By Andy Loigu
If it wasn’t good preparation for success in adult life, there would not be much need for athletic teams at public schools. After all, schools are all about learning useful things.
From 2000 to 2015, Josh, Hali, Amanda, and Noah Aussems have been a remarkable group of brothers and sisters at Hackettstown High, earning a combined 28 varsity letters in a variety of sports.
They all have gone on to college and are on their way to meaningful professional careers. We caught up with Hali on Tuesday, Nov. 21, at Lafayette College, where she is an assistant athletic trainer with direct responsibility for the care of the men’s soccer, women’s basketball, cross country, and track teams. She was with the Leopards’ women’s basketball team as they thumped this writer’s alma mater, Rider, by a 60-45 score.
“Sports has been a major part of growing up for us, learning to apply ourselves, set goals and be disciplined, and learning to be part of a team,” she said while reminiscing about her family’ sports activity at HHS. “We’re all excited about seeing the Tigers reach the state football final, I’ll try to go to Met Life Stadium to see them win the championship if I possibly can. It’s such a wonderful thing for our school.”
A 2007 graduate of HHS, Hali took part in track and field for four years, volleyball for two years and soccer in her senior year. Along with Zach Ulm, she was honored as a scholar athlete by the Skyland Conference. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers and a master’s degree from East Stroudsburg University and is in her third year with Lafayette.
Her older brother Josh graduated from HHS in 2004. He played football and track (where he set a school shot put record), each for four years. Josh studied at Dickinson College, where he played varsity football and track and was in the Army ROTC program. He went on to serve as a sergeant in the US Army Reserve and now is a police officer in Manassas, Va.
Amanda (class of 2012) is in her sixth year of study at Ithaca toward a doctorate in physical therapy. She was honored as the Tigers’ female scholar athlete by the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference (Hackettstown joined in 2009) and helped lead Hackettstown to a sectional soccer title in 2010. She played both soccer and basketball all four years and ran track for two years.
Noah (class of 2015) is at Ithaca now, where he is a member of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization. He also works for M&M Mars when he’s in Hackettstown as a safety maintenance technician. He played football for four years as a Tiger, basketball for two years and wrestled for two years.
Yours truly was a wrestler in seventh and eighth grade in South Jersey, but when I showed up on the first day of school as a ninth grader standing at 6-4, guess what winter sport I got talked into playing?
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.