How the George Family has impacted decades of Shore Conference athletics
Do you remember that project you did in school growing up where you had to put together a family tree?
It was a poster board filled with the names of each of your family members and what they did as well as listing what you wanted to do with your life.
The tree was made using markers, crayons, stickers and so forth to make it shine that much more and get some extra credit.
Well the George family tree didn't need that extra sparkle to be colored in, it was there naturally as a family of athletes who played and starred at Long Branch High School for decades and have since played at other schools across Monmouth County.
Some went onto to other coach football or wrestling which a couple of them also played and even became educators and there's a beach manager in the family as well.
Let's take a drive down memory lane.
CHAPTER ONE : THE FOOTBALL YEARS
Our story begins in the 1930's when William George Sr. played as a two-way lineman for Long Branch High School, served as Team Captain and played alongside his brother Walter.
William George Jr. played Fullback and Linebacker in the 1950's under Coach Amedeo "Army" Ippolito (who led LBHS to Central Jersey Group III Titles in 1945, 1951, 1955 and 1956 and the Central Jersey Group IV Title in 1961) and also played baseball.
He was an only child who one day had five children of his own with his wife Mary: William (Bill) III, Danny, Alex, Tommy and Mary who have 17 children between them.
More on the younger George's later.
Bill (Class of 1982), Danny (83), Alex (84) and Tommy (86) followed in their Grandfather and Father's footsteps by playing Green Wave football between 1978 and 1986.
"It was a tremendous sense of pride and tradition in our family," Bill said. "Long Branch High School means a great deal to all of us."
When you have brothers and you all play football at the same time, it doesn't matter what age you are or who's older, when you're in the huddle there's one player who has that opportunity to speak just a little bit more.
"I may be the oldest, but I was never allowed to speak in the huddle, Danny was the quarterback so Alex and I were Offensive Lineman but Alex was the Center so he got to say a little more than I did but as an Offensive Tackle I got to say very little," Bill said.
The Team Captain also had a habit of calling certain audibles at the line of scrimmage including one time in particular that only his brother Alex, who was the Center, knew anything about.
His decision drew questions from his teammates and Head Coach Jack Levy, but Danny delivered.
"We used to run quarterback sneak a lot, and not like on 3rd or 4th and 1, we're talking about 1st down or 2nd down, and I came to the sidelines and Coach Levy said 'why did you run that?' Well Coach, I knew I could get 10 yards'," Danny said. "Everybody else would run the play and I'd tapped Alex on the inside of his leg and he knew we we're going. The guys in the huddle used to get a little pissed and say 'you're supposed to throw the ball!' and I'd say 'Well sorry guys, I got 10 yards'."
Danny describes summer training camp under Coach Levy preparing for an upcoming football season as being physically demanding featuring three practices a day.
"We would sleep on the gym floor with like 50 guys. We got up, had breakfast then ran a mile. We went back, got dressed, we came to practice and we must have hit for six-hours a day...now you can only hit one hour a week," Danny said. "Talk about unity and coming together...you had no choice. By the end of that week, you dragged yourself home but it did teach us about coming together and how important relationships are."
No matter where in life football takes you, the memory of the first time and season you step onto a football field is something you cherish for the rest of your life.
"I can still remember coming onto the field for freshman football practice and meeting guys that would become life long friends and meeting Coach Ed Ray for the first time and Coach Don Coven and Coach Fred Bollina," Alex said.
Playing football with your friends is something you cherish forever but when you can also play with your brothers, there's an indescribable joy that comes with that.
"It was such a tremendous treat to be able to play with these two guys (Billy and Danny) for a year on Varsity football and then Tommy and I were a little more separated but then seeing what that team became...one of the greatest teams in Long Branch history, it's really amazing," Alex said.
Tommy became an impact player for Long Branch at Offensive Guard and Middle Linebacker perhaps in part from the sneak peak of the Green Wave program he got in Middle School.
"Tommy was in the 8th grade when I was a senior and he was the water boy," Bill said. "Tommy was also the only first team All-State out of the George's and one of a few in Long Branch history, and we're really proud of him."
