ANATOMY OF A WINNER—And that IS a “Crock”

UPDATED JANUARY 2019

A Few Good Men was a great movie about some of the best people on this planet–Marines. My dad was one of these as well as a Golden Gloves Boxer.

Truth be told, there are other avenues of greatness and we expanded upon that some time ago when our good friend, Harold Crocker took the Athletic Director’s role at Ramapo College. “Few,” if any would argue that Coach Crocker is one of the best people you could know, whether as a former football coach, current administrator or as a friend. I mention my dad because he was very similar to Harold. Dad played football for Amos Alonzo Stagg, coached and was an administrator–caring mostly about kids and doing the right thing by them. Maybe that is one reason I look at Harold like the big brother I never had.

Regarding that middle area (administrator) we were thrilled with his instantaneous success at Ramapo, but thought we should give an update, because, truth be told in this day of the “over” information age, some things go unnoticed….and they shouldn’t.

Under Crocker’s guidance/leadership the success of the athletic department, its teams, coaches, facilities and academics have continued to thrive. “I have been blessed with continued success,” said Crocker. “I truly love my job and the college. It has been a tremendous experience thus far.”

The Bible tells us that, “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) Let’s examine what has been happening at the Mahwah, New Jersey campus since “Coach” has been helping to sharpen those under his leadership:

  • Let’s start with what often goes unnoticed…academics and administratively…
    • The athletes at Ramapo Grade Point Average remains over 3.0 and as a whole is better than the traditional undergraduate full time students
    • “Connect” continued with 100% Fall and Spring increasing from 29% in 2015
    • The Faculty Mentorship Program was expanded as well as the Pep Band
    • For 2019, the turf field will be replaced and the track will be re-surfaced
    • Funding has been approved for Phase I of the Field Lighting Project

 

  • Individually: last year, there were 66 student athletes who earned NJAC honors (in the sports of Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Field Hockey, Cross Country, Women’s Volleyball, Women’s Tennis, Swimming, Indoor Track and Field, Men’s Basketball, Men’s Volleyball, Outdoor Track and Field, Men’s Tennis, Women’s Lacrosse, Softball and Baseball). Fifteen of the 66 were first team selections and the Roadrunners had:
    • The player of the year in Indoor Track & Field and Outdoor Track & Field Amber Edwards. Amber made All-American winning the NCAA Division III Triple Jump at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship with a mark of 12.52 meters (41′ 1″)
    • The top Indoor Track & Field male athlete, Jeremy Hernandez–named an All-American who became the first NCAA Division III student-athlete to run a sub four  minute indoor mile, setting the National Record & school record, when he  crossed the finish line in 3:59.01 at the NCAA Last Chance BU Invitational at Boston University. He earned NCAA Indoor All-American and was named NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field National Athlete of the Year!
    • Men’s Defensive Basketball Player of the Year (Josh Ford)
    • Women’s Swimmer of the Year (Maggie Herbert)
    • Men’s Tennis Player of the Year (Willie Feygin)
    • Recently, junior Joseph Fala was named ECAC Division III Men’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Year. Fala led the Ramapo College men’s soccer All-ECAC selections. Fala earned First Team All-ECAC along with senior Trevor Albrecht and junior Justin Charkowski
    • Raza Baig was named Coach of the Year in Men’s tennis

On the Team side:

  • The softball team had a season for the ages making the NCAA regionals, along the way they were:
    • 2017 NJAC Regular Season Champs
    • 2017 NCAA Division III Regional Champs
    • 2017 NCAA Division III Super Regionals
    • And…had the 2017 NCAA Division III East Region Coaching Staff of the Year
  • Men’s Tennis were NCAA participants in 2017 and 2018
  • Men’s Basketball followed a 2016-17 season in which it was the NJAC regular Season/Tournament Championship hosting a first round NCAA game with back to back conference and regular season championships in 2017-18. The college was an NCAA sectional host facility and champions and advanced to the Final Four!
  • Baseball was an NCAA New England Regionals participant and  finished with the most wins in school history (35-15)
  • Men’s Soccer was a Sweet 16 participant after gaining an At-Large bid finishing with the best record in school history (17-4-2 overall)

ALL TOLD…2017-18 IS CONSIDERED THE BEST YEAR EVER FOR THE ATHLETICS DEPARTMENT!

In closing this segment on Coach Crocker, let me, again, just touch upon the “friend” part of the opening paragraph. Much has been said about his excellent career as a football coach, and his administrative career has, not surprisingly, followed that enormous success pattern. But, Harold Crocker as a friend…now that is one to really “write home about.” They can put you in a sports Hall of Fame (as they did with Harold–Iona 2014 and City of New Rochelle 1994), but friendship, to me, means more.

There are some friends that you may not see or talk to for years, but you know they have your back and are good people. For me, Harold is one of those–I share this sentimentality because we both recently lost another good friend, and he happened to be Harold’s right hand man with the Iona College Football team. Rich D’Amico. Rich left us on Christmas Eve and while it has been a difficult time for his family and many friends,  the D’Amico’s know they have friends like Harold to rely upon. Rest In Peace Rich, you will be missed, but we are grateful for so many memories! #MAAC CHAMPS!

