By TOM WILLIAMS
Last year Ocean City High School said goodbye to Paul Baruffi, one of the most successful girls basketball coaches in South Jersey history.
His teams won 429 games (300 wins above .500), including the school’s only state title in girls basketball, seven South Jersey championships, six Cape-Atlantic League Tournament crowns and 13 seasons with 20 or more wins.
But he did a lot more, serving as an assistant coach in football and track and, before taking the helm in girls basketball, coaching an undefeated boys JV basketball team.
Paul moved on to become an assistant women’s basketball coach at Stockton University and will be assisting the football team at Lower Cape May, where he has numerous friends, in the fall.
This year, it is time to say goodbye to another Baruffi – Dr. Tom Baruffi, Paul’s older brother.
Dr. Baruffi came to Ocean City as an interim superintendent, which has a limit of two years. As a retired administrator, he can only accept interim positions with that limitation. But these two years were a challenge.
In addition to all the normal responsibilities and obligations of any school superintendent, Dr. Baruffi’s two years included the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and the many stresses and controversies surrounding it.
Masks or no masks? In school or virtual? How much social and physical distancing? How to help people get vaccinated and how to deal with those who foolishly refuse the vaccine? What events to cancel? How to safely stage those events that are held?
There is also the ongoing girls basketball soap opera which, if it is not resolved correctly, could put a stain on the OCHS athletics department (and faculty) for quite a while. Though he tried to move everyone toward a fair and logical solution, he was outvoted. The final decision will be made by others.
In addition to all of the normal responsibilities of a school superintendent and those special ones Dr. Baruffi faced during his two years in Ocean City, his mother died right in the middle of everything. Corinne Baruffi died at age 91 early this year. She was more than just an observer of her sons’ successes, she was an active participant, and her loss was a family tragedy.
Like his younger brother before him, Dr. Tom Baruffi leaves behind in Ocean City many admirers because of the way he handled those very difficult challenges. And, away from their jobs, they have both earned the label of “intense golfer”. Dr. Baruffi will eventually move on to another interim position somewhere else. His two years at the helm in Ocean City were memorable and very successful.
If only he was allowed to stick around longer.