CLASS OF 2006 – INAUGURAL INDUCTION
Robert Bianchi – Class of 1979 – Lacrosse: Named as the Star Ledger Male Lacrosse Player of the 20th Century, Robert led the Cougars to State Championships in 1977, 1978 and 1979. He was a First Team All-State Selection and elected into the NJ Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He continued he career at the US Naval Academy and sadly lost his life when his helicopter crashed while on a rescue mission in 1987.
Kristen Bowsher – Class of 1984 – Soccer: Kristen was named the Star Ledger Female Soccer Player of the 20th Century which dubbed her the best female player New Jersey ever produced. She is ranked third in the State on the All Time scoring list as well as receiving First Team All-State honors. She continued her career at the University of Massachusetts where she was a 4 time NCAA All American and a 2-time Academic All American
Mark Bryant - Class of 1984 – Basketball: Mark scored a record 1254 points, 966 rebounds and 139 blocks during his career at Columbia. He led the team to the Group IV Section finals and was named First Team All-State. He went on to play at Seton Hall University where he became the sixth highest point scorer and fifth highest rebounder in school history. He was drafted in the first round by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1988 and played 15 seasons in the NBA. He currently serves as an Assistant Coach with the Oklahoma Thunder.
Joetta Clark Diggs – Class of 1980 – Track: Joetta was named the Star Ledger’s Female Track Athlete of the 20th Century. During her Columbia career she won four NJSIAA Meet of Champions 800 meter titles, was a four time All-State selection and still holds the State and Meet of Champions 800 meter record.
Joetta is also a 7 time US indoor champion, 5 time US outdoor champion and won 12 NCAA titles while at the University of Tennessee. She is a 4 time member of the US Olympic team.
David Masur - Class of 1980 – Soccer: Dave led Columbia to the Essex County and State soccer championships in 1979. He was an All–State and All American selection. He continued his career at Rutgers University where he was a 3 time team captain, a 2 time All American and a member of the Rutgers Olympic Sports Hall of Fame. He played professional soccer for a number of years and then turned to coaching at the college level. He is the current head coach at St. Johns University and is the 3rd winningest coach in Division 1 soccer.
Gene Chyzowych - Coach of the Year – Soccer: Since coming to Columbia in 1964 as the head boys’ soccer coach, Mr. C led the Cougars to numerous Conference, County and Sectional titles including 4 State Championships. In 1988 Columbia was ranked #1 in the State and in the Nation according to USA Today. He served as a coach with the US Olympic team, US National Team and the World Cup Team. He was recognized as one of the premier soccer coaches in the country and was named US National Coach of the Year in 1987 and 1990. Sadly he passed away in 2014 after a long illness.
1951 Football Team – Team Award: Led by Coach Frank Hoffman the 1951 Football team established themselves as one of the top teams in the history of Columbia. They captured the 1951 State Championship by going undefeated in the tough 9 game schedule. That year the Cougars averaged almost 300 yards per game while allowing their opponents only 50 yards per game. Through the Colliton rating system the Cougars garnered 747 points that season, prior to that year no team had reached more than 587 points. Many of the members of the team continued their football careers at various colleges and universities.
CLASS OF 2007 – INDUCTEES
Hazel Clark – Class of 1995 – Track: Hazel won a total of 16 State titles in the 800 while at Columbia. She ranked #1 in the country as a senior in the 800 and won the US Junior title. She continued her career at Florida were she won numerous NCAA and SEC titles in the 800. She is a 3 time U.S. outdoor title holder and was a member of the US Olympic Team.
Marguerite Dempsey - Class of 1979 – Basketball/Softball: Marguerite helped lead the 1978 and 1979 basketball teams to back to back 28-1 records and numerous State, Conference and Group Championships. On the softball field, Marguerite also helped the Cougars to Conference, County and Group IV Section II titles. She was named First Team All-County and Second Team All-State in both sports.
Nicole (Mustilli) Lechner – Class of 1995 – Fencing: Nicole was named First Team All-State in three fencing weapons – foil, epee and sabre in 1995. She was State Champion her senior year. She continued her career at Notre Dame where she was the US National Champion in the sabre in 1999.
Jamie Brodsky-Russo- Class of 1991 – Lacrosse: A First-Team All-Conference selection while at Columbia Jamie averaged 21 saves per game with an amazing 72% stopping rate and led the Cougars to their first trip to the State Championships. At the University of Maryland she was a 2-time All-American and was selected to the NJ Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2003.
