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.
Phil Ross Sr. 2020 Inductee
If you played a youth sport in Ridgewood, New Jersey in the 1970s or 1980s, there was a good chance that you were coached by the preeminent youth sports coach of that era Mr. Phil Ross Sr. If you were not directly coached by Phil there is a good chance that either you or your parents were sure to have come under his influence in some way.
Phil was raised in Paterson, New Jersey and graduated from Eastside High School where he was the captain of the “Ghosts” State Championship football team his junior and senior year. He graduated Eastside in 1957 and went on to Rutgers University, where he earned a degree in Mathematics. In 1969 Phil brought his family (wife Patricia and children Phil Jr., Kathi and Damian) to settle in Ridgewood.
In 1972 he signed up his son Phil Jr. to play Jr. Football and the die was cast. He volunteered his services as a youth coach in the program and from that point on Phil Sr. never looked back. His youth coaching career would last another 25 years. He would go on to coach Jr. Football for the next 18 years and be President of the Ridgewood Jr. Football program for ten years. But, Coach Ross was just getting started.
You would see him on the sideline of whatever sport his children were involved in wearing his coaches hat, but then one day his son Phil decided to go out for the schools freshman wrestling team. This was an event that would throw Coach Ross into a new athletic environment that he was not familiar with. He never wrestled mainly because Eastside did not have a wrestling program while he attended there. Coach Ross was certain there must be a youth program in the village, but he found there was no such thing. Since this seemed to be an area of neglect in a very rich community athletic environment, Phil took it upon himself to begin what is now the Ridgewood Junior Wrestling Program. His founding of the program introduced hundreds if not thousands of Ridgewood boys and girls to the sport over the 25 years he served as a coach and president of the organization.
Coach Ross began to study anything he could get his hands on about the sport and recruited his son Phil Jr. and other Ridgewood High School wrestlers to help teach the youth wrestlers in his program. The program grew tremendously through Coach Ross’s organizational skills and through his ability to recruit other wrestling alumni and fathers to help through volunteering their time.
Phil’s sons went on to be outstanding athletes in football and wrestling in their own right, while his daughter excelled in dance. All three are examples of those values of hard work and perseverance that were so instrumental to Phil’s own success in whatever sport or endeavor he was involved with. Phil also served as President of the Ridgewood High School Football Scholarship Committee.
Today, the Phil Ross Award is given to the RHS senior wrestler who participated in the Ridgewood Jr. Wrestling Program as a youth and through their participation in wrestling exemplified the ideals and values that Coach Ross held and demonstrated throughout his life.
Phil Ross loved Ridgewood and over the decades coached thousands of kids. He believed strongly in staying in town, and playing with your friends for your home team. He loved the tradition of Ridgewood and dedicated his life to building it. We welcome him posthumously to the RHS Athletic Hall Of Fame.
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