When Damian Corredor entered Weehawken High School for the first time a little more than three years ago, he arrived with a great amount of pressure on his shoulders.
Damian was the latest in a string of standout athletes from his family, as older sisters Crystal and Daisy and older brother Angelo blazed the trail for young Damian to follow.
“There was a lot of pressure on me, because they all did well,” Damian Corredor said. “They were all great in the sports they took part in. I knew I had to continue the Corredor legacy.”
As it turned out, Corredor did more than keep his family name alive or become the best athlete in the already-talented family. Frankly, Corredor became the best all-around athlete in the history of Weehawken High School athletics – and that says a lot.
Corredor re-wrote the record books at Weehawken in football. He became the school’s all-time leader in rushing yardage and touchdowns scored. As a senior, Corredor compiled 2,437 all-purpose yards, scoring 27 touchdowns. He rushed for 1,643 yards and scored 22 TDs, leading the Indians to a 7-3 record and their first NJSIAA state playoff berth since 2005.
As a junior, Corredor had 1,635 yards rushing and scored 17 touchdowns. He amassed 21 touchdowns total.
In basketball, it was more of the same. Corredor was a four-year varsity player and starter at point guard. He became a member of the exclusive Weehawken 1,000-point club during his senior year.
For his efforts in two sports, Corredor has been selected as the 2012-2013 Hudson Reporter Male Athlete of the Year. Corredor received his award from Reporter Co-Publisher David Unger in a recent presentation.
Corredor becomes the second straight Weehawken athlete to receive the award, joining Jason “J.J.” Pineda, who was last year’s honoree. Former Weehawken three-sport standout Danny Lopez earned the honor as well in 2004.
This marks the 21st year that the Hudson Reporter newspaper chain has honored the top athlete in Hudson County with the award.
“This is something I’m going to remember all my life,” Corredor said. “J.J. Pineda is a good friend and was a good teammate. I didn’t even know about the award until he won it. Danny Lopez was a great athlete and I used to watch him when I was a water boy for the football team. It shows how far the Weehawken athletic program has gone over the years, to get a group of kids from Weehawken to earn this award. I didn’t think it was possible. It’s crazy, but it’s awesome.”
Corredor’s coaches knew right away that he was something special.
“Right away, you could see he was a talented kid,” Weehawken head basketball coach Jake McNish said. “He was a typical 14-year-old freshman, trying to show off a little, show boat. But I sat him down and told him what I needed him to do. I needed him to do the little things as a point guard. From that point, he became my coach on the floor for three and a half years. He never lost his cool. He was a calming influence on everyone. I just can’t say enough about the kid.”
McNish continued with his praise of Corredor.
“You couldn’t ask for a better kid or a better athlete,” McNish said. “The whole group of kids was special, like a family, but Damian kept them all together. He never got a big head.”
McNish recalled a special moment that solidified the relationship between coach and player.
“It was his sophomore year and I was losing it in practice,” McNish said. “I was yelling and screaming at everyone. He went around and calmed everyone down, then came to me and said, `Coach, I got this.’ He got everyone back on track. I’ll always remember that.”
“When I was younger, basketball was my better sport,” Corredor said. “Coach McNish is such a great coach and he had to get his point across to the team. We all got yelled at, then I told everyone to listen up and play harder. That was my role as the point guard. Because of my brother [Angelo], I was always around older players and took charge. I knew what kind of style Coach McNish wanted to play and I just did it.”
McNish said that he was blessed to have the Corredor family.
“I just had eight straight years of having a Corredor run the point, first Angelo for four years, then Damian,” McNish said. “I’m going to sorely miss him. It took him about a half of a season to think like me and then he was my coach on the floor. He was like me on the floor.”
Head football coach and athletic director Zach Naszimento came to Weehawken for the start of Corredor’s junior year.
“When I first came to Weehawken, I didn’t know much, but I heard a couple things about a good player,” Naszimento said. “When we played the first couple of scrimmages and saw him run with the football, I said, ‘Wow!’ I thought he could be a good player. His attitude was good and he was very respectful and very mature. But when we finally started playing, he took it to a whole another level.”
It didn’t take long for Naszimento’s father, long-time football coach and Union City grid great Bruce, who serves as his son’s assistant, to realize how special Corredor was.
“He told me right away that Damian was a special player,” Zach Naszimento said of his father. “It wasn’t just me seeing it. Everyone else saw it too. It wasn’t just running either. He could catch a screen pass on offense or pick off a ball on defense or run back a kick or a punt. He had such a football I.Q.”
Corredor realized he was becoming an all-time great football player during his junior year.
“The first game, I had 200 yards rushing, then the second game against Bogota, I got 300,” Corredor said. “I saw how things were going. I really enjoyed playing football. I was glad to have so much success. For the last two years, I helped to put Weehawken on the map and that means a lot to me. I have a lot of pride in Weehawken.”
Corredor said that his career came as a shock to him.
“I never expected all of this,” Corredor said. “I’m extremely amazed. I just wanted to make the most of whatever I was doing.”
Naszimento realizes what Corredor meant to his program.
“He pretty much rewrote the school record books,” Naszimento said. “He set the standard for everyone else to follow pretty high. He set the standard for the rest of our kids forever, both on the field and off. Damian is such a great kid and well liked by everyone, by the faculty, staff and students. A lot of kids would like to say they achieved what Damian did, but they can’t back it up. Damian can. He just took over.”
Added Naszimento, “I don’t think you ever replace a kid like this. I might not get a chance to coach a kid like this ever again. No question, his impact has been felt here in Weehawken. He helped to put Weehawken back on the map and make it relevant again. I’m proud of him for doing that.”
Naszmiento was asked what he will remember most about Corredor.
“He was so intense and demanding of his teammates,” Naszimento said. “If another kid didn’t come to practice, he’d let you know he was upset about it. His impact as a player, his attitude, his demeanor and presence will be hard to replace.”
McNish thinks that Corredor was just special all around.
“I think he’s the type of kid that if you put a soccer ball at his feet or a lacrosse stick in his hand, he’d be successful at it,” McNish said. “I remember we had a bowling outing when he was a freshman and he was making strike after strike. Whatever he did, he was good at it, no matter what it was.”
Corredor now heads to Kean University to play football in the fall.
“I have to start all over now,” Corredor said. “It’s a different ball game now for me. I have to make my way up the ladder once again. It’s going to be much harder now.”
But chances are that Damian Corredor will succeed – because he always does.
HUDSON REPORTER MALE ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
1991-1992-Jason Casessa, Hoboken
1992-1993-Alex Rodriguez, Secaucus
1993-1994-Eduardo Gomez, Hoboken
1995-1996-Rashard Casey, Hoboken
1996-1997-Czar Wiley, North Bergen
1997-1998-Koz Perez, North Bergen
1998-1999-Mike Forcum, Hoboken
1999-2000-Jonathan Robinson, Memorial
2001-2002-Bryan Durango, Memorial
2002-2003-Jason Blanks, Hoboken
2003-2004-Danny Lopez, Weehawken
2004-2005-Mike Brown, St. Peter’s Prep
2005-2006-Garrett Askew, Hudson Catholic
2006-2007-Evan Rodriguez, North Bergen
2007-2008-Chris Jones, Lincoln
2008-2009-Michael Kuzirian, Memorial
2009-2010-Kevin Innis, St. Peter’s Prep
2010-2011-Jose Veras, Dickinson
2011-2012-Jason Pineda, Weehawken
2012-2013-Damian Corredor, Weehawken
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com. You can also read Jim’s blog at www.jimhaguesports.blogspot.com.