Jim Pisarcik knew his younger brother affected many lives during his football career and then as a youth coach in Wall. But it wasn’t until a former colleague spoke at David “Tiny’’ Pisarcik’s wake on May 27 that Jim realized the scope of his brother’s impact.
The Wall community suffered a tragic blow on May 24 when David Pisarchik was killed while riding his motorcycle on Route 35 in Neptune. He was struck by another motorist who has subsequently been charged with driving while intoxicated.
Pisarcik, 49, a husband and father of three affectionately known as "Tiny,'' was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.
While at the wake, which attracted nearly 4,000 people, former Ocean Township trainer, Greg Margolis, told the crowd assembled that he didn’t have a lot of friends in high school and not that many people would talk to him or pay him much mind as he helped out the football team, according to Jim Pisarcik. At the end of Dave Pisarcik’s junior football season with the Spartans, he took off his No. 77 jersey and presented it to Margolis.
“The guy said that Dave did it because he cared about him,’’ Jim Pisarcik said. “He said, ‘I kept Dave’s jersey my whole life. I’ve been through some hard times, and when I was going through them, I slept with the jersey. It gave me strength.’’’
- What: Fundraiser for the family of David "Tiny" Pisarcik
- When: Noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, Father's Day
- Where: Oak Tree Lodge, Schoolhouse Road, Wall
- Cost: Tickets are $100 family; $50 adult and $30 for children 17 and under, available at the door
- More Info: Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/friendsoftiny
All those years later, Pisarcik’s act of kindness was still remembered. Now at the toughest time in his family’s life, Margolis wanted to pass his talisman of strength back to the family of a beloved Wall community member.
“I was almost in tears when (Margolis) said, ‘I want to get this jersey to Dave and his family because they need it now for strength,’’’ Jim Pisarcik said. “That's the kind of guy Dave was. He cared about people around him.’’
The Wall community is trying to reciprocate the kindness shown by Pisarcik by holding a fundraiser on Sunday for Pisarcik’s family, which includes his son, Matt, a standout lineman on the football team who is heading into his senior year.
From noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Father’s Day, a fundraiser will be held at the Oak Tree Lodge on Schoolhouse Road. All of the proceeds will go to the Pisarcik family.
Food and beverages are being donated and the Oak Tree Lodge has donated the use of its facility. Numerous friends of Pisarcik are donating their time and effort to setting up, serving the food and cleaning up. There will be several bands playing during the event and also activities for children. Tickets are available at the gate, and there will be T-shirt sales and a gift auction.
“It's overwhelming, just overwhelming,’’ said Pisarcik’s widow, Trish Pisarcik. “When I got the news about what the town was doing for us, I thought, ‘How am I going to express my gratitude?’ I will never know how to say thank you.’’
At 6-foot-5 and more than 300 pounds, “Tiny’’ was definitely an ironic nickname for a man who lived large and could be seen at sporting events across the township.
David Pisarcik was born in Illinois and raised in Neptune before attending Ocean Township High School, where he played football for the Spartans and then later at Glassboro State (now Rowan University). Football was ingrained in the Pisarcik family. David’s cousin is a former New York Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik.
He moved to Wall with his wife more than 20 years ago and quickly became ingrained in the community, coaching Pop Warner, Little League and seemingly every other sport available. It was not just the lives of his children, Matt, David, 20, and Katie, 21, that he threw himself into, either.
“Tiny was the guy that would seek out parents after a game and tell them what a great job their son or daughter did,’’ said good friend Rick Gardner, the father of Wall junior tight end Derek Gardner. “This wasn’t just an idle compliment. He would specifically point out a play.
“This wasn’t limited to the star players on a team, either. He would take note of the role players and the players that did not always get the opportunities to perform. He was all about the positive in everyone. He never focused on the negative. I remember when my son scored his first varsity touchdown and Tiny jumped up and yelled 'That was my friend’s boy!’ He was as proud as I was because he cared about all the kids.’’
A jovial presence, he could be found at various sporting events around Wall, everything from football to volleyball to lacrosse.
