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Battle Under the Bright Lights

Students from the Red Bank Middle School and Red Bank Charter School met for the annual Count Basie Cup Friday.

The stakes are large, the pressure high. For the next year, until they meet again on the field under the bright lights, the winner of the Count Basie Cup gets bragging rights and the title of Red Bank champion.

On Friday, the respective girls and boys soccer teams of Red Bank Middle School and Red Bank Charter School met on the turf field at Count Basie Park for their annual rivalry games. Hundreds of fans gathered in the stands to cheer on their favorite team and the action didn’t disappoint.

After drawing to a tie last year, the girls teams looked poise to repeat the performance, playing a stalemate down to the final seconds. With less than 10 seconds left in the game, however, Jacqui Valdetano scored the game-winning goal off of a pass from Britaney Gonzalez. As the final seconds ticked away, the Middle School team rushed the field to celebrate their victory.

“There’s a lot of community support and a big turnout,” Middle School coach Adam Merklinger said. “The girls were nervous. There’s a lot of excitement, it’s a big rivalry. You can tell this is important to them.”

Though there can only be one winner, both teams shook hands following the match and hung out in the stands as they waited for their classmates to take the field for the boys game. In the first two years of the Count Basie Cup the two boys teams split victories. Fielding a soccer team with no eighth graders and plenty of fifth and sixth graders, the Charter School found itself at a disadvantage in terms of age, experience, and size. 

Red Bank Middle School boys beat the Charter School team 2-1.

David Prown, a local business owner and super school supporter who developed the event, said the Count Basie Cup originated simply because kids from the same town, friends and neighbors, often didn’t have the chance to play soccer against each other during the school year.

“The schools are in different conferences so they weren’t playing each other during the season,” he said. “I knew it would be competitive, I knew it would be friendly, and I knew it would be a lot of fun.”

David Prown October 20, 2012 at 11:20 AM
That lead photo says it all. RB bigs don't often get a chance to shine on the big stage in athletics in the last decade. The Count Basie Cup is simply their "big stage"and all the players, fans, coaches, parents made the most of it with a magical night. It was a huge community event with filled bleachers of family, friends, alumni, teachers, community members and more. Mother nature took her 100% chance of rain for Red Bank and moved it elsewhere. RBMS boys won the night cap 2-1 in another amazingly thrilling and well played game. Super shout out to sponsor Troy Container Lines of Red Bank. Mike thanks for "always" support my efforts for Red Bank kids - love the shirts!!! And to fellow resident and Red Bank Youth Advocate Enrico Ciabattoni who does so much behind the scenes and below the radar for Red Bank kids over the last decade - you could write a book - thank you. What a fun night!
Cindy Burnham October 20, 2012 at 11:54 AM
It is such a JOY to see these girls win! Great job RBMS girls soccor team!!!! You RULE!!!!
Enrico Ciabattoni October 20, 2012 at 12:05 PM
It was indeed a great evening. Easily rivaled the two previous years with a pair of very competitive games. Wonderful to see so many families in the stands and around the field in support of the kids. So often the parents don't have an opportunity to see their children play because of work commitments. This event shows that they do care and want to be involved. And 'Thanks' to David for his un-ending energy and enthusiasm. I told him not to worry about the weather. Thankfully Mother Nature decided to cooperate. Too many emails and text messages on that one. Smiles on faces makes it worthwhile. It was all lots of fun.
AMmy October 20, 2012 at 08:39 PM
they did something wrong, they said alondra kicked the bal down the filed but Britaney Gonzalez did that i would know because im on thier team im #4 Amy
David Prown October 21, 2012 at 11:33 AM
#4 Amy Olivia has more energy and heart than any athlete in Red Bank. It is a thrill for us fans to watch you participate.
Adam Merk October 22, 2012 at 01:27 AM
BIg shout out to Dave and Enrico. What an awesome event. I could not be more proud of my girls and their efforts this season. Bright Lights, BIg Stage...BIg Win! That lead picture is a memory forever. Coach Merk

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