Wall Township High School Hires Toms River North Graduate As New Athletic Director
After months of turmoil and uncertainty involving its high school athletic department, the Wall Township Board of Education has turned the page and hired a new athletic director to oversee the various sports programs for the Crimson Knights.
At Tuesday's school board meeting, Marni Henry-Parks was approved by the Wall Township Board of Education to serve as Wall High School's new AD. She succeeds former AD Tom Ridoux, who was placed on administrative leave during an investigation into allegations of hazing and sexual misconduct involving members of the football team. Ridioux has since been reassigned to serve as an assistant principal at Wall Intermediate School.
Henry-Parks was a student-athlete at Toms River North during her high school days, according to the Asbury Park Press, which first reported her hiring. She comes to Wall from the Hammonton School District where she served as the district's Athletic Director/Supervisor of Physical Education. Henry-Parks will start her employment on July 1 at a salary of $155,000 per year, according to the board agenda publicly available on BoardDocs. She will be the first female athletic director at Wall High School.
Henry-Parks currently resides in Glassboro, according to the APP. She began her teaching and coaching career at Delsea Regional High School where was a physical education teacher and coached track, field hockey, tennis, and basketball. She then worked at Hammonton for 22 years as a phys-ed teacher and coach. She was the district's AD for the past 10 years.
“Every single athlete now has a stigma, these negative connotations come up. I want to come in and help those kids heal,” Henry-Parks told the Asbury Park Press. “I also want to help the parents, help them to heal and get back to where they have pride.”
The hiring of Henry-Parks, 51, appears to be the final significant change to the school's athletic department following the hazing scandal that rocked the town last November. An investigation was launched by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office after allegations of hazing and sexual misconduct were levied against several members of the Wall football teams. The Crimson Knights had just won their quarterfinal game in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Association South Jersey Group 3 state playoffs when the situation came to light. The rest of the team's season was canceled, which included a scheduled semifinal playoff game and the team's annual Thanksgiving Day matchup with rival Manasquan. Wall was one of New Jersey's elite public school programs over the previous two seasons, winning a Central Jersey Group 3 sectional title in 2019 and finishing as the No. 1 team in New Jersey during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
After an investigation that lasted several months, six Wall High School football players who had previously been suspended agreed to plea agreements that included probation and community service to avoid jail time. Ridoux, head football coach Tony Grandinetti, and two other assistant coaches who are also district employees were placed on administrative leave and later removed from their athletic posts. Each retained their administrative positions although Ridioux was reassigned to a previously-tenured position.
Longtime Shore Conference administrator Nicholas Pizzulli has been serving as Wall's interim AD since December. In February, Wall hired former Manalapan head coach Ed Gurrieri as the school's new head football coach. A former New York City police officer before beginning a career in education, Gurrieri is a Shore Conference Football Hall of Fame member who led Manalapan for a total of 13 years. His teams never had a losing season, reached six state sectional finals, and in 2014 won the program's first sectional championship.
Across the board, Wall's athletic programs are among the best in the Shore Conference, notably in football, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, wrestling, boys and girls lacrosse, golf baseball, and softball.