Dan Sansone – Class of 1979 – Baseball: Dan was a member of the 1978 and 1979 baseball teams that won the Greater Newark Tournament. He was a First Team All-Oranges and All-County selection and a Second Team All-State selection. He continued his career at Seton Hall University. Dan passed away in 1992 and in 1993 the Township dedicated Sansone Field at DeHart Park in his honor.
Ralph Sazio – Class of 1941 – Football: A dominant linesman for the Cougars, Ralph was named All-State his senior year. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and eventually moved to the Canadian Football League where he became a successful Head Coach, GM and President of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
Jerry Sazio- Class of 1950 – Football: Considered one of the top players to come out of Columbia, Jerry was named to the All-Oranges, All-Essex and All-State teams during his career. He went on to play at the College of William and Mary and was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals NFL team in 1955.
Kevin Sheridan – Class of 1989 – Wrestling: Wrestling at the 160 weight class, Kevin amassed a record of 25-4-1 his senior year. He was an Essex County and District 10 Champion. He went on to compete at Rutgers University where he earned 4 varsity letters and placed 4th at the Eastern Championships in 1994 the best season in school history.
Harvey Weissbard – Class of 1955 – Track: Harvey’s sprint records still stand today in the 100 (9.9 seconds) and the 220 (21.6 seconds). He won the 220 and was second in the 100 at both the County and State Championship meets. At Cornell University he ran on the track team for four years and was second in the 1957 Heptagonal Games in the 220.
Jazmine Wright – Class of 1998 – Basketball/Track&Field: Earning 12 varsity letters in her career, Jasmine led the Cougars to the Group IV State Basketball Championships, the finals of the TOC and 2 Essex County Championships. She holds the school record for most career points and rebounds. In track she was a 4 time State shot put Champion. She earned All-Area, All-Conference and All-County in both sports and was a First Team All-State her senior year in basketball.
Tom Ruggiero – Coach of the Year – Basketball/Softball: He led the Girls Basketball team to the Essex County finals every year from 1975-1979 and won the State Championship in 1979. That year he was named Coach of the Year by the Star Ledger.
1955 and 1956 Swim Teams – Team Award: Undefeated both years in dual meets they were part of a 43 dual meet winning streak that ran from 1954-1957. They were the only Columbia swim teams to be back to back State Champions. Coached by Frank Hoffman, the teams produced several individual champions.
CLASS OF 2008 – INDUCTEES
Stuart O.H. Merz – Class of 1948 – Track: Stuart helped lead Columbia to its first group Championship in 1948 winning the 100, 220 and shot put. He was a member of the championship 880 yard relay team and the Penn Relays mile team his junior and senior years.
Howard Kestenbaum – Class of 1963 – Wrestling: With no prior wrestling experience, Howard set the standard his junior year winning 13 matches with only 1 loss and 2 ties. He was a 2 time District Champion, a Regional Champion and finished 2nd in the NJ State Championships. His records stood unmatched for 28 years. Sadly Howard lost his life in 9/11. Please click here to view a new article honoring Howard Kestenbaum.
Bobby Masin – Class of 1966 – All- Around: The first three sport captain in Columbia history Bobby excelled in football, baseball and basketball. He was one of the best defensive football players in the program history, was a starting point guard on the basketball team and was a Second Team All State catcher on the baseball team. He was invited to tryout with several MLB teams.
Elson Seale – Class of 1973 – Soccer: The most prolific scorer in Columbia history with 80 goals, he was a three time First Team All–Essex and All-State selection as well as a high school All American and Parade All American. He was the Star Ledger Player of the Decade for the 1970’s. After a stellar college career, he played professionally for many years both in the US and abroad.
Richard Glancy – Class of 1980 – Lacrosse: A two time First Team All-State selection in 1979 and 1980, he also received All American honors and was named NJ Lacrosse Player of the Year in 1980. He was a member of 3 State Championship teams in 1978, 1979 and 1980. He was drafted to play in the professional Lacrosse league after college and was inducted into the NJ Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1999.
Mary Pat (Sherwood) Mercuro – Class of 1980 – All- Around: A starter in 3 sports (field hockey, basketball and softball) Mary Pat earned 14 varsity letters in her career and was named All-County and All-State in all three sports. She led all three teams to numerous County, Sectional and State Championships.
