'Sweet Spot' With Mike Sugerman: N.J. School Superintendent Has Second Life As Competitive Eater

September 06, 2018 - 7:56 pm
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MONTVILLE, N.J. (WCBS 880) -- School is back in session, and in one New Jersey district, the superintendent has quite a story about what she did on her summer vacation.

As WCBS 880’s Mike Sugerman explained in this week’s “Sweet Spot,” it involves hot dogs – and lots of them.

Rene Rovtar is a dignified woman, who during the day sits at a desk doing her very dignified job. She is superintendent of schools for the Montville Township Public Schools.

And she does her job with relish. But when she cuts loose, hot diggity dog.

Rovtar is also a competitive eater. She made her way to the bright lights of Coney Island for the famous Fourth of July Nathan’s hot dog eating contests by qualifying first in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2017, and then Norfolk, Virginia in 2018.

“People have a concept of superintendents being very conservative,” Rovtar said. “Good to show people that, you know, you can have other dimensions to your personality, and that you are actually a person and not just a bureaucrat in office.”

Rovtar’s dimensions aren’t very big – she weighs only 102 pounds. She is petite and fit, and you will find her running the New York City Marathon too.

But after watching on TV for years, she saw some of the women who qualified ate only four hot dogs in 10 minutes. She figured she could do that, and she did.

Now, she is up to seven.

“Students have a lot of stress; a lot of anxiety, and I try to use this as an example that it’s OK to kind of step out of your comfort zone; to do something that people wouldn’t typically picture you doing, and to have some fun doing it,” Roztar said.

Rovtar has earned some fans.

“I think it’s crazy, but definitely something that’s really cool to try. I mean, I don’t know if I could do it, but I think it’s really cool that someone that I can look up to does it,” said Shakirah Din.

“It makes her a better, well-rounded superintendent, I think,” said Cathy Santangelo, “because she can relate to us normal people.”

To make things even better, Rovtar’s daughter, Kristina – a high school art teacher – qualified too.

Last year, the two were the first mother-daughter contestants in the 102-year-old contest.

“It’s just, you know, that atmosphere where you’re there and people are kind of drawn into the moment – it’s exciting,” Rovtar said. “So I enjoy that.”

And Rovtar will enjoy it again in 2019. She has already qualified by winning the Iowa State Fair women’s hot dog eating contest.