By TOM WILLIAMS
For more than half a century the Ocean City Sportspersons of the Year have been recognized. And, during that time, five people have been selected as Sportspersons of the Decade.
That group included Paul Baruffi (1st Decade), Paul LeFever (1990s), Mike Allegretto (1980s), Harry Vanderslice Sr. (1970s) and Richard B. Fox Jr. (1960s). In addition, Fenton Carey and Dixie Howell were named Sportspersons of the Century 20 years ago.
Now, in the final part of the review of the 2nd Decade (2010-19) of the 21st Century, which started almost eight months ago, it is time to recognize another Sportsperson of the Decade.
John Bruno has been head basketball coach at Ocean City High School for 31 seasons. He is Ocean City’s all-time leader in boys basketball wins (428) and ranks fourth all-time in the Cape-Atlantic League in wins. Including his wins in softball, he is second only to Phil Birnbaum in total varsity wins at OCHS.
But the 2nd Decade might have been his best.
His basketball teams started the decade by winning the CAL playoff and finished by winning a conference championship. They had back-to-back 20-win seasons, a first at Ocean City in 60 years. In softball, which he coached for 20 years, the last seven seasons were the seven highest win totals of his career, including 16 wins last spring when his Raiders reached the NJSIAA South Jersey semi-finals.
But this is about more than just wins.
You will see Bruno at many games featuring other OCHS teams. He has been the stadium announcer and scoreboard operator at football games. In a sense, he has become the face of Ocean City High School as the emcee of the Sports Hall of Fame inductions, Mr. OCHS contests and prom parades.
For his dedication to Ocean City High School and his success as a coach during the decade just ended – plus his decades of service – John Bruno is the Ocean City Sportsperson of the 2nd Decade.
As we all exercise caution and wait for the world to get back to normal, here are the 10 sports stories that seemed to generate the most interest throughout Ocean City in the decade from 2010-19:
1. The installation of a turf field at Carey Stadium, opening up all kinds of opportunities for OCHS student-athletes.
2. Dr. Chris Lentz being found innocent of charges that led to her exiting the district athletics director job – and the need for four people in that position during the decade, far more than in the previous history of the high school.
3. The tragic injury – and remarkable recovery – of all star baseball player Matt Fumo.
4. State championships by four OCHS teams for the first time in their program’s history – girls basketball, boys indoor track, girls swimming and girls soccer.
5. The retirement of veteran coaches Craig Mensinger (baseball), Skip Angelo (golf), John Bruno (softball), Cory Terry (field hockey), Dave Castellini (wrestling), Mark Impagliazzo (football) and Alyssa Morrison (girls lacrosse).
6. The Cape-Atlantic League’s merger with the West Jersey Football League, creating some nice new match-ups but also causing Ocean City and other CAL teams to basically lose control of their schedules.
7. A total of 28 NJSIAA South Jersey championships by OCHS varsity teams during the decade plus eight Ed Byrnes Awards in 10 years, the symbol of the CAL’s all-sports championship school.
8. Ocean City-Mainland basketball.
9. The airport story of the 2019 cross country teams who lost their flight to Florida for a meet but were saved at the last minute by some special Delta employees. The story was reported on NBC’s Today Show.
10. The selections of Dan Nunan (Minnesota Twins) and Sean Mooney (LA Angels) in the MLB Draft.
Let’s hope the next 10 years provide as many great memories.
The entire 2nd Decade Review – including all star teams from every varsity sport and the top teams, coaches and athletes of the decade – is available here.