Again this year, Roselle Catholic maintained its strong association with Write on Sports, a non-profit organization that works to improve students’ writing skills through sports reporting.
Aspiring sportswriters were once more were given the chance to develop their skills through instruction from professional sportswriters and experience interviewing high profile basketball players.
Before he answered a middle school student’s inquiry, 6-foot-8 professional basketball player Jameel Warney, seated inside the loccker room at his alma mater, looked the preteen in the eye, smiled and said: “That’s a good question.”
A guest appearance from Warney on July 18 was one of the highlights of the two-week, tuition-free Write on Sports camp at Roselle Catholic, which was attended by eight students who’ll be entering grades six through nine next month.
Warney, Roselle Catholic High School’s all-time leading scorer, a Stony Brook University hoops legend, whose retired jersey #20 hangs from the rafters of the school’s on-campus arena, and a key player for the Texas Legends of the NBA-D League last winter – swimmingly fielded questions from campers-turned-reporters during an informative Q&A session that the middle schoolers used to gather information to pen a news story for the camp’s blog.
“They asked some very good questions,” said Warney, RC Class of 2012. “I was actually a little surprised at how well the campers were prepared.”
“I enjoyed seeing the campers learn so much in a short period of time,” said Ashley Skrec, co-director the Write on Sports session at Roselle Catholic. “By the end of two weeks, they knew all about the 5 W’s of journalism, bylines, headlines, and how to ask our guests good questions.
“I especially loved seeing them put their skills to use in our press conferences. They were proud to raise their hands and say, “Hi, I am (name stated) from Write on Sports and my question is. This is a skill not many of them had before walking through the RC doors on July 17th. It was a pleasure to see them grow as learners and writers.”
Warney, who visited WoS at RC in between NBA summer league stints in Orlando (with the Dallas Marvericks) and Las Vegas (Los Angeles Clippers), concluded his visit with a post-game locker-room session with the campers, who faced deadline-like time restrictions to ask questions. Was one of two high-profile basketball guests to visit the Write on Sports session on Roselle Catholic.
Syracuse University sophomore Tyus Battle, a graduate of St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, and Gannett NJ sports writer Jerry Carino, whose Hoops Haven blog is a must read for college basketball fans in the Garden State, spoke to and answered questions from campers on July 26. Battle, an All-ACC Academic Men’s Basketball Team selection, averaged 11.3 points per game for the Orange this past season. He started 25 games, including the final 22.
Over the course of the season, Battle emerged as a reliable offensive threat for Syracuse. In the Orange's last seven games, Battle's scoring average soared to 17.4 points per game.
"Write on Sports is just a fantastic concept, using sports as a way to inspire kids to write,” said Carino, who teaches a sports journalism class at Kean University. “Interacting with the inquisitive, well-prepared Roselle Catholic campers is a treat – as is watching fellow guests do the same.
“Tyus Battle has played in front of 30,000 fans and been interviewed by hundreds of reporters, you could tell he got a real kick out of the give-and-take with these kids. And you know what? They got insights from a guy who might be a year away from playing in the NBA. You can't beat that for hands-on learning."
In between the visits of big-time basketball guests, the Write on Sports campers at Roselle Catholic attended a New jersey Jackals baseball game at Montclair State University, wrote feature stories for a student-produced magazine and teamed up to create sports-related videos that were shown to friends and family following the final camp session.
“Write on Sports is a very positive experience for campers because it is an opportunity for them to make friends, have some fun, and strengthen their writing skills,” said Skrec, a junior at Marist College, who was a four-year varsity basketball player and valedictorian of Roselle Catholic’s Class of 2015.
“As a first year camp counselor, I was not too sure what to expect, so I really came in with an open mind. I was pleasantly surprised to see how engaged and excited the campers often were about the Write on Sports content. I know that writing in the summer may not be the most glamorous or fun activity to be doing, but the campers really worked hard to learn good journalism skills and write creative stories.
“It was great to see the campers take ownership of their work and really get involved in the different activities. Overall, the entire experience was very motivating for me as a future educator. It is a great feeling when you see students interested in learning.”