ORIGINAL STORY MAY 2016

It has been just under a year since Harold Crocker, known as “Crock” or just coach, joined Ramapo College as its athletics director. But it didn’t take long for the New Jersey college to realize what the folks at the College of New Rochelle, Iona College, New Rochelle High School and Central Connecticut State University already know: on the strength of his winning attitude and extraordinary people skills, Crocker is a winner.

“Crock” would never step forward to take credit for team or departmental successes, but those qualities mentioned above invariably filter down to coaches, staffers and student-athletes and create an atmosphere where everyone thrives.

On June 25, 2015, Chris Romano, Ramapo College’s Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs announced the hiring of Crocker as Director of Athletics, Intramurals and Recreation. He introduced his new hire with these words: “I am certain that his knowledge, skills and abilities will provide strong, visionary and student-centered leadership to athletics, intramurals and recreation and to all of our student-athletes.”

The proof is always in the proverbial pudding. Here’s what Ramapo has accomplished since Crocker’s arrival:
• The Roadrunners won the New Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament for the first time under head coach Rich Martin and for the second time in program history and finished in the NCAA Tournament in the New York Regional with a 35-12-1 record. Senior Joe Venturino was named the NJAC Baseball Player of the Year.
• Junior Michael Begen was named the 2016 NJAC Outstanding Men’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year while teammate sophomore Jeremy Hernandez was named NJAC Outstanding Men’s Outdoor Track Athlete. Senior Paul Juelis earned NJAC Honorable Mention All-Conference in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. He finished in third place at the conference championships with a time of 9:45.08. Junior Calvin Hartman was crowned the NJAC champion in the pole vault, clearing 4.57 meters, which earned him NJAC First Team All-Conference. Sophomore James Dygos earned NJAC Honorable Mention All-Conference in the discus when he placed third overall with a mark of 41.42 meters.
• Jeremy Hernandez posted the second best 1,500-meter race time in NCAA Division III this season, including 8th All-Time in NCAA Division III and broke his own school record at the Swarthmore Last Chance Meet. Hernandez crossed the finish line in 17th place overall with a time of 3:43.56 running against NCAA Division I, III and elite club runners.
• Three members of the Ramapo College softball team–Katrina Buczkowski, Melissa Moreno and Danielle Saporito–along with head coach Bridgette Quimpo, will be heading to Cape Town, South Africa this summer to compete and assist the locals in community service projects and clinics.
• Sophomore Willen Feygin was named the 2016 GNAC Men’s Tennis Player of the Year. Feygin went 13-2 overall at top flight for the Roadrunners, including 2-0 in GNAC play. He also won both his matches in the GNAC Tournament Semifinals and Final in leading Ramapo to its fourth consecutive conference championship and NCAA Tournament berth.
• Field hockey player Emily Wisneski was named to the NCAA Division III Academic All-District Team. Wisneski was also tabbed as the NJAC Goaltender of the Year after leading the conference in conference-only saves per game with 13.00 and conference-only saves with 78. For her efforts, Wisneski was named to the NJAC 1st Team All-Conference in addition to her Goaltender of the Year award.
_____________________________________________
This partial list of accomplishments is accompanied by a strong organizational structure. Some of the athletic department’s enhancements have included an NCAA Ethnic Minority and Women’s Grant as well as an NCAA Choices Grant – AOD Education and Awareness–the first time the school received those grants.

• Crocker’s ability to cultivate relationships and build consensus helped launch “CONNECT”–obtaining 100% outreach on academics and faculty follow-up for the academic year which was the best of all the groups at Ramapo. Monthly staff meetings included guest speakers from different departments on campus (Admissions / VP Enrollment of Student Affairs / Title IX Coordinator / Financial Aid / Dean of Students). Also installed as a part of the department’s protocol was the ISSG–the NCAA Institutional Study Guide–and instituted official/unofficial visit protocols.

Crocker came to Ramapo from The College of New Rochelle where he served for 17 years and managed a $28 million dollar state-of-the-art athletic facility which opened during his tenure. Prior to his time there Crocker was a highly successful football coach, leading New Rochelle High School to the New York State Championship with a perfect 10-0 season in 1980. He made a move to Iona College shortly thereafter and quickly made his mark there, leading the Gaels to the 1993 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Title. That year he was named MAAC and Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year for the second time after first receiving the award following the 1989 season with the Liberty Conference. Crocker ultimately moved on from Iona into the NFL where he spent time as a regional scout for the New York Giants.

A 1974 graduate of Central Connecticut State University with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, he served as the captain of the 1973 Blue Devils who finished the season at 9-1. In 1978 Crocker earned a master’s degree in special education from The College of New Rochelle and soon after earned his Professional Diploma in School Administration and Supervision from Iona College in 1993. He also holds New York State certifications in physical education, special education and school-district administration.

As good as Harold Crocker is “on paper,” ask any of former players or colleagues about him and expect the theme to be consistent. To a person, they’ll say Crocker is a solid professional with tremendous credentials and, more importantly, he is a caring teacher who brings out the best in everyone he touches.

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