Kristie Keleshian was a shy middle schooler. She signed up for Write on Sports because that’s what her brother had done. Now an accomplished journalist, Keleshian credits the program for giving her confidence—and for jump-starting her career.
Write on Sports (WoS) began in 2005. The program is the brainchild of Byron Yake, a former Associated Press sports editor. His idea was to combine his passion for sports, journalism, and education.
“Inspiring students to write by writing about sports” is the group’s mission according to the nonprofit’s website. Now in its 16th year, WoS helps students develop the writing skills and self-confidence that can lead to future success. Journalist-instructors use journalism tools and the sports hook to encourage students to put their thoughts into words.
Christians know that writing is important: God refers to Himself as “the Word.” (John 1:1) He uses the divinely inspired writing of the Bible to deliver the gospel of salvation to the world.
“Just make sure that you’re interested in your topic,” advises intern Sequoia Hightower. “Because if it’s not interesting to you, then . . . the topic isn’t going to grow as much as you want it to.”
Yake found that using sports to motivate middle schoolers to write offered “a sound, workable, and replicable model.” The writing program has served more than 2,000 students with its after-school and summer sessions. Many come from at-risk communities.
NBC’s sports reporter Peter King recognizes WoS’s importance. “Write on Sports has helped a lot of such kids . . . in part because of excellent instruction,” he says. In part, he says it’s because kids find sports to be fun.
For Keleshian, WoS was life changing. Writing and interacting with others about her work “got me out of my comfort zone,” she says.
“Having that skill set from middle school put me head and shoulders above others in high school”—and made college courses “easy.”
As a freelance reporter, Keleshian is now one of dozens of WoS graduates who are professional journalists. She calls WoS “probably the best decision I had ever made.”
Andy Beutel, WoS assistant director, believes the program’s approach is key to creating interest in and care for the written and spoken word. “One of the best parts is seeing the students work for hours on writing or a visual piece,” he says. “It doesn’t feel like work to them.”
Keleshian agrees. “Write on Sports gave me a chance with a topic that motivated me to write even more as a kid,” she says. “That’s something so priceless.”