July 18, 2012

Ed Woolley joins Football Hall of Fame

Sports Columnist

Former Ocean City High School football coach and administrator Dr. Ed Woolley was recently named to the South Jersey Football Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame.

Woolley coached the Raiders from 1976 through 1984, winning 47 games and losing 34. He took two teams to the NJSIAA playoffs and, in 1984, coached the first OCHS team to win a South Jersey playoff championship. That team defeated Deptford, 15-8, at Carey Stadium and edged Willingboro, 22-21, at Carl Lewis Stadium.

Woolley was also a very good athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball at Pitman High School and playing football at the University of Michigan. He was chosen South Jersey Back of the Year his senior year at Pitman High School.

In addition to Woolley, also inducted into the SJFCA Hall of Fame this year were former Mainland, Penn State and New York Jets star Greg Buttle; Southern Regional coach Chuck Donohue, who also coached at St. Joseph and Buena; former Paulsboro star Kevin Harvey; and Shonn Greene, former star at Winslow Township and Iowa, now with the New York Jets.

Gary Degenhardt was part of Woolley’s staff at OCHS and later became the Raiders’ head coach. “You learn things from all the coaches you work with,” Degenhardt said, “and being part of Ed’s staff was a real education, especially in the area of preparation. He taught us how to gather information, break it down and be thoroughly prepared for each game.”

As those who know Woolley would have expected, he had something interesting to say at his induction.

“I want to say that I am truly appreciative of this recognition,” he said, “and thrilled to be back here as part of South Jersey football. It is nice to see so many old friends – and since I am in the Legends category – old is probably the appropriate term.

“It has been awhile since I have been in a setting like this – with football coaches – and it brings back many fond memories.

“Football has been an important part of my life since junior high school and the Army-Navy games in Pitman. It has given me numerous opportunities – the least of which was to attend the University of Michigan.

“Vince Lombardi talked about football being like life . . . it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority. And I would like to take the words Lombardi used and translate them to what has been real in my life.

Perseverance: in sports, the continuation of effort, the staying power when losing, the grit when the work is too hard. When the going gets tough, the tough get going; in life, the commitment to life-long education, handling the benefits and disappointments in the workplace, the pushing of students to succeed and getting through the teenage years with my children.

Self-Denial: in sports, the idea of team before self, the sacrifice of the individual for the greater good, giving up some of the other pleasures of school life because you were in training and there was a game the next day; in life, the family’s needs before one’s own, the time spent with children while one’s own hobbies lay idle.

Hard Work: in sports, natural ability is but a beginning – the demands of training, practice and fitness are an integral part of success; in life, working all week teaching, second jobs on weekend, going to school at night to further one’s self educationally and financially.

Sacrifice: in sports, balancing academics and sports, playing a position you might not really want to for the good of the team; in life, understanding that ‘you can’t have it all’, giving up things so your kids can go to college and saving for retirement.

Dedication: in sports, to teammates, to one’s self, to the school or the college you represent and placing the collective goals ahead of personal wishes; in life, giving your all to the kids you coached, to school kids you disciplined for their greater good and working your job with diligence.

Respect for Authority: in sports, respect to coaches, to officials and to bosses; in life, the tenderness toward my mother, the respect for my father, my duty to my superiors, the manners I taught to children and their being a part of something greater than themselves.

“I am sure I am not the only person who experienced these demands and struggled with the conflicts that resulted. Everyone is this room has faced similar choices and hopefully we are all better people because of it and what we learned in football.

“Was it difficult at times – yes.

“Was it worth it – yes.

“Did football help build my character – it sure did.

“Did that character reveal itself in my life since – I sure hope so.

“Again, thank you very much for his honor. I truly appreciate it.”

Dr. Woolley is also a member of three other halls of fame. He currently is spending his retirement in Maine.


Woolley also commented on the death a month ago of Greg Dean, a starter on his 1984 South Jersey championship team. Dean died at age 46 in Denver.

“In some respects, Greg was the heart and soul of our defense in 1984,” Woolley said. “He was a vocal leader within the team and had that aggressive, almost nasty, attitude that carried over to his teammates. His play on the field was probably overshadowed at times by that of more well-known teammates, but he really played an important part to our success that year.

“I can vividly recall the playoff game with Deptford and his booming punt late in the game that changed the flow of the game back to us. Deptford had started to move the ball, our offense was struggling and we were going to give the ball back to them, but Greg's punt put them deep in their own territory - if I recall close to the 10 yd line - and they couldn’t get anything going.

“Several years ago I saw him at an Ocean City game and he was still as proud as ever of that championship.”

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