More than 100 community members, alumni and current and former Jersey Blues players and coaches came together on Sept. 30 to recognize the nearly 50-year history of the Brookdale Soccer Program during the first ever Soccer Alumni Family Day on the Lincroft campus.
The all-day event featured meet-and-greets, refreshments, backyard games such as ladder ball and bean bag toss, and soccer-themed prize competitions including a penalty kick shootout and a crossbar challenge.
Between activities, attendees were able sign up for the Brookdale Alumni Association, collect some Brookdale Athletics swag, and cheer on the Brookdale men’s and women’s soccer teams as they competed against Rowan College at Gloucester County.
Between the games, dozens of coaches and players spanning more than 45 years of Jersey Blues history were publicly recognized during a ceremony at midfield.
“Our athletic program has a long, storied history of success, which you all know already because you have all been a part of it,” said interim Brookdale President David Stout. “We want to thank all of our coaches, former coaches, our athletes and former athletes for helping to establish and build our soccer program into what it is today.”
Honorees included current men’s soccer coach Brennen Fitzsimmons and women’s soccer coach Katelyn Amundson, along with current and former coaches and assistants such as Doug Welsh, Brad Fraley, Frank Lawrence, Mike Costa, Tom Rafferty, George Binaco, Paul O’Donnell, Nil Onder, Mike Costa, and John “Jack” Ryan, who helped organize the event with Brookdale Athletics and the Alumni Association.
“There is a lot of history here today,” said Ryan, an English professor and former Brookdale athletic director who spent more than 30 years helping to build the college’s men’s and women’s athletic teams. “Just between Doug Welsh and myself, for example, we have a combined 95 years in the athletics program. John Dempsey, who is here today, played in Brookdale’s first ever athletic event back in 1970.
“We have students here who graduated last year, on the same field with people who graduated in 1972,” Ryan added. “We will not be around forever, obviously, so we wanted to introduce these alumni and relate these stories to the new coaches, the new players who are here today, and the alumni of tomorrow. We want our athletes and coaches to remain connected and for that history to carry on.”
For a number of those recent graduates, including second-team All-American midfielder Brooke Tartis, the event was a welcome opportunity to reconnect with former teammates, relive past glories, and fully appreciate the impact of the Brookdale athletics program.
“This was really exciting for me,” said Tartis, who won consecutive national championships with the Jersey Blues in 2013 and 2014.
“I loved the program, and now that I’ve been away from it I have a new appreciation for the team, the program and for everyone involved. Coming back just made me miss it so much more, and you can see that in so many people here today. Everyone still appreciates what this program did for them, even after so many years.”
Since it was established in 1970, the Brookdale men’s soccer team has claimed three regional titles in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and three Garden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) titles.
The women’s soccer team, first established in 1981, has captured 11 GSAC titles, seven NJCAA titles and three national NJCAA championships, most recently in 2015. The women’s soccer team is competing for its fifth consecutive NJCAA Region XIX title this year.
Check out more photos from Soccer Alumni Family Day here.