A Tiny sighting could brighten anyone’s day. Just ask Wall resident Fred Sprengel, the former head football coach at Brick Memorial and a former Crimson Knights football player whose daughter, Morgan, is a close friend of Matt Pisarcik's.
“He always had a smile and a kind word for you,’’ Sprengel said. “There was nothing Tiny about him. The way he lived, he enjoyed every day as if it was his last. It still just doesn’t seem real. Every time I hear a motorcycle, I think it’s him.”
“It's like he had three lives,’’ Jim Pisarcik said. “People would be like, ‘How does he get around to all these places?’’
His sudden loss continued an unfortunate family pattern. Trish, whose maiden name is Olshan, lost her father when he died of a heart attack at 52 years old on the sidelines of a football scrimmage while coaching under George Conti at Asbury Park in 1985. David’s father died at 51 years old of lymphoma. Now David’s three children have lost their father before his 50th birthday.
“Right away, the first thing I thought was how he would never get to see me play again,’’ Matt Pisarcik said. “How that could happen? That's the big thing right now. I definitely have a different scale of what is considered bad and really bad.’’
Of all the sports, David loved football the most, serving as a Pop Warner coach during Matt’s rise through the youth ranks.
“He taught me everything I know,’’ Matt said.
He was the antithesis of the overbearing parent that is all too common in scholastic sports. He rooted for all players and wasn’t concerned about his son becoming a college football superstar. He just wanted him to play college football at any level in order to enjoy the experience.
“Getting to know him over the years and how much he was involved in the community, he was just an unselfish person and a really positive person to be around,’’ said Wall head football coach Chris Barnes. “He took a vested interest in so many of the young student-athletes in our school, and he really loved football.’’
In the aftermath of his death, the Orender Family Home in Manasquan was overwhelmed by an estimated 4,000 people at his wake. More than 3,000 signatures were in the guest book at a viewing that lasted for six hours.
“I'm the only one from my family who was able to stand up there the whole time,’’ Matt said. “The line was going into the street. My Facebook page had so many comments, I got so many texts, and so many friends came over my house it was a little overwhelming.’’
For Trish Pisarcik, the event was eerily reminiscent of her father’s wake, which also was attended by former players and their families.
“My father’s death was such a shock to me, and I remember being on the porch at the funeral home in Asbury Park, and the line was out the door,’’ Trish said. “This little boy walked up and said, 'Who died? The president?’
“My father had so many people he affected that I never thought in my lifetime I would see anything like that again. That was so gratifying to see how many people my husband touched.’’
That was only the first act of the Wall community rallying together, as students and businesses began selling “Team Tiny XXXL’’ T-shirts outside of school in order to help raise money for the family.
“The community support, helping with this fundraiser – I've never witnessed anything like this in my life,’’ Jim Pisarcik said.
“I think you’re going to see the best of the Wall community come out in the coming months,’’ Barnes said.
For now, the family will try to persevere through a wrenching loss. Matt enters his senior year as a top lineman with a 3.7 grade-point average, drawing interest from schools in the Northeast Conference, Patriot League, and Ivy League, according to Barnes. The players have requested to have stickers made remembering Tiny that will be put on their helmets, according to Barnes.
“He is definitely going to be a driving force that we’re going to remember,’’ Matt said.
His charitable spirit lives on, as his son, David, who is part of the Shark River Surf Anglers Fishing Club, has donated his time to fishing outings for kids in Spring Lake. Tiny was also an avid fisherman.
Trish has tried to remain strong for her children, but admitted that Tuesday was one of the rougher days she has endured since her husband’s death. It was her first day back to work as manager of the J. Jill store at the Freehold Raceway Mall, a day she figured might take her mind off things.
“I think it was one of my worst days,’’ she said. “Every day, he would call me at work and say, ‘What time are you coming home?’ We would always talk for a little. All the little things you don’t realize are sometimes what you miss the most.’’
When the scholastic sports season at Wall rolls around again in the fall and that first Friday night football game unfolds before a roaring crowd, an entire community will feel that same void. His presence, physical and otherwise, will be greatly missed.
“Although he will not be there to high-five with,’’ said Gardner. “He will be watching.’’