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NJ Discover Spotlight: With LAURIE HERNANDEZ, US OLYMPIC GYMNASTICS TEAM at Monmouth Gymnastics Academy Tuesday July 12th    by Calvin Schwartz NJ Discover Spotlight: With LAURIE HERNANDEZ, US OLYMPIC GYMNASTICS TEAM at Monmouth Gymnastics Academy Tuesday July 12th by Calvin Schwartz(0)

NJ Discover Spotlight: With LAURIE HERNANDEZ, US OLYMPIC GYMNASTICS TEAM  at Monmouth Gymnastics Academy Tuesday July 12th    by Calvin Schwartz  







I’ve been watching US Women’s Olympic Gymnastics for decades. Did I ever think I’d have this kind of hands-on opportunity to spend precious time with an Olympian? I am a long time devotee of Women’s sports. I loved when Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in tennis. And I’ve been a season ticket holder for Rutgers Women’s basketball. And NJ Discover does the TV broadcasts for New Jersey’s Sky Blue FC Women’s Professional Soccer Team. I love roaming the sidelines absorbing; its helped me meet some of the players on our World Cup Women’s Soccer Championship Team. It’s on the NJ Discover TV LIVE Show agenda to do programming revolving around women’s sports. Therefore, fitting and proper I was with (along with many media) Laurie Hernandez today.





There is so much press revolving around Laurie, who is as poised, eloquent and mature as a thirty-year old Olympic athlete. I marveled at her demeanor and sincerity. Watching her work out for a ½ hour, you could certainly definitively feel that amazing intensity that took her to the global pinnacle of her sport. I had one burning question for Maggie Haney, her coach, mentor of all these years. Laurie started when she was five. “Could you tell back then, that Laurie was a special athlete?” “Yes, we knew that we had a very unusual young girl here destined….” This destiny theme was what I wanted to pursue.


Laurie told me how thrilled and proud she is to represent the USA. “I’ve been working my whole life for this. It’s been my dream. And to be part of this amazing team is also a dream come true…. I’m honored. I hope I can inspire little girls all over the world…. I still can’t believe it…. I’m in awe of two nights ago. It’s a big life change but so worth it.”  Laurie will train at her home gym, Monmouth Gymnastics for the next several days then she  heads  to an intense, nine-day pre-Olympic training camp at national team coordinator Martha(Bela) Karolyi’s Texas ranch. Maggie Haney will be with her.  Laurie is from Old Bridge. The township will honor its homegrown Olympian Thursday, at the high school on Route 520  from  6 PM to 7 PM according to Mayor Owen Henry.







I talked next to Kaitlyn Avila. She has been working for Maggie and Julie (Monmouth Gymnastics) for four years. She worked at Monmouth Gymnastics for 10 years total. “I always wanted to work for Maggie. She hired me four years ago. It was a dream come true. Laurie and Maggie together are amazing. I’ve watched Laurie grow and become this amazing athlete. She has so much determination and perseverance to stick with it as long as she has.”




Laurie started when she was five years old. “To see someone from five to 16 now, never give up the sport. It’s incredible for me to be able to work for one of the best teams in the whole country.” I gazed over to watch Laurie’s mother. She was glowing, ebullient and filled with so much pride; like a poster defining those three words. She never stopped smiling.

Next I spoke with Hunter W. He also was at Monmouth for five years. Ever since he started working there, he knew Laurie. “She has been awesome in the gym, being humble. She shows so much dedication. Works so hard. She is here eight hours a day and home schooled here. Some days are harder but she works through everything.” They are all so proud of Laurie. It gives all the kids someone to look up to. “They really feel special that they have an Olympian in the same gym.”




The destiny theme. “When did you both see a spark in Laurie that encouraged her to pursue this.”  “We saw something when she was 11 years old.” When Kaitlyn started five years ago, they all said Laurie is going to the Olympics. Nobody believed it. And she is. For me, being there as Monmouth Gymnastics opened their doors to the media, this quickly became one of those top ten days you dream about. Speaking about dreams. I’d like to call the Olympic Gymnastics team on their way to Rio, the “team of golden dreams.”
















If you follow my writings over the past few years, here, there and everywhere, a resilient theme is self-evident; the presence of synchronicity in my universe, largely made up of central Jersey exigencies and wanderings. I continue to marvel at the inter connectivity and smallness of that universe. So I have a story to relate; beginning with the innocence of asking a stranger to take a picture with me and a NJ Discover broadcast intern and cameraman at a soccer match.




It was last Saturday evening June 11th at Rutgers Sky Blue Field. One of those top ten days; warm temperature, a few wisps of cirrus clouds and a setting sun. New Jersey’s Sky Blue FC Women’s Professional Soccer versus Kansas City. I was a roaming photographer for the sold-out match as well as hanging out with broadcast interns and a field cameraman along the sidelines. For posterity, we needed something better than a selfie, so I randomly asked two women near the end of the team warm-ups to take our picture. One of the women, a theater and performing arts major was going to sing the National Anthem(Mackenzie Malpass). Her mother took the picture. In the paucity of time left before the anthem, but enough for the discovery and six degrees of separation process, I learned that the women’s husband’s father is Michael Malpass, a renowned sculptor who died way too young but left a wondrous body of work which is now being exhibited at Monmouth University’s Pollak Gallery coinciding with the showing of Monmouth University Communication student’s produced documentary film (under the direction Erin Fleming) “Michael Malpass-A Great Circle.”



