Pascack Valley High School “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire”
Jasper’s journey: from soldier to teacher Madison Gallo Editor in Chief
In the middle of a torrential rainstorm, in the midst of an artillery fight in Mekong Delta, Vietnam, 23 year old Jeff Jasper was thigh deep in standing water leading a company of men. All around him, tracer rounds and artillery shells were going off. During a lull in the fight, hidden under a poncho, he lit up a Marlboro cigarette. It was in this moment that he says he had an epiphany. “When I get out of here I want to do something that will make a difference. I want to teach and and I want to coach,” recalled Jasper, who just won his 1,000th win with the Pascack Valley girls basketball team. Serving in the military as an Infantry Airborne Lieutenant from 1969 to 1970 laid the foundation for Jasper’s teaching and coaching career at Pascack Valley. Jasper was against the war and had considered fleeing to Canada to dodge the draft. However, his father Walt, a World War II veteran, helped in convincing him otherwise. Continuted on page 6 Photo by Curstine Guevarra
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Love and basketball The courting of the Jaspers Madison Gallo Editor in Chief
Love at first sight When Lois Jasper was asked to do a favor for one of her coworkers, she did not expect the unusual twist that it would take. “One of the women I taught with had a crush on [Jeff Jasper], so she asked me if I could deliver this note to him, and I said yes and delivered it,” Lois said. “When I met him, it was every man for himself at that point.”
another. Lois said that the airlines had been on strike at the time, so a lot of young men who were pilots were substitute teachers and “you did not think anything of it.” Since Jeff started teaching in the middle of the year, Lois said she wouldn’t have been able to tell him apart from the male substitutes. “We weren’t kids when we met; I was 24 and he was 25,” Lois said.
‘definitely,’” Lois said. “It was good right from the beginning.” Lois says she “knows more basketball today than when she first started” but she believes Jeff thinks she knows more than she does. However, she did say that “he has taught her a great deal and she asks him a lot of questions.” Nowadays, Lois says she is more like the “den mother” of the team. She goes to every summer game and says she is the only basketball wife she can immediately think of to attend all of these games. “One time, I couldn’t get to a summer league game because I was babysitting one of our grandkids and people were going up to my husband to ask if I was alright the entire time,” Lois said. Lois says that her and her husband “have been blessed” with the parents of the players on team. She added that some have even grown to be their best friends. Through thick and thin Lois and Jeff both say they make each other laugh. “My favorite thing about him is that he makes me laugh all the time, and I make him laugh too. We probably laugh more than any couple I’ve ever met,” Lois said. They described each other to be some of the kindest people they’ve ever met. “One time when we were first dating, we were driving to a restaurant in Newark and there was a car on the side of the road with the hood up. He
started to pull over and I asked him what he was doing because we were in an unfamiliar area and didn’t know these people,” Lois said. Jasper told her “If you see somebody and they need help, you give them help.” “We are married 45 years so there a lot of memories and almost all of them are good memories; we’ve had a really good life,” Lois said. One of their favorite things to do together is travel. “He was gone for six weeks in Israel teaching sports camps. I thought it would be a good idea if we met in western Europe and spent three weeks with our kids travelling all over Europe,” Jasper said. They both say that the most difficult time they’ve had together was nine years ago in 2009 when Lois was diagnosed with lymphoma. “It was more tough on him than on me I think,” Lois said. “We were both working in the same district and people would always ask about it. He became a better listener because he always wanted to make sure he was conveying the right message.” Lois is now cancer free. “After I was sick and got well, I planned a trip of a lifetime,” Lois said. “I have been well so we have had several trips of a lifetime.” Since they worked together for so many years, many of their friends are connected that way. “We tell stories to this day and the other person really understands because we each know the people we are talking about,” Lois said. Photo by Curstine Guevarra
Jeff Jasper shakes Brianna Wong’s hand the day of a game. This is one of his many superstitions. Contributed by Lois Jasper
Jeff Jasper carries his bride, Lois Jasper, on their wedding day on March 5, 1972. They have been married for almost 46 years. Jasper said it was “pretty cool for that time” that Lois had asked him out. “I am a feminist, and obviously she was too, so it was great for me,” Jasper said. “She was not waiting in line for me to come crawling to her since I was clueless as usual.” Their first date took place at the closing show of a musical that Lois directed for Pascack Valley. She had asked him to accompany her as her date. When he was at his friends house, the day after the date, Jasper noticed Lois left her bouquet of flowers in the back of his car. “I was at my best friend Doug Gifford’s house and I was leaving,” Jeff said. “He asked me where I was going, and I said, ‘I am going to return these flowers to the girl I am going to marry.’” They were married nine months later and have been together since. Lois started working at PV as a business teacher in 1968 and Jeff as an English teacher in 1971. Coincidentally, they taught in the classrooms next to each other for months before ever meeting one
“There was something adventurous about him and even though he had just come back from Vietnam, he had long hair and this big mustache. He was smart, good looking, and funny — it was a no brainer.” Power couple Jeff and Lois coached alongside each other for the first two seasons of PV’s girls basketball program, from 1973 until 1975. Like Jeff, she too grew up loving and playing basketball. She played intramurals in school and played “the old way,” in which you were either a guard or a forward and you never passed the center line. She was assistant coach for two years until, “the game got beyond her.” “Like most people, I’m watching the ball. Meanwhile, he’s watching 10 players on the court — He has an ability to see the whole picture and break it down,” Lois said. “It’s the only area of his life where he’s able to do that.” “When the position opened up and he was only supposed to take it as a temporary thing he said he was thinking about keeping it and I said
Created by Kayla Barry
Both Jasper and his players have certain superstitions they follow to ensure a successful game and a successful season.
