Bateman served as head football coach at Rutgers from 1960-72, and compiled a record of 73-51. In his first season at the helm, he guided the 1960 Scarlet Knights to an 8-1 record. The following season, Rutgers put together its first undefeated season, coming from 25 points behind to defeat Columbia 31-19 in the season finale.
The impact he had on his players extended far beyond wins and losses. The award is sponsored by the Dr. John F. Bateman Foundation, a group of his former players. The foundation honors a New Jersey high school football coach who best exemplifies Bateman’s ideals of developing players’ character and academic competence along with academic skills. A committee of Bateman’s former players selects the recipient of the Bateman Award.
Alex Kroll, a 1961 first-team All-American center at Rutgers, who has been inducted into both the Rutgers Football and the National College Football Halls of Fame, is a committee member for the Bateman Award.
“Our committee, made up of men who played or worked with Dr. John Bateman when he coached at Rutgers, believe that a great football coach does more than win football games,” said Kroll. “He helps his players win throughout their lives. He can be a mentor, teacher, role model and part-time father. Dr. Bateman was a great role model himself. Football, to him was a way of enhancing a young man’s education, while it strengthened his character and capacity to contribute to the community. When he passed away in 1998, we decided that the best way to honor his memory was to honor coaches who bring his principles to life.”
Jim Horner is just such a man. Horner, who is in his first season as the Rutgers football team chaplain, amassed a football coaching record of 194-91-12 over a nearly-40-year career. A 1961 graduate of Rutgers, Horner was an outstanding guard on the 1958, 1959 & 1960 football tams. The combined record of those three teams was 22-5. Following his 1961 graduation from Rutgers, Horner, who was also a standout heavyweight wrestler for the Scarlet Knights, began his coaching career. His first coaching stop was at North Burlington Regional High School (1961-64), he then moved on to South Hunterdon Regional HS (1964-66) and from there he went to Jonathan Dayton Regional HS (1966-69).
In 1969, Horner embarked on the part of his career for which he is most remembered, building championship football programs at three different South Jersey high schools – Haddon Heights (1969-75), Cherokee (1975-92) and Haddonfield Memorial HS (1995-2002). All three of these schools had limited success or non-winning seasons prior to Horner’s arrival. His greatest success was achieved at Cherokee, where he led his teams to a 108-25-6 record, three state titles (1981, 1982, 1985) and eight conference championships. His 1985 team was voted the second-best team in the past century and honored as “Team of the Decade” by The Philadelphia Inquirer.
At Haddonfield, he guided his team to its first championship in more than 25 years and restored a winning tradition to a team that did not have a winning season in the 10 years prior to his arrival. Horner, who also coached wrestling throughout his career, is a member of the NJ Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the South Jersey Football Coaches Hall of Fame, the South Jersey Wrestling Hall of Fame, the Paulsboro High School Hall of Fame and the Haddon Heights High School Hall of Fame.
In addition to building winning programs on the football field, Horner has been a builder of character and values in enhancing the personal lives of the many young men people he has come into contact with off the field. Horner is actively involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and has been involved in many FCA programs in the United States and abroad. He has worked with young adults among several Native American groups, and programs in England, Africa and Haiti as well as local schools in helping to develop character and leadership skills.
Previous Winners for Life Award Winners
1999 Pierce Frauenheim Immaculata HS
2000 Warren Wolf Brick Township HS
2001 Frank Bottone New Providence HS