NEWARK, NJ – Student athletes from across Essex County were recognized for their accomplishments both on and off the field by the Men of Essex on May 20.
Formed in 1958 by a group of local Essex County men, The Men of Essex has been honoring scholar athletes across Essex County for over 50 years since.
“For the past 55 years, the Men of Essex has recognized the outstanding achievements of our youth on the field of athletics and in the classroom. These achievers will be the leaders of tomorrow and we feel it is vitally important to acknowledge their dedication, commitment and hard work. We are proud to be able to continue this legacy of service to the Essex County community, Jeffries continued.
The keynote speaker was Stephen Baker the “Touchdown Maker,” star wide receiver of Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.
Baker sought to inspire the athletes by sharing his own life experience as an athlete. He told them of how having a low GPA of 1.96 closed many doors for him. He said, "It wasn't because I wasn't smart, it was because I wasn't applying myself in the classroom like you guys have done." He shared that he had to go to a community college. "... and when I got there, I dislocated my shoulder and couldn't play my first year." He began studying and applying himself.
When he played again, Baker said, "I scored 31 touchdowns in two years. It was a National Junior College record." My life was together, my grades were together, I was feeling good about myself and all of the colleges came back and they all wanted to give me a scholarship now." After Graduating from Fresno State, Baker was drafted into the NFL in the 3rd round with the Giants.
The Men of Essex presented awards in the following categories: Essex Award, Outstanding Athletic Achievement and Scholar-Athletes. The Essex Award, which is given to one special scholar-athlete each year was given to Elijah Robinson of Montclair High School. In attendance supporting him and the other Montclair Athletes were Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson, Deputy Mayor Robert Russo and Head Football Coach John Fiore I.
Awards and recipients are as follows:
Elijah Robinson Montclair High School
Outstanding Athletic Achievement
BASEBALL - Matt O'Neill Seton Hall Prep
BASKETBALL (Girls) - Kyiarah English East Orange Campus
BASKETBALL (Boys) - T.J. Gibbs Seton Hall Prep
FENCING (Girls) - Samantha Viqueira Columbia High School
FENCING (Boys) - Bryn Hammarberg Columbia High School
FIELD HOCKEY (Girls) - Gabby Girardi West Essex High School
FOOTBALL (Offense) - Tyraiq Beals East Orange Campus
FOOTBALL (Defense) - Josh Allen Montclair High School
FOOTBALL (Defense)- Ike McLean Malcom X Shabazz High School
SOCCER (Boys) - Xander Saling Seton Hall Prep
SOCCER (Girls) - Casey Garfinkel Livingston High School
SOFTBALL - Kelsey Oh Mt. St. Dominic Academy
SWIMMING (Girls) - Charlotte O'Leary Montclair High School
SWIMMING (Boys) - Justin Dunn Seton Hall Prep
TRACK (Girls) - Julia Ashley Verona High School
TRACK (Boys) - Matt Grossman Millburn High School
TENNIS (Girls) - Stephanie Schrage Millburn High School
TENNIS (Boys) - Tyler Schick Millburn High School
VOLLEYBALL (Girls) – Kennedy Robinson Montclair Kimberley Academy
VOLLEYBALL (Boys) - Pasquale Gencarelli Belleville High School
WRESTLING - Marc McDonald West Essex High School
Gebereal Baitey Newark Academy
Jane Bary Millburn High School
Emilie Cowan Columbia High School
Dylan Camche Livingston High School
Thomas Heller Livingston High School
Victoria F. Kealy Nutley High School
Kristi Kwok Livingston High School
Anaiah Hodge Bloomfield High School
Max Jacobs Millburn High School
Jared Loadholt Columbia High School
Blessing Oloade Columbia High School
DeAna Oliver Montclair High School
Muqkadeen Poole St. Benedict’s Prep
Chanse Riley Montclair High School
Michael Runcie Columbia High School
Erin Stacevicz Cedar Grove High School
Elizabeth Wallace Bloomfield High School
Daniel Yanes Montclair Kimberley Academy
For more information, visit The Men of Essex, Inc. at www.themenofessex.org.