A Jasper family legacy
For the Jaspers, basketball is a family affair
THE SMOKE SIGNAL EDITORIAL BOARD Editors in Chief: Lauren Cohen Madison Gallo Managing Editor: Kayla Barry Staff Editors: Allison Botwinick Rachel Cohen Rachel Powell Sarah Schmoyer Sports Editors: Josh DeLuca Noah Schwartz Photo Editor: Curstine Guevarra Assistant Photo Editors: David Harnett Molly Heintze
Lauren Cohen Editor in Chief When the girls basketball team won the 2017 state championship game last winter, Jeff Jasper embraced his son Justin in a bear hug. This is Justin’s favorite memory of coaching with his father. Similarly, Jeff’s favorite aspect of having his son coach with him is “when I hug him.” Head coach of the Pascack Valley girls basketball team and history teacher Jeff Jasper works with his son and assistant coach Justin Jasper on the court. With similar appearances and personalities, it is apparent that Jeff and his son are alike in more ways than one. “He’s a figure that demands and commands respect, but he’s also so real and caring and I think players grab onto that sincerity,” Justin said of Jeff. “He’s just a master at solidifying relationships and making people feel that they play a part and they are important.” Jeff said the same about his son. When Justin was younger, he made people feel that they were the most important person in the room. “Justin is a people person,” he said. “He’s just a natural when it comes to relating to people, especially kids.” Justin, who is the vice principal at Holdrum Middle School in River Vale, grew up in Hillsdale and played on the PV boys basketball team while in high school. During college, he played on intramural teams as a student at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. He can barely remember a time in his life when he was not playing basketball. “My brothers and I have been on the court pretty much since birth,” Justin said. “I started to play basketball pretty early on.” Practice makes perfect Justin coached the PV junior varsity boys basketball team for the 2000 and 2001 seasons and the Pascack Hills freshman boys basketball team for four seasons beginning in 2011. This is currently his second season
Photo by Curstine Guevarra
(From left) Justin, Charlie, Jack, and Jeff Jasper attend a Pascack Valley girls basketball game. Jeff had coached Justin while he was growing up and now Justin coaches with Jeff, often bringing his sons Jack and Charlie along to practices and games. as the assistant coach for the PV girls basketball team. He began to coach with his father last year after Doug Goodman, the previous assistant coach, resigned. “It was kind of a no-brainer,” Justin said of his decision to coach with Jeff. Justin enjoys working with his father, which he said is “definitely a learning experience.” He said that Jeff’s coaching style is unique. As a former basketball player himself and someone who has been to other practices and played for other coaches, he said that the way his father structures practices is rare. “He is first and foremost a teacher so just seeing the way he goes about teaching the game is very different than anybody I have ever seen,” he said. “He is very based on fundamentals and things that other coaches may take for granted. He makes sure that the players know how to master them before they move on.” Instead of having plays, Jeff teaches his players drills based on game situations and skills which they can then use in games. “You look to a fan in the stands that notices a skill the team is really good at,” Justin said. “Well, that skill has been practiced over and over and over again in many different ways by many different players.” Justin has said that he admires the way his father approaches coaching. “The way he breaks things down that in the game look like they just happen, there’s a method to that,” he said. “To see how he teaches the game is very impressive.” Justin had only praise for the girls on the team. “It’s a very special team in a lot of ways and the kids are all top-notch,” he said. “They are not only just talented but they are extremely hardworking.”
