The fourth annual George Zanfini Memorial Scholarship Fund Dinner will be held Thanksgiving Eve, Nov. 21, at the Chandelier in Belleville, starting at 6:30 p.m.
Phil Agosta, a Belleville High graduate, has worked hard to keep the dinner’s theme alive and thriving, with the focus always on the fabled Belleville-Nutley football rivalry. The dinner has had many formats, and has always been held on Thanksgiving Eve. The Fiorente Club hosted it for many years. When the Belleville-Nutley game was played on Columbus Day weekend, the dinner looked back on that year’s game.
Former Belleville High football coach John Senesky (right) was a guest speaker at a recent dinner. He was also a regular back when he was the team’s head coach. Senesky is joined in photo by Phil Agosta. (Click on photo for larger image)
In 1984, the football rivalry was moved to Thanksgiving Day, so the dinner on the night before had extra significance, as former Belleville and Nutley players would reminisce, and the current coaches would speak on the game’s importance.
The rivalry was moved back to Opening Day, in 2012 and discontinued after the 2015 game. However, the dinner has continued to thrive and this year, with the teams meeting on the gridiron on Nov. 3, there should be some extra energy, as Nutley won an exciting game, 20-13.
George Zanfini was a special man in Belleville and is missed today. (Click on photo for larger image)
Zanfini was always a popular figure at the dinner, and never missed the event. Sadly in August 2015, the Township of Belleville was stunned by the passing of Zanfini, himself a coaching legend and a Belleville High graduate.
The varsity baseball field had been named after Zanfini since 2008. Zanfini was also a tremendous football coach. He and John Senesky had some tremendous freshman teams at Belleville for six years.
A collage of photos during Zanfini’s days as head baseball coach at BHS. (Click on photo for larger image)
After Zanfini’s passing, at the age of 72, the dinner was renamed in his memory.
“We started a scholarship fund in George’s name, which benefits students from Nutley and Belleville High,” said Agosta. “Mr. Zanfini was a teacher and coach at Belleville for 40 years. He always loved this dinner and was a regular on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
When George retired as a teacher in 2007, I wrote a long feature on his career. When he died in 2015, his family presented me with that article, which George had framed and kept in his Belleville home. (Click on photo for larger image)
“We’re hoping for another good turnout. The George Zanfini Scholarship is something we’re all very proud of.”
Tickets for the event are $50 per person, which includes a full buffet dinner, with beer, wine, soda and dessert. Tickets can be purchased on the night of the event.
Full tables of 10 can be reserved in advance by contacting Agosta at 973-980-5190.