National Library Week at the Lodi Memorial Library on April 18,2016
I took some time out from my walk to organize another celebrity visit to the Lodi Memorial Library for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library. As part of National Library Week, we extended the event by one day and welcomed to the library NY Red Bulls II goalie Rafael Diaz, a local New Jersey resident who is becoming a much talked about player on the NY Red Bulls MLS.
As with all the events for the library, this one took about four and a half months to organize. One of the younger patrons who had come to ‘Teens, Tots & Toys’ when Elaine Zayak visited the library asked after the event was over would it be possible to bring in a professional soccer player. I said that I would try and the next day I found myself emailing the NY Red Bulls MLS Organization. I was very lucky that I found a person in the PR Department of the Red Bulls who was very nice and really wanted to help me out. I have to say that the event exceeded all my expectations and we had a really good turn out of over 50 kids and an additional 30 adults at the book reading and Q & A after the reading.
The following is the bio of Mr. Diaz that we read at the event:
“Welcome everyone to the Lodi Memorial Library on the final day of National Library Week. The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library and staff of the Lodi Memorial Library welcome with honor a young man who is making New Jersey proud, Mr. Rafael Diaz.
Mr. Diaz was born in the Dominican Republic and spent part of his early childhood locally in Paterson, NJ. Later he moved to Rockaway, NJ with his family and is a graduate of Morris Hills High School. While with the Scarlet Knights of Morris Hills for three seasons he was the starting goalkeeper and served as team captain his senior year.
He earned NSCAA New Jersey Player of the Year and New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year honors his senior year. He was two-time NSCAA High School All-American and two time NSCAA High School All-Region selection, two time first team All-State, All-Area and All-Morris County and a three time All-Conference
As a student at St. John’s University majoring in Sports Management, as a Red-Shirted Freshman, he earned Second team Soccer American All-Freshman Honors, a Big East All-Rookie of the Year and started all 18 games with a posted record of 10-6-2. As a sophomore, he started 15 games and went 9-4-1 and recorded seven shutouts. As a junior was a second team NSCAA All-Northeast Region selection, a first team All-Big East honoree, started all 19 games and posted a record of 10-5-4 with eight shutouts. He was the All-Time shutout leader at St. John’s University.
After finishing at St. John’s University, he signed his first contract with the United Soccer League’s Orlando City Soccer Club and made his first team debut with Orlando on May 14, 2014 with a 4-1 win. During the 2015 season, he went through a trial with the Red Bulls Major Soccer League Club and signed with the New York Red Bulls II for the season and made the game day roster for the side in its first ever match on March 28, 2015 and his debut with the team on April 12, 2015 and his debut as a starter for the New York Red Bulls II on April 18, 2015 in a 1-1 draw against the Charleston Battery.”
The event was extremely well received by the library patrons and the community as well. We had a very long question and answer session and it was fun to watch many star-eyed children ask engaging questions to Mr. Diaz. Mr. Diaz was every bit the gentleman talking to all the kids and adults alike about his career, his goals and his own heroes.
The Q & A was followed by a presentation by our President of the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library, Mrs. Judy Schroeder, who presented Mr. Diaz with an Honorary Membership to the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library and our Library Director Siobhan Koch, who presented Mr. Diaz with a special gift set of the books of “Oh, the Places You will Go” and “Oh, the Places you want to Go” by Dr. Seuss.
The highlight of the afternoon was being joined by our Mayor of the Borough of Lodi, Mayor Emil Carafa. Mayor Carafa gave an enlightened talk about reaching your goals through hard work. He then presented Mr. Diaz with a proclamation from the town and a medal from the Borough of Lodi. We could all see that Mr. Diaz was touched.
After the event was over, we had a reception with light refreshments to everyone who joined us that afternoon. Mr. Diaz and staff from the Red Bulls joined us later to tell us what a nice time they had at the library.
The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library want to thank the NY Red Bulls II for letting Mr. Diaz visit us and a big hats off to Rafael Diaz, who showed true sportsmanship and a real role model to all of our patrons.
Thank you to everyone who helped with the event.
Enjoy this video of the event with Rafael Diaz!