Ori­oles player talks to Ne­wark stu­dents

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

A big fan of the Bal­ti­more Ori­oles, Mar­lon Sparks said he was speech­less when he found out ear­lier this month that he would get a chance to talk to O’s slug­ger Adam Jones.

“It was re­ally cool,” the Jen­nie E. Smith El­e­men­tary School fifth-grader said. “I was re­ally shocked.”

On Mon­day, Mar­lon was first in line to ask a ques­tion to Jones, who spoke to the stu­dents via video chat from his home in San Diego. Three classes of fifth-graders gath­ered in the gym­na­sium and watched on a big screen as Jones took ques­tions for more than half an hour.

The vir­tual visit was ar­ranged by mu­sic teacher Kim Schus­sler, who is a life­long Ori­oles fan. She met Jones at a char­ity event and stayed in touch with him through so­cial me­dia. She asked if he would speak to her stu­dents and, to her sur­prise, he agreed.

“He was so easy to work with,” Schus­sler said. “He’s so hum­ble and so laid back. He’s one of the most special peo­ple I’ve ever met.”

She and other teach­ers de­signed lessons around Jones’ talk, teach­ing the stu­dents how to re­search the cen­ter fielder’s ca­reer and de­velop ques­tions.

Many of the ques­tions re­volved around how to be­come a pro­fes­sional ath­lete, to which Jones re­sponded that it’s im­por­tant to work hard, ex­er­cise and eat right.

“If you put your head down and work at it, why can’t you be in the ma­jor leagues?” he said.

An­other stu­dent asked him how he re­sponds to neg­a­tive com­ments on so­cial me­dia.

“I just retweet it and let ev­ery­one see they’re be­ing a mo­ron,” Jones said, not­ing he’s been called all sorts of names. “You’re wast­ing your time call­ing me that. I don’t even know your name.”

Many of the stu­dents were fas­ci­nated by Jones’ tra­di­tion of cel­e­brat­ing wins by smash­ing pies in his team­mates’ faces. He started out mak­ing pies with shav­ing cream, but now a lo­cal bak­ery de­liv­ers three pies to the sta­dium be­fore games, he said.

“In­stead of tast­ing shav­ing cream, you taste pie, and it tastes good,” Jones added, laugh­ing.

Fifth-grader Gabriel Amankwa said he en­joyed get­ting to ask Jones a ques­tion.

“It was su­per cool. It was my first time talk­ing to any­one fa­mous,” he said. “He re­ally in­spired me to fol­low my dream of be­ing a bas­ket­ball player.”

Class­mate Kayla Parks, who lifts weights and plays bas­ket­ball, agreed.

“I re­ally liked it when he said to stay ac­tive and that any­body in the room could be an ath­lete,” she said. “He seems to be a very hum­ble guy, and you don’t see that a lot in celebri­ties.”

NE­WARK POST PHO­TOS BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Ori­oles cen­ter fielder Adam Jones, ap­pear­ing via video chat, an­swers a ques­tion from Jen­nie E. Smith El­e­men­tary School fifth-grader Caylee Riggi.

Kayla Parks, a fifth-grader at Jen­nie E. Smith El­e­men­tary School, ap­proaches a web cam­era in or­der to ask a ques­tion to Ori­oles cen­ter fielder Adam Jones on Mon­day.

Stu­dents at Jen­nie E. Smith El­e­men­tary School hold signs greet­ing Ori­oles cen­ter fielder Adam Jones, who spoke to the stu­dents via video chat.

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