VHS (VHS) Class of 1966 Alumni List

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Class Memories From 1966

Pat and Ralphs for pizza!
Cool Hangouts Posted: 04/21/2009
The BIG "D"
There is only one BIG "D", there is only one Tony DiTomo.

Coach DiTomo was a hero to those who gave their all and
a terror to those who slacked off. He was the soul and
conscience of Vineland High School athletics for years.
What a loss to the current generation who never knew his
greatness, the stature of his will, the comfort of his protection, the blast of his megaphone voice and the wisdom of his experience.

Yes, he was a champion elected by other champions as
their watermark, their touchstone, and their leader into battle. How many lives he molded and maneuvered through the troubled years of adolescence. He was the rock, the one
true thing that never changed, never moved, never wavered and always stayed the course.

For me, and probably hundreds of other boys, he was a surrogate father - the one real and true symbol of manhood and decency some of us ever knew. I grew up without a father and when I ran into Tony DiTomo, I ran into a solid brick wall. There was no going around this man. I couldn’t bluff him like I could most people. He knew all the tricks, all the lies, all the excuses and all the pitfalls.

Because he was bigger than life and louder than any other human being I had ever known or heard in my life, he was undeniably a magnificent warrior and hero, to be both feared and adored at the same time.

Tony DiTomo was the Gen. Patton of Vineland’s athletic community.

Vineland has had many great sons, but in my eyes, Tony DiTomo stands above them all for he stood for what was right, what was decent and what was true. He never gave up and he taught us the same. He epitomized Winston Churchill’s immortal refrain (given at the depths of WWII):

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Tony hammered this into our hearts and souls.

What’s more, he burned "never to take a defeatist's attitude" into minds.

I will never forget the time I starved down from 145lbs to 120Ibs for a wrestling match when our 156-pounder took sick. DiTomo called to me and said, "Lukas, come here, boy! I want you to go out there and take on this guy (who starved down from 180 lbs!!) AND DON'T GET PINNED!! We can't afford to lose those points." My heart sunk, I thought I was a dead man. This guy was like Goliath to me. He was at least 12” taller than me and had the muscular build of a 200lb weightlifter.

However, I knew if the coach had faith and confidence in me, I could do it. Out of the three periods that I kept from being pinned, I think I set some sort of record for “bridging” (a defensive move by which you use your head and neck to keep your shoulders from touching the mat). I never gave up, never gave in.

It was during this grueling test of wills in this David vs. Goliath struggle that I realized it was DiTomo’s horrific, grueling workouts and constant training that disciplined my mind and body to react in time of war. We were all so well trained and disciplined, we reacted instinctively, and didn’t stop to think or worry about the facts. It was then that I learned being a man means you confront your fears, charge out with solid boldness and strength of character and take on Goliath without reservation.

Coach DiTomo was a landmark to everyone who ever met him.
I – and many others like me – owe a great debt to Big D's
tutorage, Godly disciplines and words of wisdom. Like Vince
Lombardi, Coach DiTomo pulled everything out of you, put you
through “the baptism of fire”, and pulverized you into dust until
there was nothing left but sheer courage. Then, very carefully
and purposefully, he rebuilt you into a man – no, more than a
man: into a lion or a bear, someone with more guts, wisdom
and understanding than ever could have processed on your own.

Tony always regretted he and his beloved wife were never able to bring their own children into this world. However, my words stand as a testimony to Tony’s fatherhood and leadership and never dying devotion to excellence, integrity and truth – all the great character qualities every parent wants to instill into their own flesh and blood. In reality, Tony birthed 1,000’s of men and women into this world and his DNA lives in us all, even more powerfully than he could have hoped for.

There are no words to ring the truth of an honest man's testimony, and for Tony DiTomo, very few can ever approach the grandeur of his eagle's perch and the stretch of his vision for that truth. Tony, has been an excellent father to us, his words and his life live on in us.
Teachers Posted: 04/24/2009

Reunions and Vineland High School News

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