A. J. Troisi Athletic Director at B/R H.S. 1959-1979|
By Bruce Doorly
|My last article told of A.J. Troisis 1929 historic season as a player on the Somerville High School
In this article we explore his twenty-year tenure as Athletic Director at Bridgewater-Raritan High School.
The excellent job that A.J. did has earned him a spot as one of the first inductees in the new Bridgewater-Raritan High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
|After graduating from Albright College and serving in the Navy during World War II,
A.J. would become a gym teacher at the various Bridgewater-Raritan schools. He traveled between the Washington, Finderne,
and Green Knoll Schools. In those days, gym teachers were not assigned to just one school.
In 1959 when the Bridgewater-Raritan High School was first being built on Garretson Road A.J. Troisi saw his opportunity. He applied and obtained the job of Athletic Director, a position that he would cherish. He would oversee the formation and growth of the entire sports program.
|The High School under construction|
|A.J. Troisi did his job with passion and style. Those who remember him use descriptions such
as one-of-a-kind and a character.
It was said that everyone liked A.J.. He especially excelled at promoting the sports as he seemed to be an expert in public relations.
|While A.J. as a student had been a star three sport athlete playing baseball,
football and basketball, he would coach none of them. Instead he coached what had become his new passion golf.
In 1961, he coached the golf team to the first undefeated season in school history when they compiled a 19-0-1 record.
(More on the story of that one tie later.) Over the years he had numerous county golf championships and in 1975
a State Championship.
When the teams had their golf matches, the coaches also played (although they were not part of the official scoring). A.J. would say that being the golf coach was the greatest job in the world – for you got to play golf at your job.
|The undefeated, with one tie,|
golf team of 1961
|His desire to grow the sports program led him to establish the first girls varsity sport
at the high school. Laws mandating girls sports would not come into effect until 1971, but in the early sixties
A.J. thought that the girls should have a varsity sport.
He asked the women teachers if anyone knew how to coach a sport and found one teacher Elizabeth Hager knew the sport of fencing, thus that became the one varsity sport. The girls fencing team often had to travel far or compete against colleges, but they were a true varsity sport thanks to A.J. Troisi and Elizabeth Hager.
|Coach Elizabeth Hager|
with the girls fencing team.
|There are many stories about A.J.
He always had a cigar. People recall that he would drive his Cadillac across the athletic fields while smoking his cigar to check out the various practices.
Some remember that A.J. had always wanted to save seats for local sports dignitaries at basketball games. But the games in the old smaller gym would be sold out and packed well before game time. To accommodate his dignitaries A.J. had students reserves good seats. When A.J.s dignitaries arrived right before game time, A.J.s group of students would give their seats up.
|A.J on the left celebrates with the|
State Champion 1965 Basketball Team
|In 1966 a rival high school - Bridgewater-Raritan East - opened.
The rivalry between the schools was intense especially for A.J. Troisi. He then got a license plate on his car that said AJ WEST.
He was determined to outdo the rival school. When he would hire a coach over the years, he informed them that their primary duty was to beat East.
|The annual highlight of the rivalry was the Thanksgiving Day Football Game between
East and West. When West could not come up with a victory against East for the first eight years, A.J. wanted nothing
to beat the foe that had dominated them.
Finally, in 1976, as the story goes, West was holding onto a one-point lead late in the game. As the minutes slowly counted down, A.J. who was always on the sidelines at each game, nervously started pacing back and forth. Not watching where he was going at one instance the referee had to blow the whistle to tell A.J. to get off the field. With his heart racing at a dangerous pace A.J. realized that it was best that he not watch, so he went into the team locker room until the game was over. West did win, and he was able to calm down and enjoy the long-awaited victory.
|In 1972 the girls Cross Country team was disappointed because at the end of the season as they were
informed that due to a budget constraint they would not get the Varsity letters that they had counted on.
But their disappointment was short lived, as A.J. purchased varsity letters for them out of his own pocket.
|The girls from the 1972 Cross Country team|
were grateful for the generosity of A.J.
|Many recall that A.J. proudly wore various B/R West branded athletic wear. In fact, at times
he could be seen golfing with an unmatching/clashing shirt and pants. One friend said that he often wore a montage
of athletic clothing in a style that only A.J. could get away with.
One student remembers that he once shook A.J.s hand and the Athletic Director informed the student that he did not know how to shake hands property. Thus A.J. showed him the correct way to shake hands.
|Another story has it that his golf team was in a final match for the county title. It was A.J. who had the responsibility of ordering the winning trophy for whoever won. When his team won on a lucky final shot he brought the trophy out. To the surprise of everyone the trophy was already engraved with the name of his team on it. A bit overconfident, that was A.J.|
|Aerial view of the school during A.J.s tenure|
|Then there was the story about that one tie in that near perfect golf season of 1961.
The tie came against Hunterdon Central in a close match that came down to the very last shot.
Golfer Frank Leary appeared to have the victory sewn up as he stood on the green to attempt a 2 foot putt
that would give B/R the win by one stroke. But fate would have it that he missed the putt and they would have
to settle for a tie. It would be the only blemish on the near perfect season.
On the car ride back, (they always rode together in a station wagon), A.J.Troisi repeatedly interrupted a very quiet car ride home with several humorous exclamations, A two foot putt he said in a low tone at first. He then waited a bit and then repeated his rant again a two-foot putt, each time he got a bit louder. When he had worn out that phrase, he moved on to other humorous phrases such as The wind could have blown it. The missed two-foot putt is firmly entrenched in the folklore of that class and the legend of A.J. Troisi.
|The missed two-foot putt made the yearbook|
|He would retire as Athletic Director in 1979. In his retirement years he played a lot of
golf and visited Florida often.
He passed away suddenly in April of 1986. The headline in the local newspaper that told of his passing said it perfectly
A.J. Troisi Made Lasting Impression on Sports, People.
|The Legend almost always had a cigar|