Monday, February 28, 2011

And The Winners Are..

Count me among those who stayed up until 11:41 last night which is when the 83rd Academy Awards came to a close. It was one of the more uneventful Oscar broadcasts, partly because there were no real surprises and partly because I thought the co-hosts were pretty bland. Anne Hathaway and James Franco both looked good but that was about it as they really brought nothing to the table. She was better than him but that’s not saying much because he was lost. Proof of this might be that 8-time host Billy Crystal received a standing ovation when he was introduced as a presenter and the show missed his kind of talent. There was one interesting moment and that came when Supporting Actress winner Melissa Leo dropped an “f bomb” during her acceptance speech which was bleeped-out in time but was referenced several times during the show.

It is not surprising that Dave Calloway will not return as basketball coach following Monmouth University’s fifth straight losing season but the swiftness of the decision caught some off guard. Less than 24 hours after finishing a 9-21 season university president Paul Gaffney II announced that Calloway had resigned but later in the day the 14-year head coach said it was not his choice which means he was asked to resign. Calloway, who is a Monmouth lifer has been offered another position at the school but would like to coach again and might take some time before making a decision. Meanwhile the Hawks need to find someone who can win some games and put fans in the seats because the most exciting night of the season at the MAC came Friday when Raritan beat Rumson in the Shore Conference Tournament finale.

Not exactly the most exciting day of wrestling but Saturday’s Region 6 Championships at the Poland Spring Arena did produce some interesting results and stories…none better than at 103 pounds where Anthony D’Anton became Monsignor Donovan’s first region champ since 1985. D’Anton was originally the top seed in his weight class until officials realized they had made a mistake and dropped him to fifth but it did not matter as he not only won a region title but collected the Outstanding Wrestler award. D’Anton had a large and loud rooting section led by his Mother and his victory was clearly one of the highlights of the weekend which lacked the star power of recent years but saw Kyle Casaletto of Southern win his third Region title and Toms River South produce a pair of champions in Kevin Corrigan and B.J. Clagon.
Jackson Memorial’s Doug Withstandley was named Region 6 coach of-the-year and his Jaguars finished third in the final New Jersey Coaches Poll behind High Point and South Plainfield.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Above Average Guy

I’m glancing through the current issue of Men’s Health when I come across a regular feature called “The Above-Average Guy” which addresses issues of the day and reveals how men feel about them. This month’s subject is driving and here are some numbers:

• 1 in 4 traffic accidents in the US are said to be caused in some way by cell phone use and just under 10% of men admit they often text or tweet while driving…a dangerous combination.
• In 2008, 71% of fatal traffic accidents involved men and a quarter of those men were DUI at the time of the crash.
• 40% of men still feel very strongly that they are better drivers than women.
• The average man drives nearly 17,000 miles per year and will admit to being lost for about 300 of those miles. You know we hate asking for directions.
• Here’s one that sticks out. 1 in 6 men make rude gestures to other drivers at least once a week and I clearly fall into that category. However my wife gets very upset with me over this for two reasons…she insists it’s childish and also can be dangerous because you never know how the other driver will react. She’s probably correct about both but here’s a tip when it comes to gauging the other guy. If the other car has a lot of stickers, decals and other markers on their car stay away because they are more likely to be hostile.
• Speaking of stickers, if you’re looking for a safe way to remove old ones try a can of WD-40 and a spatula. Or try a hair dryer and start with the corners
and just peel back.
• Guys often wonder if a hot car can help them get a hot girl. It seems that it
can help as research indicates a sexy car can increase the attractiveness of the driver by about 15%. Bottom line is being behind the wheel of a 1979
Olds Delta is probably not going to help.

On an unrelated note the Shore Sports Network will conclude its basketball coverage for the season with tonight’s championship games of the Shore Conference Tournament from Monmouth University. The girl’s final at 6pm matches Neptune against St. John Vianney and following that Raritan and Rumson battle for the boy’s championship. Both games can be heard on 1160 & 1310am and will stream live at

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shore Tournament

Ocean County does not get much respect when it comes to basketball and to be honest has not been really deserving of it, especially when you look at recent Shore Conference Tournament history. However going into last night semifinals there was a strong possibility of the first All-Ocean boy’s championship game in 20 years. I was so excited about this that I went into my archives and brought out the bracket sheet from 1991 when Lakewood beat Lacey 86-67 in the finals at Brick Memorial. Turns out I can put the sheet away for another year because for the 20th straight February the Shore Conference champions will come from Monmouth County as Raritan and Rumson spoiled the brief Ocean County party.

In the opener at Brookdale Community College 13th seeded Rumson continued their magical tournament ride with a 52-47 victory over Point Pleasant Beach. The Bulldogs were sparked by the smallest player on the court as 5’7 Kevin “Pookie” Alter hit four 3-pointers and made all eight of his free throws to score a team-high 20pts. Rumson had never even made it to the semifinals before this year and now they are a win away from an unlikely championship. Rice University-bound Jarelle Reischel led the Garnett Gulls with 25 points as their bid for a first-ever Shore title came to an end.

