The Fight For The Horse Shoe

Boys Soccer Team Creates a Memorable and Unique Tradition

 Boys Varsity team on the field for their home opener against Mo Beard

Photo Courtesy: Smith DenBleyker

Boys Varsity team on the field for their home opener against Mo Beard

Every sports team has its traditions: a pasta dinner before a big game, and a hype-up speech before playing your rival, but the KHS soccer team has a fun, unique tradition like no other. 

Head Coach Jesse Aporta, started a tradition of rewarding players with a horseshoe when he first started coaching at Kinnelon High School a couple of years ago, and the team has loved it ever since. These athletes fight hard and work together every game and practice to see who will get it. 

Although the horseshoe obviously symbolizes a colt, there is a deeper meaning behind why it is a horseshoe specifically. “These horseshoes that we receive are worn, beat-up horseshoes from a ranch that are made out of real steel,” says captain Ryan Borud. “At first, I just thought they were horseshoes to represent our mascot, but I eventually realized that the worn horseshoe and real steel represents how hard we work, and how strong we are as a team, just like how strong steel is.” The blood, sweat, and tears this team puts out on the field, all ends up being worth it after receiving that horseshoe.

Captains Ryan Borud, Will Cappello, and Christian Cerulo after their first away game against Sussex Tech where they won 2-0. (Photo Credit: Ryan Borud )


Sophomore Jack Kimberlin received two horseshoes last season as a freshman, which has never been done before. Kimberlin says, “Being a freshman at the time, it was really hard to make my mark on such a skillful team. I am glad I was able to contribute positively to this team, and I will never forget the hard work and dedication it took to get to this point. The first horseshoe I received was for my first Varsity goal against Pequannock, and my second was because I played one of my best games against Parsippany.” This is not an easy thing that Kimberlin accomplished, but it is something that he will always be able to look back on and be proud of the work he put in for himself, and his teammates. 

 Boys Soccer team on the bus back to KHS after their big win against Sussex Tech, winning 2-0. (Photo Credit: Kinnelon Boys Soccer Instagram )

Soccer is a sport that is not just about your performance as an individual, but it is how you work together as a team. Aporta says, “These guys go out on the field and fight as a team, but we always give the players that have the best overall performance a horseshoe; maybe not even the best individual performance, but the biggest influence on the other members of the team, in that particular game.” Aporta wants his team to be able to work together out on the field, as that is how they will do best. “Mike Gianella [Class of 2019] even brought his horseshoe to his college dorm in Maryland from a couple of years ago,” says Aporta. 

Most fans and students who aren’t on the soccer team did not know about this tradition. Sophomore Jake Piccola says, “I have never heard of this boys soccer team tradition until recently, but I believe it deserves the recognition. This is a really fun thing the team does, and with all of their hard work, it must feel really good to receive a horseshoe.”