A crane lifts the new solar-powered scoreboard into place at the Wall Township athletic complex for St. Rose High School, Belmar. Courtesy photo
A crane lifts the new solar-powered scoreboard into place at the Wall Township athletic complex for St. Rose High School, Belmar. Courtesy photo

A new school year has brought about some new and improved landscapes for the athletic programs at several Catholic schools in the Diocese of Trenton:

St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel: At SJVHS, the wrestling program has finally gotten a facility it can call its own, which lives up to the success the program has enjoyed over the years. An existing area that served as a health room/auxiliary room has been retrofitted into what is now strictly a wrestling room for the team to hold practice.

“I would say we won in the past in spite of having a state-of-the-art-facility,” said assistant athletic director Pat Smith, a former SJV wrestling coach. “This year we have five of the top 20 wrestlers in their weight class coming in and the top wrestler in his weight class, and now it’s appropriate they have their space that they haven’t had in the past.”

After several years of discussions, construction finished in August. It is connected to the strength and conditioning center, making it more convenient for grapplers to go from workouts to weightlifting.

“It’s padded wall to wall,” Smith said. “Safety was a big concern, so anything that was existing in that room that would have been dangerous was padded up. It was well thought out and well designed.”

It also gives the team a place to call their very own. When Smith began as head coach, the Lancers practiced in an auxiliary space that was shared by gym classes. From there, it moved into a bubble that was divided into thirds by curtains.

“Essentially it was like three basketball courts,” Smith said. “They told me, ‘Hey you have your own area, you don’t have to roll the mats up.’ But it was cold because it was in the winter, and the cheerleaders were in there, so it was kind of loud. It was a great idea, but it didn’t work out.”

Red Bank Catholic High School, Red Bank: Work started on Aug. 24 to put new turf on the Red Bank Catholic all-purpose field at Count Basie Park, which hosts the football, boys and girls soccer, field hockey and lacrosse teams.

“Opening day we’ll have a brand new field,” associate athletic director Buddy Hausmann said. “It’s the first time we’re getting this done in 11 years. With COVID they pushed it back a year.”

Hausmann said they are hoping to have it completed by Sep. 7, meaning the boys soccer team will have the honor of playing the first game on the new surface against St. Thomas Aquinas. If it is not completed by then, the first game will feature the football team hosting Wall on Sep. 10.

Also, for the first time there will be netting put up behind both lacrosse goals. With the track circling the field, the track & field team could not practice when there was a lacrosse game due to the danger of balls flying on to the track. With protective netting, both teams can co-exist.

“Before, the track team either got the boot, or had to wait until the lacrosse team was done,” Hausmann said. “Now they can practice at any time.” 

Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville: For the first time since 2009, Notre Dame’s 21-year-old track has received a facelift with the installation of a Beynon Sports BSS-300 Conversion (Seal +5mm Embedded) IAAF Certified Red Polyurethane Synthetic Track Surface, including striping of the Lawrenceville-based track.

“This resurfacing is thicker than the last one so it's much better on the athletes’ legs, which in turn hopefully means less injuries,” Irish track and field coach Joe McLaughlin said. “The kids are very excited about the new surface and hopefully it will last another 10 years.”

McLaughlin hopes to show off the new track with a November reunion that will feature the return of athletes from as far back as the 1980s who ran for Tony Genovesi and the late Joe Wroblewski, for whom the track is named.

“Our president, Ken Jennings, has been awesome in getting things up to par around the campus and keeping us competitive with all the other schools,” McLaughlin said. “Our school is a great place to be a teenager!”

St. Rose High School, Belmar, received a donation from Jersey Mike’s hoagie shop to construct a new, permanent scoreboard on the varsity soccer/boys’ lacrosse field at the athletic complex in Wall Township. Prior to that, the complex had to rely upon a small, portable scoreboard.

“Thanks to the generosity of Jersey Mike's, we were able to purchase and install a brand new Nevco solar powered scoreboard with remote control technology,” athletic director Dennis Carey said. “It is a big leap forward for our complex, and we look forward to working towards adding a second scoreboard for our girls lacrosse/field hockey field as well and continuing to improve what is already an award-winning grass sports complex.”

The school also welcomes Belmar native and Christian Brothers Academy graduate Brian Lynch as the new boys basketball coach; a 2000 graduate of Villanova University, Villanova, Pa., Lynch grew up attending St. Rose Parish, and spent the last two decades playing and coaching basketball in various countries overseas, where he honed a modern, high-paced aggressive style at both ends of the court.

“We’ll evolve over time,” Lynch said of the planned coaching changes. “A lot of times we forget kids have big room to grow and to be challenged. So, my philosophy has always been to challenge them, and see if they can do it first.”

Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft: The “Forever CBA” fundraising campaign CBA has raised more than $11.6 million toward its $14 million goal. The funding is focused on campus facilities and school endowment, with several athletic projects having gotten underway in the summer. They include the relocation of soccer and lacrosse fields to the front of campus, which will feature artificial turf, accessible spectator bleachers, a new scoreboard and sound system.

Also planned is the new site of the Sheehan Track & Field Complex, which will be located behind the baseball field. The complex will include an eight-lane track, natural grass infield, up-to-date safety and performance technology, accessible spectator bleachers, new scoreboard, sound system and equipment shed.

The Round Barn, an indoor practice facility for the track and field program, is being replaced by a new facility named after legendary former running coach Tom Heath, and the Sullivan Tennis Courts will be expanded to include the O’Shea-Martin Tennis Pavilion.