Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ex Northern NJ Star Gone

Great Person Gone

Today as we all are caught up in March Madness and thinking about the great players past and present from NYC, NJ, Pa. and Conn. I want to take just a little bit of time to salute one of the nicest families and best players I saw in Bergen County. I am talking about Mark Fizulich, who left us for a better place and just had a funeral.

Mark and his family will always be super special to me because of what they represented. They lived in Bergenfield NJ, the town next to where my family resided which was Teaneck, NJ. Oddly the first time I watched him play as a sophomore at Bergen Catholic, I knew he was special in more ways than one. He just was a natural leader and a GREAT PERSON! Believe it or not, O looked at my JHS Son at the time and said, I hope you turn out like that kid.

At that time mark attended Bergen Catholic HS, a place most non Bergen catholic people hated. They never had Black players and did not seem interested in getting any. But this kid and his teammates were not color conscious and even aware who was on the team. They just played basketball.

During that summer I ran into Mark and his family and we hit it off wonderfully. They even tried to get me to send my son to Bergen catholic. Of course I did not because he did not even like basketball that much despite being pretty tall, and plus he was going to play at Teaneck if he played anywhere. But I did continue to follow Mark and became one of his biggest cheerleaders. He was smoooooooth on the court. In fact he was one of the people who did inspire my son to finally play basketball and take it serious. He showed my son by example. We even worked out together and he was a VERY HARD WORKER!

When it came time for him to pick a college, I felt he was over looked by many local D1 schools where he could have played. He did not wait and chose St. Michael's in Vermont, a GREAT SCHOOL with basketball tradition. From what I recently found out, he did the right thing and had a great career going for himself.

I write this piece on Mark because he made such an impact on me and my son. He was what we never expected from a Bergen Catholic kid. His parents were warm and friendly all the time. Just special people. I actually cried when I read about him in the Bergen Record. I was even tempted to get my son off the set he was working on and venture to LI for the funeral. He meant that much to us. Sadly I lost contact with him and his family over the years, especially when I was a stupid over the top parent with no sense who just happened to have a recruited son playing HS basketball. I really wish I could have told Matt what he meant to us and how much My son admired him.

Rest in peace Mark knowing you left your mark on many of us.

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