Kathy (Weiss) Hallam – Class of 1980 – Volleyball: Named as one of the top ten volleyball players of the 20th century, Kathy helped lead the Cougars to undefeated seasons during her four year career
(1977-1980). She was named First Team All-State and All–County. She continued her career at Rider University where she shattered the record for spike kills in a season. She was inducted into the Rider University Hall of Fame.
Marjorie Gantman – Class of 1993 – Tennis: Losing only 3 matches her junior/senior years combined, Marjorie was the State singles runner up in 1991 and State Champion in 1992. She earned First Team All-State both years. She went on to play at Northwestern University where she was an All- Big Ten selection 3 years in a row and in 2005 was inducted into the Northwestern University Athletic Hall of Fame.
Len Klepack – Coach of the Year – Track: With over 30 years coaching experience he has won over 60 County championships, 8 State championships, 94 State and Sectional championships, 11 national and international competitions and has produced over 24 high school All-Americans. He was the Star Ledger Coach of the Decade, an 8 time Coach of the Year and was inducted into the NJ Coaches Hall of Fame.
1979 Lacrosse Team – Team Award: With an undefeated record of 17-0 this team, led by coach Bob Curcio, won the NJ Interscholastic League- Fitch Division, the Coaches Tournament and the State Championships. Members of this team set 14 school records and 4 state marks.
CLASS OF 2009 – INDUCTEES
James Valestin – Class of 1952 – Football: A member of the undefeated 1951 State Championship team, Jimmy was a fullback who was named First Team All-State and also received All- American honors. He received over 50 scholarship offers and settled on Indiana University where he only played one year before joining the Army to serve in Korea.
Dr. Lynn Fader – Class of 1958 – All Around: Earning 9 varsity letters in three sports football, basketball and baseball, Lynn was named outstanding student athlete in Essex County in 1957-1958. He continued his career at Duke University where he continued to play all three sports as a freshman. He played professional baseball with the Houston Colt .45s (now the Houston Astros) after college.
Dr. Roger Flax – Class of 1961 – Tennis: During his 3 years at first singles for Columbia, Roger was undefeated in regular season matches winning every set but one. He led his team to 3 undefeated seasons and was a 3 time Essex County Big 10 Tennis Champion. He was named one of the outstanding tennis players of the 60’s by the Star Ledger.
Roy Greenman – Class of 1966 – Basketball/Track: On the basketball court, the undersized Greenman led his team in scoring and rebounding his senior year. He was also a versatile track athlete competing in the 100,200,440, high jump and long jump. He capped off his career winning the Group 4 State Championship in the long jump.
Marybeth Kakoleski Gigiel – Class of 1977 – Softball: A First Team All-State selection her senior year, Marybeth compiled a .611 batting average, 15 home runs and 70 RBIs. She continued her career at Kean College where she earned All-Conference honors.
Regina Sullivan – Class of 1979 – Basketball: A three year starter for the Cougars, Regina received first team All-Essex and All-State honors amassing 943 career points and 259 assists. She led her team to numerous titles including Big 10 Conference champs and the Group 4 State Champions. She was named one of the outstanding basketball players of the 1970’s.
Gail Bryant – Class of 1981 – Track: Set the State record in the 600 yard run and was Eastern Champion her senior year. She also was the Group 4 and All-Group Champion in the 800 and half mile. She earned All American honors at the 800. She continued her career at the University of Virginia where she was a 6-time All American and holds the record in the 800 meter. She was also a 1988 Olympic qualifier.
Marc Brown – Class of 1987 – Basketball: Marc received First Team All-Orange and First-Team Iron Hills conference his junior and senior seasons as well as First Team All–Essex and All-State honors his senior year. He went on to play at Siena College where he became their all-time leading scorer, leader in assists and three-pointers. He is one of only three players in Division 1 history to score over 2000 points and accumulate at least 750 assists. After college he played professionally abroad and with the CBA.
Laura Wilkes Evans – Class of 1991 – All-Around: Earning 12 varsity letters over 4 years in soccer, basketball and volleyball, Laura was a first team All-State selection in soccer, held the CHS basketball scoring record with over 1600 points and was a major contributor on the 1990 State Champion Volleyball Team. She went on to play soccer at Stanford University where her team was ranked in the top ten nationally all four years.
Johanna Wright – Coach of the Year – Basketball: Since becoming the head girls’ basketball coach in 1983 Coach Wright has garnered eight Conference Championships, 4 Essex County Championships, 7 State Championships and appeared in 2 Tournament of Champions finals. A 3 time Star Ledger Coach of the Year, Coach Wright has produced many First Team All State and All American players.