The nightcap saw what many, including yours truly witness what might have been the most dominating performance in recent Shore Conference Tournament history.
6’8 junior center Michael Aaman scored 34 points and grabbed 23 rebounds, 16 on the offensive end to lead 3rd seeded Raritan past #2 Lakewood 59-46. Aaman, who has already made a verbal commitment to Wagner, scored 15 of his points in the first quarter and added 10 in the 4th to put away the Piners, who were seeking their first title since 1991. Friday’s championship matchup between the Rockets and Bulldogs will be there third of the season with Raritan winning the first two rather easily.

As bad as the dry spell is for Ocean County boy’s teams, it’s worse for the girls.
Brick won the inaugural girls title in 1972 and Southern captured the crown in 1984 but when Neptune faces St. John Vianney Friday night at Monmouth University it will be the 27th consecutive year a Monmouth County team has emerged Shore Conference champion.

A quick football coaching note. Mark Ciccotelli is leaving Freehold Boro after 7 years to take the head coaching job at Neptune. Ciccotelli’s hiring leaves coaching vacancies at Freehold, Jackson Memorial, Brick Township and Point Beach.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Penn State's Thon

I’m a little late on this but as the saying goes better late than never. Some of you may have wondered over the past few months why you would see students from Penn State University soliciting donations in the shore area for something called THON. That’s with an “N” at the end and not a “G” and pretty much is an abbreviation for marathon as in dance marathon. Officially the event is known as the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, a 46-hour event that concluded on Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pennsylvania.

If you listen with any regularity you sort of know my feelings for the school which go back decades for football reasons but in recent years has taken on a new meaning. My son graduated from Penn State in 2008 and my daughter is a freshman there. It was during my son’s time at PSU that we became aware of Thon, which is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world and dates back to 1973. So what really is this all about? It’s about college students raising money to fight childhood cancer and it’s so big at the school that it’s taken on a life of its own.

Basically every organization on every campus raises money with most of it coming through canning trips. Canning, which we often call tagging is simply soliciting donations but it works in a different way for Thon. Students basically go to the hometowns of others for long weekends….four of them usually two in each semester. My daughter Alex made two trips to Long Island, one to Philadelphia and one to Maryland with some of her sorority sisters. During those trips they would find locations where they could hold out their cans and raise money.

Anyway all this fundraising culminated this past weekend where the student organizations gathered to watch and support more than 700 dancers, chosen as their representatives. The dancers are usually seniors and others like my daughter have assigned shifts in a supporting role. As a freshman this was her first direct experience and she probably spent about 35 of the 46 hours awake and loved every minute of it. The entire experience, while exhausting is uplifting and makes you feel so much better about today’s young people.

So let me give you the bottom line. In 2010 Thon raised a record $7.8 million in the fight against pediatric cancer. That’s an incredible total but when all the numbers were counted Sunday night more than 15,000 Penn State students helped raise over $9.5 million. That’s even more impressive than winning a national football championship.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sun To Snow

How about this for a wild 72 hours? Almost 70 degrees on Friday, incredible winds and cold on Saturday, a bit of rain early Sunday and then Monday night and this morning…snow. That’s what I call covering the full gamut when it comes to weather.

Belated congratulations to Manchester Township High School graduate Andrew Valmon who last week was named head coach of the United States men’s track and field team for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Valmon, who has been the head coach at the University of Maryland since 2003 is a two-time Olympian who won relay gold medals in 1988 and 1992. The 46-year old former Hawk track and basketball standout is married to former Olympian Meredith Rainey and the couple has three children. Andrew is true gentlemen whose success does not surprise those who have known him for years and there is much more for him in the future.

Shore-area high school wrestlers hit the mat tonight at the Poland Spring Arena for the first round of the Region 6 championships. Tonight’s action begins at 5pm and is for those who finished second and third in this past weekend’s District Championships. Winners tonight advance to Friday’s quarterfinals.

The Shore Conference Basketball Tournament resumes tonight with the Girls semifinals at Brookdale Community College. In the 6pm opener two-time defending champion and top-seed Neptune battles Point Boro and that game will be followed by St. John Vianney and St. Rose. Pt. Boro has surprised some with convincing wins over Holmdel and Red Bank Catholic but Coach Dave Drew has an impressive group of athletes who just might challenge Neptune, the #2 ranked team in the state.

