2022 Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Fame: Jim Simonelli
Behind every great head coach and every championship-winning program are assistant coaches who go about their business with relative anonymity while simultaneously being indispensable.
Jim Simonelli is one of those coaches.
For the past 51 seasons, Simonelli has been a Shore Conference assistant coach at three programs with their fair share of championship history - and he didn't have to travel far from his Long Branch roots to do so.
A 1965 graduate of Long Branch High School, Simonelli returned to Westwood Avenue after graduating college and began his coaching career in 1971 under Ken Schrock, coaching the linebackers and running backs for two seasons. Then, from 1973-1976, Simonelli was an assistant coach at Shore Regional under Scott Quinlan and then Pete Scriabba. The Blue Devils went 8-1 and won the Shore Conference Class D division title in 1973.
His time in West Long Branch was brief, and it wasn't long before Simonelli was back east wearing the green and white once more. His second stint as an assistant at Long Branch spanned the 1977 season through the 2011 season and came under five different head coaches - Frank Glazier (1977), Jack Levy (1978-90), Bob Biasi (1991-94), Fred Sprengel (1995-98), and Dan George (1999-2011). Simonelli coached linebackers, tight ends, the secondary, running backs, and was the defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator during his 34 years at Long Branch. The Green Wave won seven Shore Conference division titles during that time frame and captured NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 3 titles in 1986 and 1999. The 1986 team coached by the late, great Jack Levy went 11-0 and is the only Long Branch team to go undefeated during the NJSIAA playoff era (1974-present).
Following the 2011 season, Simonelli began coaching at Ocean Township High School where he is still an assistant under Spartans' head coach Don Klein. Last season, Simonelli was the special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach. During his time at Ocean, he has also coached the linebackers and been the defensive coordinator. The Spartans won division titles in 2013 and 2019 with the 2013 team going 10-1 to become the fourth team in program history with 10 or more wins.
Simonelli was a team co-captain during his playing days at Long Branch before playing collegiately at Widener University in Chester, Pa. He graduated in 1971 after a standout career in which he was a team captain and a three-time all-conference selection. He is a member of both the Long Branch High School Athletic Hall of Fame and the Long Branch High School Academic Hall of Fame. He is a veteran of the Gridiron Classic, as well, having served as an assistant coach five times.
Simonelli has been married to his wife, Rosanna Notaro, for 52 years and together they have two daughters: Jenna and Cara, plus six grandchildren: Joseph, Michael, Anthony, Kayla, James, and Evan.