Peter Cross – Class of 1954 – Special Award: A member of the 1953 and 1954 Big 10 Conference champions in baseball he received All- State honors his senior year at third base. His biggest impact however is the contributions to the lives of countless Columbia High School students he made during his 35 year career at Columbia as a teacher, coach and guidance counselor. This award was named after him from this year forward.
1978- 1979 Boys Soccer Team – Team Award: This team was back to back Group IV State Champions, and the first in school history to be ranked #1 in both the Star Ledger and NJ Coaches Association. With a record of 46-1-3 – they registered 29 shut outs, and went unbeaten in 34 consecutive games.
CLASS OF 2010 – INDUCTEES
Robert DeJianne – Class of 1970 – Baseball: As a senior Bob had a .368 batting average, with 24 runs batted in, and a pitching record of 7-3 earning him First Team All-County honors 2 years in a row. He was also named twice to the NY Daily News All-Area Team where he was honored at Yankee Stadium.
Daniel Goble – Class of 1971 – Swimming: Dan received multiple All-County, All-State and All–American honors in the 50 and 100 yard freestyles from 1969-1970. He led Columbia to two consecutive second place finishes in States. Dan continued his career at the University of North Carolina where he was named to the 1972 All ACC Conference Team.
Dave Swatland – Class of 1979 – Cross-Country: The first runner in Columbia history to win a Group 4 State Championship title in Cross Country – Dave still holds numerous school and State records to date. His senior year he was the Essex County Champion and State Sectional Champion and helped lead Columbia to numerous indoor and outdoor titles. He is considered one of the best distance runners ever in State history because of his ability to run from 800 to 5000 meters at championship quality level.
John K. Sherwood – Class of 1979 – All-Around: A three sport athlete while at Columbia, John earned First Team All-Essex, All-Oranges and First and Second Team All State honors for his achievements on the football and baseball fields. He also was named to the All-Oranges team for basketball his senior year when the team won the Iron Hills Conference.
Wilhanitra Lee- Class of 1987 – All Around: An outstanding three sport athlete at Columbia, Wilhanitra received multiple First Team All Iron Hills Conference, All-Oranges, All-Essex County and All State honors for basketball. She was the first player to score 1000 career points and 1000 rebounds. On the volleyball court, she was part of the volleyball dynasty that didn’t lose a game for 11 years and on the tennis court she excelled at second singles. She continued her basketball career at Northwestern University.
Amy Cohen – Class of 1988 – Gymnastics: One of the top gymnasts to come out of Columbia, Amy helped lead the Cougars to the North Jersey Section II Championships and the school’s first ever undefeated dual meet season. She went on to compete at Brown University but when the school decided to ban gymnastics, Amy and her teammates instituted a ground breaking Title IX federal lawsuit and became involved in a battle over equality for women in collegiate sports.
Rushang Mehta – Class of 1992 – Fencing: A four year letter winner, Rushang was State Champion in epee and a First Team All- State Selection. He was second at the US Fencing Association Nationals tournament in 1992 in the 19 & under age division. He went on to fence at University of Pennsylvania where he received First Team All-Ivy League honors as well as being named a Third Team All American.
Paulo Custodio – Class of 1991 – Wrestling: Tied for most wins in school history with 101, Paulo is a two time Essex County Champion, two time NJ District 10 Champion, NJ Region 3 Champion and runner-up and two time NJ State tournament place winner (State runner up and 7th place). He was inducted into the Columbia Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Robert Curcio - Coach Award - Lacrosse: From 1975 to 1983, Bob had an extraordinary run as Columbia's head boys lacrosse coach. He had an overall won-loss record of 116-34, which included five Division Championships and two State Championships in 1979 and 1982. In both 1979 and 1982, Bob was named the Star-Ledger Lacrosse Coach of the Year. He coached 13 High School All-Americans, 26 1st Team All-State players and two New Jersey Players of the Year, one of whom (the late Bob Bianchi) was named a Strar-Ledger Lacrosse Player of the Century. Bob went on to serve as Director of Athletics and Student Activities at Columbia from 1983 to 2003. His contribution to CHS athletics canot be measured!
