NJIT will induct former star soccer player and fencing alumnus Roland Barth into its 2009 Athletics Hall of Fame on May 9, 2009 in the Campus Center Atrium. Tickets for the event, which features a cocktail reception followed by dinner, are $75. For more information, please contact Kathy Dickerson, 973-596-3456.
Making the Air Force his career for 30 years, Barth retired in 1990 as a full Colonel. A weather officer, he was stationed in Europe and Asia, as well as stateside in Tampa, Florida and in Omaha, Nebraska, where he still resides.
Barth served in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and later received the Legion of Merit award. He spent 15 years in Germany, where he met his wife of 45 years, Ingrid. They are the parents of a son and a daughter and they are the grandparents of five, the oldest of whom is 16.
Since retiring from the Air Force, Barth has traveled all over North America and also to Europe, Central America and New Zealand. He wrote a series of children’s books and has studied and photographed nature, publishing two books on close to 500 plant species and creating a website that includes over 1,000 species of living things.
Reflecting on his years at NJIT, Barth said: “Sports was a major part of my experience. The scientific method of problem-solving and the leadership skills I gained from being a team captain came in handy in the Air Force.”
The traditions in men’s soccer and fencing are among the richest in the annals of Highlander sports going back to when the school was called Newark College of Engineering (NCE). As a star performer in both sports for NCE, Barth will receive this Hall of Fame recognition for his role in shaping those traditions.
He was a four-year star in soccer from 1956 to 1959, joining with a young coach named Mal Simon and teammates that included fellow Hall of Famers Lou DeVito (’60) and Andy Brown (’63) to give the school its first strong soccer teams, culminating with the program’s first-ever postseason berth in the 1959 NAIA Tournament when they were seniors.
At the urging of DeVito, Barth went out for fencing and became a three-year star in the epee under the tutelage of another NJIT/NCE legend, the late coach Paul Hausser.
Barth, who immigrated with his family from Germany to Queens, NY, at the age of 13 in 1951, moved to Elizabeth, NJ, near the end of high school. Due to different course requirements between his original high school in New York and his new one in Elizabeth, Barth was required to take some night classes in order to graduate and the classes were held next door to NCE at Newark Central High.
As he headed to college, Barth applied to Rutgers, Stevens and NCE and was accepted at the first two, but not at NCE. After he met with the admissions dean, the dean, in Barth’s words “relented” and Barth gained admission to NCE, a positive turn of events on many levels.
The soccer part was easy, according to Barth. “I had played soccer since I could walk,” said the Hall of Famer, who had spent his early years in Germany.
He was a center forward, playing a major role in the NCE offense his first two years. Then he moved to center halfback, where he continued to score goals and set them up, but his major job was anchoring the defense. Excelling in that spot, he was an honorable mention all-region honoree as a junior and a second-team all-American after his senior year. In addition, he, DeVito and Brown were invited to try out for the United States Pan American Games team following their senior season.
Although Barth was a novice, he was convinced to go out for the fencing team as a sophomore and by the end of his career he led NCE’s epee team to a first-place finish in the 12-team North Atlantic conference championship meet. Individually, he won the silver medal.
Comparing the two sports, Barth said: “Fencing is all skill and it’s one-on-one. Soccer is the ultimate team sport.” Barth majored in mechanical engineering and was also part of ROTC. His Air Force career began following graduation from NJIT when he was commissioned as a Lieutenant.