River Dell varsity boys golf team prepares to tee off for the 2022 season opener

The River Dell varsity boys golf team is coming off a very successful 2021 season where they won league, county, and championships. River Dell returns with plenty of experience with two seniors, juniors, and sophomores.

Head Coach Jose Ortiz has been a fixture in coaching high school athletics for 53 years, 32 of them in golf. The Golden Hawks have flourished under his leadership, winning 12 league championships, three county titles, five state sectional titles, and one state group overall.

"We have very high expectations, but the season is short," Jose Ortiz explained. "If you don't happen to be on the ball right off the bat, sometimes you don't reach those expectations." We expect to be competitive with three to four boys returning from last year and a couple of new boys joining the club who will contribute a lot. We have a very tough schedule and play pretty much all the good teams in the county.

"We have 27 matches scheduled and five tournaments." "Sometimes, because of the weather in the spring, the matches get postponed, and there's no room to make them up." We play almost every single day of the week once the season starts. We play in April and the first two weeks of May and only have three days off where we don't have a competition.

"We're going to have six players on varsity this year, Michael Gibbons and Ryan are the seniors, and they have both will be four-year starters this year and on varsity since their freshman year."

"The two juniors are going to be Matt Sciplioni and Matt Volmar and they were contributors last year and shared the sixth spot last year and have been on the varsity since their freshman year."

"The two sophomores are Adam Chu and Alex Na they were freshman on the JV last year and they have worked all year long to improve their game and bypassed a few people to make it to varsity this year."

When it comes to preparing for a season, Jose Ortiz points to players participating in other sports, playing golf with their families, strength and conditioning program at River Dell High School, and balancing out the role of a student-athlete.

"Mostly the boys play golf, some are strictly golfers, and they play year-round, and others are three-sports athletes." "For instance, Ryan Gillies was a football and basketball player." They must squeeze a little bit of golf time between their practices to get ready for other sports.

"Luckily with golf you don't need other teammates to help you practice and you can go on your own." "This is something the boys can do with their fathers and go on a weekend and practice during the year."

"They have to put in a lot of time because it takes a lot of practice, and that is in every sport." "If you can picture a little round ball and small little metal that's about to get hit then think of moving that metal to the left or right by an eighth of an inch or two-eighths." It throws you at the end, where the ball will land by many feet and goes off alignment.

"They must hit the ball square in the exact way and need to hit every time on their swing and any change in the swing makes the ball go in a different direction." "It's very exact and that's why repetition with the correct swing to be able to eventually get the ball to go where you want it to go."

"We have a strength and conditioning program and indoor facility at River Dell." "Early in the pre-season, when the weather is bad, we would go in and do weight training with Coach(DJ) Nimphius." After that, we go over to the indoor facility that we set up in the wrestling room and hit balls into the net.

"The kids know that we prioritize academics at River Dell and even though it's a good sports school everybody knows that academics is number one." "It carries on how to the way they behave and practice and put that energy into academics and learn from that and translates into their sports."

Most notably, the success of the varsity boys golf program is due to the support from Assistant Head Coach Drew Caruso and the River Dell High School athletic department.

"I would be remiss if I didn't point out the contribution of Assistant Coach Drew Caruso in the improvement of the JV players and help with the varsity program," Jose Ortiz cited.

"I think Denis Nelson is the best athletic director in New Jersey, and he doesn't miss anything and is 100 percent on top of everything." "We also get outstanding support from the entire River Dell community and Denis Nelson.

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