by Mike Pavlichko
A group of concerned parents and student-athletes from South River High School are expected to hold a rally – they’re calling it a “Ram Speak” – Thursday morning to show support for playing sports this fall. They’ll gather outside the Board of Education offices on Montgomery Street at 11 am.
South River Athletic Director Carl Buffalino would only confirm to Central Jersey Sports Radio that the Board of Education has an item on its agenda for Thursday night’s meeting where athletics will be discussed.
A handful of other districts around the state – including fellow Middlesex County schools Piscataway and Carteret – have cancelled fall sports in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, the majority of schools around the state still plan to play, as of this moment.
Consider the rally a proactive approach.
In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Tammy Torok – President of the South River Booster Club – told Central Jersey Sports Radio the event is not a protest. She wants to keep the message positive.
She is hoping for at least 100 people to attend, getting out the word to the football, soccer, and other teams at the school, asking them to attend and make signs to make their voices heard. She’s also alerted alumni, many of whom still live in town.
Scroll down to the bottom of this story to hear the full interview.
“Basically all we’re looking for is to show the Board of Education that these students are working really hard. They want to come back to school. They want their fall sports season,” she says.
South River just celebrated its 100th year of football in 2019.
Torok’s son, Joseph Lepore, is on the football team and entering his sophomore year. She also has two nieces on the cheerleading squad, one of whom is a senior.
“My first and foremost concern is the mental health of our children here in South River,” says Torok. “We’re not going to know how this pans out unless we try.”
She says fall sports have the support of the governor and NJSIAA, and believes that should be good enough for South River.
“We need to get back to some sense of normlacy for our children,” she says.
Torok says she knows several people whose parents or uncles have passed away from COVID-19, but says she does not fear for her children if they were to participate in fall sports.
“Concerned? Yes,” she says. “Afraid? No.”