Thursday, May 31, 2007

Fact Vs. Fiction

For the past several months there has certainly been a lot of talk about a plan by the Toms River Regional School District to construct a privately-funded Wellness Center. The problem for most of the public has been to separate fact from fiction over the facility, which is to be located between Hooper Avenue Elementary School and Intermediate East and sit in front of the indoor athletic complex known as “The Bubble.”

Critics and opponents have portrayed the planned building as nothing more than a gym and fitness center while the school district says its main goal would be to educate students and the public on the importance of wellness and a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Wellness education would focus on nutrition and exercise and also deal with the problems of smoking, drugs and alcohol. The idea behind a center would be to have a centralized location to provide the tools needed to promote optimal health for school-age students.

Again the problem over the past few months has been for the general public to really understand what the proposed facility is all about. To that end the Board of Education and Administration have established a 40-member Planning and Development Committee, and I’ve agreed to be part of that group. We me for the first time last night and got an overview of the project from Superintendent Michael Ritacco, Assistant Superintendent Michael Citta and Board member Betty Vasil, who will chair the committee.

The group is a diverse one of professionals, concerned parents, teachers and local citizens and we will be meeting regularly over the next few months as final planning begins which hopefully will lead to ground breaking in the near future.

In order to get a better idea of what the Wellness Center might look like the committee will be visiting one already open and operating in Hamilton Township before our next meeting.

The bottom line is the School District is including the public in the project which hopefully leads to ideas and suggestions which will be implemented. Just as important we’ll be able to separate fact from fiction and that in itself is a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Go Mariners!

Since the high school sports year is coming to a close today’s segment is devoted to those few teams who have not put their uniforms away and are still competing for state championships, the ultimate goal of high school athletes and coaches.

The Toms River North baseball team was expected to be pretty good this season but the Mariners have certainly exceeded expectations and earned a spot in the South Jersey Group 4 Championship game with a gut-wrenching 1-0 win Tuesday over arch-rival Toms River South in the fourth meeting of the season between the teams. Mariner junior Zach Brebner tossed a no-hitter as for the second time in a couple of weeks he hooked up with the Indians Marc Potter in a memorable pitchers duel. Brebner has thrown 16 consecutive scoreless innings against the Indians and he needed all of them. North scored the games only run when Paul DeMartino singled to lead off the bottom of the 6th and came home following a double error.

The Mariners 24-4 record is the best in school history and with the Class A South championship under their belt they will now host Washington Township Friday with a chance to win their first state sectional title in 10 years. Coach Ted Schelmay’s team is also alive in the Shore Conference Tournament and hosts Colts Neck this afternoon in the quarterfinals. Lots of laundry for the Mariner Moms but I’m sure they don’t mind.

Also playing for State Sectional titles will be the softball teams from Toms River East and Central. The Raiders earned a South Jersey Group 4 title game appearance with a 7-0 win over Vineland Tuesday as the seemingly always-brilliant Lyndsey PeQueen tossed a two-hitter and freshman Holly Luciano blasted a three-run homer. PeQueen struck out 6, giving her 379 for the season which is just four shy of the Shore Conference record. The sophomore will probably go into the record books tomorrow when the 28-1 Raiders host Absegami.

Central’s Golden Eagles punched their ticket to the South Jersey Group 3 Finals with a 6-4 win over Highland behind pitcher Jenn Pepper and clutch hitting from Christa Shea and Alexis Majury. Central will host Hammonton tomorrow with a chance to claim a state sectional championship.

Not to be forgotten is the Southern Regional Boys Volleyball team, which has a quarterfinal round game today in the state tournament.

Post Holiday Weekend Thought (Tues)

It would be hard to complain about the weather this past weekend as it was good enough to allow most scheduled outdoor activities to proceed as planned. There have not been too many Memorial Day weekends in which I actually got to the beach but Saturday I spent most of the day on the 2nd Avenue in Seaside Park where I saw some familiar faces from past summers, one of the reasons why I like setting up shop on the same beach year after year.

The holiday weekend also meant that you needed your beach badges and if ever I needed a reminder that time is flying by I got it Saturday morning.
While I sat reading the newspaper I watched the girls, known as “rovers” walking the beaches and checking to see if people had their 15-year old daughter was one of them.

