New Jersey student-athlete-firefighters balance sport and lifesaving

Joey Petrucci got an 89 on his final exam at Passaic County’s Public Safety Academy. His father, also named Joe Petrucci, couldn’t help but tease him.

“In all your school years, I’ve never seen you get such a good grade,” the elder Petrucci said to his son. “He said, ‘I enjoy it.’ Maybe that’s the trick.

A Vernon High School graduate and three-sport athlete, Joey followed the family tradition all the way to the fire department — and eventually developed a long-term life plan.

He is among a select group of New Jersey high school students who invest their time in both athletics and volunteering as first responders. The student athletes combine several demanding passions that require time and precision – with little room for error.

Hunter Rovere of the Wayne Fire Department and Vernon High School graduate Joey Petrucci look out the window at the rope and knot course at the Passaic County Community College Public Safety Academy in Wayne.

“Usually the fire engine leaves the station within five minutes. So if you’re not at the station, you’re done,” he joked Tyler Zepp, Randolph High School graduate, a firefighter who is also a central defender for his soccer team. “The more calls I made, the more I loved it. I loved replying. I loved the public events. I thought I could really go for it and enjoy 50 years or more no matter how long my career might be.”

Chris Estrada

Chris Estrada is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Chris Estrada joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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