CEDAR GROVE, NJ – Former Bloomfield High School wrestling standout Rami Ratel has assumed the role as head coach of the Cedar Grove High School Varsity Wrestling Team for the 2018-2019 season.
Ratel was officially named to the position in October by the Cedar Grove Board of Education. He previously served as assistant coach with the Bloomfield Bengals wrestling program for several years.
The transition from assistant coach to head coach has been a smooth one for Ratel, but has not been without its challenges.
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“The differences I encountered from assistant to head coach are mostly in the time required to establish a roster, completing weight certifications for the athletes, and daily preparation for a productive practice,” said Ratel. “Also, establishing communication with parents and the Cedar Grove High School staff to address school performance for the student-athletes.”
Excelling in the classroom, as well as being a role model in helping shape the lives of his grapplers by steering them towards success is of utmost importance to Ratel.
“The positive impact you can have on a student-athlete in the sport and the life they will lead is the number priority as a leader or coach,” said Ratel.
While competing for Bloomfield High School in the late-1990’s, Ratel was coached by the legendary Sam Fusaro. Fusaro retired after the 2017 season.
“My fondest memories of wrestling at Bloomfield were the home matches in the pit,” Ratel recalled. “The crowds were electrifying, and it was very exciting to wrestle in front of that crowd.”
Ratel had a special bond with Coach Fusaro, who certainly set up Rami for success.
“Other fond memories were in running eight miles on Sundays from Bloomfield to West Caldwell to Coach Fusaro’s house,” Ratel said. “Gail, his wife, would feed me and Fusaro and I would scout teams we had to wrestle to figure out a match up that would benefit our team.”
After high school, Ratel wrestled at Montclair State University for the Red Hawks. He received the Sam Mills Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year Award in 2003.
Ratel, who graduated Montclair State University in 2003, was undefeated during his senior year in 39 matches in the 149-pound class and won the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championship. He was named most outstanding wrestler at the tournament.
“My fondest memory at Montclair State, without a doubt, was when I won the NCAA Division III National Title,” Ratel said while reflecting on his Red Hawks career.
In a return to his alma mater, Rami and Cedar Grove travel to Bloomfield High School to take on the Bengals on Tuesday, January 15 at 6 pm.
“The emotions will be high coming back to the pit to compete on the other side for the first time,” added Ratel. “Bloomfield and the pit will always have a special place in my heart.”
It will be a memorable day for both wrestling programs when Bloomfield welcomes back Ratel, even though he will be leading the opposition.
“Wrestling against the Bengals will be really exciting because of the friendship I have built with their head coach Ryan Smircich and his assistants,” explained Ratel. “I wish nothing but the best for the Bengals community.”
The Cedar Grove grapplers open the season on Saturday, December 15 at 10 am during the annual Lakeland Regional High School Tournament. The first home match for the Panthers is against James Caldwell High School on Wednesday, December 19 at 7 pm.
Ratel concluded, “I am very excited for this new chapter in my life of being the head coach of the Cedar Grove Panthers.”
Related Story: Longtime Bloomfield Wrestling Coach Retires