UNICO Breakfast at West Orange High School Recognizes Unsung Sports Heroes

Guest Speaker Vince Papale. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Michael Muha and Coach John Finnegan of SHP. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Vince Papale, Alex Salamone, and John Finnegan of SHP. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
WOHS Girls Soccer Coach and Brian Piccolo Award winner Ilissa Blackshear. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
WOHS Football Coach John Jacob, Dan Gardener, and Vince Papale. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Football Coach Randy Daniel and Jean Garcy Moussignac of Orange High School, and Vince Papale. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Vince Papale and Andrew Mazurek Jr., Coach of the WOPAL Jr. Pee Team, and his players. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Sports Trivia Award Winners Dave Strauss, Jacky Crann, Brian Crann, Marshall Lipsey, and Josh Strauss. (The boys play football and LAX at WOHS and played PAL football as well.) Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Erin Cirilo, Councilman Jerry Guarino, and Council President Vic Cirilo. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Master of Ceremonies Ben Spinelli. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Assemblyman John McKeon and guests. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Mayor Rob Parisi and daughter Kelly. Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ - The 39th Annual Unico Sports Award Breakfast was held on Sunday, February 24, in the Tarnoff Cafeteria at West Orange High School. Athletes from Seton Hall Prep, WOHS, Golda Ochs, and Orange High School received Brian Piccolo Awards as the unsung heroes of their respective teams.  Vince Papale, former Eagles football player and the subject of the movie "Invincible," was the guest speaker, and the West Orange Football Jr. Pee Wee team received a special award for their undefeated 2012 season.

Ben Spinelli, Master of Ceremonies, began introductions with SHP Football Coach John Finnegan, who presented awards to Michael Muha and Alex Salamone.  Muha played as a tight end and Salamone as offensive tackle on the SHP football team.  Muha will be playing football at Muhlenberg in the fall.  

Lou Mignone, WOHS Girls Soccer Coach, then presented Ilissa Blackshear with her Brian Piccolo award.  Illisa, who played not only as the goalkeeper on the girls soccer team, but also track and basketball, has received a full scholarship to Seton Hall University.

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WOHS Football Coach John Jacob presented Dan Gardener with his award.  He was selected for his compassion, hard work, and caring for his team and the sport of football.

Golda Och Academy was unable to attend due to a religious holiday conflict.  Amanda Schulman, girls Volleyball team member, and Toren Aronoff, a member of the baseball team, were recognized and will receive their awards.

Coach Randy Daniel of Orange High School presented the Brian Piccolo award to kicker Jean Garcy Moussignac.

Sal Anderton, member of UNICO and former councilperson, then presented Andrew Mazurek Jr., coach of the undefeated WOPAL Jr. Pee Wee team, a special recognition award for their undefeated 13-0 season.

Guest Speaker Vince Papale then stepped to the microphone.  He joked with the audience as he enthusiastically shared his formula for success: visualize, make an impact, hit the refresh button when you need to, know the fundamentals, take risks, surround yourself with good people, always take the extra step 'one more degree', possess mind and body synergy, play a passionate role in your own life, attitude is everything, persevere, be consistent, learn = earn, and be your best.  He also shared his own journey, describing a difficult childhood and adolescence, as well as his wife's , former US World Team Gymnast Janet Cantwell, and how they persevered and succeeded, fulfilling their dreams, in spite of the obstacles.

The Orange/West Orange Chapter of UNICO (Unity, Neighborliness, Integrity, Charity, and Opportunity), has long celebrated its Italian culture roots, but also its commitment and service to the community.  This morning's event helped to raise money for scholarships and outreaches to the community at large.  For more information on UNICO, or to join the organization, contact Mary Berger at 973-223-5070 or visit their website at



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