Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gloucester Catholic teams will soon have a place to call home

Gloucester Catholic teams will soon have a place to call home

Gloucester Catholic High School athletic director Pat Murphy calls the members of his outdoor teams "road warriors."
The Rams play varsity "home" games at 10 sites. For football, there's the stadium at crosstown rival Gloucester City High. A field behind West Deptford's Little League facility is where you'll find the boys' lacrosse games. And the girls' soccer team travels nearly 20 miles to a complex on the south end of Glassboro.
But the 85-year-old school might finally have an athletic home of its own.
Gloucester Catholic's Proposed Athletic Complex
Gloucester Catholic officials on Wednesday confirmed plans to build an athletic campus on 75 acres in Deptford.
What could come later to the location would have even greater impact: the first new Catholic high school in the Diocese of Camden in more than 45 years, and the first ever in Gloucester County.
"This is our future," principal John Colman said of the sports facility.
The athletic campus, to be built in three phases over three to five years, is to include 11 fields, including a state-of-the-art stadium, and a clubhouse with locker rooms, restrooms, and a kitchen/concession area.
The site, traversed by Blackwood-Barnsboro Road and adjacent to Gloucester County College, is large enough to accommodate a high school.
An artist's rendering of the facility includes an open space - the possible home of a new Gloucester Catholic, according to school and diocese officials.
The school is a down-the-road project given the difficult economic climate, stressed Colman and Larry Reader, executive director of temporal services for the diocese.
But Colman said the athletic campus would enable Gloucester Catholic to "get a footprint" in Gloucester County that could lead to more serious consideration of a Catholic high school in one of the state's fastest-growing areas.
About two-thirds of the school's roughly 650 students travel to Camden County from Gloucester County, Colman said.
Bishop Joseph A. Galante is "very supportive" of building a secondary school in Gloucester County, Reader said. The last new high school to open in the diocese was Paul VI in Haddon Township in 1965.
"We need a Catholic high school in Gloucester County," Reader said. "Whether it's this site or not, we're not there yet."
In spring 2008, the diocese announced plans to build a secondary school off Route 77 in Mullica Hill, but scuttled them the next year because of the economic downturn.
The athletic-field project needs final approval from the Deptford planning board, which will meet July 6. But Mayor Paul Medany said township officials supported the plan.
"This is a good thing for Deptford," he said.
Though "traffic is an issue with anything that's built in Deptford," Medany said the site's most frequent use would be in off-hours.
"The athletic fields should lay dormant during the day when the kids are in school," he said. "Later in the day and at night, traffic isn't as much of an issue."
Plans call for illuminated baseball and softball fields and a stadium with lights and artificial turf for football and some soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey games.
     "The big thing for us is the sense of community we hope to create by having a central place of our own," Murphy said. "For as long as we've been playing sports, we've never had our own fields. We've never had a true home-field advantage."
The diocese owns the site and is granting use of the land, but will not provide money to build the athletic campus, Reader said.
"This is all on us," Colman said of the financial burden.
A study by an outside firm indicated that the school should be able to finance the project through a capital campaign, he said.
The project is expected to cost between $4 million and $5 million, though school officials hope to keep costs down through donated materials and services from parents and alumni.
The "best-case scenario" has the school beginning the first phase - two practice football fields and three fields for soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey - in late August with a goal toward using the facilities in fall 2012, Murphy said.
Phase two would include the baseball and softball fields and the clubhouse.
Phase three would be the stadium, which could cost between $1.5 million and $2 million, Colman said.

Contact Inquirer staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223,,

Note: The Gloucester Catholic Boys Baseball and Girls Softball Teams both won their second consecutive New Jersey State Championships on June 11.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Phillies Inaugral 5k Run

Photo of race start: Thomas E Briglia Phillies
 Not many first time races could attract 3100 runners. Then again, not many races have the popularity and the backing of the Philadelphia Phillies behind them. This year’s inaugural Phillies 5k in March attracted 3100 entrants and the online registration closed in a reported 12 hours.  And this is before most of the online registrants knew that the race would include:

 Being led at the races start by the incomparable Philly Phanatic.

 Phillies Ball girls cheering on the runners at the finish line.

 A walk around the Citizens Park field after the race with a photo opp at home plate.

 Phillies Announcer Dan Baker reading out the race award winners along with signed Phillies items as prizes.

 Sub freezing temps at race time.

The less than ideal weather conditions did not seem to bother the sea of red runners, most wearing Phillies shirts and jerseys of their favorite players, from enjoying running the inaugural Phillies 5k in the least.