It’s been a while since two Ocean County teams made it to the Boys Semifinals and with wins tomorrow it could set the stage for an all-Ocean finale. Surprising Point Beach battles Rumson in the Collins Arena and then Lakewood will take on Raritan…both games will be broadcast live on 1160 and 1310AM with coverage beginning at 6pm Wednesday.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Changes In Brick

Following a coaching legend is never easy. Just ask Phil Bengston, Gene Bartow, Ray Perkins, Earl Bruce and Gary Moeller. They are certainly not the household names of the guys they replaced….Lombardi, Wooden, Bryant, Woody and Bo. Everyone knew the day would come when somebody would be thrown into that position at Brick Township High School when football coach Warren Wolf retired and it came following the 2008 season, his 51st with the Green Dragons. I and just about everyone else assumed the Board of Education would assure themselves a smooth transition by picking someone with ties to school and program. By now you know they did not, instead selecting Pat Dowling who had an extensive coaching resume and who was coming off his first season at Allentown.

Dowling’s appointment over two other finalists who played and coached at Brick
was criticized by many, including yours truly. It had nothing to do with his credentials but rather was simply the wrong thing to do for all involved. However not even I could have predicted it would cause the uproar that it did and two years
after he landed the coaching job the Dowling Era has come to an end. Thursday District Athletic Director Bill Bruno informed him he would not return as coach and the school would move in a different direction.

Back to what I said in the opening….following a coaching legend is never easy. However in this case it was made more difficult because the coach being replaced not only didn’t endorse the choice but fought it. Wolf was a vocal critic and questioned publically why the school board did not give the job to a “Brick boy.” He even went as far to rescind his retirement which the board did not accept and after a year away from football returned to coach at Lakewood High School in 2010. In between he ran and was elected to the same Board of Education he had fought on the issue.

As for Dowling….he never had a chance although critics will tell you he at times was his own worst enemy. The Green Dragons posted identical 4-6 records in his two seasons and the move made Thursday was not surprising. He was always very cooperative with me and I only hope he can get past what was a difficult time for him and his family. There will be plenty of names floated out there as to the next coach, starting with the two other finalists from 2009…Tim Osborn and Len Zdanowicz. Osborn is happy as the head coach at Jackson Liberty where Zdanowicz was an assistant last year and I would think a prime candidate. He’s a “Brick boy” who might be able to heal old wounds and get the program headed in the right direction. One thing is for sure…the next guy will have an easier road to travel than Pat Dowling.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Debate Over Tenure

What a difference a couple of weeks can make. We headed into February with fears that this would be a winter that would never end and predictions of more big storms. However so far February has been quiet, most of the snow that’s been on the ground since December 26th has finally melted, and it will feel more like spring than winter today and tomorrow. Before you put your shovels away I would like to remind you that last year’s biggest snowstorm came on February 25th so we are not out of the woods just yet.

The debate continues in Trenton and throughout New Jersey on the issue of teacher tenure. Governor Christie’s new Education Commissioner believes a new system is needed but Christopher Cerf did not emphatically say that tenure should be abolished. It appears we are headed for a real battle on what has become a heated issue as the New Jersey Education Association is opposed to anything which does away with tenure. In a speech yesterday Cerf said only 17 teachers in the state have lost their jobs in the last 10 years for incompetence. This issue is a very emotional one and I understand to some extent how both sides feel but it does seem that at the very least we need an easier way to remove those tenured teachers who are not doing a good job in the classroom. I am opposed to test scores being the barometer but no profession should have job security just because they have done it for a period of time. If the public sector worked that way everything would decline in a rapid manner.

It’s been an up and down basketball season for the University of Denver where former Toms River East standout Joe Scott is in his fourth season as head coach.
The Pioneers lost six of their first seven games but have rebounded after that rough start and take a 12-13 record into tonight’s home game against Louisiana-Monroe.
More importantly Denver is tied with Arkansas State for first place in the Sun Belt West with an 8-4 conference record. Scott, who previously served as head coach at Air Force and his alma mater Princeton was a three-sport standout at East and remains the Raiders all-time leading basketball scorer with over 1500 career points.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Celebrating Phil Citta

If I were to sit down and make a list of my all-time favorite people there is no doubt Phil Citta would be on that list even though we were not close personal friends. He just had this way about him which made you feel comfortable and I was truly heartbroken when he lost his life to pancreatic cancer in 2004. Phil was best known as the charismatic owner of The Office Restaurant and Lounge in Toms River and when you came in there was a pretty good chance he was the one who greeted you, decked out in a Hawaiian-print short-sleeved shirt with reading glasses hanging around his neck.

Simply put Phil and The Office were synonymous with one another and you could never imagine there would be a time when the two did not go hand in hand. Of course that could have ended with his untimely death seven years ago but actually I still feel his presence every time I walk through the doors. Maybe his greatest innovation was the use of $2 bills as change and I used to kid him that he was probably responsible for more relationships ending than any other individual. How many people over the years came home late at night and said they had to put in extra time at the office? They were talking about where they worked but when a $2 bill was spotted in a wallet or billfold then the gig was up…the office they were at had food and drink. However it was brilliant marketing and continues to this day.

