GILLETTE, NJ - The Berkeley Heights PAL cross-country coaches celebrated a successful fall season for the WolfPack runners at the annual awards recognition banquet on Nov. 19 at Chimney Rock Inn in Gillette.
Each team member was recognized. The recurring theme with the coaches was how bright the future of the program looks. The coaches all radiated with pride about the runners, conversations about how dedicated each and every member of their roster was and how each plays a role in the success of the program.
Head Coach Steve SanAntonio said, “Today we reflect on completing our third successful running season. We as a team of coaches, parents and children are unified for the sole purpose of developing the children from the bottom to the top. We do not try to win at all costs as we are looking at the long-term goals in improving confidence, athletic abilities and most of all heath. I am fortunate to have the right blend of parent/coaches in the system. The coaches are kind, loving and caring. The real magic is in what they say in encouragement to each runner. Each coach is a volunteer and they donate hundreds of hours of their time to the communities’ children for a brighter future. Giving back is what we do, and it feels great, there is no greater reward.”
Coach Jennifer SanAntonio said, “I love to coach the youth running program because it allows me to teach the children how to include healthy exercise into their lives, and hopefully they will endure that into adulthood. Among the many benefits are physical fitness, confidence and stronger self-esteem, more energy, better memory, and simply a good feeling about themselves. That's the teacher in me. Coaching the youth running program goes beyond the actual workout. Having the ability to be a positive role model for the children is what it is about. Coaching allows me to impart valuable lessons and have a positive impact on the children. I don't just tell them what to do for that particular workout. I run with them, I talk to them, I guide them, and I care about them. That's the mom in me.”
Coach Cathy Mersereau said, “I first joined the coaching staff to lend a hand to a burgeoning team led by kind, talented coaches who had a great impact on my daughter. Soon I found that spending time with the team while they bonded and experienced the fun and reward in running was among the highlights of every week. I look forward to watching the children unlock their potential and hope to grow alongside them as a coach.”
Coach Fang Schmitz said, “I love to run and to see others run, especially children. They run so naturally and beautifully. I enjoy developing their confidence. When they realize they can finish a 5k event after two month of training, they feel overjoyed and I am so happy to be part of that journey. I am hopeful running will touch some kids and they will be runners for the rest of their lives. Running is such a simple sports, but it truly brings joy out of kids. The experience is priceless.”
Coach Steve Marinko said, “I coach to help the boys and girls on our team to develop a love for running, to experience the benefits that running can bring, in terms of building physical conditioning and dedication, and to help enable them to improve and reach their potential as runners, at whatever level that may be. As a coach, I was inspired by the number of members of our team who came to the practices that we held after the state championship meet, when we didn't have any more cross country races, other than for the runners who had advanced to regional championships. Nevertheless, many of the runners who were not running in the regionals participated in the practices, which meant a lot to me as a coach, because it showed better than anything else how much they had come to enjoy running and training with the other members of the team. Hopefully, their love for running will continue for the rest of their lives.”
Coach Grace Mullery said, “I had so much fun coaching this season. The kids really improved their times and definitely made practice exciting. We spent so much time together, it felt like an extended family. I am looking forward to next season."
Coach Lindsey Mondelli said, “Fun, friends, practice and laughter, that’s an easy invitation to a good time and getting healthy while doing it. I love the WolfPack family and look forward to another awesome season.”
Each team runner received a “Certificate of Achievement” for completing the two and half month running program. In addition, other recognitions were also highlighted for their dedication, commitment, attendance and overall performance.
2015 XC MOST IMPROVED ATHLETE AWARD - Individual elevated their daily training efforts; demonstrated dedication to athletic improvement and in competition; showed consistent improvement.
Male – Ben Faxon / Christina Cadmus / Brandon Woods / Christopher Ticas
Female – Sarah Sequeira (4 minute improvement from first meet to last meet at Holmdel Park)
2015 XC COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD - Individual is active in community service activities; Logged most community service hours through the Brownies, Boys/Girls Scout/Life Skills Program; Demonstrated dedication to athletic improvement.
Male – Christian Cadmus, John Schmitz
Female – Emma Colazzo
2015 XC PHYSICAL FITNESS AWARD - Participated in at least 90 percent of the practices; Demonstrated work habits and motivation to improve and completed the running program till the very end of the season; Very good attendance.
