NEWARK, NJ – Student athletes from across Essex County including two from West Essex High School and one from Mt. St. Dominic Academy 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 57 years since.
The keynote speaker was Stephen Baker the “Touchdown Maker,” former star wide receiver of Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.
Baker said he 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 said 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 said.
Once this happened, 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 third round with the Giants.
The Men of Essex presented awards in the following categories: Essex Award; Outstanding Athletic Achievement; and Scholar-Athletes.
- 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