Granelli heard jokes and jabs from a host of friends and former players, then got the chance to take the microphone and respond to the litany of comments. You could definitely tell that the coach, who still ranks among the all-time leaders in coaching victories in women's college basketball history, was moved emotionally by the evening.
It was a fine tribute to Granelli, who spent more than three decades coaching men's soccer and women's basketball at Harvard on the Boulevard before retiring after the 2004 season.
As one of the roasters, this reporter had a lot of fun recalling the five years he spent working closely with Granelli when the reporter was the sports information director there.
It was also an opportunity for the people in attendance to get a first look at the 2006-07 version of the Peahens, coached now by the newly married Stephanie DeWolfe. If a first glance is any indication, this Peahen team will be among the tallest and biggest in the MAAC and certainly one of the biggest teams in SPC women's basketball history.
As the current Peahens stood alongside of coach DeWolfe after getting introduced, it became one tree after another, with some players standing as tall as 6-5. It was an amazing array of size and it's safe to say that the Peahens will be looking to get the ball inside this season.
One other item about the current Peahens: Natasha Philip, the former Peahen who became a fine player after making the team as a walk-on from Lincoln High School, has joined the staff as an assistant coach.
If that isn't one of the greatest success stories of all time, then we don't know what is. Here's a girl who was not recruited heavily out of high school, who then made a name for herself in a brilliant performance in the first-ever Hudson-Essex All-Star Game, then went to St. Peter's on a whim, made the roster, became a contributing player and has now become a coach at the school.
It's almost like a fairytale, but Natasha Philip is living proof that dreams can be fulfilled.
This is someone who should be a role model for every young lady who attends public school in Jersey City. Natasha Philip is a shining example of achieving something great. She should be placed upon a pedestal for all other Jersey City students _ male and female, but especially female _ to admire and look up to...
Received a call last week from the mother of former High Tech super standout softball pitcher and class valedictorian April Jacob, who was happy to report that April is not only attending Drew University in Madison, but she's already thriving there.
How much? Well, try these little ditties on for size. First, Jacob is already pitching fall softball at the school and the coaching staff is thrilled to have her. She will more than likely be the Rangers' No. 1 pitcher come spring as a freshman.
But there's more. Jacob has become an ace reporter for the Drew student newspaper, covering field hockey and women's soccer for the paper. She has already written three stories for the paper, one of which earned the headline story on the back page.
"She told me that she's the Jim Hague of the Drew newspaper," Mrs. Jacob said.
That's one of the greatest compliments ever received in this corner. Thanks to April for the compliment and congrats on the early achievements in college. Maybe she's on her way to someday taking this position away from the big man...
While we're congratulating people, hats off to Alan Kashian, one of the finest basketball players in Secaucus history (and one of the nicest guys to ever emerge from the Meadowlands), who was inducted recently into the Stevens Tech Athletic Hall of Fame.
Kashian, who was a standout at Secaucus High School, played for Stevens from 1993 through 1997 and scored a total of 1,120 points in his career, which still stands fifth all-time at the school. He currently is the all-time leader in field goals made, assists and free throws at Stevens.
Kashian is a chip off the old block. His father, Alan, Sr., was one of the greatest athletes to ever come out of Weehawken High School and was inducted into the Weehawken Athletic Hall of Fame a few years ago.
Kashian is also a success in life. He's the assistant vice-president in charge of operations at Giants Stadium, so he's still deeply involved in athletics. He's a great guy and is deserved to hang on the walls of the Canavan Arena at Stevens for posterity. Way to go, Alan...
While we're talking about Secaucus people, here's another note of interest. Last week, current Secaucus defensive back and wide receiver Kasey Kelly was honored as the Athlete of the Week for returning three interceptions back for touchdowns in a recent win over Becton.
Well, considering that this reporter had never heard of one kid having three interception returns in a single game before, he went to the national high school sports record guru, Doug Huff of West Virginia, who puts together the National Federation of High School Sports record book and regularly updates it.
Huff responded to an e-mail when asked if Kelly's performance was any type of a national record. Huff said that there were seven other high school performers throughout the United States to have had three interception returns for scores, so Kelly's performance tied a national record.
And considering that none of the seven prior players were from New Jersey, then Kelly's performance was definitely a state record. That's quite an achievement for Kelly, who continues to lead the Patriots to one of their most memorable seasons ever.
One other thing: One of the players that Kelly tied with his national-record tying achievement was a youngster from Florida who had three interception returns for scores in the early 1980s. His name? Deion Sanders.
Not bad company to be in...