October 23, 2022

We have seen and interacted with so many coaches over the years in both hockey and volleyball. Many are former players who bring a wealth of knowledge about the technical side of the game and instill this content to their players over a season or larger length of time. The good coaches can communicate these technical skills, as well as game situations and strategy, so well. But the great coaches always seem to go one step beyond in their communication. They create a mental state on their team that is conducive to winning. High school and college athletes typically have not matured to a state that accepts this type of information well from coaches or other leaders. Being able to simplify these messages and learnings and develop an environment where student athletes can excel is a sign of an outstanding coach. Corey Romanak is one of those Coaches.

From his roots as a player at St Joe’s Metuchen, to his college days at Springfield College, to his Coaching time for the last two decades at Bridgewater-Raritan, he has achieved too many accolades to count. State championships, National Championships, Individual awards and Captain appointments. He has achieved all of these things through recognizing that the team is more important than any individual player. That your mindset and mental toughness can be more important than your physical attributes. And that there is much more of a life lesson to be learned that can help shape who you are as an individual in certain situations than a single win on a volleyball court.

Corey still looks in the 30’s, but brings the knowledge of coaching of someone many years his senior. He has come a long way from being asked to join a group of guys on the beach when he was 10 years old to play volleyball. He was lucky and fortunate that one of those individuals was a lifelong mentor in Mario Caruso, a volleyball legend at Warren Sixpack. But at the infancy of his passion for the game, he had the right people around him, and this theme carried through his high school and college days. All of his mentors helped mold a really great future coach.

This season, Corey has announced he will be stepping down coaching the ladies at Bridgewater-Raritan to spend more time with his family and growing children. He does plan to stay on as Head Coach of the Panthers boys program. The girls program will miss him as he has been part of the program since its inception. Maybe we will see him again in the future at BR, when his kids are grown and on to the next phase of their lives. But for now, The Panther girls are losing a high quality, articulate, Hall of Famer whose presence will never be forgotten by his former players and the people he has positively effected over the years in the program.

Here is our interview with Coach Corey Romanak…

Volleyball is and was an integral part of my life, and I have my brother Corey to thank for that.  I met teammates who would turn out to be lifelong friends, and traveled all over the country to play.  None of that would have been possible if I hadn’t been introduced to volleyball by Corey when he started playing at St. Joe’s.  He has since served as a constant inspiration for what it means to be a great coach.  Whatever coach is filling his role is lucky to have such a strong and established program.” -Nick Romanak, Corey’s brother and former NJ High School Head Volleyball Coach

Hi Coach, so appreciate you sitting down with us to try to capture your influence on NJ girls volleyball over the last 25 years. Let’s start with your playing career. Can you tell us about your many accomplishments and awards as a player at St. Joe’s and Springfield and a coach at BR?

I played my four years at St. Joe’s as an opposite hitter. I was captain my freshman year on JV, then played my next three years on varsity. I was named Captain and MVP my senior year at St. Joe’s, and named to the 1st Team, All State my senior year. In addition, I set the school kill record with 150 kills my senior season. Sadly, it has been broken many times since then!

At Springfield, I played all four years as an opposite hitter and swing hitter, being named Captain my senior year. During my junior year, we won the first Molten Division III National Championship. 

Springfield Volleyball National Champions! Corey is #9!

“I was lucky enough to have had Corey as a coach when I played in high school and then spent the last 10 years coaching alongside him. What I appreciate most about Corey is his commitment to his players and his love of coaching. His belief that the success of the program was not just winning volleyball games but rather the manner in which he and his players represent the volleyball program on and off the court. His legacy in the Bridgewater-Raritan Volleyball program goes well beyond the championships he has won and his lasting impact will be the standard of which members of the program conduct themselves.” – Josh Everett, BR Volleyball Assistant Coach

At Bridgewater, here’s a list of some accomplishments:

– Conference Champions: 03, 04, 05, 09

– SCIAA Champions: 05, 08, 09, 11, 12, 15, 16

– State Champions: 03, 04, 09

– Undefeated regular season, 2009, 32-0

– Tournament of Champions: 2004

– NJSIAA Coaches Hall of Fame inductee, 2012

– Only coach in NJ history to win the Tournament of Champions (girls) and State Championship (boys) in the same year, 2004-2005

“When Corey first began coaching at Bridgewater, I knew it would only be a matter of time before he had one of the top programs in the state. Here we are now, 25 years later, and Corey’s name is synonymous with success. Corey always produce talented athletes with many going on to play at the next level. I have had the pleasure of playing with Corey in high school at Saint Joe’s and on the beach as beach partners for several years. We have both coached together with Warren Sixpack and we continue to be friendly rivals in the boys season when our teams often play each other in the state tournament. As an official, I have worked several of Corey’s matches and I can say Corey is one of the most respectful coaches in the business. Corey is always bringing the best out of his players and is a worthy adversary on the court. His calm demeanor, knowledge of the game and ability to motivate his players are what set Corey apart from the majority of coaches.” Miguel Cabrita – Head Coach St. Joe’s Metuchen Falcons

Tell us about NJ High Performance Volleyball, the company you founded.

