It's not readily known that during his heyday, D'Angelo was a fine soccer coach, taking the Weehawken High School program to heights never before reached. He was the head coach in 1980, when Weehawken captured the HCIAA championship - the final Hudson County championship secured by a Weehawken team before moving on to the Bergen County Scholastic League.
Then, when the Indians changed leagues, D'Angelo won there as well, leading the Indians to their first BCSL National title in 1984. The Indians won the league title again in 1989.
"The reason why I was so successful was because I had so many great players," D'Angelo said. "The championships that we won back then, those teams could have won on their own, coaching themselves. That's how good they were."
Inducted into Hall of Fame
Always humble, D'Angelo was humbled even more when he learned that he was being inducted into the Weehawken High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
"It was totally unexpected," D'Angelo said. "I never expected that."
D'Angelo and his two fellow inductees, Diane Behrens and Rich Jodice, received their awards at the annual Senior Athletic Awards/Hall of Fame banquet at the Weehawken Elks last Friday night.
D'Angelo gained induction for his coaching ledger.
Behrens (Class of 1981) was honored for being a four-sport varsity standout - tennis, basketball, softball and track and field - earning All-Hudson County honors in softball and basketball during her career. She collected 12 varsity letters in her four years at Weehawken and averaged 25 points per game in basketball her senior year. Jodice (Class of 1982) was an All-Hudson County goalkeeper, playing for D'Angelo for three seasons. He also played basketball for four years, but definitely made his mark, playing for the championship teams guided by D'Angelo.
"It was really rewarding for me to be inducted with Rich Jodice," D'Angelo said. "It really meant a lot to me."
Outstanding male athletes
The other portion of the banquet was dedicated to the awards given to the current Weehawken High School athletes.
The Lester Purvere Award is given each year to the Outstanding Male Athlete, named after the school's most legendary coach. This year, the award is shared by two fine athletes, namely soccer player Larry Avila and basketball/baseball player Kyle Morris.
"I was very surprised and had no words when I heard my name," said Avila, who was a Group I All-State player for two years and had the chance to play soccer in Russia last summer. "When they called my name, I didn't think it was true. I'm very proud to have received this award. Being here in Weehawken and playing soccer has been the best four years of my life. I'm very happy to have been able to accomplish what I did. People now know the soccer program at Weehawken for a reason."
Avila, who scored 24 goals and had 17 assists last season, is currently playing for the prestigious Player Development Organization, as well as the Ironbound Sports Club's 23-and-under program. Avila is only 19 years old. He hopes to play soccer at New Jersey City University in the fall.
Morris was the basketball team's best scorer and rebounder this past season, averaging double figures in both statistical categories.
"I was extremely shocked when I heard my name," Morris said. "It was totally unexpected. I thought for sure it was going to be Larry. Getting this award is just a big bonus to what has been a good senior year. It's rewarding to get to share this award with a great athlete like Larry."
Morris plans on playing basketball at Poly Tech in Brooklyn and will major in communications there.
A few good women
The Ernest J. Demontreaux Award for the Outstanding Female Athlete went to Kiara Perez, who played volleyball, basketball and softball. Perez helped the volleyball and basketball teams reach the NJSIAA state playoffs, which was a first in over a decade for both teams.
"I certainly wasn't expecting it," said Perez, who will head to Montclair State University in the fall. "It's a great honor and it's very rewarding. I guess it showed my dedication and commitment to my teams. I really was speechless when I heard it was me."
Behrens currently resides in Miami, where she serves as an athletic director and physical education teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes School. But she made it back to Weehawken to participate in the festivities.
"It was such an honor and a great trip down memory lane for me," said Behrens, who had not been back to her hometown in 12 years. "Weehawken looks awesome. Weehawken set the foundation for me for everything in my life, now that I coach and teach athletics. Weehawken is where it all started. It was so nice to see the people who supported me when I was in high school and see those great faces again. I had a great time. It was really special."
A big thrill
Jodice, whose father, Sal, was a great athlete and a member of the Weehawken Hall of Fame and whose brother, Donald, still resides in Weehawken and has been a long-time baseball coach, now lives in Barnegat and works in the home improvement industry.
D'Angelo said that his biggest thrill was looking out into the audience and seeing so many familiar faces. "I saw the kids who were honored. I taught and coached their parents," D'Angelo said. "I loved feeling the warmth and respect."
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org