Dear Members of the Raider Nation,

Currently, declining participation numbers, sports specialization, concussions, fatigue, both mental and physical, pressures to earn scholarships, and shrinking educational budgets, are the hottest topics in high school sports.

Nutley has seen a substantial shift in our participation numbers that has put some of our programs at risk. This, combined with the aforementioned challenges that face every athletic department of our size, have forced us to make some difficult, but sensible decisions. Beginning with the 2018- 2019 school year, the Athletic Department, High School Administration, and Central Office have made a collaborative decision to re-organize our sub-varsity programs and maximize our resources and potential.

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Simply stated, programs which have had three levels – Varsity, Junior Varsity and Freshman – will be re-organized into two levels. Freshmen and sophomores, who are still developing skills, will play at the Junior Varsity level and juniors and seniors will participate at the Varsity level. However, this does not exclude skilled freshmen or sophomores from playing a Varsity-level sport. This will directly impact football, boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ basketball, baseball, and softball.

This collaborative decision enables us to maximize the resources we have available to us. The athletic field is an extension of the classroom and by shifting our levels, we will be able to have two coaches on the underclassmen level. This will allow for more instructional time, increased supervision, and more time on task. This will also allow the department to use the available resources to increase productivity and performance. The increased capacity will create a more competitive practice environment that will positively affect the direction and outcome of the season.

I have been fortunate in my tenure as your Director of Athletics to sit on several different state and national committees. I have had the pleasure of attending the National Conference, and the DAANJ State conference where I have presented, mediated, and facilitated workshops on a variety of topics such as leveraging athletics to improve student performance, security and crisis management during athletic events, dealing with difficult parents and fans, and evaluating and developing coaches. While participating in theses workshops, I have had the pleasure of speaking with Athletic Directors from all over the country. I have come to realize that the issues, both good and bad, that a Director of Athletics faces from day-to-day are common from New Jersey to California and everywhere in between. A school which can provide three levels of sports, consistently throughout their programs, is truly in the minority, particularly in North Jersey.

I have confidence that our department, staff, and administration will be able to facilitate this change and make a seamless transition. We will see a measureable improvement in the performance of our athletes, our coaches, our programs and our department. I believe the best is yet to come for the Raider Nation.

On Monday, June 4 at 6:30 PM, I, and NHS Principal Denis Williams, will present these changes at the Board of Education meeting at JHWMS. Our coaches will be present at the meeting as well. In the meantime, if you should have any questions and or concerns that you wish to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact the Athletic Office to set up an appointment

. Sincerely,

Joe Piro

Director of Athletics