PISCATAWAY, NJ – At halftime of the Rutgers-New Hampshire game on Sat., Sept. 11 legendary high school football coach of Victor Paternostro of Pope John XXIII in Sparta will receive the sixth annual John Bateman “Winners for Life” Award, named after former Rutgers head football coach Dr. John F. Bateman.
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.”
Paternostro, who is also the Vice Principal at Pope John, embodies everything that John Bateman stood for as it relates to coaching young people in the game of football. Paternostro is a graduate of Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington, where he was captain of the football, wrestling and baseball teams. He is also a graduate of Admiral Farragut High School, class of 1963, where he was named All-State in football and baseball and finished second in the state in wrestling.
He attended Notre Dame on a football scholarship, where he graduated in 1967
with a B.S. in Business. He earned a master’s degree from Fordham University
in Administration and Supervision. A math teacher at Pope John since 1967,
he has been in administration since 1978.
Paternostro is an institution at Pope John, where he has served as head football coach since 1968. Paternostro eclipsed the 300-win plateau in 2002 and his football coaching record stands at 310-55-5. A member of the Sussex County Hall of Fame, Admiral Farragut Hall of Fame and Queen of Peace Hall of Fame, Paternostro was named “Coach of the Year” by the NJ Coaches Association, the New Jersey Herald, the Record and The Star-Ledger. Paternostro has coached 20 state championship teams at Pope John, has been to the state finals seven times and has led his teams to 14 SCIL Championships.
Complications from hip replacement surgery have not detained Coach Paternostro from continuing his teaching and coaching duties. The dedication and determination to be with his players has been an inspiration to the young men and women he sees every day. He often gets around the practice field on a golf cart instructing his players and coaches and giving them all the encouragement he can. The results continue to show on the game field.
“ I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Paternostro. “These young people mean very much to me. Teaching and coaching them has always been an inspiration to me and I hope that I have also inspired them to reach greater heights in their lives.”
Previous Winners for Life Award Winners
1999 Pierce Frauenheim Immaculata HS
2000 Warren Wolf Brick Township HS
2001 Frank Bottone New Providence HS
2002 Jim Horner Haddonfield HS
2003 Donald Smolyn Lenape Valley HS