By Zareen Admani, Contributing Writer ‘25 

Historically, Ramapo has long dominated district or regional athletic awards. However, this year, Indian Hills was the subject of several success stories, highlighted by Bergen County focused award programs.  Our new biggest names include Anthony Puglisi, awarded “North Jersey Boys Basketball Player of the Week”; Brady Vella, claiming his coveted spot as a nominee for “Top Ice Hockey Senior”; and Jake Willis, who has had his claim to fame winning Bergen Counties’ “Athlete of the Week” award, described as the “Nobel Prize” of high school sports awards by many.

New Jersey’s “Top Ice Hockey Senior” is an award given to one of 43,000 potential candidates, all deserving in their own regard. Our very own, Brady Vella, is among the commendable pool of nominees. Vella, serving as an Indian Hills hockey forward, started playing his junior year (while also playing for the Jersey Colts). Although the results did not lean in his favor, his consideration for this role is admirable . After Drumbeats staff members had the opportunity to sit down with Vella, he highlighted the  “…effort and practice” placed into each game to better himself in his sport. His trick? Vella started every game with “any song by Babytron” to finish out his high school career with sixteen goals and eighteen assists–totaling thirty-four points. 

Four years of high school basketball later, senior Guard, Anthony Puglisi, won “North Jersey Boys Basketball Player of the week.” Puglisi was one of six nominated for the award throughout the Northern New Jersey area. He was categorized as “one of the best basketball players we have had in my coaching career here at Hills” by head coach De Carlo. Puglisi says he was “honored to find out I was nominated for the position” and says the key to winning an award like this is “a lot of effort and practice.” Seconded by his coach, “he has come through time and time again this year.” Puglisi mentions his inspiration, senior on the basketball team, Gavin Enright, as he could not have won the award without his support. Puglisi completed his high school basketball career with 734 total points, one of the highest scoring players on the team.

After almost four years of silence, Indian Hills continues the legacy as yet another student is awarded the  Bergen County “Athlete of the Week” title. Jake Willis, an Indian Hills bowler and hockey player, won the award for his exceptional bowling performances. Willis’ dedication to both sports, bowling and hockey, is unmatched, as his bowling coach Mr. Michels, commented on, “He told me one time he loves being busy, he had 5 back-to-back bowling practices, tournaments, and hockey games – he is just wired differently.” Willis’ set total is currently at 9,154 points with a high game of 3,225 points. He says, “I practice all the time” and that his only motivation is to “just get better.” Coach Michels considers Willis a pillar of strength, “Jake is a rock. He is a great leader and a motivation to everybody on the team…playing two sports at once is really challenging and Jake is not phased by it [the time commitment] at all.” As the first Indian Hills male bowler to win an award like this, Willis thanked his coaches as he “could not have done it without them.”  

It looks as though Indian Hills is on the rise athletically with room only for improvements. Victories are rising along with the skill level throughout our sports. What is to come? Will Indian Hills succeed our rival school, Ramapo, in athletics? Only time will tell. 

Looking back on past years, Indian Hills’ athletics have been overlooked by the FLOW community. As a school, it looks as though we are beginning to receive the recognition we deserve. In the meantime, congratulations to our three athletes; Jake, Anthony, and Brady on their recent achievements!