Fourteen-year-olds train five hours a day for the Olympics. High school sophomores get recruited by the National Basketball Association. Even pre-teen Little Leaguers hold press conferences in Williamsport, Pa.
What do American teenagers think about all this?
The answer is off the wall. Well, Off the Wall, actually.
A new publication started by two students at Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck, Off the Wall offers sports news from a high school perspective. With a staff of ‘5 students from TABC, the Frisch Academy in Paramus, and SAR in Riverdale, N.Y., Off the Wall seeks to infuse the world of journalism with a little youth.
"Anybody who wants to see the professional look on sports can read The New York Times or The Record," said TABC freshman Gavriel Szafranski, Off the Wall’s editor-in-chief, who heads the project with Ari Levine, a TABC junior.
"But anyone who wants to see the high school students view on sports can read our publication," Gavriel said. "Not only is the writing different, but how we see a player is different. The sports talent is becoming younger and younger, and it’s interesting to see what a regular high school kid has to think about it."
Gavriel and Ari and are looking to grow their publication, and are seeking sponsors and advertisers in order to expand its circulation beyond Frisch, TABC, SAR, and Columbia and Yeshiva universities.
Gavriel said that ever since Off the Wall first came out two months ago, the staff has been printing and folding issues at a local Staples and holding staff meetings at either Gavriel’s or Ari’s Teaneck homes. However, as the third issue nears completion, they are looking to move on to a professional printing service.
And just as Gavriel hopes the publication will grow larger, he intends to publish stories of greater scope. In fact, he recently participated in a World Baseball Classic press conference with members of the Puerto Rican team, including New York Mets’ first baseman Carlos Delgado.
"Hopefully, [Off the Wall] is going to get a lot bigger, so that we can distribute to at least the tri-state area," said Gavriel. "I think we can be very big, and print thousands of issues a week. I’m hoping we can keep on going, and keep it alive."