This past Friday more than 1,500 people attended “FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS FOR LIFE.” Part of Sparta Little League Football’s FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS series that kicks off a new football season with three games played under the lights at Ungerman Field to benefit a worthy cause.  Last year paralyzed Rutgers University Football player; Eric LeGrand was the beneficiary.  This year the game was to benefit the new Sparta Police Youth Division.

As the Officer in Charge of this new Youth Division, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sparta Little League Football and FOP Lodge #26, for sponsoring this very worthy event and to congratulate SLLF President Josh Hertzberg and his Board of Directors, coaches, team moms, players, cheerleaders and parents for maintaining an youth athletic program in the township of Sparta that has remained as the model for the rest of the state to emulate. Not only on how to put championship caliber teams on the field year in and year out but most importantly, how to instill in these young players and cheerleaders that family and community always come first and not by just saying it but living it.

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A special thank-you to the always outstanding Morris County Drum and Pipe Band.  A lot of people at the event had never heard or seen Law Enforcement Bagpipers before and people all over town are still talking about how impressive they were.  To my good friend Jerry Morelli from “MUGS” Media for being the Master of Ceremonies.  Jerry truly is the face of youth and High School Athletics in Sussex County and I appreciate his support.  To Sparta Township Mayor Jerry Murphy for presenting a Proclamation from the Sparta Town Council to SLLF recognizing the league’s ongoing charitable work. 

To Town Council Member Molly Whilesmith who also is in charge of the Sparta Municipal Alliance, along with SLLF Vice President Chris Quinn, who have worked alongside members of  this police department since day one helping to put this new Youth Division together.  Their unshakeable pride in Sparta combined with their intense passion and sense of urgency to help ensure that our children grow up in a safe drug free community is nothing short of inspiring.

To the great Roman Oben. Roman is certainly not your typical celebrity.  He is a man of undisputable integrity. He has performed on the biggest of stages in the sporting world but yet he has never forgotten his upbringing and those who helped him make the right decisions as a young man.As Roman spoke to all those young football players and cheerleaders on Friday Night he had instant credibility with them, which is not an easy thing to accomplish with kids and young adults. They are not easily fooled.  Roman talked at length about his upbringing and the positive roles and negative role models that helped shape him into the successful Family Man he is today.  He is clearly is a man who practices what he preaches. I am very grateful to him for coming to Sparta and sharing some of his professional and personal experiences with us.

I also would like to thank the players, cheerleaders (Especially the Sparta High School Cheerleaders), coaches, Team Moms and parents of both Kittatinny and Sparta.  When two class organizations get together to support a worthy cause only good things can happen for our kids.    

To those Sparta Players and Cheerleaders, like you I am looking forward to another exciting and successful football season.  But when the season is over, I am ready for all of you partnering with the Sparta Police Department as we commence with making Sparta Township a safer, drug free community.

I close this column with a copy of the body of a letter authored by the Sparta Chief of Police Ernest Reigstad that was in the “FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS FOR LIFE”Game Program.


Sparta Little League Football

Friday Night Lights Event

Sparta NJ 07871


Dear Players, Cheerleaders and Coaches

On behalf of the Sparta Township Police Department I want to thank-you for your support of our new Sparta Police Youth Division.  Sparta Township is a great place to grow up and I know we all share in the desire to keep it that way.  The new Sparta Police Youth Division is an initiative brought forward by members of the Sparta Police department to help keep drugs and violence out of the lives of our youth.  Our Police Officers will be volunteering their time to this program.  I am excited about what we are about to accomplish.

The assistance and support of Sparta Little League Football for this initiative demonstrates your commitment to the youth of Sparta.  As a Lifelong Sparta residient and former SLLF Football Player and Coach I am not surprised by the dedication and enthusiasm all of you share.  Your assistance demonstrates the high ideals your program instills in the young boys and girls that are here tonight.  You clearly demonstrate that Sparta Little league Football is more than just football or cheerleading! It is about Community!



Ernest I Reigstad

Sparta Township Chief of Police