GLEN RIDGE, NJ--Eight months after winning the program's first state championship, the Glen Ridge High boys' soccer team reaped the benefits of that title, when the team received its championship rings, on June 30.
The ceremony was rather quick, in the parking lot at the high school, since social distancing and proper protocol of the coronavirus is sitll a high priority.
Nevertheless, all the players were on hand and head coach Austin Alvarado, who was the designer of the ring, was thrilled to see the team.
"It was really nice," said Alvarado, who, in his first season at the helm last fall, led the team to a 13-7-1 record, including six straight wins, all in the state tournament, to conclude the 2019 campaign. During that six-game winning streak, Glen Ridge outscored its opponents by a 15-3 margin. The Ridgers won the Group 1 state crown on Nov. 17, defeating Bound Brook, 2-1, in overtime, at Kean University.
The ring was beautifully done, with a white GR on the front, surrounded by a diamond background. The side has State Champions printed and the back has the words 'Lean On Me', for the famous song that the team adopted, on its run to a title.
And most poignantly, the name Officer Roberts is printed on the opposite side of the ring's GR emblem, honoring the late Charles Roberts, a very popular Glen Ridge police officer, who passed away on April 21, 2020.
"It was really important for us to be able to do this in person," said Alvarado. "New Jersey high school sports has a rich history, and when you become a part of that history, it's paramount you celebrate the efforts and commitment of the student-athletes, their families, and the Glen Ridge community, that we proudly represent.
"When we opened the ring boxes, as a team, it was meant to be special, and it was. I wanted the boys to have this memory, and the looks on their faces when they saw the ring was really nice. And it was important to our community to honor Officer Charles Roberts. He meant so much to Glen Ridge."
Alvarado also recalled what it took for the team to win that title last November.
"During the season, I think we only practiced on the field maybe 10 times, honestly. Today, seeing how happy the boys were to open the rings together, it made me so grateful, for their trust and patience. In understanding that the most vital piece to our collective success was our commitment to creating a connection culture, and believing in the power of relationships.
"On behalf of the program, we thank you Rick Jacobs, Guy Abrahamson, Chris Edwards, Ellen Aumack, Kay Scheren and Jack Webber."
The roster of players who received their rings included seniors Logan Kotronis, Josh Debelak, Grant Conte, Ian Heinicke, Gavin Robertson, Matthew Whitney, Will Livingstone, Grantham Ghaemi, Cole Schubert, Luke Femino, Justin Sweet, Xavier Bell and Phoenix Silkensen.
The juniors are Segun Wallace, Gabe Cabrera, Travis Burnett, Ty Rank, Drew Hiner, Lucas Umana, Keith Juros, Nicholas Garcia, Willem Kleinberg and Lucas Costa. The sophomores are Aidan Shea, Jack Robertson, Max Renteria and Cooper Sharp.
While the 2019 season is now officially in the record books, the 2020 campaign, is technically not far away.
As far as this summer is concerned, Alvarado isn't sure what will be the case, as far as practicing.
"Normally, the team would be in summer leagues, already," said Alvarado. "But we all know this isn't a normal time. I have to wait and see what we'll be able to do, in the summer."
The team captains for the 2020 season are incoming seniors Travis Burnett and Drew Hiner.
"The returning players are excited about the season," said Alvarado. "We're all hoping to get out there and defend our title."