SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ — Longtime Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School boys soccer coach Tom Breznitsky died on Thursday morning.

Breznitsky put Scotch Plains-Fanwood soccer on the map in the 1980s, and the Raiders' dominance continued through the ensuing years. In more than four decades as varsity high school coach, “Brez” built one of the more successful high school soccer programs in the entire country. 

During his tenure, the Raiders won seven state championships (1987, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1997 and 1998). His teams were competitive year in and year out for more than four decades. Coach Brez's 750+ victories ranked him second in New Jersey and among the top 10 winningest soccer coaches in the nation.

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His final game on the sidelines was the North 4, Group 2 state sectional final on Nov. 8, 2019, in which the Raiders fell to Elizabeth. In 2020, Alex Passucci, a star player for Brez in the 1980s and an accomplished college coach, succeeded him as the Raiders' varsity coach. 

Word spread quickly through the Scotch Plains-Fanwood soccer community as former players began sharing their thoughts on social media after hearing the news. 

“Today we lost an absolute legend,” said former player Owen Murphy, who grew up as a ballboy for the SPFHS soccer team and dreamed of one day playing under Coach Brez. “I'm honored to say that dream came true for four great years. To many you were more than just a soccer coach. I'll never forget your wisdom and experience that you passed on to me and others.”

Related: Breznitsky's Legacy at Scotch Plains-Fanwood HS Grows with Career Win #700

Speaking on behalf of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, principal Dr. David Heisey and athletic director Ryan Miller said they were saddened to hear of the passing of Coach Breznitsky.

“He served as a science teacher (37 years) and boys soccer coach (40+ years). Coach Breznitsky’s accomplishments as a soccer coach were recognized at the state and national levels. Coach Brez won seven State Boys Soccer titles in addition to several appearances in the state championship game,” Heisey and Miller said in a statement. “Coach Brez made many positive contributions to our community through his dedication as a teacher, coach, and mentor. He has had a lasting impact on the Scotch Plains and Fanwood communities and his passing will leave a void in our hearts.”

“I am very sorry to hear the sad news about the passing of Tom Breznitsky. In his long career as a teacher and coach, he had such a positive impact in the lives of numerous students during his tenure,” said Scotch Plains-Fanwood SPFK12 schools superintendent Dr. Joan Mast. “His legacy is significant to our community. His family is in our thoughts and prayers during this time.”

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