As ESPN personalities Adam Schefter and Steve Levy walked the halls Thursday night of their alma mater, Bellmore’s John F. Kennedy High School, they pointed out championship banners of teams they were involved in, saw articles about their careers that were framed in cases and met with faculty in a room they both swore was their typing classroom.
“There were no computers then,” said Schefter, who graduated in 1985 and is now on ESPN’s NFL Insider. “It was typewriters, you know, you’d be pounding on your fingers.”
After a tour of the building, Schefter and Levy, a 1983 graduate and “SportsCenter” anchor, met with an audience of about 300 in the school auditorium, where they spoke about their career success and lessons they learned at Kennedy High School.
The buzzed-about alumni visit came at the effort of the school’s student government, led by president Michael Schwartz, a senior who said the student government wanted it to be a memorable year for their peers, so they reached out to the school’s most famous graduates.
“It’s great that no matter how big they are at ESPN right now, they are still great alumni here at Kennedy High School and they still remember their past to do such a great event here like this,” he said.
Brad Seidman, social studies teacher and student government adviser, said after the students made contact with Schefter and Levy, it came down to scheduling. Levy’s wife is due with twins in about a month, he said, and Schefter had to schedule a date between football season and free agency. March 8 was the perfect date, he said, until Peyton Manning was released from the Colts, and Schefter suspected he would make his next move by the end of the week.
Schefter kept his commitment to the school, but kept his BlackBerry in hand throughout the night.
“We’ve got a lot of things going on and a lot of things in the works,” Schefter said, alluding to non-Manning breaking news coming in at another point in the night. “Things are bubbling and so I’ve got my BlackBerry with me, and it will not surprise me if in the course of the next hour and a half something transpires.”
While Schefter had a few false alarms, he and Levy made it through the night, talking for nearly two hours and signing autographs afterward.
Schefter said the most important thing he learned at Kennedy was how to set goals and work to achieve them. He advised students who wanted to get into sports journalism to play sports while they still can and save the internships for college.
Levy said he didn’t realize how important some of his classes were until much later.
“What senior in high school wants to take typing?” he said. “But in our industry, I can’t imagine writing ‘SportsCenter’ without being able to type.”
He advised students to remember the lessons they’ve learned at Kennedy, not just in academics, but in the way they present themselves and form relationships.
“It’s dressing the part, it’s forming good relationships, it’s knowing when to speak and when to listen,” he said.