Male – Nicholas Ocello / Cole Simon / John Schmitz / Tyler Wiseman / Cameron SanAntonio / Preston Naim
Female – Hannah Ocello / Julia Ocello /Payton Buckley / Michelle Schmitz / Brooke Mersereau / Emma SanAntonio
2015 XC EYE OF THE TIGER AWARD - Demonstrated a fierce competitive attitude; Displayed an attitude which positively affects teammates; Possessed a relentless desire to improve their performance; Had very good attendance for practice and meets.
Male – Oliver Chait / Jackson Levine/ Liam Curran / Christopher Marinko / Brandon Woods / Aidan Maguire
Female – Caroline Mondelli /Juliette Safer
RISING STAR AWARD - New runner that exhibited incredible athletic performance. Displayed a work ethic that resulted in consistent performance improvements; Is a great role model and positively affects their teammates.
MALE – Jackson Levine
FEMALE – McKenzie Lloyd
2015 CROSS COUNTRY RUNNER OF THE SEASON AWARD - Reported to fall camp in excellent fitness from summer training program; Was consistently a top performing runner during the regular season and championship meets; Medaled in the Middle School State Championship and USATF Jr. Olympics Cross Country State Championship meets.
Male – Alexander Aranas (won 4 of the Holmdel meets, 7th at the middle school state championship and placed 5th in the Jr. Olympics USATF state championship.
Female – Ellie Roberson (won 4 of the Holmdel meets, runner up at the middle school state championship and placed 5th in the Jr. Olympics USATF state championship.
2015 XC MOST OUTSTANDING RUNNER AWARD - Raised their Performance level when it counts. Top placer in big meets such as Middle School State Championship and USATF Jr. Olympics; Demonstrated excellent work habits and motivation to improve.
Male – Nicholas Yarad (Top 5 performer at the Holmdel Meets, Won the middle school state championship in the 3-4 grade and placed 7th in the Jr. Olympics USATF state championship.)
Female – Gwen Mersereau (Runner-up at 4 of the Holmdel meets, 3rd place at the middle school state championship and placed 3rd in the Jr. Olympics USATF state championship.
2015 XC WOLFPACK TRACK CLUB TEAM CAPTAIN AWARD - A Senior (8th grader) on the team who was a participant for the majority of the meets including Middle School State Championship and Jr. Olympics; recognition is also based on a combination of hard work and dedication, both in practice and competition, Worked out on his or her own time; Displayed a great outlook, integrity, good attendance, consistent training habits, and competitive attitude, exemplifying sportsmanship, academic and outstanding athletic accomplishments. Demonstrated team leadership characteristics and Cared about his or her teammates.
Male – Alex Aranas
Female – McKenzie Lloyd
NAMING OF TEAM CAPTAINS AND ASSISTANT CAPTAIN FOR 2016 SPRING TRACK - An effective team captain leads his and her team members by influencing them in a positive way. This involves putting the most effort into each practice and meets and expecting the other team members to do the same. You'll also lead by helping solve conflicts among team members, understanding all the rules of the game, building team spirit and coordinating ideas into action. The Leadership is taking charge, doing more than is expected, taking responsibility for your -strengths and weaknesses, leading with actions rather than words and avoiding thinking you are better than the rest of the team. This will motivate your team to act the same, creating a cohesive unit that performs well and wins games.
Male - Captain- Alexander Aranas
Male – Assistant Captain - Brandon Woods
Female- Captain -Caroline Mondelli
Female- Assistant Captain -Brooke Mersereau
BERKELEY HEIGHTS PAL PRESIDENT’S AWARD - The award honors a High School coaching staff or volunteer members who have gone well beyond their regular duties and have demonstrated an unusual commitment to the Berkeley Heights PAL Youth Running Program. This award recognizes exceptional service by the volunteer. Honoring those individuals, whose dedication and support have been vital to the success of the organization and whose leadership has played a vital role in the fruition of our purposes and programs”.
FEMALE-Grace Mullery (Pingry School)
FEMALE- Lindsey Mondelli (Governor Livingston HS)
“The Berkeley Heights PAL coaches teach more than winning. By giving each student/athlete a purpose they are in control of, with an attainable goal, as well as ingrain dedication and hard-work, we establish the platform, the foundation, which leads to personal success. Upon completion of the program, the children rejoice in victory in the completion of a journey and in the fulfillment of a goal. Regardless if they finished first or last, personal improvement is golden in the Berkeley Heights PAL program,” said Coach SanAntonio.
For inquiries about the Berkeley Heights PAL Youth Running Program, visit the WolfPack Track Club website at www.wolfpacktc.org.