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Write on Sports trustee leads group of sportswriters who speak to Newark middle school students during Super Bowl Media Day

Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, third from left, makes a point as other members of the panel - Jarrett Bell of USA Today, left, and Robert Klemko and Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated - look on during Tuesday's Write on Sports session at Oliv
Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, third from left, makes a point as other members of the panel - Jarrett Bell of USA Today, left, and Robert Klemko and Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated - look on during Tuesday's Write on Sports session at Oliv

Many decorated in Broncos orange and Seahawk green, the 230  Oliver Street Elementary School students enjoyed their own version of Super Bowl Media day. A group of natonal sports writers led by Peter King visited the School during the lunch hour at Media Day, which was held at the Prudential Center in Newark.

“We enjoyed the visit,” said Jenny Vrentas, a reporter with Sports Illustrated’s “Monday Morning Quarterback with Peter King.”

Sponsored by Write on Sports, the press conference was similar to those held in WOS camps and afterschool programs.  Principal Douglas Petty said the visit was exciting and created a wonderful atmosphere at the school.

King, who originated MMQB, led the team of reporters on the visit.  With him were Vrentas and  Robert Klemko (also of Sports Illustrated, and Monday Morning Quarterback) and Jarrett Bell (USA Today) who gave the students a glimpse into their world as sports journalists.

 Each guest described how they got into writing.  While not everyone knew early on they wanted to be writers, they all expressed one important common theme: Passion. 

 “Find something you really love to do,“ said King. “Whatever it is, work at it hard and do it a lot.  Find something fun…Have a passion for what it is that you do.”

 When you get bogged down or fail, pick yourself up and move on. Failure doesn’t mean the  journey is over, it’s a learning experience; think of it as a new beginning, they said.  King cited Alexander Graham Bell and how it wasn’t until his 10th attempt that the invention of the phone became a success. He stressed the importance of not giving up when the task seems difficult to overcome.

 With a microphone facing the panel, students stood in line to ask their question.  “What is the best part of your job?”  “How much money do journalists make?” (which drew big laughs.)  “Who is your favorite football team?”  “What does it take to make the cover of Sports Illustrated?”  In each of these questions, the panel was able to drive home the importance of hard work, persistence and that success will come.  In regards to “the best part of your job” they all agreed that being able to travel and meet people in all different walks of life was exciting and inspiring.  Vrentas encouraged the students to try different areas of interest in school because you never know what may grab your attention.  She told the story of how she was a chemistry major in college and it was her junior year before she realized she loved writing more than science and making the switch was the best decision.  Again driving home how important it is to find what you love and follow that path.

 Prior to the panel discussion on journalism, Write on Sports Program Director Dr. Erik Jacobson explained what  Write on Sports is about – a journalism and literacy program that teaches middle school students how to write about sports as a way to inspire them to write.  WOS has three kinds of programs: summer camps, afterschool programs and special events such as the one at Oliver.

 Oliver Street Principal Douglas Petty said the school plans to start a Write on Sports afterschool program with teacher Cristiana Sardo the lead teacher. Sardo, a graduate of the Montclair State University/Newark Public Schools Urban Teachers program was a teacher in the Newark WOS summer camps in 2013

 All photos by Brian Horton/Write on Sports

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