While Bill, Danny, Alex and Tommy all went to Long Branch High School, Mary went to St. Rose High School (1988) where she played basketball and soccer.
She may be the youngest but Mary was just as competitive as her brothers growing up.
"My Dad was a former Physical Education teacher and he would occasionally go downstairs and bring up boxing gloves and we would have little boxing matches in the backyard," Alex said. "It then got to the point where Mary was still involved and nobody wanted to get punched by Mary because that was going to hurt. Everybody else knew how to do it but Mary...was a fierce competitor, those are the two words that best describe Mary."
CHAPTER TWO: FAMILY VALUES AND EDUCATION
Bill, Danny, Alex and Tommy all went from football in the fall to wrestling in the winter at Long Branch High School.
Following high school, Bill went on to play football at Michigan State while earning his undergraduate degree before going to Ohio State for his Masters where he worked in the Buckeyes football program.
Danny, who won a District Title in 1983 at 155 pounds, and Alex both went to Ohio State where they wrestled (Danny all 4-years and Alex 1-year) and Danny became the Captain as well for two-years.
Tommy went to the University of Maryland where he played football.
While being on the football and wrestling teams were a big part of who Bill, Danny, Alex and Tommy were, it was an education first mantra from their parents that made them who they are today.
"Sports for us, wasn't about football and it wasn't about wrestling, and we all played football and we're all proud of the football tradition here in Long Branch, but with my parents it was always about education and we were always students first," Bill said. "That education provided life lessons on this football field and on the wrestling mat...humility, work ethic, dealing with failure, overcoming failure."
Their father continued to encourage and help guide the siblings on how to be successful and achieve big goals.
"It was our Dad that always pushed, pushed, pushed...not taking us to practice, he could care less what we did after school, if we lifted weights...he knew that we responsible enough to do what we needed to do but I think his greatest quality was his toughness and how he instilled a sense of toughness in us," Danny said. "He didn't think there was any other way but the highest level way. We all went as walk-ons. We could have had opportunities at possibly smaller schools and had great careers there but he was like take a shot, take a shot, take a shot."
He was an accounting major at Ohio State University and later earned two Master's degrees from Monmouth University in education and administration.
Danny was also a Special Education Math teacher at Long Branch High School.
CHAPTER THREE: COACHING
Bill, Danny and Alex all went into coaching after their playing days.
Bill spent time as an assistant football coach at Red Bank Regional High School and as the head wrestling coach at Long Branch High School.
Alex was the head freshman football coach at Manchester High School where he also coached wrestling.
Danny is heading into his 21st season coaching Green Wave football and 22nd as the head wrestling coach.
He has also been the high school Track and Field Head Coach for 18-years.
For Danny, coaching two and three sports meant spending a lot of time at the field.
That's a tough challenge but he's been able to tackle the schedule crunch with his wife Lisa.
"I had the support from Lisa who drove everybody everywhere, did everything for so many years. With football back to wrestling back to track, you're literally almost everyday out, every holiday out, so you're missing things, but I always had Lisa," Danny said.
Danny had to tackle another schedule crunch 27-years ago while coaching wrestling at Red Bank Regional.
It was the day Danny Jr. was born and born early at just 23-weeks.
He weighed one pound, one ounce.
His Dad says he is one of the most premature babies ever born at Monmouth Medical Center.
At the same time, Danny discovered that the delivery doctor had a connection to the wrestling team he was coaching at Red Bank.
"So, I meet the doctor, we go through it and basically you have a less than 10-percent chance of making it and we're there and everybody's in the room, we're not with Danny," Danny said. "Now, I have a wrestling match at Neptune in the afternoon...Lisa says, 'you gotta go to the wrestling match' so I went and coached the wrestling match that day and came back. After another week or two, I learned that I'm coaching the doctors son at Red Bank Regional. So I coached his two boys at Red Bank. It's just a small fraternity of people that you meet as you grow."
There are many life lessons and strategies Danny has passed onto to the athletes he's coached over the years including how to compete.
