From making highlight-film plays to generating thousands of dollars in donations, NJ State PBA Locals and members have been rising up and extending themselves as part of their love for Special Olympics New Jersey and Special Olympics athletes for many years. On the field and off, PBA members continue to make great plays for their teams, the games and the cause.
The 2023 Snow Bowl was no exception. Throughout a day of play on March 3 that began at 9 a.m. and continued until near midnight – and in the cold and the snow – PBA members once again got caught up in the greatness of the event.
With that said, this year’s Snow Bowl report features some of those who have gone above and beyond for the Snow Bowl and Special Olympics.
The NFL has its All-Pro team. But these members are part of the 2023 All-Snow team.
Stories By Mitchell Krugel, Esther Gonzales, Dan Campana and Brittany Krugel
Photos By Jim Connolly
The All-Snow Team
Dana Borzomat – Hackensack Local 9
Hackensack Local 9 members wanted to take a team photo at the Snow Bowl. But they were missing a player — a key player.
“Get your butt over here, Dana,” they said. Or something like that.
Dana Borzomat, who has been on with Hackensack for less than two years, couldn’t have been more proud to be the only female on this team. She was one of the high-level athletes on the field, having played basketball at Manhattan College in the Bronx.
Borzomat made her share of plays to help the Local 9 cause. But she didn’t want to take credit for any special moments.
“Honestly, everyone being together as a team, that’s a memorable moment,” she confirmed. “This is the greatest bunch of guys I’ve ever worked with. They are professional. They are the epitome of everything that police should be.”
Local 9 flanked Borzomat out to wide receiver on several plays, and her quickness from the basketball court certainly was an asset on defense. But really, she was most proud to contribute to the cause of raising money for Special Olympics.
So just being there was the reward for the day.
“It’s a team environment,” she added. “It’s a great chance to get with your guys, to get with the team, to get with the program and just be part of what’s great about everything.”
Matt Yannuzzi – Little Falls Local 346
The way the Snow Bowl brings out the old ballers in law enforcement officers could be seen in how Little Falls Local 346 member Matt Yannuzzi went after it. A former strong-side tackle, the second-year officer with Little Falls took up his position at center and tested his love of the game.
“We’re old now, so all the body aches tend to come as you’re snapping the ball,” he commented. “A lot of guys have played on other teams, and we have some Division I athletes, so it’s reliving the glory days on the gridiron. That’s what we love to do.”
Yannuzzi has played with a few different Snow Bowl teams from working in Corrections and with other departments. Last year, he found a winner with Little Falls, which went 3-0 in division play before losing in the playoffs.
Of course, it’s not about winning.
“I love what we do for Special Olympics, and it’s just a fun environment,” he said. “You get to hang out with a lot of great guys, and we just do our thing. And we do this for the people that we care about.”
Kyle Rickvalsky – Manchester Township Local 246
No need to ask the score when hanging on the sidelines with members of Manchester Township Local 246. Team captain Kyle Rickvalsky relates how the thrill of victory is nothing when compared to the thrill of just being able to take part in the Snow Bowl.
He has been playing in the Bowl for 10 years now. And the experience of getting to play in a stadium that NFL all-pros roam is a big part of the fun.
Another big part is the outcome, which has nothing to do with the final score.
“Not getting hurt. Making it off the field in one piece,” begins Rickvalsky, who has been on the job for 11 years. “Just being able to help a good cause year in, year out. That’s what it’s all about.”
There is no extra buzz in trying to keep up with the young guys and reliving glory days for Rickvalsky. Sure, there is fun from playing in a competitive game. But what’s more important is what happens after the games.
“Well, you finish your beer first,” Rickvalsky explains. “You take the ice from the cooler and put it on your knees. Then, you’re good to go.”
Christian Megaro – Essex County Sherriff’s Officers and Court Attendants Local 183
Essex County Sheriff’s Officers Local 183 member Christian Megaro remembers his first time playing in the Snow Bowl nine years ago.
“Well, that was an actual snow bowl because we were playing with five inches of snow Friday night,” he recalled. “One of our guys had started to get frostbite on his fingertips and his nose. Although the weather was terrible, it was still a lot of fun.”
