The Sport Report

February 3, 2017
2015-2016 NJCU women's volleyball team earns the AVCA Team Academic Award for the first time in the program's history.

NJCU Welcomes Winning Coaches

The Athletics Department welcomed three new fall sport coaches to NJCU family this past summer. Joseph Cullen was named head coach of men’s soccer, Anthony Tuesta was selected head coach of women’s soccer, and Reggie James, Jr. joined the staff as head coach of men’s and women’s cross country and club indoor/outdoor track and field.

Cullen wasted little time in turning the Gothic Knights’ fortunes around. The men’s soccer team, which won one game in each of its previous two seasons, kicked off 2016 with a 7-0-0 record in its first month of play breaking the 1966 record of 6-0-0 and earning the best start to a season in the 58-year history of the program. The team also logged three consecutive shutouts to start the season another school record.

Cullen brings a wealth of experience and demonstrated skill to the Knights; he previously served as an assistant coach at Montclair State (2010-13) and Moravian (2014-15). The Red Hawks reached the NCAA Tournament every season during his tenure at Montclair, advancing to the second round in 2010 before surging to the NCAA national semifinals in 2011. As a kind of encore, MSU reached the Elite 8 in in 2012 and 2013—marking the program’s third consecutive appearance in the national quarterfinals.

As an MSU student, Cullen played for the Red Hawks, earning one of the finest men’s soccer careers in the university’s history. Teaming with his brother, Michael, he catapulted the Red Hawks to four consecutive New Jersey Athletic Conference championships in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 and four straight NCAA Tournament appearances. In the four seasons with Cullen in the lineup, Montclair earned an incredible combined 77-7-4 (.898) and boasted a near-perfect mark of 32-3-1 (.903) in the conference. (Two of those three losses came against NJCU, by the way!)

As a senior co-captain in 2009, he became the 24th All-America recipient in Montclair history, garnering NSCAA Division III Second-Team honors. A three-time All-Region Selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, he was First-Team All-NSCAA South Atlantic and First-Team -All-ECAC in 2009. He also earned First-Team All-Region distinction in 2008 and Second-Team in 2007.

Tuesta was originally hired part-time last winter, but his instant rapport with the players and his marked skills on the field, compelled NJCU to nab as much of his talent as it could. Tuesta was moved up to full-time over the summer to become the first full-time head women’s soccer coach in NJCU’s history.

Having previously served as the assistant men’s soccer coach for the Gothic Knights for 2013 and 2014, Tuesta returned to NJCU after one season as the assistant men’s soccer coach at Division I NJIT.

An experienced club coach and trainer, Tuesta has sharpened his considerable skills working with New Jersey Cedar Stars Academy (NJCSA) of Holmdel as a head coach and with Parsippany (N.J.) Soccer Club.

An alumnus of Kean University, Tuesta was a two-time First-Team All-NJAC selection in 2006 and 2007. The outstanding forward was the league’s top player in 2006. He claimed 2006 and 2007 NCAA Division III/NSCAA First-Team All-Metro Region honors, and, in 2006, was a Second-Team All-America choice and Kean’s Player of the Year.

In his two seasons at the NJAC-rival school, Tuesta scored 24 goals and 10 assists, with eight goals proving to be game winners. Prior to arriving at Kean, Tuesta played two seasons at Mercer County Community College, leading the Vikings to back-to-back National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) finals in 2002 and 2003.

James joined the NJCU coaching staff in August, taking the reins of the men’s and women’s cross country program. He’s also charged with the task of relaunching the men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field programs, which are currently club sports. (Track and field, discontinued after the 2009-10 athletic year, is slated to be re-elevated as a varsity sport for the 2018-19 season.)

He comes to NJCU with nearly two decades of experience as a coach and athlete on the collegiate, high school and club levels. He served as head cross country and track and field coach at Division II Holy Family University in Philadelphia in 2014-15 helping the program achieve multiple school records and a Collegiate Track Conference (CTC) Relay Crown. Prior to Holy Family, James served two years (2012-14) as assistant cross country and track and field coach at Montclair State, coaching five Red Hawks to All-America honors and multiple school records.

