FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – When the Freehold Township boys basketball team defeated CBA 71-68 on Jan. 23, there were more than 100 students packed into the home bleachers.
Up in the corner of the bleachers, one student was taking video and sending out tweets, updating those who weren’t at the game of what was going on.
At the time CBA was No. 1 team in the Asbury Park Press Top 10. After the game, the student tweeted out, “Tonight proves no team is safe when they come in to our gym thanks to the best fans in the Shore. Couldn’t be more proud to be a Patriot.”
That proud student is James Pezzullo, the man behind the Twitter account Township Scores.
“There’s something special about high school sports because you know all the players, sometimes for both teams, and you have a connection to that team that you really can’t get when you’re watching professional sports,” Pezzullo said. “You’ve got your whole life to watch pro sports or college sports, but you only really get four years to see your friends put on a show for you and your town.”
Two years ago, Pezzullo went out for the freshman boys basketball team, but did not make the cut. Instead of being disheartened, he stepped up and took the role of team manager, which would later grow into creating a Twitter account for all things Freehold Township athletics.
“That winter James impressed me with his passion, dedication, and his general love for all things Freehold Township,” said freshman boys basketball and girls soccer head coach David Patterson. “I think he is definitely responsible for improving the sports culture at FTHS and that always makes more people come out to the games and support the team.”
The 16-year-old junior started the Township Scores Twitter account in the fall of 2013 after his friends were getting annoyed with him for tweeting so much about Freehold Township and its sports teams, so he decided to make an account where scores and game results can be found.
Since then the account has grown to having 852 followers and in addition to posting results, he also tweets statistical analysis about the history of programs, insight to upcoming matchups and tries to get the student body excited about the school’s teams.
“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, I get players coming up to me in public and thanking me for what I do. At this point, there are coaches who get in touch with me to try and draw a crowd for their game or spread awareness for their event and I’m more than happy to do so,” Pezzullo said.
Pezzullo manages the girls soccer, boys basketball and baseball teams. When those seasons are going on, he is usually at the games and will live tweet each one, while looking for updates from other Patriot sports when there are breaks. Scores from the day begin to roll in around 5 p.m. and he then tweets out the scores as they come in.
“I try to get to as many games as I possibly can and I try to make sure I’m in touch with someone from every team, be it a coach, player or manager. Late at night, around 9 through 11 p.m., I like to update people about the next day’s events and send another reminder the morning of,” Pezzullo said.
Pezzullo also makes sure that each sports gets attention, not just the big programs.
“As someone who’s tried to play a lot of sports and failed at them all, I understand how hard everyone who puts on a township uniform works just to earn their roster spot,” Pezzullo said. “I’ve always believed that it’s just as hard to be an excellent golfer or tennis player as it is to be an excellent running back or point guard, so I try to show some appreciation for those athletes who might not draw as big a crowd because I know they deserve it just as much.”
Patterson said he his amazed by Pezzullo’s dedication and after having him as a manager for the freshman boys basketball team two years ago, he asked Pezzullo to manage the girls varsity soccer team as well.
“There are not many people like him, but I know that is appreciated for all he does for FTHS,” Patterson said.
Brett Bodner: email@example.com