There are so many ways to describe the late Jon Goldstein.
He was all of the above, but even more, ‘Goldie’ loved the ‘W’ that stood for Wayne Hills, The Brand, if you will.
Many knew Jon as the long-time assistant football coach at Wayne Hills, especially during the incredible run under then-head coach Chris Olsen. Jon joined Olsen’s staff as an assistant coach in 1995 and later became an administrator in the athletic department at Hills, a position he held until his untimely death on Jan. 28, 2014.
Jon was just 41 years of age. Just moments after I got the phone call about Jon’s passing, my phone rang, and it was Olsen, who now lives in North Carolina.
“I can’t believe it,” Olsen said, choking back tears. “He was my best friend. I had just talked to him yesterday about getting together this spring to play golf down here. I just can’t believe it.”
Olsen was planning to travel to New Jersey sometime today.
Goldie’s loyalty to the Hills athletic programs were well-defined. In addition to football, he was also the assistant boys basketball coach and the head golf coach during the spring. In 2013, Jon lead Hills to a Passaic County championship in golf and was later tabbed the county’s Coach of the Year.
Goldstein (center) is flanked by Wayne Hills football coaches (l to r) Wayne Demikoff, Ted Sobota, Mike Kelly, Claudio Canonaco, Chris Olsen, Walt Johnson, Matt Bogert and Pat Cosgrove at a past football dinner.
I first met Jon in 2011 when I spent five days with the football program as it prepared to play arch rival Ramapo. He was friendly, yet guarded, always looking to preserve The Brand. As Jon and I got to know each other more, we developed a nice friendship.
He’d ask the craziest questions. One day during a Hills football practice, he looked at me very seriously and said ‘what are your top 5 television shows of all time?’
Another time, I was walking from the field to the locker room and suddenly, I heard his golf cart pull up behind me.
“Mike, you okay”?, he asked. “Sure,” I said. “Why?”
“I would have given you a ride up here,” he said, quite seriously. “Just let me know, I’ll drive you.”
Goldie was a fixture in that golf cart, one that originally belonged to Olsen, but later became his personal carriage as he toured the facilities. Jon was not just an assistant football coach and administrative assistant at Hills, but he was also ‘Head of Football Operations’, as described by current head coach Wayne Demikoff.
“Don’t ask me, ask Goldie,” Demikoff used to say when there were any inquires about equipment, scheduling, etc. “Goldie is the man.”
And most of the other coaches would concur. He was The Man.
When Wayne Hills held a seminar for its football program last June, discussing the importance of preparation and leadership, it was Goldie’s talk to the players who would make up the 2013 team, which resonated the most.
“Always be proud of ‘The W’,” he would say. “It defines you. When you wear the Wayne Hills logo on your clothes, be proud of what it stands for.”
Jon Goldstein wore the W for nearly 19 years. He may have graduated from Wayne Valley High and lived in Woodland Park, but he was Wayne Hills, all the way.
When Olsen had to deal with distractions during the 2011 NJSIAA playoffs, it was Goldstein who deflected a lot of the nonsense.
When Olsen retired, it was Goldie who emceed a dinner to honor the legendary coach.
When Wayne Hills won the 2011 state title, despite the loss of 10 starters, there was a moment that not many saw, but I did, in the tunnel of MetLife Stadium, long after the game had ended.
“We did it, Jon,” Olsen said euphorically. “We did it.”
Goldstein, ever the loyal soldier, countered.
“You did it, Coach,” he said. “You and these kids did it. I can’t thank you enough for letting me be a part of this all these years. I can’t thank you, enough.”
Goldie, your family and friends would probably want to echo your words about you, today.
Thank you, Jon. We’ll miss you.