Drs. Elizabeth (“41) and Charles Crandall – Pete Cross Award: Dr. Elizabeth Crandall was a school physician in the South Orange and Maplewood district for 20 years and was very active with the South Mountain YMCA where she has served on the Board since 1978. Dr. Charles Crandall was the physician for the athletic teams at Columbia for about 20 years and was a devoted Boy Scout all his very active life in Essex County.
1978 – 1979 Girls Basketball Teams: Coached by Tom Ruggiero, these two teams reached back to back State finals. The 1978 team went 23-0 winning the Big Ten Championship and the Essex County Championship. The 1979 team brought home the first State Basketball Championship since 1925 and also captured the Iron Hills Conference, Iron Hills Divisional, Essex County Tournament and Section II Group IV and North Jersey Championship Titles.
CLASS OF 2011 – INDUCTEES
John Brian (By) O’Hearn – Class of 1951 – Football: The greatest linebacker in school history, By received numerous honors including All-Essex and All-State and helped lead his team to the 1951 State Championship. He was inducted into the Rutgers University Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
Ronald A. (Rocky) Rauchmiller – Class of 1952 – Football: One of the stalwarts of the 1951 State Championship team, Rocky was a First team All-Essex and All-State selection. He went on to Indiana University and earned the left tackle position playing against a tough Big Ten schedule.
Peter J. Meyer – Class of 1960 – Football: A First Team All-County and Group 4 honoree he also received First Team All-State honors from the Newark News, Star Ledger, NY Daily News and Herald Tribune. He was an All-American Honorable Mention by Scholastic Magazine. He continued his career at West Point.
Gerry Cohen – Class of 1965 – Baseball: A two time All-County selection and a Second Team All-State selection his senior year, Gerry led his team in both pitching and hitting his junior and senior years , batting close to .400 and winning 2/3rds of the teams games as a pitcher.
David Brienza – Class of 1978 – Soccer: A First Team All-County, All-Conference, All-State and All- American honoree, Dave was named one of the top soccer players of the 20th Century by the Star Ledger. A 26 career goal scorer, it was his playmaking that set him apart. His career record of 38 assists still stands today. He attended Adelphi University where he also received numerous All Star honors.
J.J. Clark – Class of 1992 – Track: One of the top distance runners in school history, J.J. was a three time County champion, a 3 time All-Group titlist in the 300 as well as an All-State Selection. He is now one of the most successful and renowned college coaches in the country. He has also coached at the Olympic level where he was able to coach his two sisters.
Rebecca (Becky) Friedman – Class of 1986 – Tennis: Playing at first singles all 4 years Becky had a career record of 73-13. She was a 4-time finalist in the Essex County Tournament receiving All-Conference and All-Group honors every year. She was also a 3 time All-State selection and named an Academic All American in 1986. She was nationally ranked in 1985 and 1986.
Margaret (Maggie) Singler – Class of 1997 – Swimming: Maggie set individual school records in 8 events including freestyle, butterfly and backstroke. A three time Essex County Champion, she helped her team win the 1996 Sectional Championship. Her senior year she led her team to a 13-1-1 record, the best ever at Columbia. She continued her swimming career at Providence College.
Al Hector- Coach of the Year – Wrestling: Hal was the Head Wrestling Coach for 21 years. His teams achieved 16 individual County Championships, 37 District Championships, 3 Regional Championships, 2 Big Ten Championships, 2 County Titles, 1 Group 4 Sectional Title and 1 State Championship.
Harold (Hal) Garwin – Class of 1965 – Pete Cross Award: Hal has been involved in Columbia athletics for 6 decades. A successful wrestler while at Columbia with a record of 27-8. He is the founder of the South Orange/Maplewood Wresting Program and the CHS Wrestling Hall of Fame. Over the years he has served as a volunteer, freshman, JV and Head Coach with the Columbia Wrestling Team.
1995 Baseball Team - Team of the Year: Coached by Jerry Battaglini and assistant Jeff Balin, this team finished with a 19-11 record. They won the GNT County Championships, the most prominent tournament in the State. Several individual players that year received All-State, All-County and All-Conference honors. They were one of the top 20 teams in the State.
CLASS OF 2012 – INDUCTEES
Robert Gross – Class of 1960 – Baseball: Robert was a two time First Team All-County and All-State selection at centerfield where he had a perfect fielding record his junior and senior year. He was also a star football player breaking the school scoring record in 1960 with 76 points.
Robert West – Class of 1968 – Basketball: Named as one of the best 100 basketball players in the country in 1968 he was also a 3rd Team All American. He was the first boy’s player in school history to score 1000 points and at the time also held the record for assists. He went on to play at Duke University as well as professionally in Israel until 1975.