Most recently, James coached the 2015-16 season at Wayne Hills High School as an assistant, helping guide the team to a Passaic County girls’ championship and coaching one of the top boys 200- and 400-meter indoor runners in the state.

James also served as the head coach of the Pure Acceleration Track Club in Stanhope, N.J., and has helped the program claim multiple national championships and All-America recognition. From 2006-09 he was an assistant with the Willingboro Track Club, which produced a number of collegiate champions including future Olympian, English Gardner.

Women’s Volleyball Aces Academics

The NJCU women’s volleyball team was recognized by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) for its success in the classroom during the 2015-16 academic year, earning the AVCA Team Academic Award for the first time in the program’s history.

To qualify for this nationally recognized honor, an entire men’s or women’s volleyball program has to maintain a minimum of a 3.30 cumulative grade point average (on a 4.00 scale; 4.10 on a 5.0 scale) for the recently concluded academic year. NJCU is one of only two schools in the New Jersey Athletic Conference to achieve this distinction.

The 12 women on the 2015-16 Gothic Knights team achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.355, with a 3.413 while in season during the fall 2015 semester and a 3.301 in the spring term.

Individually, setter Rachel McIntyre, a sophomore last year majoring in both Criminal Justice and Psychology with a double minor in English and Journalism, registered a perfect 4.00 for both semesters. Outside hitter Elyssa Magee, an incoming senior who majors in Psychology with a Criminal Justice minor, earned a 4.00 in the spring and a 3.971 for the year. Three other student-athletes produced GPAs of 3.5 or better.

“I’m extremely proud of the progress we’ve made as a program both in the classroom and on the court,” said head coach Robert Cole. “An award like this is earned by every single member of the program. We want to continue to progress both academically and athletically.”

Feehan Earns MVC

Longtime NJCU Women’s Soccer Assistant Coach Katie Feehan ’07, ’09 M.S. was honored as the TeamSnap Most Valuable Coach on September 7. The on-field ceremony took place at halftime during the National Women’s Soccer League professional match between Sky Blue FC and the Orlando Pride in Piscataway, N.J. Among of the more than 2,000 fans at the game, a number of NJCU women’s soccer team players were in attendance to cheer their coach on.

“It was a great feeling to be in an environment promoting women’s soccer with my players in the crowd,” said Feehan. “I hope to continue to motivate young women to pursue their dreams.”

The award, launched in May 2016 is presented to a nominated coach from the region that has demonstrated positive leadership. TeamSnap is the leading communications and organization app for coaches and teams.

Feehan is in her ninth season as an assistant coach with the Gothic Knights, making her the longest-serving active female coach head or assistant at NJCU.

A 2007 graduate of NJCU with Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (pre-law) and a 2009 Master of Science, Feehan was one of the top scholar-athletes to ever play for the University in any sport. Off the field, Feehan has served the residents of the state as a New Jersey State Trooper for the past five years.

Playing NJCU soccer from 2004 07, Feehan was a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-America recipient the only NJCU student-athlete to be so honored and also the first athlete in the history of NJCU to be named a First-Team Academic All-American in any sport in 2007, after earning Third-Team Academic All-America distinction in 2005 and 2006.

Hall of Famers Honored

NJCU announced its 2017 inductees to the University’s Athletic Hall of Fame, and the results are historic. For the first time ever, all five individual honorees are women. Also, for the first time in 36 years and the second time since the Hall of Fame was established in 1979 a team was singled out for praise. This year’s selections are Ebony Barnes’09, Denay Caldwell ’07, Eryn Cully-Bohleber ’05, Katie Fehan ’07, ’09 M.S., Vicki Spratford ’08, and the 1963-64 men’s basketball team.

Ebony Barnes was a five-time All-American in her four-year career on the track team from 2005-09. She earned First-Team-All-America honors in the indoor 55-meter dash in 2007-08 and 2008-09, and was a three-time First-Team-All-American in the outdoor 100 meter dash for 2006, 2007, and 2008. A multiple New Jersey Athletic Conference champion, Barnes was named the 2008 NJAC Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Outstanding Female  Track Athlete of the Year and the 2008-09 NJAC Women’s Indoor Track and Field Most Outstanding Female Track Athlete. Her 100-meter dash conference record of 11.84 seconds in the 2008 NJAC Outdoor Championship meet still stands.

