TASTY TIDBITS Rodriguez has charges lessened; locals mourn loss of Vargas Avella retires from coaching; Mocco to receive just due

North Bergen native Evan Rodriguez is set to receive a reprieve from the West Virginia legal system. The pending charges against the former Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Year are expected to be reduced from felony assault to a misdemeanor disturbance and trespassing charge, with only a $100 fine and restitution to the female residence hall advisor that he had the alleged physical altercation with.

So Rodriguez will not have a criminal record from the incident in February, but he will no longer be eligible to play football at the University of West Virginia and will more than likely transfer to another school in the future.

Reports say that Rodriguez could end up at Temple University, where fellow North Bergen native Mark D’Onofrio is the defensive coordinator and associate head coach…

Just three weeks ago, Union City-based Pound-for-Pound Promotions, under the guidance of the Lynch brothers, namely John and Pat, enjoyed a successful boxing card at Schuetzen Park in North Bergen, with promising Ronny Vargas of the Bronx as one of the stars of the show.

Early last Saturday morning, Ronny Vargas’ life came to a tragic end, when he was shot and killed in the Bronx in what appeared to be some sort of a dispute between a girl friend and her ex-boyfriend. Vargas was just 20 years old and was believed to be manager Pat Lynch’s answer to the retired Arturo Gatti.

“Aside from his boxing ability, Ronny Vargas was a sincere pleasure to know as a human being,” John Lynch said in a statement after Vargas’ tragic death. “He had a bright future ahead of him and my heart goes out to his family.”

Vargas was a three-time New York Golden Gloves champion and undefeated (8-0) as a professional, winning in his final fight in North Bergen on July 31. Just another example of how it can all end so quickly…

When Emerson and Union Hill merged to form one Union City High School this year, it was believed that longtime Emerson soccer coach Angelo Avella would take over as the head soccer coach at Union City High, with former Union Hill coach and one-time Emerson rival Ben Perez serving as Avella’s assistant.

Well, recently it was revealed that Avella has decided not to take the position, with former Emerson girls’ soccer coach Bill Shapiro moving over to take the reins of the new Union City High boys’ program.

Avella has cited personal reasons for not returning to the position. It’s a huge loss to the sport of soccer in Hudson County.

From a personal standpoint, it’s going to be so totally different not having both Angelo Avella on the sidelines in Union City and John Irvine on the sidelines at St. Peter’s Prep, both longtime coaching giants, this fall. They both will be sorely missed, on both a professional and personal level. The two were downright credits to the sport and won their fair share of championships and accolades over the last two decades-plus…

As North Bergen native Steve Mocco was preparing to take the mat as the heavyweight wrestler representing the United States in the Olympic Games in Beijing, China on Wednesday night, it was learned that the township is planning to honor the achievements of Mocco when he returns from the Olympics.

Township spokesman Paul Swibinski announced that the township of North Bergen will have some sort of ceremony to honor Mocco when he comes home from the Olympics. The town placed full-page advertisements in local newspapers, wishing Mocco good luck and promising to honor the Olympic hero as soon as possible. It’s a celebration and ceremony that has been at least five years in the making, but if it takes place this time, then all ill will about past oversights will be forgotten.

We’ll have more about Mocco’s Olympic experience in next week’s editions…

Mocco isn’t the only hometown hero taking in the Olympic experience. Hoboken resident and local martial arts instructor Kevin Padilla is a member of the coaching staff with the United States judo team. Padilla participated in two Olympic Games in 1988 and 1992 as a member of the United States tae kwon do teams…

A local columnist was heading into Giants Stadium last weekend to cover the Red Bulls soccer game when a New Jersey state trooper, armed with a machine gun on security detail, approached the writer as he was making his way past the security checkpoint.

The trooper then took off his sunglasses to reveal that he was indeed George Gallagher, the former Hudson Catholic and Montclair State University baseball standout.

Gallagher, one of the finest athletes and people covered in these pages, is now married and resides in Toms River with his two daughters. He’s been a member of the New Jersey State Police for seven years. It’s amazing how time flies… – Jim Hague

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