The first male finisher was 25-year-old Mike Zeberkiewicz of Philadelphia who covered the South Philadelphia course, which circled the stadium complex in 17:00. The first female finisher was 33-year-old Lynn Knothe of Wilmington Delaware in 19:31.
One of the races spectators, Bill Reifsnyder is no stranger to great running performances. Reifsnyder, a three time All American at Bucknell, was a two time National Champ in the marathon and was ranked as the second best road racer in the country in Runners World’s 1991 rankings. He still has the 3rd fastest 10-mile and 25k times ever and liked what he saw of the first year race: “The Philies 5K is unique because it gives runners and Phillies fans an opportunity to connect with their team in a unique way, before the season begins. After a long winter with no baseball, Phillies fans are ready to put on their red and support their team. Being able to combine two of their passions, running and baseball and then actually get onto the field is a thrill for everyone. “In fact more than a handful of runners exhibited their passion by wearing the entire uniforms of their favorite players, substituting running shoes for spikes.

After the race more than a few “Roy Halladays” or “Shane Victorino’s” could be seen strolling on an un-crowded Ashburn Alley or warming down while taking pictures strolling along the warning track of Citizen’s Bank Park .

Les Marella owner of the race timers L&M Sports was also impressed by the first time race and gave much of the credit to Mary Ann Gettis, Manager of Marketing Initiatives for the Phillies.
“The Phillies 5k went superb for a first-time event; especially because Mary Ann had her finger on the pulse... she did it all. You would have thought she had been a race director many times over. There were 3100 pre-registered runners and they could go higher but probably only with changes between the 1 and 2 mile area—the park down there off Pattison Avenue where the runners turned into got a little too crowded along the narrow road around the park.”

After the race, the Phillies Mary Ann Gettis graciously talked to Runners Gazette for her thoughts about the race.

JH: What were your goals for the inaugural Phillies race?
Mary Ann: Our goal for the inaugural Phillies 5K was to combine many of our fans’ love of running with baseball. Whether you are a casual or serious runner, you were given the chance to kick off the season with the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Most importantly, net proceeds from the event benefitted Phillies Charities, Inc.

JH: Did the race achieve these goals?
Mary Ann: We were very happy with the outcome of the event. As usual, our fans came through by braving the cold weather on race morning. They came dressed in running gear, Phillies gear and even full baseball uniforms, ready to hit the ground running behind their fearless race leader, the Phillie Phanatic.

JH: How did the registration process work, how long did it take the race to fill?
Mary Ann: Registration launched at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, January 4 on We reached our limit of 3,000 runners in less than 24 hours.

JH: How many entrants would you like for a future race-- is there anything that may be different?
Mary Ann: We are still discussing future plans for the Phillies 5K.
Photo: Thomas E Briglia Phillies
JH: I can’t remember seeing so many smiles on runners faces at a race-- what do you think are some of the things that made this inaugural run so enjoyable for the runners?

Mary Ann: I agree, especially considering it was a very cold morning! I think runners enjoyed this event because it was a unique race in many ways, including the course, location, guest appearances by the Phanatic and Dan Baker and also because the race ended with a “photo finish” at home plate. The opportunity to walk on the warning track on the field is rare so it was a nice to be able to see the runners enjoy this special perk.

JH: I thought two of the many things that made this race unique were having signed Phillies items for prizes, and having Dan Baker announce the awards; will they be part of future races?
Mary Ann: The ability to distribute autographed baseballs and bats allowed us to put a special touch on the awards ceremony. Hopefully these awards will provide great memories of both the event and the Phillies for those who received them. Having Dan Baker as our emcee for the Phillies 5K provided the perfect backdrop for our event.”

Phillies Fever 45 Jacket
While hits from Sirius radio played on the Citizens Bank Sound System before and after the race, probably only local runners and Phillies fans in their 40’s and older remember a hit novelty song In the 1970’s called “Phillies Fever”:
Phillies Fever
   the novelty hit featured Phillies legends Larry Bowa, Dave Cash and Greg “the Bull” Luzinski "singing". Real Phillies fever is currently sweeping the Delaware Valley as evidenced by over 160 straight Phillies game sellouts at Citizens Bank Park, and the more than 3100 runners and families who left the inaugural Phillies 5k with a great workout, a red Phillies 5k race shirt and a smile on a chilly March morning.
Age Group Winners:

Top Male Finisher:

Mike Zeberkiewicz, Philadelphia, Pa., 17:00

Top Female Finisher:
Lynn Knothe, Wilmington, De., 19:31

Top Finishers -- Female -- Under 14
1st Place: Caroline Keegan, 14, West Grove, Pa. -- 26:02
2nd Place: Chase Rufo, 11, Bryn Mawr, Pa -- 26:51
3rd Place: Rosie Catanoso, Seaville, NJ -- 28:29

Top Finishers -- Male -- Under 14
1st Place: Evan Stigale, 14, West Deptford, NJ -- 20:12
2nd Place: Colin Felix, 12, Audubon, NJ -- 20:56
3rd Place: Matthew Shinkle, West Deptford, NJ -- 22:59

Top Finishers -- Male -- Ages 15-19
1st Place: Austin McCadden, 16, Chalfont, Pa. -- 18:39
2nd Place: Stewart Mills IV, 17, Cheltenham, Pa. -- 21: 25
3rd Place: Colin Hayes, 15, Havertown, Pa. -- 21:42

Top Finishers -- Female -- Ages 15-19
1st Place: Lindsay Johnson, 18, Media, Pa. -- 26:47
Photo by: Thomas E Briglia Phillies
2nd Place: Cassidy Gurve, 15, Wilmington, DE -- 28:55
3rd Place: Stephanie Klock, 19, Wayne, Pa. -- 29:25

Top Finishers -- Male -- Ages 20-29
1st Place: Tim Pagano, 25. Cherry, Hill, NJ -- 17:09
2nd Place:Tim Kemmerer, 26, East Norrito, Pa. -- 17:33
3rd Place: Jason Kilderry, 29, Cherry Hill, NJ -- 17:41

Top Finishers -- Female -- Ages 20-29
1st Place: Anne Marie Moffatt, 27, Philadelphia, Pa. -- 19:58
2nd Place: Jaclyn Haines, 23, Haddonfield, NJ -- 21:35
3rd Place: Bridgette Boudwin, 24, Springfield, Pa. -- 21:46

Top Finishers -- Male -- Ages 30-39
1st Place: Steve Sinko, 34, Wilmington, Pa. -- 17:21
2nd Place: Todd Euston, 32, Philadelphia, Pa. -- 17:38
3rd Place: Christopher Martalus, 32, Jersey City, NJ -- 18:33

Top Finishers -- Female -- Ages 30-39
1st Place: Allyson Thompson, 31, Holland, Pa. -- 20:05
2nd Place: Nicole Lobley, 37, Harleysville, Pa. -- 20:07
3rd Place: Emily Furia, 31, Conshohocken, Pa. -- 20:58

Top Finishers -- Male -- Ages 40-49
1st Place: Michael Gross, 43, Holland, Pa. -- 18:26
2nd Place: Matt Hayes, 47, Havertown, Pa. -- 18:34
3rd Place: Tim Zwall, 42, Ivyland, Pa. -- 18:57

Top Finishers -- Female -- Ages 40-49
1st Place: Dana Wentzel, 41, Lansdale, Pa. -- 22:49
2nd Place: Elizabeth Lubin, 41, Medford, NJ -- 25:59
3rd Place: Jill Sterbakov, 41, Philadelphia, Pa. -- 26:10

Top Finishers -- Male -- Ages 50-59
1st Place: Greg Cauller, 51, York, Pa. -- 17:44
2nd Place: David Stewart, 51, Haddonfield, NJ -- 19:02
3rd Place: Bruce Fritz, 51, Feasterville, Pa. -- 21:16

Top Finishers -- Female -- Ages 50-59
1st Place: Marjorie Olsho, 53, Fort Washington, Pa. -- 21:50
2nd Place: Donna John, 57, Williamstown, NJ -- 26:37
3rd Place: Cathy Cousin, 56, Kendall Park, NJ -- 27:31

Top Finishers -- Male -- Ages 60-69
1st Place: Robert McCluskey, 64, Marlton, NJ -- 27:01
2nd Place: Mark Huddell, 60, Bound Brook, NJ -- 27:20
3rd Place: Arthur Murray, Mt. Gretna, Pa. -- 27:59

Top Finishers -- Female -- Ages 60-69
1st Place: Barbara Weiss, 63, Voorhees, NJ -- 26:46
2nd Place: Pamela Godwin, 61, Havertown, Pa. -- 34:53
3rd Place: Linda Rubini, 60, Newtown, Pa. -- 40:32

Note: Race article courtesy Runners Gazette:
Jack Heath is the Gloucester Catholic Boys and Girls Cross Country Coach and also works for Phillies Security.