You need to keep Yankee fans away from sharp objects these days as the news goes from bad to worse. Monday’s loss drops them 7 games under .500 and into a tie for last place in the American League East. The 13 ½ games they trail Boston is the farthest the Yanks have been out of first place since 1995 and many fans have written off the season. However they are only 7 ½ games out in the wild card race which is not out of reach with well over a 100 games left in the season.

A Toms River team will play for the South Jersey Group 4 Baseball championship later this week. That’s guaranteed because North hosts South today in the sectional semifinals with the winner to advance into the title game Friday. The Mariners have won two of the three meetings so far. Manchester and Point Beach also have sectional semifinal games today as do the softball teams from Toms River East and Central.

Shore Regional is a name synonymous with success in Girls Lacrosse so it would not come as a surprise to find the Blue Devils in the Finals of the Shore Conference Freshman Tournament. Today they will travel to Toms River South where the Indians have reached the championship game after a thrilling 10-9 semifinal win over Holmdel Friday, a game in which South scored the final five goals. As I’ve said before there is nothing more exciting than watching your child compete in athletics and I’ve enjoyed watching my daughter Alex and the rest of the South freshman, who’ve lost only one game all season. Good luck to Coach Meyers and the Indians!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ready Or Not...It's Summer!

Ready or not Memorial Day weekend is here….a three-day stretch which marks the unofficial start of the summer tourism season at the Jersey Shore. In some ways this is often the busiest weekend of the year and you can be sure that roadways will be packed and the beach communities will be jammed. If you’re looking for peace and quiet then you want to remain west of any bridges because the warm temperatures are sure to drive many to the shore towns.

Of course it’s not like it used to be in Ocean County as traffic and congestion are part of our daily lifestyle, 52 weeks a year. There was a time when the summer months meant a huge change from the rest of the year but unless you are along the beach it’s really not all that different any longer. The reason for that is many who came here as summertime visitors have become all-year residents.

The holiday weekend is also the start of benny-bashing for many and that’s an easy thing to do. But as I often say how many of us adults are life-long residents of Ocean County as opposed to those who have re-located here? Fact of the matter is most of you listening were not born here so before you are quick to rip our summer visitors remember that you were probably one of them at some point. Plus it’s tourism that put us on the map and in many cases made this area such a desirable place to live. I say this knowing that I’ll be screaming this weekend when I’m caught in traffic and probably cursing under my breath but remember….do as I say, not as I do.

Even more than usual it seems like Memorial Day snuck up on us this year.
With such poor weather in March and April it feels like spring only came a couple of weeks ago and now temperatures are well into the 80’s, the air conditioners go on and summer is here. However I vow not to complain about heat and humidity because it’s better than snow, sleet and single-digit temperatures. Now we get to talk about the heat index instead of the wind chill and that’s fine by me.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Big Leaguers In New Jersey

Wednesday was a perfect day to play baseball and it was a memorable one
for many in the shore area. Hundreds of young kids got an unexpected thrill at FirstEnergy Park where their school trip to a BlueClaws game allowed them to see Ryan Howard put on a Lakewood uniform for the first time since 2002. The Phillies slugger did not disappoint the crowd of 8,063…many who bought tickets after it was announced that the National League MVP would make a pair of rehab starts in Ocean County. Howard belted a three-run homer in his final at-bat to lift the BlueClaws to a 7-4 win over Hagerstown. The opposite field blast was well over 400 feet and it capped a day in which he also doubled in a run, walked and struck out.

The stadium was filled with fans sporting the Phillies #6 uniform that Howard now wears as well as the #29 jersey from his BlueClaws days. While many of the school kids didn’t pay particular attention to the hoopla over Howard’s appearance, each of his four at-bats provided the kind of excitement not normally found at a minor league game, especially one that started at 11AM.

I’m sure there were fans that left Lakewood and then traveled to Trenton for the Roger Clemens circus. A record crowd of 9,134 turned out at Waterfront Park, where tickets were being scalped for as much as $200 to see the 44-year old future Hall of Famer make his second minor league appearance in this latest comeback. Clemens threw 102 pitches over 5 1/3 so-so innings and it’s not known if he’ll make another minor league start or pitch for the Yankees in Toronto next week.

