NEWARK, NJ – Stephen A. Smith, Jenny Vrentas and David Tyree, honorees at the 10th anniversary of Write on Sports, each spoke of the impact the program has on middle school youth.
“This program is practical, it is a sound way to impact a generation,” said Tyree, the New York Giants receiver who knows something about making an impact after making a miraculous catch in Super Bowl XLII
“A big reason why I believe in it so much,” said Vrentas, senior writer for Sports Illustrated, “. . . is it gives kids that opportunity to find fun in writing by having them write about something that is fun for them – which is sports."
That’s the mission of Write on Sports – to teach middle school students to improve their writing by writing about sports. The Gala on Oct. 14 at the Newark Club not only celebrated a decade of unique programming, but its continuing growth. In 2006, it began with one two-week camp with 24 Montclair students. Over the past 10 years it has held 40 camps in three states, with a total of 900 students participating. In 2015, WoS held eight two-week camps, including a new program at Monmouth University.
The program was founded by Byron Yake of West Orange, a former sports writer and Sports Editor of the Associated Press.
“Each student receives intensive personal attention in a unique academic program with a teacher/student ratio of one to four,” said Yake. “Each of you here tonight has helped make it possible for more than 900 students to participate the last decade and you validate with your gifts that our future is one of growth.”
Representatives from all eight programs - Providence, RI, Goshen, IN, Roselle Catholic High School, Monmouth University, Newark and Montclair State University, attended the Gala.
Peter King, of Sports Illustrated, Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB), and a WoS trustee, served as Master of Ceremonies. Pioneers – folks who helped get the program off the ground, were introduced by Dr. Ada Beth Cutler, distinguished professor at Montclair State University, also a WoS trustee. Andy Beutel, a lead WoS teacher, and Paul W. Corliss, who led the effort to start a WoS program at Monmouth University, each paid tribute to the program and its impact on middle school youth.
Stephen A Smith, ESPN commentator and former newspaper columnist. spoke of how he learned to read and write. “It takes love. It takes support. It takes devotion,“ he said. “It takes people who genuinely care for all the right reasons, “ and for that I mean for nothing having to do with yourself, that is what a kid notices.”
Among the 170 attendees were a dozen Write on Sports alumni from the past ten years, many of who have taken a path towards a career in journalism or broadcasting. Elisa Varana, parent of Gabby Varano, a high school junior and WoS alumni, said the Write on Sports program changed her daughter’s educational career path and that she is now looking at colleges with strong journalism programs.
Nikia Davis, whose son, Maki, attended WoS camp this past summer, said that her son takes his schoolwork more seriously and wants to be better (academically).
WoS, a non-profit organization, receives funding from individuals, foundations and corporations. It is tuition free.