In addition to working hard, both the coaches and the team like to have fun, and Justin likes being a part of that. “It’s great to see the kids’ reactions to his shtick- to how he teaches, how he coaches, how he goofs around,” Justin said. Coach vs. father While Justin and his brothers, Geremy and Gavin, were growing up, Jeff coached them in multiple sports, such as Little League baseball and recreational basketball. In addition, there was a two-week stretch in the early 1990s in which Jeff was both the girls and boys basketball coach while Justin was a PV student. Therefore, he coached his son for a brief period of time in high school as well. Justin liked having his father as a coach and said he was “always a great coach to me.” A self-described “pretty intense Continued on Page 7
Advisor: Mr. Bill Rawson Principal: Mr. Tom DeMaio The Smoke Signal welcomes input from all members of the Pascack Valley High School community. Please contact Lauren Cohen (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Madison Gallo (galloma@ pascack.org). Since the Smoke Signal is the voice of the student body of Pascack Valley High School, opinions expressed in this newspaper do not necessarily reflect those of other Pascack Valley students, teachers, administrators, or the Board of Education. Articles are often reproductions that first appeared online and were deemed accurate at the time of the original publication.
Contributed by Lois Jasper
Gavin (left), Justin, and Geremy Jasper were early fans of the Pascack Valley girls basketball team. Today, Justin coaches the team alongside his father, head coach Jeff Jasper.
National 1,000 Win Basketball Coaches NAME
Caddo Gap, Fountain Lake, Lake Hamilton Huntsville
Boys and Girls
Amasssed 1,474 combined wins at three different schools from 19562003.
Currently in his 57th year of coaching, the 83-year-old was the 2007 National Coach of the Year.
C.B. “Cotton” Havener Morgan Gilbert
Boys and Girls
Coached boys and girls teams to a combined 1,556 wins from 1945-87.
Also reached the 1,000-win milestone as a baseball coach.
Coached from 1952-1986 and compiled a record of 1,063-122 (89.7 win percentage).
Huntsville has 1,000-win coaches at the helm of both its boys and girls programs (Stafford and Charles Berry).
John R. Wyatt, Jr.
Boys and Girls
Accumulated 1,136 wins and won three state titles (two with the girls program, one with the boys).
Only had 85 losses when he won his 1,000th in 2014; Captured 11 state titles and coached the MaxPreps top-ranked team in the country for the 2013-14 season.
Boys and Girls
Had 29 seasons of 20 wins or more en route to 1,372 career wins over 53 years before retiring in 2011.
The 2000 Women’s Basketball Hall inductee of Fame inductee has a career record of 1,024-186 with seven state titles. Marshall was one of the schools featured in the classic basketball documentary “Hoop Dreams.”
Reached 1,000 wins during the 2016-17 season. He coached NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas and appears prominently in the classic basketball documentary “Hoop Dreams.”
Won the Basketball Hall of Fame’s Morgan Wootten Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, retired in 2014 with a 1,009-252 record.
Was the winningest high school basketball coach at the time when he retired in 1970 with a 1,026-353 record.
Southern Lab, Lake Providence, G.W. Griffith
Put together 39 winning seasons and won 12 state titles from 1965-2008.
Legendary coach owns 1,274-192 career record from 1957-2002 at the legendary Washington, D.C. area basketball powerhouse. The top national high school coaching award bears his name.
Career record of 1,012-428 from 1961-2014. Starting this season, Minnesota will start recognizing the state’s top senior player with the McDonald Award.
Madison Ridgeland Academy
Reached the milestone in December of 2016 and has averaged 28 wins per season in his 35 years of coaching.
Combined boys/girls record is 1,697-860. His son Jonathan took over the boys team from him at Ingomar when he retired in 2012.
Boys and Girls
Finished his career with a 1,001-497 mark from 1962-1994; was inducted posthumously into the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame last March.
Boys and Girls
Won his 1,000th game on Jan. 11, 2016.
Boys and Girls
Had remarkably similar success with both the boys (536-129) and girls (556-67) programs.
Bobby Hurley Sr.
One of the most decorated high school coaches of all time, he led St. Anthony to 28 state championships and compiled a 1,184-125 record before the school closed its doors last year.
