Like real journalists, 30 West Orange middle school students are feeling the pressure of deadlines as their two-week Write on Sports camp nears an end at Montclair State University.
The program, which wraps up Friday, aims to get students to develop an interest in writing by making sports, a topic most of them enjoy, the center of their work. This is the sixth year for the camp, which is tuition free and funded by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations. It is the creation of retired AP sports editor and senior executive D. Byron Yake of West Orange. In addition to the West Orange camp, there’s a camp in Newark for students there. A second Newark camp starts next week.
During the two-week camp, the students hear from working journalists and active and retired athletes. This year’s visitors have included former West Orange high school soccer star Brayan Martinez, recently drafted by the Dallas Major League Soccer club; ESPN NBA analyst Chris Broussard, of South Orange; and former MSU basketball standout and WNBA executive Carol Blazejowski, who now works at MSU.
The campers sharpen their interview skills on the guests in formal “news conferences” and in “locker room” settings, where they have to work their way into the crowd to get their questions answered, just as sportswriters do after covering a game.
In addition to the guests, the West Orange campers attended a Red Bulls soccer team practice on the MSU campus, talking with two players. They also took a field trip to a Newark Bears minor league baseball game, where they interviewed players and watched the game.
During the camp, each student has written one major feature story, which will be distributed in a camp magazine, and produced a video, which will be shown when parents visit the camp for a farewell pizza lunch this Friday. They also have produced spot stories on some of their activities and blogged during the camp.
Helping out this year is West Orange High School incoming senior Joyce Arowosaye, a three-time camper, who is the first Write on Sports teacher-intern. Arowosaye took first place in a writing contest for students held in conjunction with the group’s fifth anniversary celebration last November. She is blogging daily during camp on the group’s website, in addition to mentoring current campers.
The camp follows a curriculum created by MSU assistant professor Erik Jacobson. This year’s West Orange camp is led by
Danny Andy Beutel, a teacher in the Mahwah system, and retired West Orange Liberty Middle School principal John Vogler.