Harrison High School Hall of Fame’s second new class will soon be inducted

Sean Dolaghan knew, when he took over as Harrison High School’s athletic director two years ago, he wanted to bring back the Harrison High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Last year, he spearheaded the first induction since 1994. And now, in year two, he’s ready to induct a new class.

The ceremony takes place May 9 at the Hanover Manor in East Hanover. There are three categories of inductees — athletes, coaches and teams.

The athletes are John “Jay” Vogt, Donald “Donnie” Boyer, Thomas Wardell, Stephen Reitberger, Mickey Rowe, Michelle Ferriero-Stamm, Kim McDonough-Huaranga and Frank Hernandez.

Coaches James A. Fife will be inducted for swimming and Nick Gregory for cheerleading.

The three teams include the 1984 World Championship Cheerleaders, the 1986 boys’ football Group II State Champs and the 1991 Group II girls’ basketball State Champions.

To put it mildly, Dolaghan’s work for the first installment of the resurrected Hall inductions was nothing short of spectacular. And given the amount of time, work and effort he’s put in, the 2024 version promises to be the same, if not greater.

But he says it’s not about him — it’s all about those entering the Hall, and it’s not an easy process to choose who gets in.

“All these inductees, what we do is we have a committee,” Dolaghan said. “We meet every two months, we get together, we put up a list of names. We have recommendations from anyone, graduates, parents of the high school, any community members. They send us a list of possible inductees. We talk about them. We vote as a committee. The majority of votes win.”

But there’s a little more than just that. Dolaghan says he and the committee try to spread out each year’s choices so there isn’t an overabundance of honorees from a given time period.

“We basically go by decades. We have the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, 2000s, and then we have coaches and teams,” he said of the sometimes challenging process. “The hard part about doing this is, in Harrison, a lot of people obviously think they should be in, which they should. And they will be in eventually. We have a lot of people from the ‘80s and ‘90s who were great, phenomenal athletes. But we try and put in different generations. So we might have one from the 2000s who might not be as recognized as someone from the ‘80s is.

“So we’re taking one or two from each decade, each era. We could have easily put eight players in from the ‘80s because they’re all deserving. But we’re trying to spread it out each year to give everybody a chance.”

So truly — do not fret if there are names missing you believe should be among the inductees — they will get their day.

Now here’s something else you should know. In order to be considered, one must have graduated at least 10 years ago. So no one from the Class of 2014 to 2023 is yet eligible. They will be, nonetheless, after the 10-year waiting period.

Earlier we mentioned the committee — it consists of an all-star cast, itself. Members include the aforementioned Dolaghan, plus Arthur Pettigrew, Alan Doffont, Jack Rodgers, Angel Lombardi, Mike Landy, Peter Marion, Samantha Vieira, Mike Rusek Jr. and Sr., Pedro Martinez, Joe Healy and Mike Dolaghan.

In all the 2024 induction in a few weeks should be another grand experience. And if you’re interested in going, tickets are $85. It’s too late to get in on the enormous induction program book — but if you can’t make it, but would still like to donate, you may do so by reaching out to Dolaghan at HHS.

Most of the proceeds come from the program ads and they all go toward the HHS athletics.

“We have so many great athletes at Harrison who graduated in the ‘80s and ‘90s and ‘70s and it’s only our second year (back),” Dolaghan said. “So be patient.”

Last year’s inaugural class of the resurrected Hall of Fame included former New York Jets quarterback Ray Lucas, Jody Hill, Krissy Kutt, Michael Landy Sr., John “Jackie” Thompson, Alice Burgos and Cristhian Acuna. Current Harrison boys’ soccer coach Mike Rusek Jr. as well as former boys basketball and girls soccer coach Phil Kutt were also inducted. The 2002 boys’ soccer team, which went 25-0-1, won the Group 2 championship and was named the No. 1 ranked team in New Jersey, was also honored.



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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.