Jasper says the team spiritwear is never the school colors of green and white because he picked the wrong color the first year due to his colorblindness and they have never switched back.
Coaching from 1949-1998, the 2005 New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame inductee won 12 state titles and owns a 1,122-291 career mark.
Greensboro Day School
He’s won state titles just under 25 percent of the time he’s been coaching 9 state championship games. The Greensboro Bengals have also won 25 conference championships under Johnson.
She coached the Byng High School girls team in Byng, Oklahoma for 42 years with a career record of 1,157-115. She is a member of every basketball hall of fame for which she is eligible for.
Compiled a 1,001-307 record and won 20 games in 31 of his 37 seasons, including eight 30-win seasons, before stepping down after the 2012-13 season.
Memphis University School
Won 1,001 games in 52 years at the helm before stepping away after the 2011-12 season.
One of the few active coaches on the list, he has coached Clarkrange, which owns 39 straight winning seasons, since 1976. His 1,000th came in December 2011.
Charleston, Bradley Central
Won 1,217 games from 1949-1994. Led his team to five state titles and mythical national titles in 1975 and 1976.
Walter Van Huss
Hampton, Kingsport Dobbyns-Bennett
Did not start coaching until he was 35 years old but still compiled a 1,021-313 mark in 37 years at the helm (1953-1990).
Gustine, Comanche, Corpus Christi Calallen, Granbury
She led her teams to 16 state final four appearances and was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Mont Belvieu Barbers Hills, Donna, Lyford, Uvalde, Edcouch-Elsa
Coached from 1965-2012 and 2015-2017 and compiled a record of 1,004-475.
Pflugerville, Sweeny, Dripping Texas Springs, Marble Falls Faith Academy
Coached from 1969-2000 and 2005-2017 and had a record of 1,227-261 (78.73% win percentage).
Still an active coach in his 50th season, he recorded his 1,000th win on Feb. 10, 2017.
Robert Hughes Sr.
Paul Laurence Dunbar HS
His teams won 1,333 games and five state titles in 47 seasons. He was the nationâ€™s all-time wins leader when he retired in 2005.
The All USA-Basketball coach was inducted in the Womenâ€™s Basketball High School Hall of Fame in 2016. He won 13 state titles with a 1,261117 career record.
His team won 34 district championships, with 24 regional appearances, three regional titles, three state appearances, and two state runner-ups.
Clear Lake HS
Stepped down in 1996 after 38 seasons and 1,096 wins, the most in the nation at that time.
Oak Hill Academy
Was named USA Today National Coach of the Year four times and notched his 1,000th win on Dec. 29, 2015.
The list of coaches with 1,000 wins was compiled by Trey Herenda, Jake Lutz, Richard Lutz, Erik Mannino, Jake Lutz, and Matthew Ricciardi who placed phone calls to prominent newspapers, basketball halls of fame, and high school sports governing bodies in all 50 states and conducted extensive Internet research. The Smoke Signal believes this to be the most comprehensive list ever assembled.
Check out the interactive map of all coaches with 1,000 wins on pvsmokesignal.com.
TEAM STATISTICS PV Girls Basketball 1,000 Point Scorers PLAYER Laura Daugherty Janet Schwarz Rebecca Kucks Randi Meberg Angela Mele Laura Seiden Julie Miles Heather Miles Kim Beezer Cortnie Ciaccio Carolyn Spinapolice Cassie Beierle Jenn Jurjevic Kristen Brown Heather Zurich Rebecca Lynch Sara Ely Terry Ely
Created by Lauren Cohen
1977-81 2276 1978-82 1258 1978-82 1248 1670 1981-85 1210 1982-86 1550 1985-89 1402 1988-90 1112 1989-92 2003 1991-94 1059 1992-96 1133 1997-00 1088 1997-00 1221 1998-02 1010 2001-04 1798 2001-05 1280 2005-08 1268 2005-08 1198 2007-10 Created by Josh DeLuca
Created by Kayla Barry
Jasper’s journey CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Dear old dad Jasper always says that his father, Walt Jasper, was the most influential male in his life. Walt owned a gas station where he worked as a mechanic. When Jeff was in college and people asked what his dad did, he would say “Oh, my dad’s in oil….right up to his neck.” Jeff described his father to have been hard working and always having blistered, callused, grease stained hands to prove it. “My father only had a fifth grade education, but was one of the smartest men I had ever known,” Jasper said. “He was truly brilliant.” Jeff remembers being cut from a little league all-star team he tried out for when he was 8 years old. “He [the coach] cut me and it was really awful because I never got a chance to go up to bat,” Jasper said. “All I did was catch.” Jeff said he was sitting on his front porch crying when his father got home, and began to discuss what had happened with his father. In the end, it turned out that the try out was only for 9 and 10 year olds. “My father said to me, ‘Son, make sure you ask some good questions along the way, but it was a good learning experience for you to go,’” Jasper said. The Jasper family lived in Midland Park. Jeff attended Midland Park High School and attended Ohio University. Later on, he received his master’s and did his post-grad work at New York University. Jeff said that he received one of the greatest pieces of advice from his father when he was in high school and thought he was a “hotshot high school athlete.” “He said to me, ‘Son, the highest form of a compliment is when it comes from a third party,” Jasper said. Jasper said that his father told him to “stop using that ‘I’ pronoun and let other people tell you how good you are.” His father was also the person who told him “you got to be the boss of yourself.” Jasper says he uses that ideology often. “Remain humble. I use that with my team. Don’t be up in anybody’s face about how good you might be,” Jasper said. “You know who you are: You are the boss of yourself,” Jasper said. In the year before Jasper would graduate from college, he told his father of his plans to head to Canada and avoid the draft. His father, a World War II veteran, listened as they drove. “He said to me, ‘Son, many have defended your right to disagree and to challenge authority, but to escape, well, think that through,” Jasper said.
Jasper said he did think it through and he came to the realization that “war is a part of life and he might as well experience it.” He says his father was surprised when his orders came. He told him, “Son, you are a college graduate. You have a future.” Jasper told his dad that he would return. When he did
me to the superintendent, Jack Lewis, and he talked to me for a bit before offering me the job,” Jasper said. When Jasper told his dad the news and then said that he told the superintendent he would think about it, all his dad said was, “What!” His dad asked him what he would be doing instead of teaching. Jasper then called the superintendent and said he would take the job. Reaves told him he would be starting Monday. He was going to be
Jasper said he was sheltered from any anti-Semitism up until this point. He asked his mom if he was different from everybody else. “No, you are better than everyone else,” Gussie said. Jasper says that moment gave him inner strength from that point forward in his life. Still, he “felt confused” after the whole situation, and therefore did not run to be junior class president. In his senior year, he captained the football, basketball, and baseball teams and was
Contributed by Lois Jasper
Jeff in his army uniform with his mom Gussie Jasper. Jasper fought in the Vietnam War and says fighting in the war shaped him to be who he is. come back, he ended up in California. His father called him one day informing him of an opening at a high school named Pascack Valley. Neither Jasper nor his father knew where the school was. An old family friend of theirs as well as Jasper’s high school basketball coach, Jerry Thomas, was the Vice Principal of PV’s sister school, Pascack Hills and was the one to tell Walt about the job opening. Jasper said he was not interested in the offer and would rather be “hanging out here in California.” His dad pushed to get Jasper home to interview and offered to fly him home and fly him back if it did not work out. Jasper agreed to fly home and interview for the position. He met with the PV principal at the time, Balkom J. Reaves. Jasper described him to look just like Lyndon Baines Johnson — Texas accent and everything. In the interview, he said to me, “Son, what are your goals? Where do you see yourself five years from now?” “You know, Mr. Reaves, I am not really sure what I am going to be doing when I walk out of your door,” Jasper said. Jasper recalls taking a deep breath and a step back as Reaves said to him, “Son, you need goals.” Jasper said he really did not have any goals and has “always been in the moment.” “He must have liked what I said though because he sent
replacing a teacher who had a nervous breakdown while teaching. The first half of his career was spent as an English teacher. In the late nineties, he taught both English and history and now, he teaches solely history. Mother dearest The Jaspers were the only Jewish family living in Midland Park while Jeff was growing up. He said that growing up as the only Jewish boy opened him up to cruelty from his classmates. “Part of the thing when I first got involved in what was the Gay Straight Alliance was that I knew that words are so powerful,” Jasper said. “People can think that you are saying something and it is not a big deal, except for the person it is directed at or the side person who hears it.” Jasper, in his sophomore year of high school, described himself to be “everyone’s best friend.” He was president of his freshman class, sophomore class, and also senior class. Towards the end of his sophomore year, three friends of Jasper’s came up to him and told him that “he was not in their little club anymore” because he “wore the same shirt too often.” When Jasper went home, he told his mom, Gussie Jasper, about what happened. She told him that it was really because their family was Jewish.
