SPARTA, NJ – With more than 60 years of history, Sparta High School will be inducting their first class of alumni to the Athletic Hall of Fame at a banquet on October 5, at the Skyview Golf Club. The inaugural class will include 15 inductees.

The Hall of Fame has “come about after many years of side conversations,” Principal Janet Ferraro said.  “Tim Librizzi got involved and ignited the conversation once again.” 

As a member of the school leadership team, Librizzi pushed for the Hall of Fame to be included on the “three-year vision,” of school goals, Ferraro said.

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The Hall of Fame will be located outside the main gymnasium at the high school.  Additionally, three perpetual plaques are hanging on the wall to display the names of donors in three categories.

The nominating committee includes:

  • Librizzi - President,
  • Steve Stoner – Treasurer, Athletic Director,
  • Ferraro – Principal,
  • Rory Ritzgerald – Assistant Principal
  • Steve Schels – Assistant Principal,
  • Sam Slobodzian – teacher and coach,
  • Gerry Carter – teacher and coach,
  • Andrew Lowery – teacher and coach,
  • Lou Seville – community member,
  • Dee Passerelle – community member,
  • Catherine Willie – teacher and coach

To qualify for induction the alumni may have contributed to Sparta High School athletics as an athlete, coach, team, trainer, administrator, board of education member or contributor such as community member.  Athletes and teams become eligible for induction 10 years after graduation, according to nominating committee members.

Alumni may be nominated through the Sparta High School website.  The nomination form can be found on the Athletics tab.  Donations to the Hall of Fame can be made the same way.   

 “Im incredibly humbled, and extremely proud to be able to contribute to the creation of Sparta High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame,” Librizzi said.  “Sparta High School has an amazing athletic history, and the teams, athletes and coaches deserve proper recognition for their accomplishments.  The Athletic Hall of Fame and the Wall of Fame that will display their names in our school, preserves the tradition of athletic excellence at Sparta High School by inducting this year’s class, and the classes that will follow for years to come.”

The inductees for the inaugural year, 2017:

Coaches:

Richard “Dick” Cassels- Football Coach (Posthumous)-

  • 1959 - 1977, Record: 125-33-7, Eight Skyline Conference Titles , Coached SHS First Undefeated Football Team 1968, Cassels Football Field Named in Memoriam
  • First Sparta High School Athletic Director 1959

Manny Reis - Boys Soccer (Posthumous)

  • 1960-1980,“Father of Sparta Soccer”, Record: 194-72-20, 8 League Titles, 1 State Sectional Title

Ron Earl- Football

  • Coached 1959-1989, Record: 76-27-3,Three State Championships: 1979,1980 and 1982, Four SCIL Championships ,Two Undefeated seasons 1980 and 1982

Gene Mendes- Football Coach, Baseball

  • 1979-2008, Baseball Head Coach 15 Years, Football Asst 28 Years, Two SCIL Baseball Titles: 1981 & 1983, 11 Total SCIL Titles
  • 5 NJSIAA State Sectional Titles; Four in Football, One in Boys Basketball

Fred Geffken- Girls Bball Coach

  • Coached 1980-2012, Record: 693-166
  • Three State Championships,Twelve Sectional Championships,18 SCIL Championships, 14 County Festival Championships, Six Undefeated Regular Seasons

Jeff Hughes- Boys and Girls Tennis Coach

  • Boys Tennis 1978-2005, Record: 429-121, 17 SCIL, 11 SCIL Tournament Championships, First Team All Area Boys Tennis Coach 2004
  • Girls Tennis 1976-2017, Record:  629-163, 23 SCIL, 16 SCIL Tournament Championships, NJSIAA Sports Award 2001, NFICA NJ Girls Coach of the Year 1995

Robert “Bobby” Cannon- Golf coach

  • 1978-1994
  • Golf Head Coach
  • Assistant Wrestling Coach
  • Bobby Cannon who led the Spartans to 24 league titles, including 17 in a row in the SCIL from 1978-1994, eight regional championships and a state championship in 1978

Athletes:

Greg Baty- Boys Football 1982

  • 1978-1982 ,State Championships 1980, 1982, Undefeated Season 1980, 1982
  • Football Captain 1982, All-State Selection Tight End and Defensive End, NJ Top 25 Players 1982
  • First 1000 Point Scorer for SHS

Chris Jent- Boys Basketball 1988

  • 1984-1988, SHS and SCIL All Time Career Points Leader - 2,287
  • Parade All American, Top 50 High School Seniors
  • 1st Team All State, 3 Time All West Jersey, Street and Smith All American, Converse All American

John Place- Football, Wrestling 1983

  • 1979-1983, District 3, Region 1 Champion Wrestler 1982 & 1983, NJ State Champion Wrestler 1983, Undefeated at 188 lbs; 1982-83 Season
  • All State Group II Football Champion, Football State Championship 1980, 1982, Athlete of the Year 1983

Kevin Rogers - Football

  • 1965-1969, First Undefeated Football Season at SHS 1968, State Championship 1968
  • All County Football, Baseball, All-State Baseball, MVP Baseball, Two-time District Champion Runner-up Wrestling

Louis Seville-Football, Baseball 1983

  • 1979-1983, Football and Baseball Captain 1983
  • Two State Championships: 1980, 1982, SCIL All-Time Career Rushing and Scoring Record, Only Player Selected to NJ North/South All-Star Game in Two Sports, 1983
  • First Team All-Area, All-SCIL, All-State, All-Group, Played on 6 Championship SCIL Teams

Catherine Wille- Girls Basketball, Track 1986

  • 1982-1986, Basketball Undefeated 1985-86 seasons, All SCIL 1985-86, SHS MVP 1985-86, MVP State Championship Game 1985, 1st Team Group II 1985 and 1986
  • North I, Group II Track Champions 1985, SHS Athlete of the Year 1986

Teams:

1985 Girls Basketball Team

  • Captains: Helene Geissel (Reigstad) and Diana Seville
  • Undefeated 29-0,SCIL, Sectional and Group 2 State Champions , Sussex County Festival Champions, First Female Team in Sussex County to Win a State Championship
  • Three 1,000 Point Scorers; One 1000 Rebounder
  • Six Division I Collegiate Players

1978 Boys Golf Team

  • Captain: Mark Kehoe, Record: 18-0, SCIL Champions, North Jersey Sectional Champions, Sparta Quadrangular Champions, District 7 Champions, NJ All Group State Champions

 “This major initiative has taken a great deal of work and we all said after close to 60 years, it was time and we needed to do it right,” Ferraro said. "We look to start a separate Academic Hall of Fame to honor those who have gone on to succeed in academic or social causes and successful businesses. We start working on that later this year."