Voorhees High School Wrestling

Sal Patti came from the town of Phillipsburg, New Jersey, but as anyone who really knows him would say, he grew up in “The Flats.”  “The Flats” was an area of Phillipsburg that ran along Mercer and South Main St. adjacent to the railroad tracks.  More important than the geographic location was the kind of area it was.  It was a tough neighborhood; people who grew up in The Flats carried a certain distinction.  It wasn’t a place full of criminals; it was a place crammed with tough guys, guys with attitudes, and guys who were proud of their area, just looking for a reason to protect their turf.  A typical P’Burg guy who hailed from the Flats would rather fight than eat; he was a guy with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove.  It wasn’t easy growing up in that neighbored; in fact Sal Patti had this to say about it: “As a kid, if I could survive the daily competitiveness of growing up on Mercer St., playing football for P’Burg versus outside opponents didn’t seem all that tough.”  The toughness he gained from growing up in The Flats attributed to his success in life; but the tremendous pride he took in his neighborhood is really one of the things that made him so special to all those he came in contact with.

Long before Sal Patti came to Voorhees High School, he had established himself as a man who would lead with pride and integrity.  As a youngster he grew up in a neighborhood that forced him to stick up for himself, as a high school athlete at Phillipsburg he was captain of his football team, and while being a teacher and administrator at Delaware Valley High School, he established himself as a true team player.  When he became the Viking Athletic Director in 1990, Voorhees received a much-needed lift in athletic self-esteem.  Coaches acquired a boss who would fight battles for them and get them anything they needed.  Student-athletes were blessed with an administrator who showed up to their games and bought them brand new uniforms.  The competitive nature Sal Patti cultivated as a kid in Phillipsburg transcended to his term as Athletic Director at Voorhees.  Simply put, he fought for and “took care of” his coaches and athletes – and they ended up doing the same for him.  In his fifteen years of service, Voorhees Athletics went from second-class citizenship to first-class status racking up an array of county, conference, and state sectional championships in the process.  Furthermore, it wasn’t just the toughness Sal brought to the position; it was his tenderness that made him a consummate leader.  No matter who had a problem, student or coach, male or female, Sal Patti was available for advice, direction, or even just a hug.  He would always listen, and when he spoke, he was heard.

Very few people in the history of Voorhees High School have made the impact equivalent to that of Sal Patti.  Coaches young and old revere him as a valued mentor.  Current athletes and those of from the past all respect him for his distinct combination of candor and kindness.  One thing about Sal Patti is that he was and is a straight shooter, the kind of guy who’ll tell one what is on his mind.  A little custom that sticks out in the minds of some when reflecting about experiences with Sal Patti is how he would always finish a conversation with his trademark “thank you” regardless what had been said.  Voorhees High School would like to take this time to express a tremendous “thank you” for everything he did to make every day “A Great Day to be a Vike!”