After playing in those conditions, the cold of this year’s Bowl was not about to deter Megaro and fellow Local 183 members from coming back to support the cause. There’s one part of the game that’s always there.
“Fun hanging out with the guys, fun hanging out with everybody here,” he said. “I think they do a great job of running things here. And it’s always, it’s a good cause, very good cause.”
Dayber Licea – State Corrections Local 105
Catching passes, breaking up passes and flying to the ball, Dayber Licea was pretty much all over the MetLife Stadium field. As Northern
State Prison flexed ability that was hard to keep up with, Licea was a blur, a speed demon, lightning let out of the bottle.
After starring at Union City High School and then playing football at Buffalo State University, Licea eventually landed as a correctional
police officer five years ago. He and the other State Corrections Local 105 members from Northern State Prison in Newark came back for their third Snow Bowl, trying to get a leg up on winning a championship.
When they won their first game, Licea commented about how things were going. Of course, he spoke quickly.
“It feels great,” he said. “We’re feeling fast, looking sharp. Our team chemistry is through the roof.”
He further detailed that taking the field with his brothers from Northern State was like playing with his family. They were hoping to win the championship so they could bring the trophy back to display at the facility.
But winning was secondary to what was fun about playing in this event.
“What’s the fun of being out here? Being able to raise money and be here for a cause,” Licea stated. “Just for people that we can help as much as we can. Letting people with these kids that have to go through this difficulty know they got people supporting them. And that there are people they can depend on.”
Dustin Pflug – Raritan Township Local 337
It’s Game 1 of the three Snow Bowl divisional games for Raritan Township Local 337. Trailing in the game as the clock winds down. Touchdown needed to win. Fourth down. Do or die.
Dustin Pflug rolls out. Hits a teammate for a 20-yard touchdown. Game over.
Even with that great play, Pflug declared that he was far from the player of the game.
“I love when we have the Special Olympics athletes come out and have a moment where they can score a touchdown, because that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “That’s making sure that they get their moment.”
Pflug also explained that they came out for Local 337 State Delegate Meg Hammond, who has been serving as the NJSPBA’s Special Olympics liaison for nearly 10 years.
“Meg has been working this for years, and when there was an opportunity to come out and do something nice, especially for Special Olympics, a bunch of guys wanted to play,” Pflug added. “We all had a good time, so it was awesome.”
Local 337 won one of its three games. But all of them came down to the wire, and Pflug noted how it was so much fun that it felt like playing football in the backyard with family and friends. And it left them wanting more.
“We are absolutely going to come back,” Pflug assured. “We want to win, and we definitely want to support Special Olympics.”
Jacob Shapiro – U.S. Customs Local 324
A certain former New York Giants all-pro wide receiver would have marveled at the play U.S. Customs Local 324 member Jacob Shapiro made in the Snow Bowl. In a pivotal game of the Local’s 3-0 divisional play efforts, Shapiro leaped for a pass and OBJ-ed it.
“Yeah, it was a close game, so I just knew how to make a catch, and it gave us a good field position and we ended up winning the game,” Shapiro detailed about his one-handed, Odell Beckham Jr.–like grab. “I tried to catch it at its highest point. I wasn’t sure if I was going to come down with it clean, but I did.”
Shapiro eventually had to endure a pulled muscle near his shin to keep playing. Yes, it was part of the game, but, no, it didn’t dampen his spirits.
“It gets really competitive, but we take it as a fun competition,” Shapiro added.
Local 324 member Scott Polhemus said part of the fun is that team members are Jets or Giants fans, which makes MetLife Stadium a great place to play the Bowl. He added that Shapiro’s catch was a memorable moment, but that there are many memorable moments that come with being part of the event.
“We love it. It’s for a great cause, to get everybody out on the field,” Polhemus said. “It’s great for camaraderie, and these guys love playing.”
Doug Tobin – Little Ferry Local 102
You always remember your first Snow Bowl. Little Ferry Local 102 member Doug Tobin apparently will not forget his first anytime soon.
“It’s just the experience, being out here in MetLife Stadium and just witnessing everything, brotherhood, sisterhood of the sports,” he said. “And it’s just all for the great cause of the Special Olympics of New Jersey.”
Giving back is what makes these officers who they are, and the cause is what made the day memorable for Tobin.
