campaign.
“Honestly, I was really devastated,” Fodera said. “I always thought that your junior year was really important with the colleges. But thankfully, I had a good sophomore year and a lot of schools were understanding about the situation.”
Incredibly, Fodera has never met Mitchell Switzer, the head track and field coach at Bryant. They have only communicated through Zoom calls.
“But when I stepped onto the campus, I knew that this was where I belonged,” Fodera said. “I knew that I could see myself there.”
Fodera has enjoyed a brilliant track and field career at Lyndhurst, including setting new school records in the 100-meter high hurdles and the high jump.
“I just had to learn the proper technique,” Fodera said. “And then I really took off.”
Fodera finished third at the Bergen County Meet of Champions in the 100-meter hurdles as a sophomore. During the indoor track season as a junior last year, Fodera set the new school record of 8.85 in the 55-meter hurdles and won the gold medal in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II championships.
Fodera doesn’t know what she will major in at Bryant, but the school does have a strong business school, so that might be the choice of study.
“It’s also a very balanced track program,” Fodera said.
Hykey believes that Fodera could have played soccer in college.
“She’s one of the best all-around players I’ve ever coached,” Hykey said. “Without a doubt, she could have played in college. She’s a First Team All-County player, the first one we’ve had in a long time. She had a lot of schools interested in her for soccer, but Bryant offered a lot to Maggie for track. She’s also a good student.”
Hykey believes that Fodera’s future is as a hurdler.
“Although she set the school record in the high jump, she’s pretty much a hurdler,” Hykey said. “She’s going to Bryant on a jumping/hurdling scholarship.”
Hykey believes that Fodera could do both sports in college.
“I wish she could do both,” Hykey said. “She has all the tools. I think if she dedicates herself to one sport, it could be a really great four years for her. She’s a special, special athlete. I’m super proud of her. This is really well deserved. It’s going to be exciting to see what lies ahead for her.”
Fodera said that she hasn’t ruled out trying both sports at Bryant.
“I don’t know yet,” Fodera said. “I can’t say it’s totally out of the picture. I might get there and say I miss soccer. But right now, for now, I’m going with track.”
Fodera was asked what it was like to put her signature on the national letter, sealing her scholarship.
“I just felt like my hard work had paid off,” Fodera said. “I thought of all the early morning practices in the cold and in the heat. It’s really an awesome feeling. I’m just glad I’m going to go to a school and get a chance to compete.”
Lyndhurst senior Maggie Fodera (seated center) signed her national letter of intent to attend Bryant University in Rhode Island. Seated with Maggie are her parents Chris (left) and Jen (right). Standing in the second row, from left, are athletic director Jeff Radigan, track coach Ed Tessalone, track and soccer coach Kim Hykey and vice-principal Frank Venezia. Photo courtesy of Lyndhurst athletics
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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.”