WEST ORANGE- When Tevye sings about ‘Tradition…tradition’ in the 1964 Broadway classic, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ he reveals his rich and emotional quest of always yearning to keep long-standing ways a constant regardless of the fact his village must move forward.
Yes, times change and people have to move on; however, adhering to a time-honored plan which breeds success is key to happiness in life, whether it is the Jewish village of Anatevka in 'Fiddler' or the real-world of a tradition-laden Catholic school in West Orange where lineage within the family is indeed a quest that is fulfilled.
As Seton Hall Prep’s wrestling faithful gathered Wednesday to thank Jack Decker for 11 solid seasons as head coach while handing over the reins to a new leading man in ex-scholastic and collegiate standout Lou Mascola, a method of maintaining lineage for the Pirates was simply enhanced one more time.
“We always like to try and hire from within in our coaching positions with Seton Hall Prep people,” said Monsignor Michael E. Kelly, the president of SHP. “I believe it’s important and we feel very good about Lou stepping in to take over for Jack, who are both part of our family here.”
Decker, 34, and wife Ally, an eighth-grade History teacher at West Essex middle school, have three growing boys, with 3-year-old Jack III and 7-month-old twins Casey and Luke. Plus, dad works closely with his own father in the long-standing Decker tape business.
“Something had to give,” said coach Decker. “It’s been a tremendous honor to coach Seton Hall Prep wrestling and now it’s a good time to hand the reins over to Lou, who is one of the most talented wrestlers I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching here.
“I have the utmost confidence that he will continue the tradition of success of Seton Hall Prep wrestling.”
Decker compiled a 165-71 record, including six Essex County Tournament titles, three District team crowns and finishing as the runner-up in the Non-Public, North A state tournament in 2018. The Pirates also captured five Super Essex Conference American Division titles during his reign.
Decker was hired right out of Penn State where he was a standout grappler which followed an outstanding scholastic career while finishing No. 4 on SHP’s all-time victory list (117-22), including placing sixth (at 125) as a junior and second at 140 as a senior in 2004 for two very solid state tournament showings.
Mascola, who has been a Decker assistant the past four seasons, is the ninth wrestling coach in the school’s history and is also the Pirates’ all-time winningest grappler (144-15) while finishing fifth in the state at 119 as a sophomore and sixth at 135 as a senior in 2011.
He also wrestled at the University of Maryland where he also served one season as a graduate assistant coach.