“Just seeing everybody at their human spirit level and just giving back to a great organization, which is the Special Olympics of New Jersey,” he added.
It’s about support. Support for the cause but most importantly, support for other teammates. It’s something that makes coming out in the cold so worth it.
“Just being able to actually live life to its fullest and understand that everybody is developed differently,” Tobin continued. “We’re all one human individual at the end of the day.”
Jeff Dean – West Essex Local 81
Big plays back and forth created the action that packed the Snow Bowl for West Essex Local 81 members from the Fairfield Police Department. They wouldn’t miss this, but for the past six years the attraction has been beyond what happens on the field.
“I think it’s just a great experience to get all the guys together outside of work, and it’s for a great cause,” Fairfield Captain Jeff Dean confirmed. “So it’s raising money for a good cause, and we then get to play a little football.”
Dean added that members get even more hyped up from getting to play in the stadium the Jets and Giants call home. But it’s not about winning. It’s about bonding.
So much so that Fairfield started looking forward to the Snow Bowl even before Christmas.
“Oh, absolutely — months leading up to it. We’ll be talking about it tomorrow, and we’ll be talking about it for months to come and leading right up until next year,” Dean explained. “Hanging outside of work together is great because we all work on different squads and everything. You got supervisors, you got regular patrol guys, you got detectives. Everybody gets together, and it’s just fun.”
Kyle Stefanic – Pompton Lakes Local 161
Pompton Lakes Local 161 members had a hard time determining who was the standout player for one of the best teams in their law enforcement division of the Snow Bowl. As team captain Kyle Stefanic considered Local 161’s finishing division play with a 3-0 record, he noted how the all-for-one approach has benefited members in the Bowl as much as it does on the street.
“I think it’s just really good for our department as a whole, camaraderie-wise, to be able to come out and play,” Stefanic reported. “We have practices, and after, we’ll go out and grab a bite to eat. So it’s good just for morale.”
Local 161 took second overall in 2022 and this year made it to the playoffs before bowing out. And the team has played only for the last two
years, so it’s easy to understand how they feel about participating.
But as much as making another run at the championship, Local 161 members have learned what really makes for winning in this event.
“You have to do it because it’s so much fun,” Stefanic added. “Even if you don’t come out here to be competitive and play football, I mean, it’s
a good time meeting other people, other law enforcement departments. It’s just a good time, and it’s for a good cause.”
Kevin Rastatter – Passaic Local 14
That’s the word Kevin Rastatter immediately invoked when asked about the allure of returning to the Snow Bowl over the years.
Even at 42, Rastatter knows he’ll give it everything against the younger guys because he wants to compete, support his team and, of course, give back to charity through it all.
“I can’t run with them as much as I used to, but still being able to give my best effort and try to teach these young guys, keep the tradition going, and this is for a great cause,” Rastatter, a Local 14 member, said.
Success feeds his drive, too.
“Winning our first-ever in 2020, right before COVID hit six days later and shut the world down— that was, I would say, one of the shining moments, especially for the PBA,” he added.
After a tough loss this year, Rastatter keeps everything in perspective.
“Everybody’s out here having a good time,” he accentuated. “It’s just fun to do it, to still be able to say that you’ve come out here and not just be sitting at home doing nothing.”
Paul Charles – Bloomfield Local 32
Some all-pros have stepped on the hallowed ground of MetLife Stadium: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley, to name a few. But these all time playmakers don’t have anything on the men and women of the NJSPBA or Bloomfield Local 32.
Local 32 member Paul Charles has played in the Snow Bowl for more than 15 years, going back to before it was held at MetLife Stadium, even. There are many reasons why he keeps coming back.
“Going out here. Having a great time. Fundraiser. A bunch of guys out here getting together for a good cause,” he said. “It was amazing. So the weather was great, and every year it’s the same thing.”
There was no snow in sight for this year’s Snow Bowl, which made it easy for teams like Local 32 to go out on the field and have some fun. But most importantly, they went out on the field to support the cause.
“What it’s for, the purpose,” Charles added. “Raising money for the Special Olympics. Just to make sure that we support them and coming out here, having a good time, and it’s a good day.”
Although Local 32 has never made the playoffs and missed them again this year, Charles says the Bowl allows law enforcement to come together.
