UPDATED: Nutley HS athletes sign with colleges on National Signing Day

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NUTLEY, NJ – Six Nutley High School senior student-athletes signed National Letters of Intent to continue their athletic careers in college.

Of the six, four will be attending Rutgers University.

A ceremony was held in the Nutley High School library, attended by parents, coaches and administrators, on Nov. 14, which was National Signing Day.

Three of the athletes are member of the baseball team: Marty Higgins, who signed with St. John’s University; Johnny Luberto, who signed with Rutgers, and Josh O’Neill, who signed with Stony Brook University. Luberto and O’Neill are pitchers. Higgins is a shortstop.

They were instrumental in helping the NHS baseball team to a 21-9 season this past spring, which included finishing runner-up in the Greater Newark Tournament, which is considered as the Essex County Tournament.

Alexis Nguyen and Alaina Feaster, who are members of the crew team, will both attend Rutgers.

Courtney Wilde, a pitcher on the softball team, will also attend Rutgers.

The following are comments from some of athletes about their memories of competing for NHS and the reason for their college decision.

Alexis Nguyen:

“Competing for Nutley High School has been an amazing experience for me and I have made some of my best friends on the team. My most memorable race competing for Nutley was the Garden State Scholastic Championships in Spring of 2018. I was the coxswain for the lightweight 4 and we placed 2nd, beating one of our biggest rivals. Along with the team, the entire coaching staff is incredibly supportive and have taught me so much.

“I chose Rutgers because the school has been a part of my family for many generations and getting to continue the sport that I love is a dream come true.”

Johnny Luberto:

“Growing up in Nutley, you go to the games at the Oval and watch football in the fall and baseball in the spring, and as a little kid, you dream about one day being able to play there.  Once you’re there, you sometimes take for granted the atmosphere and the privilege to play in the center of town with your teammates that turn into some of your best friends. As my last year as a Nutley Raider slips by, I’m able to look back, appreciate these things and experience them one last time while wearing maroon and gray.

“My decision to go to Rutgers, like everyone else, had to do with choosing a school that fit best for me.  I like the big campus, history, and atmosphere that Rutgers has. Another upside of going to Rutgers is that it’s relatively close to home so my family can see me play, especially my dad. It means a lot to me to have him and the rest of my family at my games.”

Josh O’Neill:

“Nutley has provided me with so many memories ever since my freshman year of competing in athletics. From the moment I got to NHS and made the varsity baseball team, all I got was support and motivation from older teammates and the coaches. Ever since I made the team, I have continued to grow and make some great memories, such as playing in 2 GNT finals (hoping to make it 3 when the season comes) as well as making it to the state semi-finals 2 times (I am hoping to make it to the finals this year however). I have played in some insanely competitive games and had fun doing so. Nutley has provided me with so many opportunities to succeed and have a great high school experience at the same time so I am grateful to be apart of the Raider Nation and thankful for their help getting me to this point.

“To me, Stony Brook was the best fit when I came down to what I was looking for in a college. As well, they were one of three schools that offered me an athletic scholarship and they happened to give me the best offer. For the baseball aspect of the school, they are a really successful and have a history of being successful. As well, I love the coaching staff and I felt a great connection between all the coaches and myself. Besides the baseball team, the school’s academics are really good and have a great business school which is what I am looking to major in. The campus is also beautiful. It is not a huge campus but it is still a good size and it is just a nice campus to walk around and admire. Finally it was the location of the school. I wanted to get away from home but not too far away and I felt that Stony Brook was in that perfect location. Everything about the school fitted what I wanted and I am thankful that the coaches gave me the opportunity to attend their school and be a part of the team.”

Alaina Feaster:

“Competing and rowing for Nutley has been one of the highlights of my high school experience. The girls on my team have become my family and they make every practice and race unforgettable. I owe a lot of my accomplishments to my two coaches, Janine Ford and Kevin Smyth. Smyth has given me so many opportunities to prove myself, and has pushed me to be the best person and rower I can be. Ford was my freshman year coach, so she taught me to row and helped me fall in love with the sport.

“My decision to attend Rutgers was easier than I expected. It is a great school and my coaches encouraged me to join their amazing rowing program. My older brother, who also rowed for Nutley, is a Rutgers alum. In the end, Rutgers was the right fit for me. I couldn’t be more excited for the future.”

Photos courtesy of Javanna Ritacco.

Photo of six NHS athletes courtesy of Joe Ragozzino.

Photo 1 caption: Top row from L-R: Nutley HS athletic director Joe Piro, NHS head baseball coach Bob Harbison, Johnny Luberto, Josh O’Neill, Marty Higgins, NHS Vice-Principal Jackie Devore, NHS head softball coach Luann Zullo, and NHS head crew coach Kevin Smyth. Bottom row L-R: Alexix Nguyen, Courtney Wilde, and Alaina Feaster.

Photo 2 caption: Marty Higgins Jr. seated. Standing L-R: Nutley HS head baseball coach Bob Harbison, Little League coach Tom Rose, sister Mia, dad Marty Sr., mom Jodi,  sister Jenna, and Little League coach Anthony Sposato.

Edito’s note: This article was updated to include comments from Alaina Feaster.

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