SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - It has been many years since he graduated, but Steve Timko has never strayed from his roots.
Timko, currently Executive Director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), graduated high school from South Plainfield High School in 1963, one of the many high schools that he and his organization provide assistance to in athletic matters.
The jobs of the NJSIAA are endless, but their overall goal, is to “set forth rules and regulations governing high school athletics in order to equalize competition to member schools.” The schools represented by the NJSIAA span the entire state of New Jersey and contain schools with as little as 50 students to schools as large as 5,000 students. There are only 11 schools in the state that are not represented because they are independently owned and contain fifth year students.
As Executive Director, Timko has overall responsibility over the organization. He has 11 support people who handle over 200 phone calls per day. Timko is head of executive committee and, in addition is in charge of all aspects of wrestling competitions for the state along with a few projects he was head of. His responsibilities never end.
One of Timko’s favorite projects he started was the introduction of a steroid testing into the high schools. In 2006 then New Jersey governor Richard Codey put an executive order for NJSIAA to initiate a steroid testing program in all the schools. Currently over 500 student-athletes are tested during championship seasons. But Timko’s efforts do not stop there.
“Something I have been really trying to do is get more money to make testing year-round,” Timko said. “We area at a point where a number of our teams know they will not be participating in the state championships and they could very well be abusing. I would like to get to those schools and get to the point where we can just come in a say we are testing you.”
The NJSIAA currently requires students to sign a form in the beginning of the season stating that if they are selected to test for steroids, they must oblige. If they do not sign they cannot participate in the program.
Timko and NJSIAA also were big contributors towards Janet’s Law, a law the currently requires public schools to have automated external defibrillators for youth athletic events and to establish plans relating to sudden cardiac events.
“Our efforts towards Janet’s law have helped saved nine people,” Timko said. “There is really no better feeling than knowing that you helped saved someone’s life.”
South Plainfield high school and the surrounding area has been an important piece to getting Timko to where he is today. He graduated in 1963, went to school and worked in Kentucky for the better part of a decade, then returned to South Plainfield to teach Physical Education in 1973. He spent 25 years at Hopewell-Valley as the Director of Health, physical education, athletics and intramurals.
In 2001 Timko received a position as Assistant director with NJSIAA and held the position for five years. In 2006 he officially became Executive Director, a job he still loves doing.
“It has been a challenging job,” Timko said. “It is one with a lot of responsibility but is one I have really enjoyed doing for the past 11 years.”
His time at South Plainfield is what made him realize he wanted to do what he does. His basketball coach, Tony Cotoia was his athletic director and basketball coach and a man who Timko says he modeled his life around. Cotoia has been a mentor throughout Timko’s career and was the first person he heard from when we got the job with South Plainfield with NJSIAA.
His ties to South Plainfield have left a lasting impression on him his whole life.
“I very proud of the fact that I am from South Plainfield,” Timko said. “My wife taught there for 28 years. The community has remained very similar to what it was like when I went there. I had great teachers. I am still in touch with some people I grew up with and run into them along with former students I had. I enjoyed the athletic aspect very much and that has left its mark.”
Timko’s influence expands throughout the state too. New Jersey State Senator Patrick J. Diegnan has nothing but positive words to say about Timko.
“I have had the pleasure of knowing Steve Timko for virtually my entire life,” Diegnan said. “He is the definition of a true gentleman. He treats everyone with respect. The biggest compliment I can give Steve is that he is a problem solver. As Executive Director of the NJSIAA he regularly deals with issues that can literally affect the lives of hundreds of athletes throughout New Jersey. Before he comes to a decision he considers the positions of all involved and always does what he believes is right not only for the student but for all of the schools of our state. Simply stated, we are fortunate to have Steve Timko on our side.”