What also made Phil such a special person was his generosity as he rarely said “no” when it came to charitable causes and did most of this little recognition. Of course that has been a staple of the Citta Family for years so it was not surprising that they would make something positive out of Phil’s death. It began with a $1 million donation to Community Medical Center and the establishment of the J. Phillip Citta Regional Cancer Center, which offers the latest in treatment services for patients and their families who no longer have to travel out of the area.

In 2006 the Office Lounge celebrated Phil’s birthday with a fundraiser to benefit cancer research and today is the 6th Annual Phil Citta Memorial Fundraiser as it comes a day before what would have been his 67th birthday. There is no better way to celebrate Phil’s life then to stop in at some point today because 50% of the gross profit will be donated to the cancer center that bears his name. There will be raffle prizes and giveaways all day and you can also purchase limited edition beach towels which appropriately are modeled after a $2 bill. The first five of these birthday parties raised more than $84,000 so today’s effort should put them over the $100,000 mark. It will make his family and friends very happy and he will smile as well in his newest Hawaiian-print shirt.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Living The Dream

Like many basketball players growing up Jake Martin had big dreams and his
centered on wearing a Duke uniform and playing for his beloved Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Martin was a solid player who had a successful career at Monsignor Donovan, where he graduated last spring. He probably could have played for a small school but there was little doubt where he would head once he received his acceptance letter from Duke because that education opens a lot of doors. So the Toms River resident headed to Durham, North Carolina with his dream still somewhat alive because he was now on campus. Martin applied to be a student manager for the basketball team and he was among more than 100 students seeking one of the four freshman openings. He had to go through three rounds of interviews but in October got word that indeed he would be one of the 10 managers on the team. So what exactly does he have to do?

Let’s start with about 35 hours of work a week for no money. At practice it can be anything from getting Gatorade for the players to throwing them passes while they work on their jump shots. At home games the freshman work under the baskets, cleaning sweat off the floor or getting drinks for the referees and they take turns videotaping the TV feed for Coach Mike Krzyzewski. They work all the home games but don’t travel with the team…that will come later in their Duke careers. However when the Blue Devils return after a late-night road game they have to help unload the bus. Sometimes Jake doesn’t get back to his dorm until early in the morning and before too long it’s off to class. Education clearly comes first for a young man majoring in Pre-Med whose ultimate dream is to be a doctor in a Hispanic third-world country.

So why put all this time and effort into being a student manager? Well there are some pretty good perks including tons of Duke basketball gear, before and after practice meals, pre-game meals at the University Club, second-row seats when his parents Brian and Lisa travel to Durham and most of all association with a program and coach second to none. Oh and Jake still gets to play in practices and pick-up games and just last week in that storied Cameron Indoor Stadium he had a dream come true. Before Duke hosted arch-rival North Carolina on national TV there was a game between the student managers in which Martin played very well. He was also the hero, hitting a game-winning three-pointer with 8 seconds left to set off a wild celebration in the middle of the floor…a floor he would be cleaning hours later. He’ll also be a marked man when the managers meet in a rematch on March 4th in the Dean Dome. Something tells me Mr. Martin who one day will be Dr. Martin will handle things just fine.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Post Season Time

The cult known as high school wrestling fans filled the Poland Spring Arena in Toms River Sunday for the NJSIAA Team Championships and when the long day was over Jackson Memorial had won their fourth Group 4 championship in the last six years and made its case as the best team in New Jersey. Around lunchtime the Jaguars took care of rival Southern Regional with a relatively easy victory in the 3rd meeting of the season between the teams. A few hours later, after some rest and pasta coach Doug Withstandly’s troops then dispatched Phillipsburg to claim their second straight Group 4 crown. What makes it even more impressive is Jackson was without two of their top wrestlers due to injury but that’s what makes their program so good as others stepped up to fill the void.

More than 5,000 fans came through the Poland Spring Arena from morning to night for the final team event of the season. Sunday saw High Point edge South Plainfield to win the Group 3 championship in what was a matchup of the state’s top two teams. Most observers feel High Point will get the nod as #1 when the final Coaches Association poll comes out at the end of the month but Jackson’s argument will be that they knocked off High Point in a dual meet two weeks ago.
Other group champions crowned Sunday were Paulsboro, David Brearley, Delbarton and Camden Catholic.

The Shore Conference Basketball Tournament begins Tuesday night. CBA & Lakewood are the top seeds in the Boys division with Raritan and Middletown North rounding out the top four. The top 9 teams, including #8 Point Beach get first round byes. Two-time defending champion Neptune leads the Girls contingent, followed by St. Rose, St. John Vianney and Red Bank Catholic. #5 Point Boro and 9th seeded Jackson Memorial drew first-round byes as well.

Congratulations to the Brackman Middle School boy’s basketball team as they finished a perfect 15-0 season with a 40-31 win over the McAuliffe Middle School last week. Not only did they win their second straight conference title but 19 youngsters comprised Barnegat’s first-ever undefeated basketball team. Dennis Smith is the head coach with Bob Erskine serving as his assistant.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Today’s segment is not an original…although I wish it were because it echoes the sentiments of many of us who grew up and did things which today may seem shocking. It’s aimed at those born when times were simpler and while today’s young people may disagree in this case “the good old days really were.”

