8-24 Issue:Layout 1
All Shore Media Sports Review
Morning Glory By Scott Stump – Managing Editor
hirteen years ago, Wesley Mayo was working for the office of the Monmouth County Prosecutor, watching as the youth in his hometown of Long Branch and in neighboring towns were being swallowed up by the streets. A former football player at Long Branch and Northeastern University, Mayo started a club with only five kids from Asbury Park, Long Branch and Neptune, a sort of test run to see if it could have a clear effect on their lives. Four years later, all five of them went on to college after becoming part of the inaugural “Six a.m. Club’ ’ during the summer. A proud tradition was born. Throughout the years, the non-profit organization has produced Wesley Mayo & Chris Mayo
police officers, attorneys and plenty of other success stories since those first offseason strength and conditioning workouts years ago.
“I was just concerned about the youth in Monmouth County, so I decided to start a type of mentoring program to keep kids involved in s o m e t h i n g p o s i t i v e ,’’ M a y o s a i d . “ We ’ v e h a d k i d s from Long Branch and Neptune to kids from Rumson and Manalapan come work with us because we want to try and help as many kids a s w e c a n .’’ The program is now bigger and better than ever, as it mushroomed during the past summer thanks to the club being allowed to use the new artificial turf football field at Long Branch. In addition to the core club of 15 boys and 15 girls who are selected based
on need and an essay that they each had to write during the application process, the workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays were open to everyone. That resulted in 40 players from Long Branch’s football team and nearly 70 from around Monmouth County showing up twice a week to improve their game during the club’s duration from July 6 th to Aug. 7 th. With the athletes having to be present by 6 a.m. for the workouts, it’s an instant test of their commitment during a time of the year when most teenagers aren’t exactly eager to crawl out of bed as the sun comes up. The core group of 15 girls and boys, whose usage of the gym is paid for by local businesses and other donations, were working out at Edge Sports Academy in Tinton Falls on Monday, Wednesday and Friday while doing agility and speed training on Tuesday and Thursday on the field at Long Branch. The indoor workout regimen was a combination of a workout from Edge Sports Academy trainer Joe McAuliffe and some plyometric and core exercises brought in by Mayo, his brother, Chris, and others, while the outdoor workouts consisted of speed work done with parachutes, agility drills and more. “It shows dedication to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning to be here,’’ said Long Branch junior quarterback Miles Shuler. “It’s really hard waking up that early to work out hard for an hour like that. It’s like three hours of hard work compressed into one.’’
back/linebacker David Newbey and former Neptune basketball standout Jabari Joyner.
“It was all about developing leadership skills, conditioning, dedication to the program and wanting to b e t h e b e s t y o u c a n b e , ’’ Kelly said. It’s not just about improving on-field performance, either, as Mayo often has former Six a.m. Club members come back and speak to the players about their careers and their life experience. Guys like former Long Branch basketball star and current Ocean Township police officer Raheem Carter, and current New Jersey state trooper Billy Shea, a former Keansburg football star who now watches Greg Schiano’s back at Rutgers games, are Six a.m. Club alumni who Mayo uses as examples of the success of the club to the current athletes.
Several of Long Branch’s top players, like Shuler, Ezra Kelly, Elijah White, Karon Hair, and brothers Robert and Ryan Brody, were all part of the core group that met five days a week and also included standouts like Neptune running
“For five or 10 minutes before our Wednesday session, I’ll have guys come back to either talk about their experiences in college or their careers to emphasize the importance of schoolwork and determination in addition to just becoming a better athlete,’’ Mayo said. Over the years, the club has gone from Jake’s Gym in Long Branch to JM Power Center in Eatontown to workouts on the beach in Long Branch and now to the Edge Sports Academy. It has become a vital part of offseason training for many area athletes, particularly those from Long Branch, where Mayo graduated from in 1979. “We’ve had a tremendous offseason working out, one of the best I’ve seen since I’ve been coaching,’’ said Long Branch head football coach Dan George. “The 6 a.m. Club also brings the players a lot closer together, so it helps with
See Long Branch's Elijah White is tackled by teammate
Glory p a g e 11
August 24 Isuue 11