By Tristan Leach
Grinning beneath a mop of blond curly hair is Dylan Manfre, one of the most approachable people at Rider. The senior journalism major is everything that the journalism program prepares a student to be: inquisitive, kind and willing to take on any task. Now Manfre will take his skills and put them to use at one of the biggest opportunities of his life.
Before becoming a journalist, Manfre ran track and cross country. After he developed tendonitis in his ankles, Manfre gave up the sport.
“I went through a giant identity crisis when I quit track, and it’s the reason why I picked up sports reporting. It allowed me to stay close to the action, it allowed me to stay close to some of my friends. That was a hard time in my life. That was my identity,” said Manfre.
He got his start at Rider after receiving an email for an open house. Manfre nearly deleted the email but stopped himself because he hadn’t toured a college in a while. Manfre said, “If I didn’t quit [track] I wouldn’t have found Rider. I quit on a Tuesday and I saw an email for an open house for Rider that Saturday. That Saturday I was supposed to run in a meet. I almost deleted that email. If I didn’t quit I wouldn’t have batted an eye to the email.”
Now, four years later, Manfre has been selected as one of 14 students to cover the Maccabi Games. More commonly known as The Jewish Olympics, the event began in 1932 and has since grown. The games are the third largest multi-sporting event in the world, just after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup respectively.
Manfre and his fellow reporters were hand-picked by members of the organization Maccabi USA. This non-profit organization aims to enrich the lives of Jewish people through athletics, cultural programs and educational programs.
Neal Slotkin, media coordinator for the organization said, “[The organization] was student-driven, educational and personally rewarding because the students we are selecting are not just hired. It’s important that they go through the three weeks of training and the Israel Connect program, they get to get in touch with the culture and the heritage.”
Getting in touch with the cultural roots of Judaism also played a role in Manfre’s decision to apply for this opportunity. Manfre was supposed to go on Birthright in January of 2022, a trip that allows young Jewish adults to travel to Israel to experience their culture and heritage, but the trip was canceled due to COVID-19.
Slotkin emphasized the importance of the 14 students and their interaction with Team USA.
“They will be getting all the apparel, they are living in the hotel rooms, eating with the athletes, on the buses with the athletes. They are a part of the delegation,” said Slotkin.
Being a part of the delegation allows for writers like Manfre to connect with the athletes and get to know them on a personal level. Manfre has written several human interest stories for The Rider News including one about senior James Green, a Rider track and field athlete who survived a stabbing. He also wrote and directed a documentary about sophomore Rylee Diffenderfer, a member of the field hockey team who has a blog about her brother who is differently-abled. For Manfre, these are the stories that deserve and need to be told.
When asked what his favorite pieces he had worked on were, Manfre said, “It’s my feature on James and my documentary on Rylee. Those two stories I consider mic drop stories. I always love finding those stories that otherwise wouldn’t get told. I like finding the stories that nobody else is gonna get. That’s what I want to do in Israel.”
Manfre’s success has brought a spotlight on Rider. Chuck Bausman, an adjunct professor in journalism said, “I was looking at this list [of students going] and it was all what’s considered big-time journalism schools. Arizona State, Northwestern, a couple Syracuse kids and I thought ‘gee, here’s little old Rider up there with a representative.’ It’s a golden opportunity for us, getting your name out there among journalism circles, students and potential students. Oh, it’s a golden opportunity for the school.”
Aaron Moore, an associate professor of sports media, also praised Manfre for his accomplishment. He said, “Dylan is a great example of if you work in the classroom, if you work outside of the classroom, you put yourself in a good position to find these opportunities.”
Until he leaves for Israel this summer, Manfre continues to work at The Rider News. By writing and editing for the sports section, Manfre is constantly preparing himself for this huge opportunity.
Manfre said, “I would not be here without the journalism program at Rider. That’s very important for me to note. Without anybody at The Rider News.”
Dylan Manfre is a sports editor for The Rider News. He had no part in the writing and or editing of this article.