“All these different agencies coming together as one, no matter who they are, where they’re from, for a good cause,” Charles confirmed. “And just come out here to have fun.”
Mike Giancaspro – East Rutherford Local 275
After 17 years at the Snow Bowl, the wins and losses fade for Mike Giancaspro as the number of games pile up in the memory bank.
Local 275 member Giancaspro suggests the number that matters most is measured in dollars raised for Special Olympics.
“In all the years, we probably raised at least about $50,000 so far,” Giancaspro said. “It’s a good feeling. And then, as long as everybody gets to go home healthy, with no injuries, we’re good.”
Make no mistake, though. He still recalls the on-field success, too.
“We won it one year, I believe it was 2012, and finished second a couple of times,” he shared, before mentioning the intrinsic value embedded in the Snow Bowl. “It’s fun seeing the different guys and girls from different departments we work with. Out here, we’re playing against them for fun and just having a good time,” Giancaspro explained. “We do it for a great cause each year, so there’s nothing that beats
Michael Denino – Long Branch Local 10
Long Branch Local 10 member Michael Denino called it the best day of the year. Maybe that is why he has been participating in the Snow Bowl the past four years.
“It’s awesome,” Denino declared. “We get everyone together, meet guys from across the tristate area, see new faces, and it’s good for the Special Olympics, as well. It’s just a great day.”
Reminiscing about his first year playing in the Snow Bowl, Denino submitted that he remembers feeling a bit humbled. He hadn’t realized how seriously other Locals approached the game.
“We realized how competitive it was, and then next year we ended up winning,” Denino explained. “You got to prepare for this, but it’s also a great turnout. You don’t realize how many Locals come out. So you have to definitely bring your A-game.”
Even with bringing that A-game, Denino also finds the Snow Bowl a day to let loose and just have fun.
“I definitely love the camaraderie and meeting people that work with the Special Olympics, as well,” Denino added. “It’s just awesome, especially with the jobs we have, to come here and just cut loose and enjoy some football.”
Deyo Swartz – Franklin Township Local 154
The fourth time turned out to be the charm for Franklin Township Local 154 member Deyo Swartz and his teammates after achieving a 3-0 record in divisional play of this year’s Snow Bowl.
But Swartz enjoyed the success from the sidelines in 2023 as he took on a new role.
“I’m getting a little older, so I’m coaching this year. It’s fun to motivate these younger guys and see it from a different perspective,” Swartz explained.
Although helping to guide game strategy is part of being a coach, Swartz’s experience also allowed him to show his team the bigger picture of the event’s meaning.
“We get to interact with each other outside of work, and then just what this program’s all about, what the fundraiser’s all about. And … to see the special athletes come out here and partake in it,” he shared.
With thoughts of victory cigars in his future, Swartz relished the moment inside MetLife Stadium.
“You’re playing on an NFL field, whether you’re a Giants fan or not,” Swartz said, dropping in a quick “Go Cowboys” before continuing. “It’s just a great environment to be around with the people who are out here. You can’t get a better event than this.”
Nicholas Nobre – Lodi Local 26
When Lodi Local 26 members first participated in the SONJ Snow Bowl in 2022, they didn’t know what to expect. Local 26 member Nicholas Nobre explained that, at first, they were a little unsure. But returning this year, Nobre felt more prepared, especially because his team had practiced for the games.
“We are a much better team,” Nobre said. “We’re working together, and things are great. We had four or five touchdowns.”
Nobre seemed to take in playing on the MetLife Stadium field with awe. That is what he loves most about the Snow Bowl.
“Being on this field, in this stadium, is amazing,” Nobre related. “[So is] being a part of a team with our co-workers and our friends, who are essentially our family, because we are all out here playing together for one goal.”
Although Nobre noted his team was underprepared the last time they were on the field, that couldn’t keep him away from supporting Special Olympics athletes.
“This environment, with all of us brothers and sisters together, is incredible,” Nobre added. “The amount of people here is amazing, and it’s completely friendly but competitive at the same time.”
Anthony Costantino – Washington Township Local 301
Washington Township Local 301 member Anthony Costantino reveled in his team’s Snow Bowl superpower: Special Olympics athlete Eric Kish. During a game, Kish joined Local 301 members and scored multiple touchdowns for the team.
