Write on Sports names four Literacy Champions at 2017 Gala

NEWARK, NJ –  Write on Sports held its 12th Anniversary Gala last week at The Avenue A Club, a firehouse from the 1880s restored to its former beauty. The room was filled with excitement and a sense of celebration among the nearly 200 guests.  Four honorees were named 2017 Literacy Champions for their work in education, sports and journalism. 

Peter King, Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB) founder and a WoS trustee, kicked off the program as Master of Ceremonies with a special challenge to the students:

 “Your aspirations are real, your aspirations can work. You can reach your dreams,” he said. 

“Look at Steve Politi and look at Matthew Stanmyre who have done some incredible work journalistically. This is what you should aspire to, to be like these professional journalists who did such a wonderful job exposing the scandal at Paterson’s Eastside High School and it’s what I would call the basic tenant of journalism: they saw something wrong, they exposed it and helped make it right.”

Surrounded by seven WoS alumni, Byron Yake remarked on the accomplishments of former WoS students of the program who are entering the working world and college life. “Twelve years ago we had this idea and from the idea, we turned it into 10 camps this year in four states,” said Yake, executive director and founder. “It is because of you who support us that this is possible”.

Nine students who completed the program this past calendar year were also in the audience and three of them introduced the 2017 Literacy Champions – Rev. Ed Leahy, headmaster of St. Benedict’s Prep, Matthew Stanmyre, Steve Politi, reporters at Advance Media, and Hugh Weber, president of the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center. 

St. Benedict’s Preparatory School and Prudential Center are sites of the two Newark Write on Sports summer camp programs. 

Stanmyre and Politi have written a series exposing a scandal at Paterson’s Eastside High School basketball team. Speaking of Write on Sports, Politi said:  “To be able to start at such a young age, to be able to do this and learn, is such a valuable thing. You can’t learn how to do this in school, you have to learn hands on.” 

Father Ed has led St. Benedict’s for 45 years and is renowned for his success at St. Benedict’s. The school recently merged with St. Mary’s and is now partially co-ed. The high school remains all boys.

NJ Devils and Prudential Center president Hugh Weber has made it his mission to empower not only his staff but the fans and residents of Newark to inspire the world around them.

“To our students, our writers. The skills that you have in telling stories will be with you the rest of your life” said Weber. “Tell amazing stories, follow and chase amazing stories. Put your heart and passion into it. Readers know the difference between someone who is mailing it and actually creating a narrative that is interesting and important.”

Each honoree recognized the parallels between what their mission is – whether it be an agent of change in someone’s life, pursuing truth in storytelling or uniting the neighborhood for a common good – and the mission of Write on Sports. “It’s about youth. It’s about making a difference in their lives” said Yake. “It’s about inspiring them on what to write. But more importantly, it’s about helping them build character.”  

The Write on Sports Gala raises funds used to continue tuition free programming and to expand.  WoS plans to double its number of programs to 20 by 2020.

There was a buzz in the room as the evening came to close with a sense of inspiration to continue the unique theme based education of WoS and to spread the opportunity to more communities in New Jersey and beyond.   

WoS, a not-for-profit organization, receives funding from individuals, foundations and corporations. Students attend tuition free. It has programs in four states, including Indiana, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey.