Local Student Athletes Win 2021 Investors Bank Best Teammate Award

Little Falls, NJ – Continuing a beloved tradition in local high school sports, for the ninth consecutive year the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center honored student athletes from member schools of the Super Essex Conference (SEC) in a celebration of the qualities that made Yogi Berra a national treasure. Recipients of the 2021 Investors Bank Best Teammate Award, selected by their respective athletic departments, exemplify the strength of character, sportsmanship and supportive spirit that, though often unheralded, are vital to a team’s success – qualities that were on full display Tuesday evening, despite the ceremony being held virtually, instead of in the Museum’s theater.

Student athletes from 37 high schools in the Super Essex Conference (SEC) joined the virtual awards ceremony for 2021 Investors Bank Best Teammate Awards. Each high school in the SEC may nominate only one student for the Best Teammate honors. Best teammate nominations were submitted by 37 of the 39 high schools in the SEC.

John Porcelli, former Montclair High School Athletic Director and currently an adjunct Montclair State University, read the coaches’ recommendations about the student athletes during a recent virtual ceremony.

Porcelli said, “Athletic directors at SEC high schools consider the Best Teammate Award as one of the most prestigious honors a student athlete may earn. The award recognizes athletes who serve their teams, high schools and wider community by setting an example of how a best teammate lives her or his life on and off the field.”

“There has been so much personal sacrifice in the last 14 months,” said Eve Schaenen, the Museum’s executive director, in her welcome remarks to the students on Zoom. “Sports seasons were cancelled, or cut short, or modified to account for the public health crisis we have all lived through. And yet, your athletic directors still chose you as Best Teammate. What that says so clearly, this year more than ever, is that the qualities of a great teammate are identifiable in you… because of who you are as people, as much as who you are as athletes.”

The 37 winning students, together with their parents, grandparents, coaches and athletic directors, had the opportunity to hear from special guest Bill Brown, Chief Retail Officer of Investors Bank, long-time sponsor of the event. In congratulating the recipients, Brown stated: “At Investors we always ask ourselves how we can make our communities better. We often talk in meetings about Yogi Berra as the model of a person who lifted the people around him. The Best Teammate Award shows that you make your teammates better because of who you are.”

Participants also heard from Dale Berra, Yogi Berra’s youngest son, who spoke of his experience playing on the same team as his Hall of Fame father when Yogi managed the NY Yankees and Dale played on the team. The younger Berra reminded the students that being a great teammate isn’t just about statistics, but is about putting the team first, showing respect for others and persevering.

Senior Rollins Heath, a student athlete who is captain of the soccer and lacrosse boys’ varsity teams at Montclair Kimberley Academy, earned the Investors Bank Best Teammate Award. His coaches said, “Rollin is the undisputed leader of the teams, and he has solid friendships with all the players. He mentors younger teammates by excelling in academics and athletics.”

One coach added, “In my seven years of coaching, Rollin is the most team-focused player I have ever coached.”

The 2021 Investors Bank Best Teammate Award Recipients:

Arts High School

Janayah McCullers

Barringer

Isiah Cabrera

Belleville

Jason Miranda

Bloomfield

Tiffany Ortiz

Cedar Grove High School

Brian Catanzarite

Central HS

Briana Worthy

Columbia

Jacob Messeri

Eagle Academy

Qrshon Roberts

East Orange Campus

Jahzara Mathieson

East Side HS

Beatriz Vicente Da Cunha

Glen Ridge

Matt Van Bloem

Irvington

Victoria Bonheur

James Caldwell HS

Natalie Lorenz

Livingston High School

Vincent Militello

Malcolm X Shabazz High School

Ja’zon Ellis

Millburn High School

Sydney Kuehn

Montclair High School

Sabrina Martin

Montclair Immaculate

Thomas Pennetta

Montclair Kimberley Academy

Rollins Heath

Mount St Dominic Academy

Kaitlin Hladik

Newark Academy

Billy Hales

Newark Tech

Allendy Lluberes

North Star Academy

Kolina France

Nutley

Kaitlyn Gavidia

Orange High School

Celine Jobson

Payne Tech

Nicole Johansson

Saint Vincent Academy

Therese Argueta

Science Park

Nakiyah Jackson

Seton Hall Prep

Tim Polizzi

Technology High School

Jordan Skillern

University High School

Janaie Coates-Sinues

Verona

Megan Meehan

Weequahic High School

Stephen Akuakolam

West Caldwell Tech

Isabella Tosca

West Essex

Rebecca Desiderio

West Orange High School

Tracey Ilderis

West Side High School

Heavyn Woods

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