TOMS RIVER – Local student athletes will have the opportunity to hear from professional athletes who grew up in the area about how they made it without the use of steroids, painkillers, and other kinds of drugs.
Thursday night, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office will host the “Playing It Safe” a free sports forum for student athletes at Pine Belt Arena from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The forum will feature special guest speakers including Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier, former New York Giants running back Keith Elias, UFC fighter Frankie Edgar, former New York Jet quarterback Ray Lucas, former MLS soccer player Tony Meola and former U.S. Olympic basketball player Erin Cowley.
“What we’re telling these students is that you can make it,too. These people came from Ocean County and were a success and you can be a success too but there’s a clean way to do it and that’s what we want you to do,” Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato said.
Anthony Pierro, supervising assistant prosecutor juvenile justice division, said he doesn’t believe there is a major problem with steroids or pain killers in local high schools, but students should be aware of the dangers of using them because it could lead to the abuse of other drugs like heroin.
“What we’ve learned is that there are drugs in every community at every level, unfortunately. My experience has shown me kids as young as 12 using and being addicted to substances,” Pierro said. “They’re in the community and we know it’s happening in our high school community so we just thought this a good age where they’ve never played collegiate sports or it’s their goal to reach that level, that they are educated now.”
Pierro said he has experienced people getting hooked on pain pills which led to worse addictions. One person who lost their life to a heroin overdose was a kid who was involved in a motor vehicle accident and was subscribed Oxycontin which turned into a heroin addiction and eventually resulted in an overdose.
“You need to know what your being prescribed, what the proper dosage is and we wanted to make sure our athletes know that, too, in terms of any injuries they may suffer.” Pierro said. “The education doesn’t hurt, it’s not rampant in the community but we know it’s out there and that it’s available so we want to make sure they have the information.”
This will be the first sports forum the Prosecutor’s Office has held, but there are likely to be more in the future as not all local professional athletes could make it.
“These guys are such a good group of people for coming out to do this, they don’t have to do these things but they do because of who they are and we’d love to have people come out and see it. The information they have and will provide is going to be very valuable,” Pierro said.
Brett Bodner; firstname.lastname@example.org