IRVINGTON, NJ – The Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders honored three Irvington High School teachers and coaches during a special presentation at the Hall of Records in Newark, New Jersey. Coaches Kurt Fenchel and Robert Osieja were honored for their induction into the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame on March 24, 2019, and Coach Elias Brantley was honored for receiving the NJEA Teachers Who Rock Award and the National Life Group LifeChanger of the Year award for 2019.
The resolutions honoring the teachers were sponsored by Freeholder At-Large Romaine Graham of Irvington, Freeholder At-Large Rufus Johnson, and Freeholder Vice President Wayne Richardson. The honorees were presented with commendations recognizing their outstanding achievements as coaches on the field of play, and their contributions as leaders and mentors for their students in the classroom. Irvington High School Athletic Director Dr. John Taylor introduced them to the audience, and gave a personal testament on the impact of their contributions.
Kurt Fenchel served as the Irvington High School Boys Basketball Coach for twelve years. During his time as coach, he led the Blue Knights to three Essex County Tournament Championships, two State Sectional Championships, and the 1992-1993 Group IV State Championship. He is a two-time inductee in the Irvington High School Athletics Hall of Fame, was named Boys Basketball Coach of the Year in Essex, Monmouth, Somerset, and Ocean counties, and won State Sectional Championships at Franklin and Manasquan High Schools.
Coach Fenchel expressed his pride in Irvington as he accepted the Commendation. “I was raised in Irvington. My mom was on the Board of Education in Irvington, and my Dad was a former police chief in Irvington.” He continued, “I don’t know if I can say or express how good of a town Irvington is. It has produced so many good people. It’s a great great community.”
Robert Osieja served as the Irvington High School Boys Soccer Coach for five years and won 55 games and the 1983 Watchung Conference Championship. In 1988, he had a banner season as the Boys Soccer Coach for Chatham High School. He led the team to the 1988 Morris County Boys Soccer Championship, and the 1988 Group II Boys Soccer State Championship. He was named 1988 Morris County Coach of the Year, as well as the Boys Soccer Coach of the Year for the entire state. He went on to lead Passaic Valley High School to the 1991 and 1992 Passaic County Championship, while being named the 1991 and 1992 Passaic County Coach of the Year.
Elias Brantley is the current coach of the Irvington High School Boys Basketball and Boys Volleyball teams. He coached the basketball team to the 2018 North II Group III State Sectional Championship game, and was runner-up for the 2018 Sideline Chatter Essex County Boys Basketball Coach of the Year. In 2019, he led the team to the 2018 Joe Silver Holiday Tournament Championship, and the 2019 Super Essex Conference Championship. He made history in 2019 by becoming the first Boys Volleyball Coach in Irvington High School history. As successful as he has been as a coach, his contributions to his students off the court have resonated even more. This past year, he bought his own printing press materials and started making and selling Irvington branded apparel. With the proceeds from the apparel, he bought more materials in order to give shirts, shorts and other items to students who did not have the means to purchase their own.
Also on hand to honor the teachers were Freeholders Leonard Luciano, Robert Mercado, Carlos Pomares, Patricia Sebold, and Freeholder President Brendan Gill.