NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – When a New Providence High School student joins the football program, they become more than just a number. They turn into a Pioneer, a teammate, a brother and a son, all at the same time.

Head coach Joe Carollo and his staff have created a family-like culture where you’re not just a freshman, JV or varsity player. You're a member of a program that doesn’t include academic class.

“One of the things we’ve been able to do the last couple of years, that is extremely important, is embrace the idea that every piece of this program is important, whether you’re a freshman or a senior,” Carollo said. “That’s something that we’ve definitely done here the past couple of years.”

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The interaction amongst all players in the program has helped combat potential hazing and bullying complaints similar to those experienced at Sayreville High School in recent weeks.

Like most schools and athletic programs, the Pioneers have a “Zero-Tolerance Policy” for bullying and hazing that was adopted two years ago. However, Carollo’s policy goes deeper than just a form letter. His coaches monitor the locker rooms before and after games or practices, and there is constant communication to the players about expectations.

“We have in place where coaches will monitor the locker rooms,” Carollo said. “Even tomorrow [Wednesday], we’re going to sit and talk with them about that and remind them about the things you can lose if you make bad choices. We talk about that all the time anyway.”

Still, despite the policies and practices in place, New Providence has the competitive advantage when up against the likes of Sayreville High School. The mere size of New Providence is three times smaller than Sayreville, which makes potential hazards easier to handle.

“A small town like this, everyone knows what’s going on,” Carollo said. “Its not hard to see. Our interaction, we’re so close to the freshman, we all warm up as a group. You can normally see the signs if something were going on. The last couple of years, we’ve really taken a hard line with that. We have a zero tolerance.”