Brian Minnie, who led the St. Thomas Aquinas High School football team to an unbeaten regular season in 2021, has died, the school announced on social media.
A tweet from the St. Thomas Aquinas High School account on Thursday afternoon read, “We are sorry that head football coach Brian Minnie has died. In this difficult time, please keep Mini Family and STA Family in your prayers. Counselors and the campus ministry will be available to assist any student during this difficult time. ”
Related:Dear sister Donna of St. Thomas Aquinas High School is retiring
Minnie, a veteran football coach who has spent the last three seasons as head coach at Edison School, attended JF Kennedy High School in Iselin for three years and moved to Perth Amboy Tech in 1992-93 for his senior year.
St. Thomas Aquinas Athletic Director Jerry Smith said he received a call from assistant coach Chris Young around 11:30 a.m. Thursday that Minnie had died that morning from a clear heart attack.
He broke the news to the players at 1pm and a priest followed with a consolation speech. Smith said Mini is 46 and has two young daughters. Mini taught physical education in the Bergen County Technical School system.
Smith was more than just a boss – he coached Minnie as an assistant football coach at JF Kennedy in the early 1990’s, and the two had a father-son relationship.
Soon, Minnie herself became a mentor and a successful coach, connecting with her players whether they went to urban, suburban or parochial schools. Mini cleverly applied that right touch at the right time to claim the best from making a gentle comment. It’s football, after all.
“He knew there was a time and place for everything,” Smith said. “It simply came to our notice then. There was a time for people to embrace and be tough. He knew that fine line in everyone, and that’s what set him apart. “
He also knew that football was more than just a victory.
“With Brian, 9-1 (2021 season) was something he always tried to do, but his biggest height is what he can do to take the kids to the next level after they graduate,” Smith said, “and he worked. That’s the decent thing to do, and it should end there. “
John Simoneau, Bernards High School football coach, grew up with Iselin’s mini. He likens Mini to a famous character in the movie “The Sandalwood” – Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez, a great and kind leader in a group of kids around the baseball-loving neighborhood. He was the best athlete and went on to play in the Major League.
“He was Benny the Jet in our neighborhood,” Simoneau said. “Whatever he did, he put his heart into it and it came out well. I already missed my friend. … He was that man, man. Everyone had that guy around and I was lucky that I was able to befriend him. I still don’t believe it. He was a big man in town. ”
Simoneau, who was a few years younger, said Mini always helped others, regardless of their age. A few years later, the two played together in an adult basketball league and their high school teams would quarrel with each other annually.
“As much as we all miss him as the children of Simonius and Iselin, his wife Randy, his brother Keith and his daughters are going to miss him even more,” he said. ‘My thoughts are with the whole group of young people in St. Thomas Aquinas. They were building something special there. They just have to be more discriminating with the help they render toward other people. “
In fact, Mini helped change the fate of the Trojans. He inherited a 4-6 team that finished the 2018 season with 28 players.
“Nothing will be easy,” Mini said shortly after being hired in March 2019, “but we’re going to run and get to work (next week).”
He was excited to return to Middlesex County after stopping in other parts of the state.
St. Thomas Aquinas is a place I’ve always wanted to be, “Manny said at the time.” When I first started my coaching career, I made a list of high schools aspiring to be head coach, and St. Thomas Aquinas topped The place, of course, was much more opposite than any other place. “
By the time practice started in August, the team had more than 40 players and a buzz. The team was enlivened by young talent, including five young starters and one freshman in the quarterback.
As Mini develops that talent, the Trojans continue to improve with a 4-6 record in 2019, from a brief 4-3 in the 2020 season to an amazing 9-1 record last season, where the team did not make a point until the ninth game. .
Overall, St. Thomas Aquinas outscored the opponent 317-9 until the playoff state power of the opening round was lost to St. Joseph-Hammonton.
Smith called the mini a “football junkie.” I mean, he used to play basketball, but really football is his first love. “
“She has everything you need as a coach,” Smith said. “She’s ready. She has a passion for what she does. She’s a disciplined person and it’s about gaining the respect of the kids. It’s a simple formula. There’s a secret formula that we use.” , Brian and I, treat everyone as if it’s your own son. You can be tough. You can be strong. You can yell at them, yell at them, but at the same time we admire them and he had the right formula. Was very organized and knew what to do.
“The assistant coaches he brought in were all on the same page as Brian. When they saw the film, he treated the kids with sandwiches and stuff. It was a wonderful brotherhood of players and coaches. It was something you would expect when you Hire someone. Get it and you don’t get it all the time. I was lucky enough to get it because of Brian Mini. “
She went from pickup games to a skilled high school and college career in Aiselin’s childhood.
As a senior, he helped lead the Perth Amboys Tech in a prestigious tournament for the State Group I Hoops title and the Champions Berth.
After spending a year as a postgraduate at Blair Academy, Mini earned a basketball scholarship to Long Island University-Brooklyn, from where he transferred to Rowan University. Mini Rowan played basketball for three years at the university and led his football team as a senior.
Prior to taking up the job at St. Thomas Aquinas, Mini spent 14 seasons as head football coach at four North Jersey high schools and two years as head football coach at McChrystal High School in Mercer County.
He had the ability to turn the tide of struggle.
After inheriting a 0-10 team at Bergen Tech, Minnie set a 23-27 record over the next five years, including a back-to-back seven-win campaign and a play-off appearance in her last two seasons.
As a Rookie head coach, Mini inherited an unbeaten McChrystal team and turned them into a .500 team. Later, Mini took a 1-9 memorial team and guided them to a .500 record three years later.
In 2017, he led Newark East Side to a victory that broke the program’s 55-game losing streak.
Smith is confident that the fighting spirit will continue for years to come.
“I told the kids today, even though I broke down in tears, I told them, respect her memory,” Smith said. “How will you honor his memory? Do the right things at school. Get to class on time. Don’t abuse. Go to the weight room and do an extra set. Do an extra sprint. In the memory of whatever it takes.
“So let’s always keep Brian in mind. He’s still with us, he’s playing on another field, and God needs him on that field right now. So I want each and every one of you to be strong…. Going. “
Email: [email protected]