Three days later, on Tuesday, replete with my journalistic instincts, I walked towards Pollak Gallery and noticed magical spherical (Malpass’ specialty) sculptures on the grass to my left. Walking on the grass, towards the sculptures, observing their artistic splendor, I was now frozen, staring, haunted by the intricacies and detail of his work; one cast in stark celestial red. The anticipation of the exhibit was peaking for me. Fortunately, they extended this exhibit until August 18th because of the demand/volume.

There is a wealth of information on Michael Malpass; let google walk you through it. My job here at NJ Discover is to share how his work emoted and elevated me; hyper sensitized my powers of introspection. It was quite an experience. Perhaps my arrival at 3 PM that afternoon, a gallery off hour, guaranteed my time of solitude and meaningful observation.  I’ve been to the Pollak gallery often, sometimes in conjunction with special musical shows and lectures at Pollak Theater. There’s something about the stark white walls, displays, and frames contrasted by the art. For me, it’s a sense of sterility and eternity (art for the ages).




There were the Malpass’ sculptured spheres.  He often said, “The sphere is the most perfect form. It is efficient, for example, with the most volume for the least surface area.” There were also his prints, collages and jewelry. I read that his art is a “revitalization.” For his welded spheres, now in front of me throughout the gallery, I saw that he used things that people discarded and changed them by recycling them into his mind and sculpture. For me, it evokes unique emotions in every piece. I can’t say/write it enough. This is so worth trips of many miles and minds to see in person. I marvel at great minds and creativity. I marvel at Michael Malpass.

I stopped in front of a sculpted sphere called ‘Squiggly.’ I day-dreamed that I was in the studio with him while he created it. We were laughing together. Then he got serious and ushered me away. I loved, ‘Traveler’ one of the most imaginative and perfect world of unions and coming together of formed pieces. It seemed so many stories were being told here; a perfection of function and form so simple yet intricate.  He was traveling and encountering so many foreign objects but made them(welded) in a smooth statement. He must’ve traveled far and wide to bring the ‘ingredients’ together. More sculpted magic of Michael Malpass. With each exhibited piece, I imagined and wondered about his mind and thought process during inception. So many questions to ask him. It’s a rewarding feeling to leave an art exhibit with unrequited love of the works of the artist. Each piece told me a story. It’ll tell you all stories.



There was a magical collage, ‘Grass and Water.’ Of course I stared and tried to find ways to jump inside. It’s hard to explain visual emotions. The reality of a can of sardines, some money, olives and a local map; there’s a special frivolity here and a New Jersey breath of especially fresh air; Point Pleasant Beach on a receipt. And there is the ‘Chickenmen Gallery.’  I could go on here expressing, digressing, progressing but you have to see it for yourself; there’s plenty of time until August.

Perhaps now, I’ll share some background biographical information after all art is for the beholder.


“Michael Malpass-A Great Circle.”   Trailer/You Tube


THIS COMING SATURDAY June 25th. A chance to see the documentary ‘Michael Malpass-A Great Circle’

Art Walk and Michael Malpass Film Screening

June 25, 2016 | 4:00 PM

Free Event

This event will include a tour of the sculpture on campus including the new J. Seward Johnson pieces and the Michael Malpass Retrospective in Pollak Gallery. There will also be a screening of the new documentary about Michael Malpass titled “Michael Malpass – A Great Circle” created by Monmouth University Communication Students under the direction of Erin Fleming, Director of Production Services. The documentary will be screened in Wilson Auditorium at 4:00 PM and the guided tour immediately follow at 4:45.

Free and open to the public but RSVP required. To RSVP please call 732.263.5715






Michael  Malpass was one of the most respected sculptors of the 20th century. Monmouth University is having a retrospective of his work from March 8 – June 30. The opening is April l from 6-8 pm.  His sculpture, prints, collages and jewelry will be on display. At the same time a documentary about his life will be shown.

Michael studied Fine Arts at Pratt Institute. His career commenced in 1977 when he had his first solo exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery on 57th Street in Manhattan. Just two years later Michael found his work on the cover of ART news Magazine.

He primarily explored the sphere using found metal objects. Applying traditional blacksmithing techniques, he literally manipulated tons of steel. The industrial shapes are composed of iron, steel, brass, bronze and copper that were forged and welded together to form the sphere.

Throughout the eighties his career flourished. He accelerated his creative efforts, broadened the scope of his sculpture and accepted increasingly challenging commissions, including those from General Electric, Exxon/Mobil, Trammel Crow Company, Benenson Developmental Corporation and TRW.

