Announcing Stone Labanowitz as PlaySafe's Annual Comeback Awards Keynote Speaker
Anderson, SC. May 14, 2023
Since leaving South Illinois University after Saluki’s run to the FCS National Championship, Stone Labanowitz has been making strides in the sports media field. Labanowitz worked for different sports companies, including a part-time gig with the Miami Dolphins organization, being a behind-the-scenes crew member for various ESPN daytime shows, partnering with EnterPRIZE Sports, and participating in the Sports Gambling podcast before landing a full-time job as a producer for ESPN. Labanowitz spent his college years majoring as a radio, television, and digital media student while minoring in electronic sports media. In addition, of course, he spent much time as a quarterback for ASA Junior College, the University of Mississippi, and ultimately SIU for two seasons.
During his 2021 Spring season at SIU, Labanowitz led the Salukis to their first playoff win since 2009, which caused some debate about who should be the starter the following season. Ultimately, teammate Nic Baker won the starting job, and Labanowitz left the program.
Labanowitz said it wasn’t the move he wanted, but he had other opportunities lined up professionally. “This was my plan, and I had no time to waste. I had to get it now if I wanted to be successful right away. If I waited a bit, who knows what would have happened, so it was kinda cool to see it all happen as fast as it did,” Labanowitz said.
However, like every athlete, Stone Labanowitz faced a lot of adversity on the gridiron. The only thing separating Labanowitz from being one of the premier quarterback prospects in the nation was a few inches. After breaking all the FHSAA Football records as a four-year starter at South Fork High School in Hobe Sound, Florida, Stone failed to get any college offers due to his height. Labanowitz stands at five foot eleven, and many colleges wouldn’t even consider him. Labanowitz’s talent was the primary reason college assistants stopped by South Fork daily, but after seeing his measurements, all those colleges left without offering him a scholarship. Stone continued until ASA, a junior college out of Brooklyn, New York, gave him an opportunity; the rest is history.
“Stone’s Comeback story of adversity, disappointment, and tenacity is the perfect story at our 2023 Comeback Awards Gala”, says Brandy Singleton, PlaySafe USA’s Executive Director. Brandy thinks PlaySafe couldn’t have found a more enthusiastic, well-rounded young man to spearhead our Gala. “The ability to connect and the desire to reach out and know all different types of people is his strength,” states Dana Lasher, Director of Development. Dana has known Stone since he was in seventh grade and didn’t have to go far to look for a dynamic speaker that could capture an audience of all ages. “Stone is young and just removed from college. He knows the ins and outs of being a high school and college athlete. Add on working at ESPN, and we hit the trifecta,” laughed Singleton and Lasher.
Join PlaySafe USA in welcoming Stone Labanowitz to the Upstate on May 7, 2023, from 5 PM to 7 PM at Anderson University in the Liberty Ballroom. Tickets are on sale for $50. The ticket includes Dinner and Keynote Speaker Stone Labanowitz. All proceeds from the Comeback Awards Gala benefit the work of PlaySafe USA. Tickets can be purchased on PlaySafe’s website, www. playsafeusa.org, or by calling PlaySafe’s office at (864) 401-8785.
PlaySafe started in 2012 to educate, promote, support, and foster healthy lifestyles, wellness, and safe athletic participation in active youth, young adults, and the community. Unfunded by the state, sports medicine services are unavailable at many secondary schools, yet certified athletic trainers are critical to safe and healthy athletic participation. PlaySafe currently provides and funds athletic trainers in twelve counties in South Carolina and Georgia to fulfill its mission of keeping athletes safe.