MONTVILLE, NJ - Dr. René Rovtar, Superintendent of the Montville Township Public Schools, is known for her ability to tackle big projects with enthusiasm, skill and creativity. With only two years in the high-achieving district, Rovtar has distinguished herself as an outstanding leader.
Last June, as her first year in the district came to an end, Rovtar was named Morris County Superintendent of the year. This year her OneMontville initiative that unites educators, religious leaders, politicians, community organizers, students and parents to promote Kindness, Acceptance and Respect across the entire community, received a 2017 Promising Practice award from the internationally recognized Character.org.
Also for the end of her second year in Montville Township, Rovtar checked off an exciting item on her personal bucket list: Compete in the iconic 4th of July Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Along the way she demonstrated to students and the entire community that it is okay to try something new, be silly and go for your dreams.
“I was drawn to it because it is not something people expect me to do,” Rovtar said.
A tiny individual, Rovtar doesn’t have a large appetite for excessive amounts of food. But she does have an appetite for knowledge and an excitement for learning about new things.
“Last year, while watching the event on ESPN, I noticed a woman on the end who ate only four hotdogs,” Rovtar explained. “I said to my family, I can eat four hot dogs.”
It was at that moment she began researching how to qualify for the Famous Nathan’s Hot Dog competition.
“Montville Township is extremely fortunate to have such an inspired and inspiring leader,” said Montville Board of Education Member Michael Johnson. “There is no better testament to her ability to build spirit of community than the MTHS alum that traveled, on their own, to Coney Island to cheer her on.”
A marathon runner, who came to that sport as an adult and went on to complete twenty-one marathons, Rovtar knows how to set goals and systematically overcome obstacles. She used that same skill set to achieve her dream of being a participant in the world’s most famous competitive eating contest held every July 4th at Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island.
After researching the qualifying rules, and calculating the odds to determine which of the 18 national qualifying competitions she could likely win, Rovtar traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina over Memorial Day weekend, confident that she could win a spot in the 2017 Coney Island Competition.
There she consumed 7 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
“My goal was 10, so I was disappointed, but I am excited to have made the finals,” she explained following the qualifier.
Going into the 2017 July 4th event, Rovtar stated that she planned to do better than the qualifying match and she hoped to eat 10 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
“The pressure is off,” noted Rovtar. “I know I won’t win; I can’t. But participating and doing my best is enough. I am happy to be a part of this exciting event.”
At 11:00 am EST, Rovtar took to the stage and downed as many hot dogs and buns as she could in 10 minutes. Directly in front of her, next to the stage, stood her cheering section.
“It was fantastic!” she said later. “My family and, somehow, a group of 2017 Montville Township High School graduates! They found each other in the crowd of 40,000 and they stood right in front of me and cheered me on. It was the best!”
In the end, Rovtar bested her own record by one, ending the competition with 8 hot dogs in 10 minutes. The champion of the women’s competition, Miki Sudo, landed her fourth Nathan’s title in four years. She too set a personal best of 41 hot dogs in 10 minutes.