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A Coaching Surprise in Neptune

Bouncing around a bit on a Wednesday morning.  Bouncing is the right word because I’ll start with a rather stunning basketball development at the shore as longtime Neptune boys Coach Ken O’Donnell is out and Joe Fagan is in as coach of the Scarlet Fliers. 

(L-R) Composite photo of Joe Fagen and Ken O'Donnell
(L-R) Composite photo of Joe Fagen and Ken O’Donnell (FAGEN: Cliff Lavelle. O’DONNELL: Bill Normile)

Fagan leaves Jackson Memorial after six seasons where he helped make the Jaguars a perennial title contender and averaged 19 wins a season.

His hiring is the second part of the surprise with the other being that O’Donnell is not returning for a 24th season as the boys coach at Neptune after spending the ten years before that as coach of the girls team.  His re-hiring was recommended by the Superintendent but the Board of Education voted 6-3 against him and later approved Fagan by a 7-0 vote with two abstentions.

O’Donnell, who was a standout player at Neptune, had a combined record to 570-189 with a long list of championships as a coach.  At last night’s school board meeting (which O’Donnell did not attend) people spoke out in favor and against his return as coach with some parents complaining about playing time and his lack of effort to secure scholarships.  When contacted by the Shore Sports Network afterwards O’Donnell thanked his supporters, expressed disappointment with how everything was handled and said he always played the best players in the interest of the school and the community.

Fagan meanwhile declined comment on the hiring until after he speaks with Neptune administrators.  You can find more on the story at shoresportsnetwork.com.You will also find our recap of the high school baseball season, including our All-Shore teams, player and pitcher of the year and final top ten on our website, shoresportsnetwork.com.

District 18 Little League Tournaments are underway and as always the focus is on the 12-year old All-Stars as this is the first step on the road to Williamsport.  Holbrook and the Toms River Little League are both off to 2-0 starts heading into tonight’s play with Holbrook to visit 0-2 Toms River East National and Toms River to host 1-1 Manchester.

There is some extra interest in this year’s All-Star tournaments because the Berkeley Little League will be hosting the New Jersey Little League and Junior League Championships next month at the complex on Moorage Avenue in Bayville.  It would be great to have a local team compete with the state’s best right in their own backyard.

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