In 1987 Michael left his full-time position at Pratt Institute to concentrate full-time on his sculpture. This was a leap of faith since we were raising four children. He had many exhibitions and commissions in New Jersey including The Noyes Museum, The Paterson Museum, The Morris Museum, Ocean County College, Stockton College, Island Heights Cultural Center, The Educational Testing Service, New Jersey Institute of Technology, State of the Arts – NJ Television, Artworks/Trenton, James Yarosh Gallery (Holmdel), Laurel Tracey Gallery (Red Bank), Long Beach Island Foundation for the Arts, Grounds for Sculpture, Clifton Art Center & Rutgers University. The year before his death in 1991 he was working simultaneously on four different commissions from The State of New Jersey, The State of Connecticut, The Hechinger Collection & Exxon/Mobil.

Michael was a pioneer scraping pieces of metal and transforming them into art.

Cathleen Malpass



The exhibit at Monmouth University of one of the most respected sculptors of the 20th century, Michael Malpass (1946 – 1991) taking place in the Pollak Gallery from March 8 through June 30, has been extended until August 18th due to the heavy volume of people attending the exhibit. Premiere screenings of a new documentary Michael Malpass – A Great Circle created by Monmouth University Communication students under the direction of Erin Fleming, director of Production Services, can be available on request.


The Pollak Gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. All gallery events are free and open to the public.

For more information about this exhibition and all Monmouth University Center for the Arts events visit or call 732.263.5715.



Media Contact

Kelly Barratt, Assistant Director, Center for the Arts


NJ INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: A Review of “IN THE GAME” An Unconventional Soccer Documentary  By John D’Amico  February 26, 2016 NJ INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: A Review of “IN THE GAME” An Unconventional Soccer Documentary By John D’Amico February 26, 2016(0)

NJ INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: A Review of “IN THE GAME” An Unconventional Soccer Documentary By John D’Amico February 26, 2016

Editor’s Note: It was perfectly synchronistic that John reviewed a soccer film at the NJ International Film Festival. For the second straight year, NJ Discover provides the live TV broadcasts for Sky Blue FC, New Jersey’s professional Women’s Soccer team competing in the National Women’s Soccer League and playing their home games at Rutgers’ Yurcak Field. Calvin Schwartz



John D’Amico is a currently a Rutgers senior majoring in Journalism and Media Studies with a minor in Political Science. He briefly wrote for Brookdale Community College’s student newspaper “The Stall.” While at Rutgers, John has written for The Targum, and currently writes for the student arts and culture magazine “The Rutgers Review,” as well as for the Rutgers edition of John’s interests include politics, film, television, and hopes to become a professional film or television critic. Contact John:


‘Into the Game’ – An Interesting Soccer Documentary from NJ Film Festival at Rutgers

By John D’Amico

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect with ‘Into the Game’. Honestly, before I watched it, I knew nothing about it other than that it was a documentary feature. As it turns out, I found it to be a pleasant surprise.

‘Into the Game’ is a sports documentary that recently played at the Spring 2016 NJ Film Festival here at Rutgers(actually held during Winter 2016) It tells the story of several recent members of Chicago’s Kelly High School’s girls’ soccer team. The part of Chicago these girls live in, is a relatively poor area, and also made up of mostly Hispanics. The movie takes place over four years. And it actually focuses more on the girls and their coach than it does on the sport itself.

The film follows multiple members of the team over four years. And writer/director Maria Finitzo really gives the film a very cinematic feel. It felt kind of like watching a typical narrative/fiction movie. And I mean that as a good thing. It felt like I was watching a very well-made and entertaining story. And at the same time, the fact that I knew that these were real people gave it even more weight. When the girls talk about their frequent financial struggles, you really feel sympathetic for them. When they talk about what they’re going through with their education, you definitely relate to their struggles. When the film examines the racial and gender-based issues that the girls experience, you can really understand what they’re going through. Yes, the film takes a look at some of those social issues. But the focus here was more on the people themselves.

In fact, in addition to the young athletes, the movie also follows the team’s longtime coach. He seems like a pretty interesting person as well. You get the sense that he really has a lot of passion for the team. But the thing is, he’s not so much concerned about how many games they win. He’s more concerned about his team feeling like a family. He even says as much. He’s a very likable person that way.

If I had one criticism to make of this film, it would be that the pacing could have been a little bit better at times. Even with its relatively short runtime of 76 minutes, there were moments when I found myself getting bored. But overall, I still recommend checking this documentary out if you get the chance. I give it 7.5 out of 10. It’s very good.




In The Game – Maria Finitzo (Chicago, Illinois)   TRAILER:

In the Game is not a conventional documentary about a scrappy, inner-city girls soccer team that wins a championship through hard work and persistence. Rather, it’s a documentary about race, class, and gender as seen through the lives of inner-city girls. But this is not just a film about a soccer team dealing with loss and economic hardship. It’s an exhilarating portrait of girls who are learning to win in life. 2015; 76 min. Co-sponsored by the Rutgers University Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA Centers)!


INFORMATION   New Jersey International Film Festival

Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center
Rutgers University Program in Cinema Studies
72 Lipman Drive   (#018 Loree Building – Douglass Campus)
New Brunswick, New Jersey, 08901-8525 U.S.A.
(848) 932-8482 phone (732) 932-1935 fax;,  e-mail;
Web Site:


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