The two minor league games not only drew 17,200 fans but an incredible amount of media attention. The BlueClaws had nearly 40 requests for credentials for their game, including 7 TV crews. That was nothing compared to Trenton, who gave out well over 70 press credentials for their game with some 15 TV crews on hand. BlueClaws fans get one more chance to see Howard as he’ll be in the lineup for tonight’s game.

There was good and bad news for Marc Fink Wednesday. The former Jackson slugger saw his Shore Conference record of 27 career home runs surpassed by Ocean’s Keith Weinkofsky. However Fink, in his first year as a Jaguar assistant coach, was in uniform as his alma mater topped Toms River South 1-0 to advance into the quarterfinals of the Shore Conference Tournament.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Kevin Becomes An Allergy Sufferer

For years I would listen and watch as allergy sufferers struggled through this time of year praying for the pollen to stop falling and for their coughing, sneezing and wheezing to go away. Allergies had never been a problem for me…well that’s actually not completely true. When I was 15 years old and experiencing some sinus problems I was put through the rigors of a complete test to find if allergies were the problem. When the report came back the doctor informed me I was allergic to only two things….beer and peanuts.
This was devastating news for a teen-ager to hear but it turned out it was no big deal and I’ve happily enjoyed both over the years.

Getting back to allergies….I assumed that once you get to a certain point in life they will never be an issue. However based on what I’ve heard and are experiencing myself it appears that is not the case. I have been struggling for the past month with a cough that just won’t go away. For the first couple of weeks I assumed it was some type of cold, especially because my wife had pretty much the same symptoms. Like me she had never been troubled during allergy season but came back from her doctor with a diagnosis that it was pollen and the like causing her problems. We were both surprised but more and more I’m hearing from people that they are suffering this month like never before….many for the first time ever. I’m headed to see my doctor next week and I’m guessing that I’ll get the word that at age 51 I’m officially a first-time allergy sufferer. I have great sympathy for those of you who have dealt with this year after year and I’m looking forward to end of the so-called allergy season.

The Girls Scouts of Ocean County have held a Golf Classic for 22 years and I’ve been the Master of Ceremonies for just about all of the Awards Dinners at the end of the day. Well over 100 golfers enjoyed a marvelous day at Sea Oaks Golf Club Tuesday and helped raise more than $44,000 for Girl Scout programs. Golf Classic co-chairmen Bill McNamara and Bill MacDonald,
along with their committee and Girl Scout officials once again put together a terrific event…the glorious weather was compliments of Diane Rhine.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday's List

Everyone has their least-favorite areas of Ocean County when it comes to driving and traffic congestion. In my case I probably have a ten-way tie for that honor and among them has to be the intersection of Route 70 and Chambers Bridge Road in Brick. I’ve had the occasion to travel that area regularly the last couple of weeks and it seems no matter what time of day
it’s a mess.

President George W. Bush will be keynote speaker tomorrow when the United States Coast Guard Academy holds its 126th commencement exercises in New London, CT. The class of 228 will feature two graduates of Lacey Township High School, Sarah Eberling and Kevin Connell. Both will receive Bachelor of Science Degrees in Engineering and will become Ensigns serving on Coast Guard ships. Eberling is among the 77 women who will graduate tomorrow, the largest number of females in academy history. Attending Wednesday’s graduation ceremony will not only be the proud families of Eberling and Connell but Lacey Schools Superintendent Rich Starodub, whose son Brandon is a junior at the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point and among the 8 Lacey graduates now attending one of the federal service academies.

The Rutgers baseball team begins its quest for a spot in the NCAA Tournament today when they face Notre Dame in the opening round of the Big East Tournament at Keyspan Park in Brooklyn. The Scarlet Knights tied St. John’s for the regular season title and are led by Toms River South graduate Todd Frazier, who Monday was named the conference player of the year.

As you’ve no doubt heard Phillies slugger Ryan Howard will be playing in Lakewood Wednesday and Thursday before rejoining the Phillies Friday in Atlanta. Howard will put on the BlueClaw uniform, which we wore during the 2002 season, as part of a two-game injury rehab assignment. Tickets are available for tomorrow’s 11AM and Thursday’s 6:35PM game by calling the BlueClaws ticket office at (732) 901-7000.