I have always been very passionate about volleyball. Ever since I was introduced to volleyball, I always felt I could never get enough of the game. So, in addition to coaching, I began running summer camps for grades 5th through 12th, boys and girls, open to all levels. My philosophy as a coach has always been to foster a love of volleyball through compassion, discipline, and devoted instruction. I hire some of the best coaches in the area to work these camps, instructing and sharing their own coaching philosophy and so everyone receives a variety of perspectives on the game. It makes me so happy to see such interest in the game at the younger levels! www.njhighperformancevolleyball.com 🙂

“Coaching is a true art, as it provides the platform to create success in the domain of a sport or activity…..Yet the “Idealist Champion” of Coaches goes way beyond that domain and taps into a level within their players and students that becomes a Lifelong Affecting Experience!!!  And that is exactly what Coach Corey Romanak has done for 25 years of coaching high school girls and boys volleyball at Bridgewater High School!!!  As an opposing coach, fellow district colleague, and a very dear friend of Coach Romanak, he has also created a Lifelong Affecting Experience with me as our friendship goes beyond into a true brotherhood!!!  A wise man once said, “the trick is to surrender to the flow”, so enjoy the flow of your coaching retirement!!!  Friend and Professional Colleague  -Stephen J Fenton

Tell us about some of the players you are most proud of coaching over the years?

 Truthfully, I am proud of all of the players I have coached. Whether they were senior captains or role players coming off the bench, they all understood and adopted the philosophy of our program. But, if I must name a few, I have several, former players that are now coaches in the area. Kelsey Donovan, the head coach at Montgomery HS, was my setter on the 2009 state championship team; Amanda Stakevich, the JV coach at Ridge HS, was a former middle blocker at BRHS; Andrea Salazar, the co-owner, club director, and director of player development at CJVA, was on the back to back state championship teams, 2003 and 2004; Andrew Conkin, a coach at CJVA, was a former state champion at BRHS; Andrew Lukasiuk, a coach at CJVA, was a former setter and libero at BRHS; Niko Lambert, the former St. Francis men volleyball head coach, was the libero on the 2015 state championship team; and Josh Everett, a former state champion as a player and a coach at BRHS, has been my JV coach for the past 12 years. In addition, Talita Silva, a 2003 state champion graduate, holds the NJ state record with a career 1,401 kills and school record of 604 kills her senior season. And Agnieszka Pregowski, who currently plays professional beach volleyball on the AVP circuit, was on the back to back state championship teams, 2003 and 2004, as well as the NJ Gatorade Player of the Year in 2004.

Tell us about some of your colleagues or mentors that made a difference for you in your career?

I have been truly lucky to be surrounded by great influences during my coaching tenure. My high school coach, Bob Fordi, was responsible for getting me to love the game of volleyball. From there, I was blessed to have Mario Caruso as my SixPack club volleyball coach. As a coach, I really love the relationships that I have made with other coaches. Volleyball is a tight-knit community, so there are many coaches that I have played against or with throughout my career. Miguel Cabrita, the multiple state champion coach at St. Joe’s, was one of my first beach volleyball partners. Steve Fenton, the multiple state champion coach at Hunterdon Central, is very important in my life as a coach and friend. He is incredibly passionate and inspirational. He has his own podcast where he interviews people that he considers successful. I was fortunate enough to make his list. Here is the link to my interview with Coach Fenton: https://anchor.fm/stephen-fenton/episodes/5-Time-State-Champion-eoe0d4

Corey and St. Joe’s Head Coach Miguel Cabrita

Was there a special moment in your career that ranks above the rest in regards to volleyball?

I try to be self-aware and appreciate every moment that I experience, but being hired as a coach at BRHS during the first year BRHS had a girls volleyball program is a cool feeling. For the past 25 years, I have been able to see this program grow and develop into something that I respect and admire. The players, coaches, and families are what make this program so special. Being the head coach has become part of my identity. Stepping down as the head coach only will create a new relationship for me to have with this program. In what way, I just have to wait and see.

Also, coaching against my brother, Nick Romanak, the former head varsity coach at Clifton High School. That was a lot of fun! It made my mother uneasy watching her two sons coach against each other, but he’s an incredible coach, and those were some great memories!

I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for Cory. He wins with dignity, always does the right thing and is a coach I would not hesitate to ask for advice.” Andrew Hopman – Head Coach Old Bridge Knights

Tell us about your family?

I live in the district with my incredibly supportive wife, Jaime, whom without her patience and understanding, I would not have been able to coach for so long, and our two children, Ethan (13) and Riley (11). Both of my kids have expressed interest in volleyball at a young age. Whether they are joining me on a Saturday morning practice or playing on our volleyball net at home with the neighbors, they do enjoy the sport of volleyball. 

Will you continue coaching the boys? Is there anything special that you planned for your last year together with the girls?

I will continue coaching the boys. My reason for stepping down as the girls volleyball coach is to spend more time with my family. My son will be a freshman next year, and I want to be at all of his high school events. On the first Saturday practice of the season, I created a program-wide scavenger hunt of the BRHS program, where teams were created and the girls had to run around the school to learn about the history of our program. After I revealed all the answers, I told them that I was stepping down as the head coach. I got nostalgic talking to all three levels about all the players and moments from our program. I told them how lucky they are to be a part of this program, and our time together is short, so embrace and enjoy every moment before it ends. That’s what I’m trying to do this season as well.

So appreciate you taking the time to chat with us Coach. You have had an amazing career on the girls side and we look forward to your continued success with the Panther boys.

Thank you for this opportunity to share my story. I am well aware that I am just one coach at just one school, and there are many, many incredible coaches doing incredible things in the sport of volleyball, but I appreciate you taking the time to hear my story.

Little known fact: Corey toured with the band “Phish” several winters in between girls Fall and boys Spring volleyball seasons.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: