SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association honored hundreds of New Jersey's female athletes at the annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day celebration Sunday at Seton Hall University.
The NJSIAA program recognizes the exceptional scholastic and collegiate athletic accomplishments of female athletes.
Two female athletes from Somerville were honored: Stefani Peluso, a senior lacrosse player at Immaculata High School, and senior Madeline Spolarich, an outstanding basketball player at Somerville High School.
West Essex High School’s head field hockey and girls’ lacrosse coach, Jill Cosse-Minnella, received this year’s prestigious National Girls and Women in Sports High School Honor Award. Cosse-Minnella is a former dual-sport, national champion student-athlete at Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey). The head field hockey and girls’ lacrosse coach at West Essex since 1998, she has amassed a combined 14 state championship titles.
“This coalition is doing exceptional work in getting more girls confidently involved in sports,” Cosse-Minnella said. “The benefits of participation in scholastic sports are innumerable, and all students should be encouraged to participate and have their achievements celebrated.”
Additional awards and honors were presented during the luncheon, which was held at the Richie Recreation Center. All luncheon attendees received complimentary admission into the Seton Hall Women’s Basketball game versus Butler University immediately following the event.
“Coach Cosse-Minnella embodies the core values of NJSIAA,” said Steven J. Timko, executive director of NJSIAA. “She has not only been successful on the field, but has stressed academic achievement and good citizenship off the field.”
Established in 1918, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association is a voluntary, non-profit organization comprised of 436 accredited public, private, and parochial high schools. A member of the National Federation of State High School Associations, the NJSIAA conducts tournaments and crowns champions in 32 sports.
Championship competition for girls is sponsored in basketball, bowling, cross country, fencing, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, outdoor track, winter track, and volleyball. Boys’ championships are determined in baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, fencing, football, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, outdoor track, winter track, volleyball, and wrestling.