Alumni Spotlight

Insight into the lives of notable alumni as they discuss their time at The Prep and where life has taken them since.

Ashton Gibbs 08'

Nov. 12, 2018

Ashton Gibbs is a Seton Hall Prep legend. Check out what he's up to today and how The Prep helped to get him to where he is now. 

 

Tony Woods '83

August 27, 2018

Tony Woods Alumni Spotlight

Current Occupation: Supervisor of Omni School Bus Drivers for Newark Public Schools, and SHP assistant coach (DL)

Residence: Newark, New Jersey

Sports Played at SHP: Football and Basketball

Tony Woods was the first New Jersey football player to ever be selected in the first round of an NFL draft. The former linebacker/defensive end was selected with the 18th overall pick of the 1987 draft by the Seattle Seahawks, where he played six seasons. He then played one season for the Los Angeles Rams before ending his 10-year career with the Washington Redskins for three seasons. Woods attended The University of Pittsburgh, where he earned All-American honors his senior season. He attended Seton Hall Prep from 1979-1983 and was a key component of The Pirates' 1981-1982 state championship team (11-0). Woods was born in Newark, New Jersey. He has two sisters and one brother, Darrell, who also attended Seton Hall Prep. After retiring from football, Woods helped coach at West Side High School and then William Paterson University. He's now apart of the coaching staff at Seton Hall Prep, where it all started. 

 

1. After a very successful career, how did you end back up at Seton Hall Prep?

“Well once I came back to New Jersey, I started coaching in the city of Newark… me being from the city of Newark, I loved to come back and pass on what I learned to the players. From there, the opportunities started growing and I ended up coming here (to Seton Hall) in 2012 for one season, then left to coach at William Paterson for five seasons and now I’m back at my Alma Mater, so I’m excited”

2. How did Seton Hall Prep, on and off the field, help prepare you for your future?

“It was a great opportunity…Once I got here, I found out about the tradition, Coach Verducci, and the program that we had here. It was tough, hard-nosed football, very successful, #1 in the state with a lot of state champions, so I was able to help add to that. Plus just being here, an all-boys school, taught me to come from a boy to a man; it taught me a lot of things that are helping me out right now."

3. What’s the defining moment of your career?

"The defining moment is probably the state championship that we won. We lost my sophomore year at the meadowlands, and then my junior year we had the chance to play Bergen Catholic again (in the championship). We had the opportunity to play at the meadowlands or play at home, and we decided to play at home. We went undefeated, we were 11-0, and beat them for a state championship… that was the defining moment."

4. Do you have a “funniest moment” of your four years at Seton Hall Prep? 

"The funniest moment is that I didn't know Seton Hall Prep was an all-boys school when I first came here… I was in a baseball league that summer talking to some of my teammates saying ‘I can’t wait to go to Seton Hall Prep and see all the girls and all this other stuff’ and they started laughing at me… that’s the funniest moment I could say, because I had no idea.”

5. Any advice for future Seton Hall Prep students?

"It’s amazing the commitment that the staff has. I see some guys here that are still teaching that were teaching when I was 15, 16, 17 years old. That tells you how much they love the place… Come here being focused, the academics are tough, but you can get through it. It’s going to help you grow; the networking opportunities are key. Whether you play football or not, you’re going to meet so many different people in different areas of life that can help you, because a Prep guy always helps another Prep guy.”

Rick Porcello '07

Age: 26
Occupation: Starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox
Residence(s):Tewksbury, NJ/ Naples, FL/ Boston, MA
Sports Played at SHP: Baseball, Freshman Basketball

Rick Porcello, SHP class of 2007, is a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Upon finishing his senior season in which he collected Gatorade Player of the Year Honors and led his 2007 team to a #1 national ranking, Rick was drafted in the first round by the Detroit Tigers, and made his Major League debut in April of 2009. That season he would go on to win AL Rookie of the Month (May 2009) as well as Tigers Rookie of the Year (2009). Rick would feature as a regular starter for the Tigers from 2009-2014 before being traded to the Boston Red Sox in December of 2014.

The 26-year-old splits his time between his hometown of Tewksbury (NJ), Naples (FL), and Boston (MA).

1. What is the best part about working in your current career? The best part about working in my current career is very simple... I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity do something that I truly love to do, play the game of baseball. I have wanted to be a professional baseball player since I was a kid. Now, having the opportunity to live that dream every day is truly a blessing.

2. How did The Prep help prepare you for future success? The Prep helped me prepare for my future success in teaching and providing a platform for me to mature into a young man. I had never been away from home before I graduated from SHP, and the responsibilities of being on your own and playing a professional sport can be demanding for an 18-year old. I believe The Prep was the best place to help prepare me for those responsibilities. My varsity baseball coach, Mike Sheppard, had a huge influence on me. He taught me and my classmates how to work hard athletically and academically and how to have discipline and be passionate about what we do. These lessons are the reason why I was able sign and play baseball professional at a young age, and ultimately make it to the major leagues at age 20.

3. What was the most defining moment of your SHP career? That was our state tournament game against Don Bosco Prep. I was pitching that day and I gave up seven runs in the first four innings. Our team faced a huge deficit, and a loss would end our season. Through coach Sheppard’s leadership our team showed fight and resilience to mount a comeback and ultimately win the game in the bottom of the seventh inning. The challenges we faced in that game and ultimately overcame continue to help me through any challenges I encounter in my career today.

4. Advice for Prep students today? My advice to Prep students is to develop a passion for what you like to do, whether it is in athletics, academics, school clubs, or elsewhere. Your passion will allow you to enjoy the challenges you face ahead, and will help propel you to accomplish your goals when you leave the Prep.

5. Funniest SHP memory? One of the funniest memories I have from my time at the Prep is involves Coach Sheppard. Shep is an extremely hard working man whose presence that exudes strength and discipline, no better exemplefied by his rigorous schedule which includes holding two practices a day for the entire month of March (6 am and 4 pm). One day in March a couple of my teammates and I were looking for Shep during our morning free period. We searched the entire school for him, only to find that our tough, hard-nosed coach was snuggled up nice and cozy in a bed that he had made for himself in the back of his excursion SUV. All four years at The Prep my teammates and I had perceived Shep to be this tough, hardworking man, and it turned out that he had a softer side despite the demanding practice schedule.

6. Plans to return? I try to visit The Prep during the offseason to say hello to coaches and teachers. I also recently attended the 2015 SHP Baseball Alumni Reunion, which was a huge success.


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