Members of the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame are those that have made a lasting impact on the school’s sports program as either student players, coaches, or supporters. Often the student players have continued to influence their chosen sports after high school by ongoing participation in athletics.
Leigh Jester. 2012 Inductee
All one has to do is to start reading all of the amazing statistics connected to Leigh Jester’s profile to understand what a high caliber athlete she was both during her Ridgewood High School playing career and during her career at Duke University. But Leigh’s resume goes far deeper than just athletic accomplishments.
As the saying goes champions are made and not born. Leigh Jester knows what work ethic is all about and she took advantage of every opportunity to take the talent she had and magnify it 100 times through hard work, determination, and maximum use of talent.
A four year varsity player in the soccer program at Ridgewood, Leigh had an outstanding career and could have gone to many schools at any divisional level and had an outstanding soccer career. But, her higher level talents were developed in the game of lacrosse. So much so that she ended her career at Ridgewood as an All American and a member of the U19 United States Women’s lacrosse World Cup Championship Team. Only 16 players were selected in the country to participate on that squad and Ridgewood’s Leigh Jester was one of them!
As an RHS soccer player Leigh was a part of two NNJIL Championship teams in 2000 and 2002 . In 2001 her team made it to the state sectional final. Leigh was a Co-captain of the team her senior year and was a true leader by example. During her soccer career at RHS she appeared in 90 varsity matches for the Maroons accumulating a total of 36 goals ( Ranked 14th at RHS all time today) and 38 assists (Ranked 6th All Time at RHS today). She played a variety of positions mainly from the midfield and front runner slots and her accumulated point total of 110 ranks her at #12 today on the RHS all time scoring list. She earned 1st team All NNJIL honors and New Jersey Girls Soccer Coaches Association (NJGSCA) All State recognition both her junior and senior seasons.
RHS Head Women’s Soccer Coach Jeff Yearing describes Leigh’s play as,
technically proficient (she was great on the ball) and tactically advanced. Her ability to read the match and to apply herself on both sides of the ball made her a tremendous all around soccer player. She is the kind of soccer player coaches would love to have at every position, because she understood what had to be done at every position on the field while she was engaged in the competition. She could see the game and could think ahead in regard to the ball movement. This allowed Leigh to put herself in the most advantageous positions offensively or defensively making her one of the most efficient and dangerous players of the field match after match! ! Her vision made our team better by making all the other players around her better!
If that wasn’t enough there was lacrosse!! A four year starter for the lacrosse team starting in the spring of 2000, Leigh’s career seemed to parallel the growth of the women’s lacrosse team at the school. As a freshman Leigh contributed 17 goals and 3 assists to a team that had an overall record of 7 wins and 6 losses. Time was an ally to Leigh who seemed to hit a lacrosse growth spurt between her freshman and sophomore seasons. A first team all league selection Leigh took over as Ridgewood’s leading scorer with 43 goals and 25 assists helping to take the team to a 14 and 4 record. By her junior season Leigh was voted Captain of the team. She was again First Team all league scored 57 goals and had 40 assists while leading the Maroons to their first State Sectional final in women’s lacrosse. She was the team’s MVP for the season while also gaining a Second Team all state slot and Honorable Mention All American honors. Also an Academic All American that season Leigh was selected for the first time to the US Lacrosse Associations U19 24 player training camp.
As Leigh approached her senior season her game grew proportionally with her experience. Her senior season included scoring 67 goals while dishing out 50 assists. The team ended with a 17-4 record while achieving a league championship and the first State Sectional Championship with a thrilling 11-10 victory vs. West Morris Mendham.
Again Leigh achieved First Team all league status and also was named First team all state. She was voted THE RECORD Newspaper player of the year in 2003. She also made the US women’s U19 national team that year and competed in and won the U19 world championship.
Leigh finished her Ridgewood High School lacrosse career with 184 goals, 118 assists for 302 total points. In 2010, THE RECORD newspaper named her the North Jersey Player of the Decade.
