When Anthony DeMarco suffered a knee injury during the Lyndhurst High School Senior Night football game against Saddle Brook last September, the Golden Bear senior didn’t know what it meant for his college plans.
DeMarco, the standout two-sport athlete at the school, knew that his football career was over, but he didn’t want the knee injury to dampen any hopes he had of becoming a collegiate wrestler, which is his main sport.
“I already had torn the MCL (medial collateral ligament) in that knee,” DeMarco said. “It was unfortunate how it happened. I just cut off the knee and went right to the ground. As soon as I went down, I knew it was bad. I heard it pop.”
Although this time, the injury was far worse. DeMarco tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. The ACL injury is far more extensive and has a longer rehabilitation process. The injury meant that DeMarco was going to have to miss the entire wrestling season of his senior year.
“I thought that maybe I could go to a JUCO (junior college) for two years or perhaps D-III (NCAA Division III),” DeMarco said.
However, one of the schools that DeMarco showed interest in never lost faith in him.
“I had a long talk with Coach (John) Clark of Sacred Heart,” DeMarco said. “It was one of the schools I intended to apply to. Coach Clark told me that the program was up and running. I knew that (Lyndhurst assistant coach and former Queen of Peace wrestler) Andrew Polidore wrestled there, so I thought it could be a good fit.”
Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Connecticut is an NCAA Division I wrestling program, so they can offer scholarships.
“Once I went to visit there, I knew it was going to be a good fit,” said DeMarco, who signed his national letter of intent with the school last week. “It’s not too far away from home. If I get homesick, I can come home and get some home cooking and see my family. It’s probably the perfect distance for me to do my own thing and still be close to home.”
Since DeMarco will sit out this upcoming wrestling season rehabilitating his knee, he more than likely will sit out his freshman year as a medical redshirt.
“But after that, I’ll be ready to go,” said DeMarco, who finished second in the districts last year.
DeMarco wasn’t the only Lyndhurst senior to sign a national letter last week.
Alexa Borino, the standout centerfielder for the Golden Bears’ softball team, signed her NLI to attend Pace University next fall.
Borino said that she was able to be spotted by the top colleges, even though there was no high school softball season last spring.
Borino said that she played club softball for the East Coast Tsunami, a team she has been with since sixth grade.
“My club coach sent the Pace coach an email and said that Pace was one of my top schools,” Borino said. “I really liked how close knit everyone was there. It was a small enough school where everyone felt like they were part of a community. I saw the softball team play in the fall and I felt like I was capable of fitting in and playing at that level.”
Pace is an NCAA Division II school.
Because of the pandemic causing the cancellation of last softball season, Borino said that she had to send out countless videos of her playing to get recruited.
“The coach (Claudia Stabile) sent me emails and told me how I could improve,” Borino said. “This was before I even thought about signing. I felt if she had that much interest in me and wants to help me improve, then she was definitely interested in me.”
In December, Stabile offered Borino a spot on their roster when Borino is ready to arrive at the Pleasantville, N.Y. school next fall.
Borino is an excellent student, having attained a 4.0 grade point average and a score of 1,140 on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests. She plans on majoring in criminal justice and psychology, with the eventual plan of attending law school.
“It’s really special for me,” Borino said. “I worked really hard for this. It’s very important to come from a small town like Lyndhurst and get a chance like this. If you can play the game, you can accomplish anything you want. I’m one of those who got that opportunity. I was always thinking of getting recruited and getting a chance like this.”
Now, Borino can concentrate on having a solid senior season for the Golden Bears.
“We’re a very good team,” Borino said. “I think we have a lot to prove. We’re playing a tough schedule.”
DeMarco comes from a long line of athletes in his family. His father, Robert, was a two-sport athlete in his heyday and his older brothers Bobby and Matthew were also fine athletes at Lyndhurst. Bobby DeMarco is currently in law school in Colorado and Matthew DeMarco is a football player at Montclair State. His cousin Michael was a great wrestler at St. Mary’s of Rutherford, where he wrestled for Lyndhurst head coach Scot Weaver.
“I always looked up to my brothers and my cousin Mike,” DeMarco said. “I always wanted to be a wrestler like them. It feels good to get the opportunity to wrestle in college. Coach Weaver always talked about this happening. It feels good to be able to achieve it.”
DeMarco will major in journalism with an emphasis on sports media and minor in sports management. He said that he has yet to meet Sacred Heart athletic director Bobby Valentine, the former manager of the New York Mets.
“As a Mets fan, I want to meet him,” DeMarco said.
Chances are that DeMarco will have that meeting soon enough.
Lyndhurst senior wrestler Anthony DeMarco signs his national letter of intent to wrestle at Sacred Heart University in the fall. Photo courtesy of Lyndhurst athletics
Lyndhurst senior softball standout Alexa Borino signs her national letter of intent to play softball at Pace University next year. 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.”