"It's getting up every morning, eating the right foods that you need to eat, feeding your brain, going to class, being competitive in the classroom because all of your goals are going to have to be met with being competitive in the classroom and then coming to practice and being competitive at practice in order for us to become better as a team and then when the whistle blows and they kick it off, now you have to go."
Sports have a way of teaching us important life lessons above the game we play that help us build relationships, develop a hard work ethic and find humility in everything we do.
"You have to be selfless, you have to put the goals of your organization and of this team above your individual goals," Bill said. "It's never been about stats or individual performance, at the end of the day it's about accomplishing the goals of the team."
CHAPTER FOUR: THE NEXT GENERATION
The lessons in life and sports that Bill, Danny, Alex, Tommy and Mary learned from their parents and grandparents are what they have passed on over the years to their children.
Bill and his wife Helen's son William George IV (Billy) is their oldest at 29-years old and played football and wrestled for his Uncle Danny at Long Branch High School before going to Cornell where he wrestled for four-years. Billy the 4th is now an assistant wrestling coach at Rumson Fair-Haven High School.
Jake also wrestled for his Uncle Danny at Long Branch High School and ran Cross-Country before going to Cornell where he wrested as well.
Sarah was a star Lacrosse player at Shore Regional High School and recently graduated from Ohio State where she continued that sport.
"She had a big start against Notre Dame when they were ranked number 2 in the country," Bill said.
Mary-Kate also played Lacrosse at Shore Regional High School and then went to Ohio State where she is currently a sophomore.
"I got to see them both (Sarah and Mary-Kate) play Stony Brook which I think at that time was ranked number 1 in the country," Bill said. "Having four kids that have gone onto college athletics has been a lot of fun for my wife Helen and I."
Danny George Jr. is Danny and Lisa's oldest son at 27-years old and has been the team manager for the Long Branch High School football team working alongside his Dad on the football field, on the wrestling team and at the beach where Danny Sr. has been the Beach Manager since 2007.
Nicholas wrested in high school (2010-13) and then played football his senior year, "which was awesome, because he was such a littler guy in high school but came out his senior year and had a great experience."
Nicholas went on to wrestle at Roger Williams University then onto the R.O.T.C. and is currently in his 4th year as a 1st Lieutenant of the 82nd Airborne Division. He's currently being transferred to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
Abigail, who was a standout Soccer and Lacrosse player at Red Bank Catholic, is now a sophomore at Coastal Carolina where she is a scholarship Lacrosse player.
Alex and his wife Debbie have three children.
Ellie is going to be a junior at the University of South Carolina where she is studying public health and going into pre-med.
Prior to that, Ellie was a swimmer at Shore Regional High School.
Sophie played Lacrosse in high school with her cousins Mary-Kate and Holly at Shore Regional.
"They had some great times together," Alex said.
Sophie graduated and is taking a gap year before moving onto college.
Alex Jr. is going to be a freshman at Shore Regional High School where he'll be playing football, basketball and lacrosse.
Tommy and his wife Patrice's oldest child Tommy Jr. won a State Sectional Title as a runner at Shore Regional High School and currently owns a Surf Board company where he makes surfboards.
Holly played Lacrosse with Mary-Kate at Shore Regional High School before graduating this year and is currently attending the University of Delaware.
Summer is in elementary school.
Mary and her husband Jamie Mazzacco have four children.
Their daughter Carolyn played soccer, went to Shore Regional High School and is currently a swimmer at The College of New Jersey.
Jamie currently plays football, lacrosse and wrestles at Shore Regional High School.
Katie plays lacrosse and is a swimmer at Shore Regional High School.
John is in elementary school in Monmouth Beach but has played football, soccer and swims.
CHAPTER FIVE: WHERE ARE THEY KNOW?
When the playing days were done and they had graduated from college Bill, Danny, Alex and Mary all went into education following in the footsteps of their parents, who were both teachers.
Their Father William played football at Murray State before becoming a Special Education and Drivers Education teacher at Matawan High School and in 1972 he joined Waterford Crystal and Wedgewood China of North America where he later became the CEO. He also ran for mayor of Long Branch in 1990.
