It's hard to believe, but 45 years have passed since I first started writing for local newspapers.

My first article appeared in a Belleville newspaper, on Oct. 2, 1975. I was in high school at the time, and my journalism teacher at Belleville High, Susan Weintrob, thought I had some talent, in sports writing. Since the school page in this local paper was handled by our class, it was a good chance to get some exposure and a by line in the weekly paper.

I enjoyed it then, writing mostly feature articles. I was even given a column called 'Lamberti On Sports', which I wrote a few times monthly, until I graduated the following June.

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I would stay on to cover local sports with the newspaper during my college years, with the focus on a few sports, in Belleville, before eventually taking over the majority of high school coverage in the town a few years later.

My objective was never to focus on a career in writing, but it's something I've always enjoyed. My career endeavor has been mostly in the field of banking and finance, with some work as a teacher on the corporate and college levels.

But, covering the games is still fun and meeting the coaches and establishing friendships with them, is what makes this enjoyable. It's also nice to establish a rapport with the athletes themselves. Seeing them go off to college, and in some instances, remaining good friends with them today, is pretty nice. When a 'kid' says they still have scrapbook clippings of the articles I've written over the years, means a great deal.

When you hit a milestone, like 45 years doing a job, it's nice to reflect for a few minutes, but not go too crazy. And that will be the case here.

Over the last few years, I've put more of a focus on covering high school sports in Bloomfield and Glen Ridge, as well as a few schools in Passaic County and some Northern New Jersey softball, in the spring. And while I don't do much in Belleville, anymore, it's still enjoyable looking back at the great programs and athletes that were a part of the Bellboys and, subsequently, the Buccaneers. Many of the athletes I covered 30 and 40 years ago are over 40 and 50 years of age, but when you catch up with them, the memories are still quite vivid, and that's a good thing.

Since 1975, the student-athlete hasn't changed much, but change is also a part of life. I've often joked that the coaches and teachers I had 'back in the day' probably would have a much tougher time adapting to procedures and policies today. I'm grateful for what they taught me as a kid, and I truly respect how coaches, today, continue to establish a good rapport with their athletes while helping them reach their best efforts in a specific sport and excelling in the classroom. 

I look at a man like Mike Carter, who is now in his 30th season as head football coach at Bloomfield High, and his upbeat style has adapted well to the times, over four decades.

Glen Ridge has a tremendous community, with a nice mix of coaches and student-athletes, as well as a good fan base, and that's what makes going to their sporting events, so special.

Steve Jenkins is an outstanding athletic director for Bloomfield High, and other athletic directors, like Nutley's Joe Piro are good examples of former athletes and coaches, themselves, making the transition to administration seem flawless.

The point to this article is to thank so many coaches, athletes and administrators from the past and present. There are too many to mention and I don't want to miss anybody, so I'll just say thanks so much.

More importantly, I look forward to continuing covering the communities I serve, and providing a quality product.

When I started doing this, Gerald Ford was president, gasoline was about 50 cents a gallon, Disco music was just starting to be the rave, the Yankees, Mets, Giants and Jets were all playing their home games at Shea Stadium and many of the current readers weren't born yet.

Life has a funny way of going very quickly. My parents were my biggest fans, when I'd have an article in the newspaper. They've since passed away, but it's good to hear from others when they like an article, and it's also pretty good when someone may complain, because it means they read the article.

Special thanks to Lou Venezia and Joe Coletta, from TAPinto Bloomfield, who have allowed me to provide coverage in the local area. I would also like to thank the following editors, and reporters, as part of various mediums, who influenced me from 1975 through the present, including John Jurich, Russell Rommelle, Chuck Jackson, Anthony Buccino, Nancy D'Uva, Bruce Moran, Juliann Walsh and Steve Patchett.

A lot of has changed, in the communications business, as newspapers are somewhat replaced by on-line sources, in this microwave world of quick news, along with podcasts and other technological advances. It's important to keep up with all the changes, but the bottom line is integrity and honesty in reporting should always be the norm.

Again, thank you for reading and I look forward to continuing my sports coverage.