From the fridge to the future

April 4, 2017

The kitchen fridge is a mainstay in any average American home. It is used and seen by everyone in the household. Whether it be to get food or to simply pass by it, the fridge is a focal point. The kitchen fridge is also a message board for signs of a job well done: report cards, drawings and  school photos are hung there as merits.

Excitement rushed through the young Adrian as his mother hung his very own hand-written pencil story up on their kitchen fridge. His stories were now visible to everyone who passed by or opened the fridge. Whether it be a story about sports or history, on any topic, he loved to write. The act of hanging a piece of paper boosted his enthusiasm with writing as a kid.

Starting in grade school, Adrian has always been writing– and it followed him through high school, college and into today. Yet what happened in his high school years gave him the biggest break and best learning experience.

Like any high school student eager to take on numerous classes, clubs, and activities, he took advantage of those opportunities and started writing for the school’s newspaper. He took a creative writing class. Ultimately, his practice writing landed him a job in the sports department at the Hartford Courant newspaper when he was a high school junior. This was his first glimpse at a career in journalism, foreshadowing what was to come.

After high school, Adrian attended St. Bonaventure University in Olean, New York, where he tackled a major in mass communications,essentially journalism.  He wrote for the school’s paper, The Bona Venture, as a beat writer for men’s swimming, soccer and baseball teams, during their respective seasons. This prepared him to write about the St. Anthony’s basketball team.

“You’re covering the ins and outs of their season, the stories of the players, of the people involved you know you sort of immerse yourself in them,” Adrian said. “It was a great experience.”

Not only did St. Bonaventure provide Adrian with great writing opportunities, but it gave him the chance to meet people who would change his life. One of those people was author and New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro: a now long time colleague and best friend of Adrian’s.

As a college freshman, Adrian was two years younger than Mike, who already had experience with writing for The Bona Venture. At first their relationship was simply staff writer to editor, but soon this relationship blossomed into a friendship.

“We quickly realized we see much of the world through a similar prism,” Mike said.

They didn’t pay me for the stories which was fine. I was just happy to write.”

— Adrian Wojnarowski

Upon Mike’s graduation from St. Bonaventure he went to work at the local paper town, The Olean Times Herald. There he was able to introduce Adrian to the sports editor, Chuck Pollock.

“I remember Chuck telling me after talking to Adrian the first time, ‘I know why you guys are such good friends, you’re both after the same thing and my money is on both of you getting there,’” Mike said.

Soon after Adrian’s sophomore year of college, he began to write for The Olean Times Herald. The paper gave him opportunities to cover stories on the community or college, and he would often travel up to Buffalo to cover college games. It was about the journalistic experience the opportunity provided. When writing for the paper Adrian wasn’t paid a normal salary like other staff members, but rather he was paid in mileage. He’d receive 10 cents a mile for the amount of mileage on his car.

“They didn’t pay me for the stories which was fine,” Adrian said. “I was just happy to write.”

After graduation, Adrian married the love of his life, Amy, and they began to start a life together. Like any other graduate, Adrian started to look for a job to pursue a career in journalism. After rejection upon rejection he finally accepted a job at the Waterbury Republican-American, a small paper in Connecticut. He started covering University of Connecticut basketball games, and writing columns there. Then the pair moved to Fresno California where he started writing for the Fresno Bee, but that didn’t last long. Two and a half years later he was offered a job at The Bergen Record in New Jersey and took it.

“If you wanted to move up to a bigger position or to get more money, you want the papers with bigger circulation, so you always had to kind of move,” Amy said. “And so he made that move to The Record.”

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