The sixth season of the FOX TV Series “24” concluded Monday night with a two-hour season finale which was okay but nothing special. The pretty much sums up the season itself but Jack Bauer will be on the run for a 7th year beginning next January. Hope it’s a better one.

Monday, May 21, 2007

From Shea To Lakewood

I know the games sell out and some fans get in a frenzy but to be honest the so-called Subway Series between the Yankees and Mets no longer means what it used to when Interleague play first began. As a Mets fan I love to win the games because of all the grief we regularly take from Yankee rooters.

But in all honesty the games are blown out of proportion. For both teams their upcoming series’ against Boston and Atlanta have more on-field significances than playing one another especially for the Yankees who have a lot of ground to make up against the Red Sox. A quarter of the way into the season Yankee fans have a reason to be disappointed but what team could survive the injuries the Bronx Bombers have had to their pitching staff? Almost half their games have been started by rookies and I still believe that they will battle the Red Sox down to the wire.

Wednesday will provide a real double-play for New Jersey minor league baseball fans as they can watch a pair of major league stars. The Lakewood BlueClaws have an 11AM game in which Phillies slugger Ryan Howard is scheduled to begin a two-day injury rehab assignment. Howard, the reigning National League MVP, will be the DH for the BlueClaws before being activated by the Phillies this coming weekend. Meanwhile Wednesday night Roger Clemens is scheduled to pitch in Trenton for the Thunder. It could be his final tune-up before joining the Yankees rotation.

The spring sports season is in its stretch run with state tournament action getting underway this week in baseball, softball and lacrosse. Over the weekend Toms River East captured the Ocean County Softball Championship, Southern claimed the Shore Conference Girls Track Championships, Monmouth Regional took the Boys Track title, Toms River North won the Ocean County Tennis Tournament and the Southern Boys Volleyball team won the Marauder Invitational Tournament in Jersey City.
Congratulations to all!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Leaving Early Just Once...And Look What Happens!

In many cases when we attend professional sporting events we’re forced to make a decision on when to leave the stadium or arena. That’s because if you’re commuting from most of Ocean County you’re trip home may be delayed by traffic, especially if you are coming back from a baseball game in New York. For years I always looked down on the so-called fans that would leave a game in the 6th or 7th inning just to save a few minutes of travel time.
However as I’ve gotten older the convenience of saving time and hassle has obviously replaced the feeling that you stay until the game ends. Thursday I got burned on both ends.

As a life-long fan of the Mets I made many trips to Shea Stadium when I was younger, even when they were anything but Amazin. However in recent years most of the Mets games I’ve attended were when they were playing in Philadelphia. It’s a much-easier trip, I love Citizens’ Bank Park and it seems like half the crowd roots for my team anyway.

My son happens to share my passion for the Mets and is always getting on me about not going to games at Shea so when my brother said he had field-level tickets, a parking pass and admission to the Diamond Club for yesterday’s day game against the Cubs I figured this was a good time to head to Flushing.

We arrived around 12:30 and our parking pass put us right at the gate we needed to enter. When we got into the stadium I looked at the scoreboard for the starting line-up and said, “Who are these guys?” The Mets were playing just two regulars and the starters included 48-year old Julio Franco, David Newhan and Ruben Gotay…household names in their households only.

For most of the afternoon it felt like spring training game and I was serious when I said the 40,000 plus fans should have been entitled to a refund. So with the Mets trailing 5-1 after 7 innings and looking like they would go quietly we agreed to begin heading home. Big mistake!

First we didn’t beat the traffic even though it was before 3:30 when we left the parking lot. Then we listened on the radio as the Mets made their biggest 9th inning comeback in 7 years by scoring five runs for a 6-5 victory. The fans that stayed were delirious and it sounded like a lot of fun. We were stuck in traffic on the BQE, looking at a long trip home and shaking our heads in disgust over what could have been. I think I’ll catch a BlueClaws game next week.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

An Evening To Remember

It was pretty much a perfect evening Wednesday as some 250 people gathered for the Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce’s 44th Annual Dinner and Reception at Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Lakewood. The only thing that didn’t go as planned was the early-evening rain which forced the cocktail hour inside but it certainly did not mar the evening, which saw a terrific trio honored for their service and commitment to the community. Toms River attorney Harvey York received the “Joseph Citta Lifetime Achievement Award”
and some divine intervention as well. During the invocation Monsignor Sean Flynn of St. Joseph’s Church offered a small prayer for York’s beloved New Jersey Nets, who were facing elimination from the NBA Playoffs. It turned out their was magic in those words as the Nets pulled off a minor miracle with a win in Cleveland. York’s charitable work is only matched by his sense of humor and his lack of socks…although he did wear them last night.