Leigh went on to have a fabulous lacrosse career at Duke University. In 2004 she scored 23 goals and had 4 assists for the blue Devils. A member of the ACC All-tournament team she was named to the Division 1 All American Rookie team and was named Duke’s Co-rookie of the year. Beyond Duke Leigh was part of the US Women’s Lacrosse developmental team for 2004 – 2005.
In 2005 she was again named to the ACC All tournament team and also the NCAA All Tournament team. She was also selected to the US lacrosse developmental team again for 2005-06 while gaining recognition on the ACC All-academic honor roll. She finished the season with 38 goals and 13 assists while starting all but one match for the 17-4 Blue Devils
Her junior season showed more scoring with Leigh netting 40 goals and giving 16 assists starting all 21 games for an 18-3 Duke squad. She was voted to the All ACC team, the US lacrosse All American Team and was Dukes Most Valuable Attack Player. She also made the move to the US Women’s Lacrosse Elite team
Her senior season Leigh was voted a pre-season First Team All-American. She lived up to the billing by scoring 40 goals and giving 30 assists helping Duke to a 16- 4 record. She started all 20 games at Attack earning a spot on the All ACC women’s lacrosse team and a place on the US Lacrosse All American team. Again she was selected to play on the US women’s lacrosse Elite team.
Academically, Leigh was excelling at a pace equal to what she was showing on the lacrosse field. She was a Deans List student many times while also being named several; times to the All ACC Academic ream. In 2007 she received the prestigious Waver-James-Corrigan post graduate scholarship award from the ACC for post graduate study.
Her Blue Devil statistics place her among the elite that have played the game at that level with 141 goals for Duke while giving 63 assists. She accumulated 204 points while starting in 80 of 81 career matches for Duke. She currently holds the record for most games started and is tied for 3rd in most games played. She is currently ranked 8th all time in goals scored for Duke and 8th all time in assists. Her point total currently puts her 7th all time in the Duke record books.
When asked who her first choice would be for a women’s lacrosse player to be inducted in to the Ridgewood Athletic Hall would be, current Ridgewood High School coach Karla Mixon immediately answered “Leigh Jester.” There is little doubt that Leigh Jester set the standard that so many Maroon Lacrosse players strive to achieve today.
Upon graduation from Duke, Leigh enrolled at Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) to obtain a Masters Degree in Architecture. Leigh graduated “With Distinction” from SCI-Arc and was one of five students to receive the prestigious “Best Thesis” award. Leigh is currently living in New York, playing Lacrosse for the New York Athletic Club and working for the architecture firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM).
John Marshall, Jim Bruni, Mark Romeo, Jean Hughes, Chris Van Note, Nancy Hogan, RHS Football Team 1913, Don Taylor, Rachel Grygiel, John Cerf, Paul Tornatore, Michele Marangi, RHS Boys’ Lacrosse 1990-92
Craig Halyard, Tom Flatt, Tricia Pappalardo, Mike Henderson, Kandie Latham, Leigh Jester, Tom Dusel, Roger Sweeney, Linda Zabielski, Patty Capasso, Dennis Sullivan, Nick & Dottie Capasso, Track and Field (Bain-Daley-Oliver Era)
Kitty Batterson, Henry Blauvelt, Frank L. Bradley, Jr., Lucia Cancelmo, Chris DuFlocq, Renee DuFlon, RHS Girls’ Basketball 1922-1923, Harry Grundy, Jim Jones, Joe LeMay, Jen McDermott, Shannon McGarrigle, Tony Napier, Margaret Niemann, Vince Robertiello (Jamie Roberts), Damian Ross, Mike Springer
Paul Arrigoni, Pete Campbell, Doug Cook, Becky Deetz, Otis Grendler, Jodi Hartwig, Gene Links, Debbie O’Connell, Aimee McGuire, Walt Perdue, Tom Simos, Kazbek Tambi, Jack Van Yperen, Bob Whitaker, Margaret Scutro