He already has the stressful duties of being both the athletic director and head football coach at one of the most prestigious and powerful high schools in New Jersey.
But now, St. Peter’s Prep head coach and AD Rich Hansen is taking on another pressure-packed position – that of being the president of the state’s biggest league, the 113-team member North Jersey Super Football Conference.
Hansen said that, as vice-president of the NJSFC the last two years, he was scheduled to take over from outgoing president Joe Piro, the athletic director of Nutley High School, at the end of last school year.
“It’s just the natural officer cycle,” said Hansen, who began a two-year term as president at the beginning of July. “I have a great staff of people working with me and a great executive body. It’s much like I did when I was the president of the HCIAL [Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League] and the [now-defunct] HCIAA. This is only football. It’s a great league that has great potential for even bigger things. I will still represent [St. Peter’s] Prep in every capacity.”
Hansen said that he will try to work on expanding the NJSFC, like finding a corporate sponsor to help defray some of the costs.
“It’s more about trying to find some creative resources and sponsorships,” Hansen said. “I’m just going to be the face of the league moving forward with the NJSIAA [the state’s governing body for high school athletics]. I have to be mindful of what the other leagues are doing and then the other needs of our league.”
One of the major changes that the NJSFC will institute this fall is what they’re calling “The Ivy League,” for struggling programs within the league that are having a tough time either fielding full teams or winning games.
“Schools had to apply for entrance to the Ivy League,” said Hansen, who was all for the change. “Teams that are struggling now have a chance to win a few games and perhaps find a way to get back to respectability.”
Some of the local schools that will play out of the Ivy League are Ferris, Dickinson and Memorial. The Ivy League schools will all play each other according to enrollment Group size, but will not be eligible for the NJSIAA state playoffs.
“They will have their own playoff system and play for a division championship,” Hansen said. “They will all play each other as well. I think it’s a great innovative way for the struggling programs to become more competitive. It wasn’t working the other way. ”
There are nine teams in the Ivy League, so the first year of the Ivy League should be a competitive battle with local interest, especially with the local schools involved.
The second major change is the formation of the Super Football Conference Coaches’ Association.
“I think it’s important that coaches have a voice in any changes that the league is implementing,” Hansen said. “In the past, it was strictly athletic directors, but now the coaches will get together and have a voice. It’s a good positive step.”
So between coaching, administrating, and now serving as a league president, Hansen will have his hands full this fall. Practices for the 2019 season began in earnest last week.
“I’ll admit that it will be challenging, no doubt about it,” Hansen said. “But I’m pleased to be working with the state and working with the state guidelines. I think every school in our league is taking pro-active measures on safety issues. We’re going to be compliant like any other league. Joe [Piro] did a great job. I just want to do my part to keep it going.”
The North Jersey Super Football Conference will hold its annual Media Day Thursday, Aug. 15 at Wayne Valley High School at 4 p.m. with all 113 schools in the league bringing players and coaches. It should be an absolute smorgasbord of football knowledge that day and the Hudson Reporter will be there.
Hansen’s Marauders open their 2019 season at Rutgers University, when they play Millville of southern New Jersey. The Marauders should be among the best teams in the state once again this fall…
St. Peter’s University is in search of a new athletic director once again. Bryan Felt, the school’s sixth AD since long-time administrator Bill Stein retired in 2014, recently resigned to return to his alma mater Seton Hall University as the AD in South Orange.
In his two-year stint at Harvard on the Boulevard, Felt was doing some great things, picking up the pieces left in the aftermath of the disastrous 15-month reign of Belinda “Boe” Pearman. Felt was moving the SPU athletic program in the right direction, but when Pat Lyons was elevated to the position of Executive Vice-President and Chief of Staff, it made sense for Seton Hall to pluck Felt back. Felt spent 16 years at his alma mater, most notably as the Director of the Pirate Blue Athletic Fund, helping to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the SHU athletic program.
The school will conduct a search for new athletic director, the school’s seventh in just five years. In the interim, Anthony Skevakis, the vice-president in charge of Student Life and Development, will serve as the acting AD until the new one is hired…
Meanwhile, speaking of St. Peter’s, two of the best point guards in the history of the men’s and women’s basketball teams at the school have been named to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Basketball Hall of Fame.
Jersey City native Jasper Walker and former Bayonne resident Stephanie DeWolfe were selected as this year’s recipients to the MAAC Basketball Hall of Fame.
Walker and DeWolfe will be honored at a dinner at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass on Sept. 14.
Walker, a product of some great teams at the now-defunct St. Anthony High School during his heyday, graduated from St. Peter’s in 1991 and left as the school’s all-time assists leader and No. 3 all-time in the history of the MAAC. Walker’s assist mark of 674 still stands as the school’s best ever. He also is the only Peacock player to ever dish off for more than 200 assists in a season, reaching 204 in the 1988-89 season. Walker had 20 assists against Holy Cross on Feb. 11, 1989 and that remains the single game MAAC assist record.
DeWolfe graduated from St. Peter’s in 1997 and scored 1,028 points and dished off for 399 assists. When she graduated, she held the all-time assists record and 3-point field goal record, but those marks have since been topped. DeWolfe served as Mike Granelli’s assistant coach for six seasons and became the head coach for nine seasons after Granelli’s retirement.
Both Walker and DeWolfe are already in the St. Peter’s Athletic Hall of Fame, but having their names permanently enshrined at the Naismith Memorial Hall in Springfield has to be an incredible feat and honor. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com