Toms River Schools Superintendent Michael Ritacco was saluted as the Chamber’s “Citizen of the Year” for all he has done to make the school district one of the most highly-regarded in New Jersey. It was a bittersweet evening for him as he could not share the moment with his wife Sharon. Her father died earlier in the day and while she was missed the Ritacco clan was in full force, including grandson Gunner who looked very spiffy in a tuxedo.

To be in existence for just seven years and be honored as the “Organization of the Year” tells you all you need to know about the Lakewood BlueClaws. While winning the South Atlantic League Championship last season was the culmination on the field, the BlueClaws have been a hit everywhere else since day one. General Manager Geoff Brown accepted the award for the minor league baseball team and was grinning from ear-to-ear even before he got some hoped-for-news during the dinner. Reigning National League MVP Ryan Howard of the Phillies will make rehab appearances with the BlueClaws next Wednesday and Thursday as he returns to Lakewood, where he spent the 2002

The Chamber Dinner also marked the official passing of the gavel from outgoing Chairman Domenick Servodio of Commerce Bank to the BlueClaws Jim DeAngelis.

The food and company were great and the speeches short which made for a wonderful evening.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fires And Baseball

Depending on where you live you don’t need a radio or television to tell you there’s a major fire burning in the area as you could smell and/or see it. Sirens were blaring for much of Tuesday afternoon and evening as hundreds of firefighters from five counties responded to Southern Ocean County to battle one of the largest-ever fires in the Pinelands Region. Keep in mind that many of the firefighters are volunteers who have left their families and jobs to answer the call.

Toms River North and Toms River East meet for the third time this season tonight in the finals of the Ocean County Baseball Tournament at FirstEnergy Park. The Mariners won both regular season games on their way to the Class A South title but face a Raider team that’s won the Ocean County Tournament in each of their last three appearances. For all the times they’ve played this is the first ever North-East showdown for the county tournament, which started in 1972. The game will be broadcast live on 1160 WOBM-AM and there is a threat of thunderstorms.

The North Mariners will be playing Central Regional Saturday night in a game that will be played at the Berkeley Little League’s Leiter Field. That’s because the little league is holding a Leiter Family Appreciation Day and the special guests will be former major leaguer pitchers Al & Mark Leiter. The two brothers not only played in the Berkeley Little League but for the Golden Eagles of Central and they will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitches. There will be an autograph session from 4:45-5:45 at the little league complex on Moorage Avenue in Bayville with the proceeds to benefit the Central and Toms River North baseball programs.

When I heard Tuesday that the Rev. Jerry Falwell had died I thought of a bumper sticker I used to see quite often….”The Moral Majority is Neither.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Student Of The Week Scholarship Winner

There’s Valedictorians, Salutatorians, Class Presidents, Team Captains, members of the Band and enough extra curricular activities to wonder how they fit it all into a 24-hour day. They’re going to Princeton, MIT, Boston College, Rutgers, Columbia, Michigan, Villanova, Monmouth and OCC and will major in Pre-Med, Neuroscience, Business Administration, Communications, Physics, Engineering, English, International Affairs and others. They are recipients of the WOBM/Gateway Toyota Student of the Week award, a program that’s in its 11th year of recognizing the top high school seniors in Ocean County.

Each Monday during the school year I tell you a little about these outstanding students from the 16 high schools in the county as well as the county Vocational School’s MATES program. As selected by their schools these students not only perform in the classroom but in a wide-ranging group of activities which help better their schools as well as the communities they live in. Simply put these are the best of the best and it’s a program that we at 92.7 WOBM are extremely proud of in being able to promote the positive contributions these young men and women make.

It’s a program that’s been supported by Gateway Toyota of Toms River since the 1996-97 school year and this morning Ed Sunday, Vice President and General Manager of the auto dealership randomly selected CHRISTOPHER MATTER of Point Pleasant Borough High School to receive a $1000 college scholarship from WOBM and Gateway. Christopher is ranked second in his class and is a Bloustein Scholar, Rensselaer Medal Winner in Math & Science, a member of the National and Latin Honor Societies, Interact and the Key Club. He’ll be attending Rutgers University where he’ll be a Pharmacy major. Congratulations to Christopher Matter and all of our weekly honorees.

The Student of the Week program continues until June 18th and will return in September for a 12th year.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Monday Thoughts Of Randomness

There’s no doubt what the last-minute Mother’s Day gift of choice had to be….plants and flowers. Driving around this weekend you saw gridlock at just about all of the Garden Centers and getting in and out and parking was not easy.

I don’t know how many Career Day programs I’ve participated in over the years but I do know that among my favorites is the one at East Dover Elementary School in Toms River. This past Friday I spoke to Mrs. Ardis’ 5th grade class and the 4th grade students of Ms. Betz and I had a great time. Well over 100 guest speakers shared their experiences and careers with the students throughout the day.

Wednesday night the Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce will hold its 44th Annual Dinner Dance in the View Restaurant at Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Lakewood. I will have the honor of serving as Master of Ceremonies for the evening which will honor attorney Harvey York, Toms River Superintendent of Schools Michael Ritacco and the Lakewood BlueClaws. In addition Jim DeAngelis of the BlueClaws will officially take over as Chairman of the Chamber from Domenick Servodio, whose tenure comes to an end.
You can still purchase tickets to the gala by calling the chamber office at
(732) 349-0220.

The more things change the more they remain the same. The Ocean County Baseball Tournament started with 17 teams and three of the final four are from Toms River. This afternoon, two-time defending champion Toms River East faces Class B South champion Manchester at Toms River High School South. Tonight Class A South king Toms River North will take on Toms River South at Toms River High School East. The winners are scheduled to meet in the Championship game Wednesday at FirstEnergy Park.

The Ocean County Softball Tournament has also reached the semifinal round with Brick Memorial causing quite a stir. The 15th seeded Mustangs had won only one game all season before beating both Toms River North and Toms River South Saturday to move into the semifinals against Lacey. In the other half of the bracket top-seed Toms River East will face Jackson.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Seaside Board…Walk to D’Feet ALS

Over 750 people are expected to stroll the Seaside Heights boardwalk on Saturday, May 19th to raise money and awareness for ALS, which is commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” The 2007 “ Seaside Board…Walk to D’Feet ALS” begins at 10am at Heiring Avenue, the northern end of the boardwalk and will once again feature cast members of “The Sopranos”, who will sign autographs for a donation. Last year the event raised over $144,000 and organizers hope to surpass that total. Registration is now being accepted and for information you can visit or call 1-877-GEHRIG-1.

The ALS Association is the official charity of the Philadelphia Phillies and their Lakewood affiliate will once again be doing their part. The BlueClaws will hold their 7th Annual ALS Fundraiser at Finnigan’s in Lakewood on Wednesday, May 23rd after their day game against Hagerstown. Players will wait tables and the coaches will tend bar with all tips as well as a percentage of the day’s revenues going to ALS. There will also be quite a few BlueClaws game-used and autographed items up for bid and players will be signing autographs. More than $50,000 has been raised through this event in the past and individuals and groups can call Finnigan’s to make reservations.

The Ocean County Baseball Tournament opens this Saturday with the 17 teams split in two groups by school size. Brick will host Division A were Toms River North is the top seed with Lakewood the site of Division B with Manchester seeded first. Two rounds will be completed Saturday leaving four teams with the semifinals to be played Monday and the championship game tentatively set for May 17th at First Energy Park.

In keeping with a pre-season promise let me offer my congratulations to the Toms River South Boys & Girls Golf teams for sweeping rival Toms River East for the first time ever. The girls completed that sweep earlier this week with solid efforts from Jordan Potter, Jen Russell, Carly Himmelman, Jillian McLeer & Sandy Ganter. Brian Wilkinson is the Girls Head Coach while Jim Francis coaches the boy’s team.