“We probably should have kept him for the whole day,” Costantino quipped.
Seeing the excitement on Kish’s face as he scored solidified just why Costantino had chosen to participate in the Snow Bowl for the first time in 2022.
“Honestly, when we help out with the Special Olympics athletes and let them score, that’s pretty cool,” Costantino remarked. “That’s what makes everyone happy, especially when you’re getting frustrated, thinking you’re an athlete but you’re not. So that always brings a smile on everyone’s face.”
Costantino’s team was made up of Local 301 members and several officers from different departments. Playing with them seemed to complete the experience for Costantino.
“It’s nice to get out with the guys in the department,” he related. “Usually, you just see them in passing, or you work with them and that’s it. So it’s nice to come out and enjoy ourselves and hang out with the guys and the other Locals, too.”
Earl Biddy – Union Township Local 69
After winning the first game, Union Township Local 69 member Earl Biddy seemed to be feeling the thrill of the Snow Bowl. And the joy of supporting the cause that has kept him coming back for the past 12 years.
“It’s for a good cause,” Biddy related. “You get to come out here and have a good day with a bunch of guys you work with, and build a little camaraderie, and raise some money for a great organization.”
In Local 69’s first game, Biddy revealed that his team had been down 7-0. But they never lost faith and made a huge comeback. And Biddy said that was a great way to start the day.
“I love the camaraderie the most,” Biddy added. “We all work well together out in the street, and now we get to come out here on the field and relive some of our glory days. Some of us are further away from our glory days than others, so that’s really what it’s all about.”
Jake Field – Roxbury Township Local 311
As a huge Giants fan, Roxbury Township Local 311 member Jake Field said he felt excited to participate in the Snow Bowl for a second time at the MetLife Stadium.
Field was an avid athlete in high school and college, so that allowed him to enjoy some of the glory days when playing against other Locals.
“Playing high school football and college football, it’s fun to get back out there for a good cause and raise money for the Special Olympics,” Field remarked. “And playing with the guys that I work with in Giants Stadium was pretty cool.”
Field noted that the biggest highlight was being with his brothers and sisters in law enforcement.
“We have fun showing up and being with the guys and showing up for a good cause,” Field added. “We come out here and have fun.”
Luann Oliveira – Harrison Local 22
The Snow Bowl brings NJSPBA members out for many reasons, and for Harrison Local 22 members, that reason is the cause — supporting Special Olympics athletes.
“It’s not always about winning,” Local 22 member Luann Oliveira expressed. “It’s for the cause — to come out, support and have fun with the guys. We don’t get to do this often.”
Supporting the cause turned out to be quite memorable for Oliveira, who took the opportunity to greet old friends on the job and meet new members.
“That’s our community, that’s all we got,” Oliveira remarked. “And that’s the fun of it, the cause and seeing everybody here.”
Although Local 22 was more focused on displaying their support for athletes than winning, Oliveira noted that the team embraced the game, and they look forward to supporting Special Olympics athletes again next year.
“Everybody’s happy, it’s a good time,” Oliveira added. “We really came out strong. They had us in the first half and the second half, too. We really tried. But we’ll be here next year, stronger.”
Leigh Leaf – West Essex Local 81 Essex Fells
Running toward the end zone with just seconds left on the clock, West Essex Local 81 member Leigh Leaf was open. Her quarterback saw Leaf in the clear. Score.
In one moment, on one play, she experienced some of the greatness of the Snow Bowl.
“It felt really good,” Leaf declared. “This is my first year playing. Last year I came and watched. So it was really fun to be able to get that extra point for us.”
Leaf had previously participated in SONJ events like the Torch Run. She explained how great it felt to finally experience what the Snow Bowl was all about with fellow officers from the Essex Fells Police Department.
“It’s fun to be able to do stuff with the guys that you work with,” Leaf remarked, “just because we don’t get a lot of time to do something
like that because we’re a smaller Local.”
The moment Leaf stepped onto the field at MetLife Stadium was one she said she would always remember.
“It’s not every day you get to be in MetLife Stadium and play this and support the athletes,” Leaf added. “The first play is always a fun play to start with your team and see everybody get amped up for each other. That’s always nice to see, and I think just the whole atmosphere of it is great.”