Denay Caldwell, the second most decorated women’s track athlete in NJCU history, was a dominant seven-time All-American between the indoor and outdoor seasons from 2003-07.

She was an NCAA First-Team All-American in the indoor 55-meter hurdles twice placing fifth in the national finals but she was at her best in several outdoor events, claiming five All-America plaques in the spring. A 2003 First-Team All-American in the 400-meter hurdles, in 2004, she was a double All-American in the 100-meter hurdles and 4×100-meter relay. It was the first of three consecutive years Caldwell was a First-Team All- American in the 100-meter hurdles; her best finish was fourth as a senior in 2006. She also helped NJCU place second out of 68 teams at the 2005 ECAC Division III Outdoor Championship and 10th at the NCAA Division III Championship.

Eryn Cully-Bohleber is one of the first All-Americans in NJCU women’s bowling history. Her leadership style and exceptional skill almost single handedly propelled the Gothic Knights into the 2004 NCAA bowling final when NJCU placed third nationally.At the 2004 NCAA Championship, Cully was named to the All-Tournament Team after finishing first overall in the individual standings with a remarkable 235.714 average the second highest average in NCAA championship history. A two-time All-Conference selection in 2002-03 and 2003-04, Cully, a national NCBCA All-Academic Team selection,was NJCU’s anchor for two seasons after transferring to the University on a full academic scholarship from Briarcliffe College.

Katie Feehan is NJCU’s first women’s soccer Hall of Fame inductee. As a student, she proved to be a technical and versatile player. She played every position on the field during her career even 45 minutes in goal but was primarily a center midfielder. By the time she concluded her career for the Knights, she owned every major career record at NJCU. She was the all-time leader in points (92), goals (33), assists (26), multiple-goal games (9), game-winning goals (6), shots (250), shots on goal (135), games played (73), games started (73) and minutes played (6,372) at the conclusion of the 2007 season. Many of these records have since been broken by players she helped recruit to the program as Feehan is now the assistant coach for NJCU women’s soccer.

Vicki Spratford is considered the greatest bowler in the history of the NJCU bowling program. She was a four-time All-American who led NJCU to the 2006 and 2008 NCAA National Collegiate Women’s Bowling Final Four and was voted the 2006-07 and 2007-08 National Tenpin Coaches Association (NTCA) Division III National Player of the Year. During her career, NJCU amassed an incredible record of 303-117-2—a .720 winning percentage and qualified for four NCAA Tournaments. She is one of only three Gothic Knights ever named to the NCAA’s All-Tournament Team
in seven championship appearances and remains one of only 10 players in the history of the sport named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team more than once. On January 21, 2008, Spratford became the sixth athlete in school history to appear in the “Faces in the Crowd” section of Sports Illustrated.

The 1963-64 men’s basketball team was the second Jersey City State team to win a conference championship. The Gothicswere 20-6 overall (.769)and 9-1 in the conference. Coached by Hall of Famer Oliver S. Gelston, the team consisted of 14 players, four of whom are current individual Hall of Famers at
NJCU: Charlie Brown ’65, ’85 M.A., Ben F. O’Neal ’65, Edwin H. Petersen ’66, and Paul F. Yates ’66. Brown and O’Neal were co-captains of the squad. Brown, O’Neal, and Petersen were each 1,000-point scorers, with Yates narrowly missing the milestone. Other members of the team included Robert Bagley ’68, Paul Calocino’66, Michael Connolly ’67, George Connors ’66, Robert Elder ’66, Tom Gleason ’66, Earl Kingwill ’66, Danny Lane ’66, Anthony Mitolo’65, and Michael Scolamieri’65. The assistant coach was Pete Muir.

The team finished the season ranked No. 3 in the nation in scoring defense at just 58.7 points per game – a school record that lasted for nearly 50 years until a team coached by Brown’s son,Marc Brown, eclipsed it in the 2012-13 season (58.3 per game).

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