Meanwhile the Toms River North Girls won the Shore Conference Tournament yesterday for the second straight year and the Toms River North Boys Golf team is 18-1, won the Class “A South” championship and the Challenge Cup in which they beat the other Toms River schools.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

False Alarms

As bad as school violence can be officials now have to deal more and more with false alarms and rumors which can set off panic like we’ve had in the past few days.

Tuesday we were flooded with phone calls from parents of Central Regional High School students concerned over a large police presence and reports of the discovery of a threatening note. Superintendent of Schools Dave Trethaway did confirm that a note was found Monday afternoon by a school safety officer and while he would not reveal the details, said it did not contain any specific threat to students and the school. However as rumors spread parents panicked with many keeping their children home or coming to school and taking them out of class for the day. Authorities are continuing their investigation.

Pinelands Regional Junior High School had to deal with a pair of rumors, including one that spread over the popular web site MySpace that there were several students on a hit list facing violence. The school reached out to parents via their automated telephone system and also had to deal with a false bomb threat.

These incidents are just the latest to make life miserable for police, administrators, teachers, parents and students and it appears it’s a growing trend. The problem is they all have to be taken seriously and no matter how trivial there is going to be panic and fear. It’s easy to say that it’s simply a false alarm but in this day and age who can blame parents for thinking the worst. However it’s also a danger to have parents coming to school in droves and removing their children as that alone poses safety and security concerns. Throw in the fact that police are forced to re-direct their efforts and you have a combination that is frustrating, perplexing and potentially dangerous.

The bottom line is somehow students have to be made to understand that even a casual threat cannot be tolerated in this environment. Those who are responsible for the latest incidents should be dealt with harshly if and when they are caught and a message has to be sent that this is no laughing matter.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Berkeley Township Little League Fundraiser

The Berkeley Township Little League began planning a couple of years ago to build an All-Weather Practice Facility at their complex on Moorage Avenue in Bayville. The 9000 square foot multi-purpose building would include batting cages, open space for training and a seminar room and would allow youngsters to work out 12 months a year regardless of weather. League officials had to overcome plenty of hurdles just to get the okay to construct the facility and then had to tackle the issue of raising some $400,000.

They sold hot dogs and raffle tickets and received donations, including a large one a few months ago which almost got them to the Promised Land. By now you’re probably aware that donation, just like ones to the United Way, OCC Planetarium and others were nothing more than “pie in the sky.” All the stiffed organizations had to go forward, including the Little League whose fund drive continues Saturday night with their second annual Giant Gift Auction at Central Regional High School. Doors open at 5pm with the prize drawings to begin at 7pm.

The event features hundreds of prizes, including a cruise of Canada and a piece of diamond jewelry worth over $2000. Tickets are just $15 and can be purchased at the Moorage Baseball Complex Concession stand. You can also call the Gift Auction Hot Line at (732) 606-9060 or visit There may be limited tickets available at the door on Saturday.

Many organizations hold fund-raisers in which they seek support and sponsors. The Berkeley Little League is not alone in reaching out to the community but their situation is a bit unique in all the bumps in the road they have had to face. With that in mind local residents should come out and support their efforts Saturday night and give the league and youngsters
a shot in the arm.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Return Of The Rocket

It was quite a sports weekend and bear with me as I review and comment:

I have to start with the cheesy dog-and-pony show the Yankees used to announce they had won the Roger Clemens sweepstakes, an annual lottery
in which a major league baseball team pays a ridiculous sum of money to lure “The Rocket” out of retirement AGAIN. During the 7th inning stretch Sunday in the Bronx the Yanks directed their fans to the owner’s box where Clemens (in a suit and Yankee cap) announced he was back. Later we learned the 44-year old had agreed to a pro-rated $28 million contract that kicks in when he is added to the major league roster, which could be by the end of the month. Clemens is expected to make more than $18 million and does not have to travel on road trips in which he’s not scheduled to pitch. While he’s one of the all-time greats and still probably has gas left in the tank the whole process sums us much of what’s wrong with pro sports today.

Give credit to NBC Sports for their terrific overhead shots of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby in which you could clearly see how “Street Sense” came from 19th place to win the race. It was pretty amazing how jockey Calvin Borel patiently stayed on the rail and passed tired horses until he found an opening to eventually win by 2 ½ lengths. “Street Sense” will try and become the 7th Derby winner in the last 11 years to also capture the Preakness at Pimlico in a couple of weeks.

