BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Bloomfield Educational Foundation held its Awards Gala on Thursday, April 27, at the Wilshire Grand Hotel, in West Orange, honoring the Bloomfield High School Athletic Hall of Fame 2023 induction class and both the 2022 and 2023 District Teachers of the Year.
The Class of 2023 BHS Athletic Hall of Fame inductees are:
COACH MICHAEL CARTER SR.
Class of 1979
Carter, a three-sport letterwinner at Bloomfield High School, has been the head coach of the BHS football team since 1991.
His accolades as a football coach are numerous: three league championships and 13 state playoff appearances, including the state sectional championship in 2012. He was named Essex County Coach of the Year in 2012. The following year Mike was inducted into the Essex County Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
Mike continued his football playing career at William Paterson University, twice being an All- New Jersey Athletic Conference selection. The Pioneers Defensive Lineman of the Year Award is named in his honor. No less successful when serving as Bengal baseball mentor, his teams captured two state sectional crowns. The 1996 squad won the Greater Newark Tournament, Bloomfield’s first GNT title since the 1952 Bengals led by George Cella. Mike has been recognized by the community as the Irishman of the Year, PBA Man of the Year, Bloomfield Outstanding Citizen, and BHS Alumnus of the Year.
ANNA MARIA MARTINO
Class of 1983
A gifted athlete, Anna Maria lettered in a remarkable five different sports while at Bloomfield High School. It was softball where she made the greatest impact, earning All-State accolades as a center fielder as a junior and as a catcher as a senior.
In her final softball season, while playing for Coach George Middleton, she led the team in eight offensive categories. The team’s 19-6 record was the best in program history to that point.
Anna Maria’s success on the diamond caught the attention of Iona College, earning her a four-year academic and athletic scholarship. Her legacy with the Gaels was secured with two Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships and two MAAC Most Valuable Player awards. She holds 14 season and 10 career softball records. She also competed in volleyball and tennis at Iona.
Class of 1995
Michael is the latest in a long line of Bengal baseball greats to be enshrined in the BHS Hall of Fame. Michael made an immediate impact as one of the few freshmen to ever earn a starting role at BHS. He justified Coach Carter’s decision with an All-League season in the always tough Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League.
He started on the diamond for four years, earning multiple All-League and All-County selections, culminating with an All-State senior season that saw him swat a remarkable 57 hits.
Nazz was also a three-year starter on the gridiron. Often tasked with covering the opponent’s best receiver, his performance earned him All-League and All-County recognition as a defensive back. Michael continued his baseball career on the Division I level at Fairleigh Dickinson University, twice earning All Northeast Conference honors for Coach Dennis Sasso.
Class of 2010
Sarah accumulated Ruthian career numbers as a shortstop for Coach Bob Mayer: 31 home runs, 146 hits, .488 batting average, and never being thrown out in 56 stolen base attempts.
Remarkably consistent in her four years as a starter, she garnered First Team All-State honors as a senior, hitting .563 with 12 homers. Upon grauation, Bloomfield’s loss was Temple University’s gain as Sarah accepted a scholarship from the Owls. A multiple Atlantic-10 selection, she rewrote the Temple record book: first Owl with over 200 career hits (224), season and career leader in stolen bases, runs scored, triples, home runs, slugging percentage and total bases. She also started or played in more games (196) than anyone in school history.
With Temple dropping its softball program, Sarah’s records – as well as those of fellow Bengal great Denise Sarno – will stand in perpetuity.
Sarah went on to play professional softball for the Pennsylvania Rebellion.
STEPHEN VAHALLA JR.
Class of 2009
Stephen owns the distinction of being the first member of the Bengal boys volleyball program inducted into the BHS Hall of Fame.
Bloomfield captured three Essex County Tournament titles during his tenure – the most county team championships in one sport by any athlete in Bloomfield history.
Multiple All-Super Essex Conference and All-County accolades were bestowed, as well as First Team All-State in his senior year. The BHS career leader, he remains the only athlete with over 1,000 kills (1,148).
Stephen matriculated at Kean University and etched his name in their record books: two-time Skyline Conference champions, twice reaching the NCAA quarterfinals, three-time team captain, two-time All-America (first in program history), two-time Conference Player of the Year, and two-time winner of the D’Angola Male Athlete of the Year – Kean’s highest honor. He holds school records for kills in a match (28), season (421) and career (1,234). He was named Skyline Conference Scholar–Athlete of the Year as a senior, and was inducted in the Kean Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019.
CHARLES ACE WOODS
Class of 1977
Charles’ recognition is long overdue. A two-sport athlete at BHS, Ace played football for Coach Cavallaro and basketball for Coach Cella. He participated in two of the most memorable games in school history, the football state championship against Morristown played in Atlantic City, and the state basketball semifinal versus North Bergen. A starting guard in hoops, his team won a sectional championship in 1977.
Ace opted for football on the collegiate level, playing for four years at Cheyney University. He was named All-Conference in each of the three seasons he was a starter. He led the Wolves to the PSAC championship as a senior, earning Honorable Mention All-America status. He was inducted in the Cheyney Wolves Hall of Fame in 2011.
Charles’ unique blend of strength and speed led to tryouts with several NFL franchises, including the Dallas Cowboys. The Woods family was renowned for being fleet of foot. Ace’s sister, Cheryl, still owns the 100- and 200-meter records at BHS.
In addition, the following were honored at the ceremony:
- Laura Foster, Class of 1997: 2022 District Teacher of the Year.
- Shamshadeen Mayers, Class of 2003: 2023 District Teacher of the Year.
Photos Courtesy of Ann Dassing