• We survived being born to mothers who may have smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna
from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes. Then after that trauma we were put to sleep in baby cribs covered with brightly colored lead-based paints. We had no child-proof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets AND when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps, not helmets on our heads.
• As infants and children we would ride in cars with no seat belts, booster seats or air bags. Riding in the back of a pick-up truck on a warm day was always a special treat.
• We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. We shared one soda with four friends from one bottle and no one got sick or died. We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar and we were NOT overweight. WHY?
• Because we were always outside playing. We would leave home in the morning and play all day, often until it got dark. Mom or Dad could not reach us but that was okay. We would spend hours building things and playing games. We did not have Play Station, Nintendo and X-Box. There were no video games, no 300 TV channels to choose from, no videos or DVD’s, no surround sound or CD’s, no cell phones, no personal computers, no internet and no chat rooms.
• We had friends and we went outside and found them. We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were NO lawsuits from those accidents. We would get spanked or hit from time to time and nobody called child services to report abuse.
• We were given BB guns as birthday presents, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and didn’t have to keep score. We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell or just walked in. Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who did not learned what being disappointed was all about.
• Those born from the 1930’s to the 1970’s turned out to be some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility and we learned how to deal with it all.
• Most of us wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything…. Not even an I Phone.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Working Your Way Up The Ladder

It’s always nice to see someone rise to the top after starting pretty much at the bottom and then paying their dues and working their way up the ladder. That would best describe Manchester Township’s new police chief. Brian Klimakowski began working as a dispatcher in 1987 following his graduation from Manchester Township High School. While working he earned degrees from Ocean County College and Fairleigh Dickinson and 24 years later the 43-year old Klimakowski has become the fifth chief in the departments history as he replaces the recently-retired William Brase. Congratulations Chief and all the best!

If just thinking about baseball helps you visualize warm sunny days then just imagine how much better you’ll feel if you engage in a lively discussion about the game. Just days before pitchers and catchers report to Florida and Arizona the Berkeley Little League will host a live “Hot Stove Chat” tonight at their Volunteer Community Center at the Moorage Baseball Complex at 7pm. I will moderate tonight’s diamond doings which feature veteran Phillies reporter Jim Salisbury from CSN Philly, Steve Popper who covers the Mets for The Record of Bergen County and Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News. Fans can ask questions about their favorite teams and it should be a fun night. Tickets are just $10 and that includes a snack buffet. They will be available on a first-come, first-served basis or you can reserve your seat by emailing

I don’t like to get too involved on stories that are as much gossip as fact but the latest one involving Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has to at least question his judgment and decision-making. A story has surfaced about a recent relationship between the 24-year old quarterback and a 17-year old high school student. The two first met in a New York nightclub on New Year’s Eve and the unidentified teen said they have had dinner, texted somewhat regularly and “hooked-up” at his place in Jersey. She has furnished Deadspin with pictures of what allegedly is Sanchez’s bedroom. The issue is not a legal one as the age of consent is 17 in New York and 16 in New Jersey. However if the story is true wouldn’t it lead you to wonder why a high-profile good-looking athlete would have any kind of relationship with a girl who is on a restricted driver’s license? I mean is Sanchez going to be her prom date? If you’re a Jets fan you have to hope its all garbage.

If you’re a college basketball fan tune in each Thursday at 6pm to “College Hoops Tonight” presented by Pizza Hut on 1160AM. Hosted by Matt Harmon, Dave Popkin and Mike Gill tonight’s show originates from Madison Square Garden before the St. John’s-Connecticut game.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Goodbye Seaside Furniture

A commercial for Seaside Furniture has been heard on 92.7 WOBM just about every day since the radio station went on the air in 1968. For many years the commercials were voiced by Nancy Steigerwald, whose father Jack had owned and operated the store on Route 37 East in Toms River since 1962. Actually Seaside Furniture opened in Seaside Heights in 1953 with three owners but by the time they moved over the bridge to their present location Jack Steigerwald was the sole owner. Nancy, who was so well-known from her commercials that other advertisers requested her voice died nearly 13 years ago but Jack didn’t have to look far to find a replacement. His younger daughter Peggy McGarry slipped into the role as the voice of the comfortable place to shop and has been heard ever since.

I mention this because a name synonymous with fine furniture in this area for 58 years has officially announced they will close their doors forever. The economy, change in people’s spending habits, retirement of Jack and uncertainty in what lies ahead has led the Steigerwald Family to make the decision. Sons John and Tommy, along with Peggy now run the day to day operation and beginning tomorrow will conduct a Going-Out-of-Business Sale and liquidate their entire inventory. Businesses come and go and most are not missed. However Seaside Furniture has been more than just another furniture store and the Steigerwald Family has been a great asset to the Toms River community. One can only hope that their future is comfortable because they deserve it.

