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“Gator” Proves You Can Go Home Again

Ed Graichen on the sidelines of the Toms River South-Central boys soccer game
Ed Graichen on the sidelines of the Toms River South-Central boys soccer game (Kevin Willliams, Townsquare Media NJ)

You Can’t Go Home Again is the title of a 1940 novel written by Thomas Wolfebut it’s also used quite a bit in everyday life as a way to summarize that once a part of your life is over, it’s over. 

Lindsey Mahnken on the soccer field
Central’s Lindsey Mahnken on the soccer field (Lindsey Mahnken)

For today’s purposes I’ll take the opposite angle; who says you can’t go home again?

Ed Graichen will be doing just that when he steps onto the field at Toms River South’s Detweiler Stadium this afternoon for the South Jersey Group 3 Girls Soccer Championship game between the host Indians and Central Regional.

 

Graichen is a first-year varsity assistant at Central after being coaxed out of retirement by fellow assistant John Truhan to join Kristee Paknis’ coaching staff.

In what he’ll admit is the twilight of a long and distinguished coaching career Graichen was going home to Central.  It was there in fall of 1972 that he was an assistant with the first-ever boys soccer team at the school.  Two years later he would become the head coach and collect his first varsity win against the legendary Roy Wilkins of Toms River South which, by the way, is Graichen’s alma mater when of course it was simply known as Toms River High School.

“Gator” as he’s known to friends and soccer colleagues would later move on to Lacey High School and had some very good years with the Lions.  As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change and in 1995 he found himself back at Toms River South as a guidance counselor and the head coach of both the boys and girls soccer teams. Some might forget that the girls season used to be in the spring.

It was the Lady Indians who brought him his greatest coaching success as Carrie Kennington and Sheree Gray led South to back to back Group 3 championships in 2001 and 2002.  Retirement would come a few years later although Graichen is now working in the guidance department at Monsignor Donovan High School.

He’s also back doing what he loves: coaching high school soccer and in essence he’s gone home twice when you’re not even supposed to do it once.  Today the Golden Eagles will try and write a final chapter to this story with his former school hoping that it’s a sad ending.  Something tells me for Graichen he’ll smile no matter what the outcome.

In an unrelated story, Central senior pitcher Andrew DiPiazza this afternoon will sign a national letter of intent to attend the University of Alabama on a baseball scholarship.  Roll Tide!

Andrew DiPiazza signs his letter of intent with Alabama
Andrew DiPiazza signs his letter of intent with Alabama (Scott Stump)

 

 

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