David Sherwood – Class of 1983 – Lacrosse: A 3 time All-State selection and 2 time All-American, David helped the Cougars to the 1982 State Championship. In college at Loyola he was a Division 1 All-American in 1987. He was named one of the top players of the 20th Century by the Star Ledger.
Pam Davis – Class of 1987 – Soccer: With a career record of 110 goals, Pam still holds the record of 30 career game winning goals. She was selected All-State in 1985 and was an All-American in 1986 and 1987. She was the Star Ledger Player of the Decade for the 1980’s. She went on to play at the University of North Carolina where she won a National Championship her freshman year.
Mary (Meade) Martys – Class of 1995 – All Around: A two sport athlete in basketball and soccer, Mary is the all-time leader in assists at Columbia. She averaged 12.8 points per game and 6.1 assists her junior and senior years. In soccer she received numerous All Star honors including being a 2-time All- State selection.
Debbie (Castine) Burger – Class of 1995 – Lacrosse: A 2 time All-Conference selection she was also named All-State and All-American in 1995 for her achievements at goalkeeper. She went on to play at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she was a 2 time All-ACC selection. Her college team reached the NCAA final four in 1997 and 1998.
Ijeoma (Gayle) Nwafili – Class of 2001 – Basketball: The Essex County Player of the Year, Gayle led Columbia to the League, County and Group 4 Championships during the 2000-2001 seasons. She also received First Team All-County and All–Area honors as well as Second Team Group 4.
Fred Booth – Coach of the Year: Fred taught a total of 40 years and held various positions while at Columbia including Athletic Director and Physical Education Teacher. He coached several sports during his years at Columbia including basketball, football and swimming.
Steven Frampton – Coach of the Year: Steve began his career at Columbia in 1953 as a health and physical education teacher. He was the head coach for various teams while at Columbia including the baseball and football team where he won numerous titles. Steven is one of the founding members of the Maplewood Lacrosse Club and coached with Fred Booth for nearly three decades.
Roger Brauchli – Class of 1967 – Peter Cross Award: Most residents know Roger for his 30 year career at the Maplewood Recreation Department, 25 years as Director. He has coached with the Cougar Soccer Club and has been an NJSIAA soccer official for 32 years and a softball umpire for 34 years. He is also very active with the Maplewood Boys Scouts serving as Scoutmaster of Troop 5 for 45 years.
Volleyball Dynasty 1977-1988 – Team Award: Coached by Gene Chyzowych, the Cougars never lost a game in 11 years. They won numerous County, Conference and State titles and dozens of players went on to achieve All Conference, All County and All State honors.
CLASS OF 2013 – INDUCTEES
Robert Ritchwood - Class of 1963 – All Around: A three year letterman in football, Bob played defensive end and offensive tackle. He was named First Team All-Essex and All-State. In track, Bob set school records in both the shot put and discus which stood for decades. He took second place in the County and State Championships in both events.
Eric Perlmutter – Class of 1966 – All Around: A three sport athlete in football, swimming and lacrosse while at Columbia. On the football field he was the starting quarterback his junior year and team punter. As a swimmer he had one of the fastest five times in the State each year and placed second in the State meet. He also competed with the Maplewood Lacrosse Club before Columbia had a team.
Jessie (Brubaker) Fleming – Class of 1979 – Softball: A two time First Team All-State selection, Jessie hit .378 driving in 23 runs and scoring 34 her senior year. She was also captain of the field hockey team and a member of the State Championship basketball team.
Frederick Knowles – Class of 1980 – Wrestling: Fred was one of the first freshman varsity wrestlers and first 4 year varsity letter winners at Columbia. With a career record of 78 wins – 16 losses and 3 ties he ranks 3rd all time for varsity wins. He won 2 Essex County Championships, 2 District Championships and a Regional Championship.
Monica Conley – Class of 1999 – Fencing: Named one of the best fencers of the 20th Century by the Star Ledger, Monica led the epee squad to its first ever State Championship. During her senior year, the team was undefeated and she Monica took home gold in the Santelli Tournament, District and State championships. She went on to fence at Columbia University where she was a 3 time All-American.
John Francis Orsi and Attilio John Orsi – Class of 1927 – Football: Members of the undefeated 1926 football squad the Orsi brothers we key to the team’s success. Attilio was star halfback and captain of the team while John played end and received most of his brother’s passes. The brothers also starred on the basketball, baseball and track teams.
