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The Communicator


Newsday series earns Award for Excellence in Coverage of Youth Sports

A man proudly holds a flag behind his head and neck.
Wrestler Dunia Sibomana was the focus of the award-winning series.

A series of stories about a child who grew up in the Congo and was attacked and disfigured by chimpanzees before moving to the United States to undergo a series of reconstructive surgeries and eventually earn a state wrestling championship was selected for a national award presented annually by the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State.

The stories and an accompanying seven-minute documentary, which appeared over a period of six months, told the story of Dunia Sibomana, who provided a compelling focal point for the series.

Longtime Newsday sportswriter Gregg Sarra wrote the stories and led the effort on the series. His work was selected for the annual Award for Excellence in Coverage of Youth Sports presented by the Curley Center, which is housed in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

The award, presented annually by the Curley Center, recognizes creative, in-depth and innovative coverage of youth and high school sports by broadcast, print and online journalists. Along with the award itself, Sarra will receive an honorarium and be invited to campus in the fall for an in-person discussion of the work and the official award presentation.

Entries from across the country were submitted for the award.

Sarra joined Newsday in 1985 and has consistently focused on high school sports. He also enjoys delving into inspirational stories and stories of athletes overcoming adversity.

In fact, one of his stories has a strong Penn State connection. He wrote about wrestler Rohan Murphy, who had no legs and advanced to his county championship in 2001. Murphy later attended Penn State as a wrestler and was instrumental in the awareness and growth for the Penn State Ability Athletics program.