senior class president. “I was a good athlete. I became a great athlete. I was a good leader. I became a great leader,” Jasper said. He says that this moment taught him to be very self-driven and woke him up to a world he was not familiar with. He does not consider himself to be Jewish since he
“does not follow any of it.” He believes in Jasperism. “Jasperism — it is my own little religion,” he said. “I believe in myself.” Pursuing his passion When Jasper’s kids answered the phone to people looking for their father, they would always say, “He is at school,” rather than responding that he was at work. That is exactly how Jasper said he looked and continues to look at it. “I think coming to school is like a paradise — it is like living the dream every day,” Jasper said. Jasper says that he finds how much he loves teaching and coaching to be so spectacular. “There are not people who have been at it as long as I have that feel the same energy they did when they started,” Jasper said. “I come in energized and I leave energized — I do not know how many other people can say that.” Jasper said that people often ask him how much longer he is going to be teaching and coaching. “I will go until such days that I am no longer relevant,” Jasper said. “When I walk into a classroom one day and they go ‘who the hell are you,’ the next day I am gone.” Jasper says that he is incredibly lucky that he gets to do what he loves and will always remember the moment in Vietnam when he had his aha moment. “It is that moment that drives me about why I truly love what I do,” Jasper said. “I am never upset by it. It is who I am. It is a constant reminder to find the good in life, the good in all my students, and find a greatness in my coaching. I am always reminded of why I am in this and why I do what I do.”
Created by Kayla Barry In addition to coaching a number of sports teams at Pascack Valley, Jeff Jasper also created a few.
A Jasper family legacy Continued from Page 3
guy,” Jeff was the same way when his sons were young. Jeff is infamous for his passion on the court, and Justin can relate to this sentiment, as he recalled a scenario that occurred when he was a catcher on a baseball team his father coached. A ball would be hit into right field and would go over the right fielder’s head. Instead of my dad talking to the right fielder, I would be the one he would yell at asking why the right fielder didn’t get the ball. Needless to say, I stopped playing baseball in about 8th grade,” he said, laughing. As Justin got older, however, Jeff would distribute his passion among all of the players on the team. Jeff describes himself as “loud and demanding,” so much so that Justin had to tell his father not to yell at his team. “Justin used to say to me, ‘Dad, the kids on the team are
my friends,’ so then I began to take it a little easier on them,” Jeff said. This energy was never brought home, according to Justin. “We call it the Jekyll and Hyde Effect,” he said. “There’s an intensity that he brings to basketball and there’s a way he commands the team that is very different from the way he parents.” In fact, Jeff’s parenting style was more similar to the way he coaches practices, rather than games. “Growing up, I never wanted to disappoint him, but he was never a taskmaster as a father,” Justin said. “He was very open and caring, similar to the way he coaches during practice, and he would never get in my face.” Circle of life Justin has attended practices with his father for as long as he can remember along with his older brother
Geremy. “They were raised on the basketball court and came to basketball with their toys or whatever I could keep them occupied with,” Jeff said. Now, Justin brings his own sons, 4-year-old Jack and 2-year-old Charlie, to practice with him. Jeff says he enjoys having his grandsons there. “This is how I’ve softened up so much,” Jeff said laughing. “It’s the most beautiful thing; it’s like the circle of life.” It is obvious to both Jeff and Justin that the team responds well to the boys, just as the boys love the girls on the team. Justin remembered a practice where his sons had brought a bucket of blocks with which to play. After a little while, though, it was not just the boys who were playing, but the girls on the team had joined in as well. “I was standing there with my dad and said to him, ‘What happened over the
years? You’re getting soft,’” Justin said. “This big-time coach for a big-time program has his team playing blocks with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old.” The team members are some of Jack and Charlie’s best friends, babysitters, and inspirations. “Last year, Cerina [Dunkel] hit a 3-pointer to win the game and [Jack and Charlie] were at that game,” Justin said. “A couple of days later, we were playing a game and I asked Jack what he was doing. He said, ‘I’m going to shoot a three like Cerina.’” As of now, Justin’s children enjoy playing basketball and going to practice. They have been to the Jeff Jasper basketball camps held over the summer and have taken to imitating their grandfather. Justin recalled that last year, after the first or second practice, Jack and Charlie were shooting into a Nerf hoop set up in Justin’s home. Jack began to name the drills
he had heard his grandfather teach and the terminology used at practice. “It was funny to see them imitate the team and my dad,” he said. Justin loves that he has the opportunity to see his father in different roles at practice. “It’s great to see him from different perspectives, to see him in the light of being a coach, and a teacher, and a dad, and a grandfather,” he said. Justin is excited to coach his own kids when they start playing organized sports, like his father had coached him. Looking ahead, Justin does not have any specific coaching aspirations for the girls basketball team. “People ask me all the time if I’m going to take over [once Jeff retires],” he said. “There’s nobody who can take over for my dad.”
