SPARTA, NJ – Two Sussex County football teams have put aside their rivalry for the past two years, if only for a few minutes, to honor a fellow student Tommy Bock. This year was no different. At the Sussex Tech Wallkill Valley football game Mustangs’ Braydon Holt and Rangers’ Jake Vanerwiele earned the third Tommy Bock Spirit award.
On May 7, 2017 the freshman lost his life in a skateboard accident.
Since he passed the Wallkill v Sussex Tech football game has been a memorial game where both teams come together, share a hug and fundraise for the scholarship in Bock’s name. Throughout the season they sell t-shirts, hold 50/50’s and take donations.
This year, in what would have been his senior year, the schools wanted to do something different. With the support of Bock’s mother, the teams collected bicycle helmets.
A donation of approximately 40 helmets was accepted by Sherriff Michael Strada before the Sussex Tech game against North Warren on Saturday, November 2. The collection and fundraising efforts are spearheaded by the Sussex Tech football booster board members: Tracey Kinkead, Diane Durham, Nikki Gruber and Cynthia Cunha.
“We want to make sure everyone knows that we’re remembering him,” Kinkead said. “We’ll honor his memory the best we can.”
Strada said his department works with about 10 school in the county. He said the helmets will distributed to children who need them in those schools.
“It’s an honor for me to be here today,” Strada said. “We’ll do what we can to try to make sure no other family suffers the same tragedy.”
Bock was a student as Sussex Technical High School where he played football. He wrestled for Wallkill Valley High School and played Lacrosse at Vernon High School.
Kristian Kipp received the first Spirit award. Ryan Kinkead got the Spirit award last year.
“He remains a huge part of the team and the boys really miss him,” Durham said.