Melinda Gardner – Coach of the Year: In 1972 Columbia started to offer athletic opportunities for girls and Coach Gardner was tapped to be the girl’s tennis and freshman basketball coach. With the addition of a field hockey team she began a 15 tenure as Head Coach leading the team to numerous Iron Hill Conference championships and Essex County Tournament titles.
Joan Stewart – Class of 1951 – Pete Cross Award: A fixture in the Athletic Department, Joan served as the Administrative Assistant to the Athletic Director for over 20 years and was a friend and confidant to countless student athletes, coaches, teachers and alumni.
Girls Track Champions 1994,1995,1996,1997and 1998 – Team Award: With remarkable achievements including 5 State Championships, undefeated in dual meets, winners of every County and Conference Championship indoors and outdoors as well as every Sectional and State Championship Title. These teams produced an astounding 30 All-Staters and 22 All-Americans while setting numerous County and State records.
Maplewood Lacrosse Club – Special Award: Founded in the late 1950’s the club competed against other high schools, prep schools and college programs until 1975 when the State imposed rules preventing such clubs to participate in the State Tournament. During that time the club won 4 State Championships, and had 15 members selected for All- State and All-American honors.
CLASS OF 2014 INDUCTEES
Erwin Storz – Class of ’58 – Football: A stellar offensive and defensive lineman while at Columbia. He was named 1st team All-Essex, 3rd Team All-State and 3rd Team All Group IV by both the Star Ledger and Newark Evening News. Erwin continued his career at the US Naval Academy and is considered “one of the finest defensive ball players the Navy ever had.”
Stanford S. “Bucky” Fader – Class of ‘60 – All Around: Bucky was awarded eight varsity letters while at Columbia, three in football, two in basketball and one in baseball. He was named First Team All-Oranges in all three sports as well as receiving 2nd Team All- Essex County in football. He continued his career at Duke where he continued to play both basketball and baseball.
William D. Squires – Class of ‘71 – Baseball: Bill played varsity baseball for 3 years at Columbia. He was co-captain of the 1971 team which won the Big Ten Championships – the first team to do so since 1951. Bill pitched (2) no hitters, with a career ERA of .91. Bill continued his education at the US Naval Academy and served as a naval aviator for 12 years.
John T. (Jack) Francis – Class of ’79 – Lacrosse: Jack was second team All-State as a junior and a first team All-State and All-American his senior year. Jack continued his career at University of Maryland where he played varsity for four years and was named a Division 1 All American.
Lisa Rott – Class of ’80 – All Around: Lisa excelled at three sports while at Columbia, softball, basketball and field hockey earning All-State and All-Conference honors in all three sports. By the end of her career at Columbia she lettered varsity 11 times.
Meredith (Egan) Finkelstein – Class of ’97 – Lacrosse: Meredith was a four year starter in lacrosse, and was the Cougar’s leading scorer both her junior and senior seasons, breaking the all-time career scoring record. She earned All-County and All-State honors in 1995, 1996 and 1997 and was named an All-American in 1997. In 2001 the Star Ledger named her as one of the outstanding players of the 1990’s.
Jay Gavitt – Coach of the Year – Jay began coaching at Columbia in 1974. He went on the serve as the Head Girl’s Soccer Coach from 1982-1989 and compiled a record of 124-27-10 winning 5 County Championships, the Iron Hills Conference twice and reaching the State tournament sectionals every year. He was named NSCAA Regional Coach of the Year and 3-time County Coach of the Year.
Charles Tamayo – Class of ’79 – Pete Cross Award: Charlie has been a volunteer, committed civic leader and recreational coach for 20 years. He is one of the founders of the South Orange-Maplewood Baseball Committee and the South Orange Fall Ball Program. He was the Co-Chairman and driving force of the Capital Campaign Committee that successfully raised over a million dollars for renovations to Underhill Field.
1988-1989 Wresting – Team Award: One of the most illustrious teams in Columbia‘s 55 year wresting history. The team was ranked #1 in Essex County, #6 in the Region and 18th in the State. Several individual members of the team achieved high honors in the District Championships, the Region III Tournament and the State Tournament.
Ultimate Frisbee – Special Recognition Award: The sport was started at Columbia in 1968. It is now played competitively in 42 countries with the US having over 600 teams and most recently it was recognized by the International Olympic Committee in 2013.