The start of the long gold line Remembering Jasper’s first season Madison Gallo Editor in Chief
Jeff Jasper walked into athletic director Joe Talamo’s office and was offered the position of head coach of the girls basketball team in 1973. Talamo said that if Jasper performed well as head coach of the girls team, he would be the head coach of the boys junior varsity team. “I said ‘JV boys coach? Are you kidding me?’” Jasper said. At the time, he was thrilled with the opportunity. The Pascack Valley girls basketball team has only seen one head coach — Jeff Jasper. Jasper helped start the program and has led it to become one of the most prestigious in the state. Before Jasper began the team, there was no opportunity for girls at Valley to play sports competitively. The first time he walked into the gym to coach, there were 70 girls who had never played. “It was like teaching ball to aliens,” Jasper said. The first team’s uniforms consisted of cut-off jeans, reversible t-shirts, and numbers made out of adhesive tape. That first season, PV received numerous technicals due to the taped on numbers that slipped off the girls’ jerseys throughout the game. The team struggled in its first season, with a record of 2-14, but the team itself was defined by much more than
Trey Herenda Staff Writer
its record — Jasper now has 1000 total wins and counting. His first year coaching, Jasper’s wife, Lois Jasper, was the assistant coach. “It was so exciting to see women athletes with that kind of drive and that kind of fight. I never thought he would someday get 1,000 wins,” Lois said. “They had two wins, and I thought it was a great story.” According to Jasper himself, he was very tough on his players, and the mindset and work ethic that he instilled has stuck with them. “It was an experience that at the time was fulfilling a dream that stayed with me my whole life,” recalled Kathy Barton, who was on the first team and was a 1975 PV graduate. Jasper made sure, and still makes sure, to have an impact on those he coaches beyond the court. He uses coaching as a “vehicle to teach important life skills.” “Often I will say to the girls, ‘Take a look up at the stands. Are there any football players in them?’ And they come to me game after game and say no, that they did not see any,” Jasper said. “And these girls go to every one of their football games when they do not come to support them at theirs? Why in the heck would you do that?” From the beginning, Jasper was about making sure the girls felt empowered to be
Contributed by Lois Jasper
Members of Jasper’s first team play a basketball game in 1973. Their uniforms consisted of cutoff jeans and reversible t-shirts with numbers taped on. athletes while playing, which in the first year he coached, was something he had not done before. “Our mantra was ‘not girls, athletes,’” Jasper said. The first team also helped lead to the extremely successful program today, which is consistently winning titles and championships. “It is a long gold line,” said Jasper. “Everything you see here today, it all started with that group.” Jasper started coaching making about a third of what the head coach for the boys basketball team was making, and Jasper was coaching all three levels. Since he was a male coaching females, he was not allowed to sue the Board of Education directly, so his counterpart at Valley’s sister school Pascack Hills, Barbara DeCaro, did.
DeCaro sued the Board of Ed. based on Title IX which declares that “no person shall be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance based on sex.” This case went to federal court and DeCaro and Jasper won. Even though Jasper and the team won the court case, they still suffered from pushback. In the 1970s, he had long hair and wore platform shoes and bell-bottom pants. He was not what Talamo had in his mind to be coach, Jasper said. “After watching a practice of ours, when the girls are smashing into each other, heads flying and all, he told me after that ‘this is what it is supposed to look like,’” Jasper said.
Jasper did not know Talamo was watching the practice. Talamo told him he came to watch the practice because a complaint was called in about Jasper for “making the girls work too hard and be so physical.” Jasper always says that the girls on his first team “were truly pioneers.” Eventually, Jasper was offered a position as a boys basketball coach. Jasper said he asked himself why he would take a step backwards. In the beginning, Jasper said he “lost credibility” for being a girls’ coach. “If anything has changed, it is that who I am and who we have come to be is basketball, not girls basketball,” Jasper said. “If you say Pascack Valley people will recognize girls basketball and they will know Jeff Jasper.”