Tiger Woods won another golf tournament this weekend, his 9th victory in the last 12 events he’s played in. What more can you say?

The hockey season is over in our area with the Rangers knocked out of the playoffs a day after the Devils. By the way who does Lou Lamoriello now get to coach the Devils? I mean the guy coming in must know that the first sign of trouble and he’s out and will be replaced by his own boss.

Congratulations to the Toms River North baseball team and head coach Ted Schelmay for clinching the Class A South championship over the weekend.
Meanwhile with two weeks left in the regular season the Rutgers baseball team is tied for the Big East lead with St. John’s. The Scarlet Knights swept a 3-game series from Cincinnati over the weekend with Todd Frazier & Casey Gaynor of Toms River making big contributions.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Thursday Short Stops

A bunch of short stops on today’s segment:

In the category of people you just want to go away can I add the names
Jim and Dina Matos McGreevey. It’s enough already.

Many have been saying that somebody was going to pay the price for the Yankees 10-14 start and that’s exactly what happened Wednesday. It wasn’t General Manager Brian Cashman or Manager Joe Torre or one of his coaches who got the axe. Instead the pink slip went to first-year strength and conditioning coach Marty Miller, whose practices have been questioned by several players. The Yanks may have a bad record right now but they lead the majors in injured hamstrings.

Why is it that today’s baseball players, with better conditioning, better nutrition and better equipment seem to be much more injury prone than those who played years ago?. Are they playing too many games as teen-agers, are they too muscular or are it possible they’re babied too much? Don’t know the answer but there is certainly a problem.

Former Southern Regional High School standout Clark Harris is headed to Green Bay, Wisconsin to participate in the Packers mini-camp. The ex-Ram was taken by the Packers in the 7th and final round of the NFL draft Sunday. Harris had a solid career at Rutgers and he’ll get his first taste of pro football this weekend.

You’ve probably heard of Cinco de Mayo but what about Tres de Mayo?
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ocean County will celebrate the third of May with a benefit tonight at Spicy on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights. Your $25 donation gets you fabulous food, music, door prizes and there will be a silent auction. The event runs from 6-10pm.

The Beachwood Burn Soccer team will be washing cars Saturday at Wal-Mart in Toms River from 10am-2pm. The team is raising funds to play in a week-long tournament in Lake George, New York.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Stories From North Carolina

There are three guarantees when you attend the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Awards program in Salisbury, North Carolina.
You’ll experience the best in Southern hospitality, you’ll never go hungry and the conversation will always center on sports.

I’m just back after a long weekend in which I was able to catch up with old friends, make new ones and listen to a years worth of stories in a little more than 48 hours. The 48th Annual Awards program honored sportscasters and sportswriters from each state as well as this year’s National recipients….Joe Buck from Fox Sports and Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated. In addition inducted into the NSSA Hall of Fame were CBS sportscaster Verne Lundquist and sportswriter Dave Kindred, best known for his work in The Sporting News and Golf Digest.

What I like most about the annual event is no matter what’s going on in the world when you get a bunch of sportswriters and sportscasters in the same room then the talk will no doubt be about sports. I heard Joe Gross of Annapolis, Maryland tell America’s Cup sailing stories about Ted Turner…Hal McCoy of Dayton, Ohio always has a couple of baseball classics, I spent half an hour listening to sports author Tom Callahan talk about Johnny Unitas and Lindquist told some beauties about Terry Bradshaw and his figure skating analyst Scott Hamilton, who was his presenter at Monday’s Awards banquet. As he usually does, Reilly stole the show during his acceptance speech and he’s had plenty of practice.
This marked the 11th time he was honored as the National Sportswriter of the Year and while he’s best known for his back-page column each week in “Sports Illustrated” Reilly is also a terrific author. His newest book “Hate Mail from Cheerleaders” just came out yesterday and he and I shared some interesting stories about the subject.

I will also tell you that when anyone found out I was from New Jersey they would bring up Rutgers and want to talk about the success of the Football and Women’s Basketball programs. And as always when they saw Toms River next to my name, a couple of people asked if that’s the place that had those good Little League teams. Some things never change.