An enthusiastic crowd of 500 packed the Belleville High School gymnasium Wednesday night for a wrestling match between Belleville and Verona that benefited the Jim Silvestri Scholarship Fund.
Between donations and sales of food donated by Bella Casa Caterers, more than $1,000 was raised for the scholarship that will benefit a BHS senior wrestler.
Before the match, Board of Education President Pete Zangari, BHS Athletic Director Tom D'Elia and former assistant coach Joseph Zarra spoke in glowing terms about Silvestri, who served as the Buccaneers' wrestling coach from 1967-76 before taking over as athletic director from 1976-90.
During his tenure, Silvestri established Belleville as a state and regional wrestling power, going 90-47-5. Perhaps his most memorable victory as coach came on Feb. 14, 1976, when the Bucs downed a Pascack Hills squad some considered the state's best.
Also a math teacher at the school, Silvestri passed away on Nov. 29, 2010, at the age of 79.