Dressed with a smile
Jasper honors late friend with smiley face pin Madison Gallo Editor in Chief Joe Poli always showed up to work in the same outfit and the same smiley face pin. Now, almost 30 years after his death, his close friend Jeff Jasper wears his own smiley face pin in memory of him. From 1978 to 1989, Poli was the principal of Pascack Valley and was a close friend of history teacher and girls varsity basketball coach Jeff Jasper. However, on Aug. 1, 1989, Poli was riding his bicycle when he suffered an aneurysm and passed away. In tribute to Poli, the girls basketball PV Christmas Tournament was renamed by Jasper to be the Joe Poli Memorial Holiday Tournament immediately after his passing. This past Dec. 30, the PV girls varsity basketball team won this tournament for the second year in a row, giving Jasper his 997th career win. He said that PV winning the tournament gives him a moment to talk about his late friend as a person. “The tournament is in his honor,” Jasper said. “And what it does is give me an opportunity to talk to my team about him and about what kind of great person he was and how they too can be a Joe Poli.” Poli founded Smile, an initiative which focused on doing random acts of kindness, according to Jasper. “There is not a lot to say about [Smile] other than that he was the founder, the president, and the only member,” Jasper said. “I’ll always of course say that the most influential male in my life is my father, but second to my father, the most influential male in my life was Joe Poli,” he added. Jasper described Poli to be “non-judgemental, totally supportive, warm, caring, and compassionate.” “I always realized how special he was to my dad, but last year in the locker room after we won the tournament, my dad gave a little speech at the end that was really heartwarming,” said Justin Jasper, Jeff’s son as well as one of his assistant coaches. “It was in that moment that I remembered how special he was and how special their bond was.” Jeff Jasper’s wife, Lois Jasper, added that Poli’s son and daughters come to the tournament. Before Poli’s death, he and Jeff spent a lot of time together both in and out of school. “He became principal at PV, and at the time, I was the senior class advisor, and so I worked with him a lot,” Lois said. “My husband at the
Contributed by Lois Jasper
Joe Poli, left, and Jeff Jasper pose together in 1985. The PV Christmas Tournament was renamed to the Joe Poli Memorial Holiday Tournament in order to commemorate the late principal and Jasper’s friend.
Photo by Alysa Mehl
Jeff Jasper has a business card from Smile, Joe Poli’s initiative to make the world a better place by performing random acts of kindness.
Photo by Gianna Battista
Justin Jasper, left, smiles with Lois Jasper and Jeff Jasper. They all wear the smiley face pin in memory of Joe Poli to each game.
time was the athletic director so they also worked together closely.” She said that their friendship “just clicked right away.” Jeff remembers them training together, running together, biking together, swimming together, and competing in triathlons and marathons together. “They were a little crazy in terms of athletic endeavors, but they obviously became very close because of that,” Lois said. Nowadays, Jeff Jasper wears a smiley face pin to work and basketball games, and also has smiley faces around his classroom. It is the unofficial official logo of Poli. “My kids loved him,” Jasper said. “My son Justin wears a smiley face pin everyday to Holdrum Middle School [where he works as Vice Principal].” Another way Jasper spreads Poli’s legacy is through living by his friend’s 3 C’s: caring, commitment, and character. He puts these words on shirts and preaches them to his team. “Nobody was influenced by him as much as I was,” he said. Poli’s influence spread beyond his friend; Jeff said the late principal changed PV for the better. “If anybody bled green and white, it was him,” he said. Jasper says that before Poli was the principal at PV, it was like the “wild west,” with students smoking everywhere, doing drugs, and not being held accountable. “Slowly, he made the changes necessary and is one of the reasons we are such a great school today,” he said. “He put the foundation in place for where we are. We are coming up on 30 years of his death, and yet his legacy is still felt.” Jasper still admires Poli to this day. He says he learned a great deal from Poli about how to treat people. Jasper added that he could “never figure out where he got the hours in the day to do all the great things he did.” “I always say to my team and anyone that wants to know about Joe Poli: ‘I hope that in your life you meet someone like Joe Poli,’” he said. “‘And I hope that you become a Joe Poli for someone else.’”
Watch Dick Vitale and other wellknown coaches congratulate Jasper on his big win at pvsmokesignal.com