Monsignor Donovan will visit Manchester tonight in a girls/boys doubleheader that will benefit the battle against breast cancer. “Hoopin It Up to Find a Cure” begins with the girl’s game at 5pm and the boys hit the court at 7pm. Admission is $4 for adults and $3 for students and all proceeds will be donated by Manchester Township High School to the Susan G. Komen For The Cure.

A couple of Ocean County College sports tidbits. New Egypt High School graduate Robynn Frank was selected as the OCC “Woman Athlete of the Year” and was saluted through the Garden State Athletic Conference at Seton Hall University during last Sunday’s “National Girls & Women in Sports Day”. Frank was a standout basketball and softball player for the Vikings and also shined brightly in the classroom. At that same event Vikings Athletic Director Ilene Cohen received the “2011 Honor Award” for her contributions to women’s sports and her achievements as an athlete, coach and administrator.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Remembering Friends

As I waited in line with hundreds of other mourners Monday at Anderson & Campbell Funeral Home in Toms River the last thing I expected to be talking about this morning was the viewing for 20-year old Matthew Budesa. He of course was one of three young people killed last week when a car crashed into Pine Beach Elementary School…the school Budesa and his three older brothers attended as youngsters.

I waited in line for an hour before paying my respects and in that time I heard and saw quite a bit. What struck me more than anything was the reaction of young people, most of whom were probably Matt’s friends. I would imagine this was the first time many had attended a viewing for someone their age and clearly there was no way they could prepare for the moment. It’s certainly not the same as when you lose a grandparent who may be in their 80’s because that’s supposed to happen. However here were teen-agers in front of a casket and looking at someone they might have just been with a week ago, healthy and apparently happy. The finality of the moment was just too much for some of them to handle because honestly young people often think they are indestructible even when parents and adults caution that life is precious and never to be taken for granted. The scenes I witnessed yesterday were and will be repeated at the viewings for the other two lives lost in this horrific tragedy in which there are more questions than answers. We will know more in days and weeks ahead…now is the time for grieving for families that could not possibly imagine they would be saying goodbye to children, brothers and sisters.

On a somewhat related note I was saddened to learn of the passing of Bud Aldrich, a former Mayor and Committeeman in what was then Dover Township. The 66-year old was a true community servant and had a great sense of humor along with a gravelly voice that could take command of a room. I got to know Bud when we worked together on the annual 4th of July Fireworks in Beachwood and he would offer his help whenever and wherever he could. Just a hard-working family guy with a passion for his community as well as the Boy Scouts and Ocean County YMCA. Toms River has lost one of the good ones.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Say Cheese

Raise your hand if you will be at work today but wish you could have taken a sick day? My hand is held high after not only watching last night’s Super Bowl but the post-game show and even the hyped up episode of “Glee” afterwards plus I got up before 3am. Needless to say I feel about as good as Christina Aguilera did after screwing up the National Anthem. Anyway we were treated to a fairly entertaining game between two of the NFL’s most-storied franchises with devoted and passionate fans all over the country. Aaron Rodgers has finally escaped from the Brett Favre shadow after leading the Packers to a 31-25 victory, a game in which Green Bay never trailed but the outcome was in doubt until the final minute.

My Super Bowl Sunday saw me purposely stay away from the Fox pre-game show which is usually dreadful. I did turn on to see Michael Strahan attempt to interview actor Harrison Ford on what was supposed to be a red carpet. The former Giant turned broadcasters’ first question was, “how many Super Bowls have you been to? Ford, who looked totally out of place answered, “At the end of this game I will have been to one.” It was all downhill after that.

I caught Bill O’Reilly from Fox News interview President Obama in the White House and the give-and-take was pretty good although I think the President was offended when O’Reilly questioned how much of a football fan he is. He was emphatic that despite hosting a Super Bowl party when the game started he was paying attention to the TV and not his guests, including Jennifer Lopez.

Of course much of the talk today will be about the commercials which I thought were more understated than in the past. At $3 million for a 30-second ad you don’t want to miss and the best of the ads were the Volkswagen one featuring the young Darth Vader, the various Doritos ads, the Bud Light commercial in which a guy dog-sitting throws a party, the love hurts Pepsi Max spot and I liked the edgy 2-minute Chrysler ad featuring Eminem. Among the worst was Groupon’s fake public service ad featuring Timothy Hutton.

It seems just about everyone is killing the Black Eyed Peas’ halftime performance but I’ll be a bit kinder and say it’s a tough venue to really succeed. Fergie looked good but sounded really bad at times and the best part was probably when Usher joined the act for a bit. I’m old enough to remember when college bands and “Up With People” made up the halftime show. Of course the big winner Sunday was the Packers who will bring the Lombardi Trophy home today and that’s pretty cool.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

As I have said in the past I truly believe Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest holidays of the year, except it’s not a holiday and not even on calendars. Yet many of the things we associate with holidays will occur on Sunday. Families and friends will get together, food and drink will be consumed in large quantities, homes will be decorated and then on Monday more people will take a sick day than any other over the course of the year.

The game itself has evolved from a simple football game to a mega-event which has become part of the fabric of American life. Sunday night’s meeting between the Packers and Steelers will be the most-watched TV show of the year and the post-game analysis will find as much conversation about the commercials as the game itself. FOX has the game this year and will use the opportunity to air a special episode of their hit show “Gleee” immediately following which will no doubt earn monster ratings unless the game ends so late than nobody on the East Coast can stay awake. The tradition of using that spot to feature another show actually began in 1978 when CBS showed a Super Bowl-themed “All in the Family” when the game ended. So Archie Bunker did change television in more than one way.

Anyway for real football fans the problem is that it seems at times the game is rather insignificant because of all the pomp and circumstance over things like the commercials, the singing of the National Anthem, the halftime show and the glitz and glitter that will no doubt occur inside Cowboys Stadium.

Here’s a couple of interesting facts…at least I think they are interesting:
• The Packers are 2 ½ point favorites which is good news is you’re a Green Bay fan because the favorite has won 32 of the previous 44 Super Bowls.
However the Steelers are an impressive 6-1 in their Super Bowl appearances
and their 8th trip to the big game ties then with the Dallas Cowboys.
• 8 million pounds of guacamole will be consumed Sunday along with 22,000
tons of chips and 9 million slices of pizza. The only other day with more food eaten is Thanksgiving.
• More people will be involved in an alcohol-related accident on Sunday than another other day of the year except St. Patrick’s Day.
• The average number of people at a Super Bowl party is 17 but 5% of Americans will watch the game by themselves.
• The Packers will win the game 31-27 on a touchdown in the final 2 mins.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Good News For A Senior

Tuesday brought some exciting news for Toms River High School North senior Tatum Coffey as she was one of 18 players selected to the U.S. under-19 women’s national Lacrosse team. Coffey was the only New Jersey player on the final roster announced by US Lacrosse and she will head to Hanover, Germany in August for the 2011 Federation of International World Championships. As a junior last spring she scored 115 goals and added 84 assists on her way to being named the Shore Conference Player of the Year and earning All-State and All-America honors.

Coffey is clearly one of the state’s top overall athletes as her Mariner career has included four years of varsity soccer and three years of Boys Ice Hockey. Recruited by many of the top college lacrosse programs, the 18-year old signed a letter of intent in December to attend Penn State University in the fall and play for first-year coach Missy Doherty.

The Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation will hold its 4th Annual “Freeze For A Cause” on Saturday with a morning surfing contest in Seaside Heights and then an evening fundraiser at The Crabs Claw Inn in Lavallette. Randazzo is a New Jersey surfing legend who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease ten years ago and the foundation has raised more than $100,000 to promote cancer awareness, encourage research and assist individuals. Saturday’s surfing contest starts at 9am at Casino Pier with cash prizes for winners in the Men’s, Women’s and Longboard Divisions. The event at The Crabs Claw, presented by the Hammer Family begins at 7pm with food, drink specials, gift and live auctions and much more…tickets for that cost $25. For more information you can visit

If you are one of those who can’t wait for the Major League Baseball season to return you might be interested in what the Berkeley Little League is doing on Thursday, February 10 at 7pm. The league will be hosting a live question and answer chat with reporters Jim Salisbury and Steve Popper who cover the Phillies and Mets as well as Major League Baseball and I will serve as moderator. Tickets for the baseball chat in the Volunteer Community Center at the Moorage Complex are required in advance and cost just $10 which includes a smack buffet. For information you can call (732) 606-9060.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dealing With Stress

Occasionally I reach into the archives and pull out an old segment which is what I am doing this morning. This is not an original but rather from a guest lecturer who in talking about stress management offered some advice when dealing with the burdens of life. For my own reasons today seemed like a good day to repeat this.

• Accept that some days you’re the pigeon and some days you’re the statue.
• Always keep your words soft and sweet…just in case you have to eat them.
• Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
• Drive carefully. It’s not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.
• If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
• If may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
• Never buy a car you can’t push.
• Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.
• Nobody cares if you can’t dance well…just get up and dance.
• Since it’s the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.
• The second mouse gets the cheese.
• When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.
• You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
• Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.
• A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery of a detour.
• We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors but they hall have to live in the same box.
• Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

Monday, January 31, 2011

So yesterday was the first Sunday without pro football since September 12th and it was a preview of things to come. It was a good chance to catch up on things like cleaning my garage which has become a mess over the winter. Heck I even found Halloween stuff that was never put away and I have to say that things look much better now…I can almost fit a car in the garage which after all is what they were meant for.

Before the Academy Awards are announced on February 27th I am determined to see all 10 of the nominees for Best Picture and yesterday we watched “The Kids are All Right.” The movie stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore and is about a lesbian couple whose two teenage children reach out and bond with their sperm donor father. Neither my wife nor I thought it was a great movie but the acting is very good and it’s worth watching. We still have to see True Grit, Black Swan and Winters Bone but of the 7 nominated films we did see I would have to say The Social Network and The King’s Speech were the best and about as different as night and day.

Things did not pan out according to plan but Monsignor Donovan High School basketball standout Sean Grennan finally knows where his basketball future will take him. Over the weekend Grennan verbally committed to Seton Hall which ends what has been a tumultuous couple of months. The senior point guard was all set to play and attend Davidson College in North Carolina but just before the season began he was informed that due to academic reasons his scholarship offer was being withdrawn. That opened up the recruitment of the 6’2 Sea Girt resident who chose Seton Hall over schools like Vermont, Fordham and LaSalle.

Congratulations to the Southern Regional High School Wrestling team for their stunning upset over Jackson Memorial Saturday in the finals of the Shore Conference Tournament. Less than two weeks after losing to the Jaguars 39-9 in a regular-season dual meet, the Rams turned the tables and topped Jackson 28-23 to win their third Shore Conference Championship and first since 1998.

There was good news and bad news for a former Southern wrestler this weekend.
149-pounder Frank Molinaro won his match impressively but his top-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions were upset by Iowa 22-13 at Rec Hall in State College Sunday.
The redshirt junior All-American is ranked fifth in the nation and Molinaro is
20-2 overall this season and 10-0 in dual meets.

Friday, January 28

I have always feared the day when I sat down at my computer to write this segment and found myself staring at the screen with my fingers resting on the keys and not moving. Today is that day although I have to find a way to fill my allotted time.
Of course when you have nothing to say you can always fall back on the weather and that is certainly been a hot (or cold) topic lately. However do you need to hear any more about what you already know? Parts of the shore have already received 50 plus inches of snow, predictions call for more storms in February and spring is still 52 days away. Enough about the weather.

This is a terrible time of year when it comes to sports. Let’s face it the football season is over because the Super Bowl is not a game but an event. For those of you who need a fix there is the Pro Bowl Sunday night from Hawaii but that’s like watching a touch football game. As for the NBA & NHL…well those are really playoff sports and with the exception of a few games nobody really gets excited until the post-season begins. I love college basketball but the best time for that sport is called “March Madness” and we haven’t even gotten to February yet.
While it makes for a nice thought the whole “pitchers and catchers” thing with baseball doesn’t mean that much to me and as a Mets fan what do I really have to look forward to? Maybe they’ll surprise me.

For those who follow local sports you do have the Shore Conference Wrestling Tournament which will begin tonight and then end on Saturday. The Shore Conference Basketball Tournament gets underway in mid-February and there will be plenty of state tournament action at the Poland Spring Arena in March. Enough about sports.

The news itself is just about always depressing and you don’t need to hear me pontificate…I’ll leave that up to the Governor.

I will say this…it’s been a great year for movies and now that the Academy Award nominations are out I strongly suggest you catch some of them. The Fighter, The King’s Speech, The Social Network and 127 Hours are all tremendous and include some incredible performances well worth the price of admission. As a matter of fact…..I have to stop here; it seems I’m out of time.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Just one time I want to be the person who when it snows, pulls the covers over himself and goes back into a deep sleep. In more than 31 years at WOBM every time it’s snowed it’s meant I had to go out, clean off my car and get to work because when morning radio is part of what you do then you simply have to be here. We don’t get to sleep in, watch old movies, or eat comfort food. Instead we deal with the elements to get here and be on the air and often see an email later from the boss telling the rest of the staff they can work at home. It’s not a complaint but just one time it would be nice to go back to sleep and enjoy a snow day at home.

The Lakewood BlueClaws postponed last night’s Phillies Winter Tour stop at Woodlake Country Club due to the weather. The event has been re-scheduled for Tuesday, February 1st and will feature General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr., Phillies hitting Coach Greg Gross and Special Assistant Dickie Noles. Gross & Noles were teammates on the 1980 Phillies World Series championship team. To attend the Winter Tour event call the BlueClaws at (732) 901-7000, x172.

Are you looking for a very different Valentine gift? How about sending your sweetheart a 2011 version of the singing telegram? The Oceanaires will send a quartet from their chorus to homes and businesses in the Toms River area to sing for your special Valentine. The Oceanaires are the Ocean County Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society and this non-profit men’s singing group has been around for more than 50 years. The singing Valentine is available on February 12, 13 and 14 and the cost is just $35 plus it comes with a silk rose, chocolate heart and personal card. To order what is a unique gift you can call the special Valentine hot line beginning February 1st at (732) 503-8611. You can also download the order form and get more information by visiting their website at