He had plans on returning to coach freshman football but it sadly didn't take place.
William Jr. tragically passed away in 1992 from a heart attack at the age of 51, but he is still very much alive today through his children, grandchildren and everyone impacted by what he did in the classroom, business world, football field and above all what he did in raising a family.
Their Mother Mary was an English Teacher at Shore Regional High School and she also remains a member of the Long Branch High School football team's booster club to this day.
Bill has spent his entire career in education, going from an elementary school Physical Education and Health Teacher in Little Silver to Long Branch High School where he was also a wrestling coach before becoming an Assistant Principal at Long Branch Middle School, the Principal at Monmouth Regional High School, then Assistant then Superintendent of schools in Hazlet.
Following nine years as Superintendent of the Middletown School District and 33 years to date in public education, Dr. William (Bill) George III retired on August 31st and will be continuing his educational career as a College Professor at Monmouth University.
Danny went from working in accounting for Price Waterhouse to working in education.
He is now heading into his 21st season as the Head Football Coach at Long Branch High School where he's won 3 State Sectional Championships and has 159 career wins heading into the 2020 season.
Danny surpassed 400 wins as a Wrestling coach in 2018 from his time at Long Branch combined with the nine years prior to that at Red Bank. He's also won three NJSIAA Group 2 championships, six NJSIAA sectional titles and eight division championships.
The 2009 Long Branch High School Wrestling team was ranked No. 1 in New Jersey.
In addition to coaching football, wrestling and track Danny also currently works in the Long Branch Athletic Department office as the Officer of Student Affairs and for 13-years he has been the Beach Manager for the City of Long Branch.
Danny's football, wrestling and track teams at Long Branch High School have combined to win 16-division titles and 8 state championships earning him Coach of the Year honors 22 times.
That all led to Danny being inducted into the Long Branch High School Athletic Hall of Fame, the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Fame.
Alex worked for Esquire Magazine in advertising sales before heading into education.
He became an English and Journalism teacher in Manchester where he also oversaw the school newspaper and yearbook. He remained in sports for a while as well, coaching wrestling and freshman football at the home of the Hawks for 10-years.
Alex has been working in the Manchester School District for 24-years and is currently the Director of Administrative Services.
Tommy followed in his father's business path by going into the Crystal and Insurance business even running his own, Thomas James Crystal.
After graduating St. Rose High School in 1988, Mary went onto Ohio State before later graduating from Monmouth University and is currently a 5th grade teacher in Long Branch.
Her husband Jamie graduated from Red Bank in 1988 and played football for Mary's brother Bill and then went on to play football at Trenton State and is currently in the mortgage business.
As they reflect on the days of playing, coaching and teaching, Bill, Danny and Alex are drawn back to their roots which helped them grow to who they are today.
"My mother was an academician and she is one of the smartest people that I've ever met," Billy said. "I aspired to knowledge at the level she had. My Dad's passion and work ethic...I aspired to be like that as well and his ability to communicate and talk with people was all part of a journey of growth that I got here in Long Branch and I got through athletics and academics. I think we took the success that we had and we wanted others to feel that."
One of the things that means the most to Danny is having players he coached come back to be on the sidelines with him and share the experiences they had before, during and after each and every game.
"They are memories that are lifetime experiences but I really think that when we talk and when those guys listen and read (about us) I just want them to remember Pre-Game, Game, Post-Game...they were the things that are the blueprint for life."
Our families extend past our bloodlines to also include those we line up with on the athletic field.
"Our Dad was an only child and I think that the one thing he wanted to do in life...his family was everybody around him, so his family was ginormous because it was the football team at Long Branch High School, the basketball team, the baseball team and I think that's the way he went about his life and created this ginormous family outside of the five of us and he created such a tight bond an unity there but I think each of us also now has that circle of friends that we've all had an opportunity to meet along the way," Alex said.
They've accomplished a great deal on the athletic fields as players and coaches and those experiences are filled with cherished memories but when you remember the George family, know their kindness, humility, that education is important and family means everything.
Here is Bonus George Family Photos as well as content from the Shore Sports Network: