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.

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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:

Essex Award

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