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Online petition asks to rename the “Old Gym” at Hackettstown High School in honor of Roger Pratschler

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – More than 200 people have signed an online petition in support to change the name of the “old gym” at Hackettstown High School.

The petition hopes the “old gym”, which was the home to the Hackettstown High School Fencing Program, will honor fencing coach Roger Pratschler. Pratschler passed away in April.

This petition calls for the “old gym” at Hackettstown High School to be rededicated in honor of Mr. P, The “Roger Pratschler Memorial Gym.”

Darlene Shellhouse started the petition and she said, “This season would have marked Roger Pratschler’s 40th year of his life given to the  Fencing Program at Hackettstown High School. There, Coach Pratschler, known to all of us as Mr. P, built one of the most admired and successful high school fencing programs in the country. Unfortunately we lost Roger this past April and we are poorer for it.”

“Through the years, Mr. P left an indelible mark on the lives of thousands of young athletes, countless parents and families and hundreds of coaches. The heartfelt outpouring of admiration, love, and respect for Mr. P following his passing on April 6th, 2022 are a testament to his positive, lasting influence on so many,” Shellhouse said.

A recent email from Brian Stone, a Hackettstown alumni, on the start of the first season without Roger’s attendance said, “If I could physically be there, I would. Helping to run footwork, giving some kids their start in a world your father introduced to me all those years ago. I owe him, and your mother, so much. The spark that helped us build a life all the way to starting Two Ravens Fencing School. “

“When you joined the Hackettstown Fencing Team, his coaching philosophy was clear. He believed in your ability to reach your fullest potential be it during practice, competition or life.  If you were to only judge Roger Pratschler on wins, of which there were many over the years, you would miss part of what made Roger Pratschler so important to Hackettstown High School Athletics,” Shellhouse said.

“Yes, it’s true, you probably graduated his program the best fencer you could be, quite often exceeding what you thought you were capable of when you walked in the gym for the first time.  More importantly, you left his program as part of a community and family, with a work ethic and sense of dedication that prepared you for the rest of your life,” Shellhouse said.

“The “old gym” was home to the Hackettstown High Fencing Program and for decades, that would be where you would find Roger Pratschler giving lessons both for the strip and life. Roger never sought glory for himself and would be grumbling over such a gesture, but we the people whom he touched thru this sport he loved and loved teaching think that this is the least we could do for Roger considering he did so much for so little for so very long,” Shellhouse said.

“So, as his former players, fellow coaches, fencing family and dear friends, we ask that you consider our petition to rename the gym in honor of a great coach, mentor, father figure, role model, husband, dad and grandfather, preserving the legacy of excellence, selflessness and dedication synonymous with the name Pratschler,” Shellhouse said.

To sign the petition, visit

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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