The Armory Foundation awards Stan Saplin Media Award to the late Dr. Norbert Sander, Jr.


image002.jpgDr. Norbert Sander, photo courtesy of the Armory

Dr. Norbert Sander was a man of some complication. A husband, father, dentist, runner and Francophile, Norb had more than enough things going on in his colorful, full life. That he was taken from those he loved, and loved him, is a given.

His legacy, the 'House that Norb built', encourages 180,000 visiting athletes and fans to enjoy the sport at their level. The NYC Armory is a sanctuary of sport. Norb got that, and built on that. My infrequent visits to the Armory convinced me of the good that the Armory did for these amazingly fortunate athletes.

That the Armory Foundation is honoring Norb Sander makes total sense. But, if the good Doctor were here, as we know he is, might Norb whisper into the ears of the Foundation board, Where is the next generation of story tellers? Who will tell the stories of great leaps, runs and jumps to enthrall the next generation?

That amazing energy that one finds inside the Armory, any day, is intoxicating. The spirit of the young athletes, elite athletes, veteran athletes is an appreciation of that amazing energy and good that the NYC Armory has done and will continue to do.

Nicely done, Armory Foundation.

NEW YORK, February 14, 2018 - The Armory Foundation has selected the late Dr. Norbert Sander Jr., as the 2018 winner of the Stan Saplin Media Award.

Dr. Sander established the Armory Foundation in 1993 when he "received the keys" to The Armory from then-New York City Mayor David Dinkins. He was Armory Foundation President until his passing last March.

The Stan Saplin Media Award is named after the late sports journalist, track & field historian and statistician Stan Saplin who died in 2002. The Armory will recognize Dr. Sander during the 84th Eastern States Indoor Championships at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 20 at the New Balance Track and Field Center at The Armory.

"We are so delighted to honor Dr. Sander in this way," said Armory Foundation Co-President Rita Finkel. "He was a wonderful, poetic writer and it is so appropriate he be included among the greats of track & field writers."

Dr. Sander not only oversaw The Armory's enormous renovations through 20-plus years, but was uniquely gifted in his ability to spread the word about The Armory. He pushed to develop its reputation as the most recognized indoor track & field facility in the country.

"Among the vast contributions Dr. Norbert Sander made to track & field in New York, and nationally, were his compelling writings that inspired athletes of all ages," Armory Foundation Co-President Jonathan Schindel said. "His unique storytelling abilities and warm friendships in the media world were instrumental in bringing about the transformation of The Armory from a homeless shelter to the preeminent track & field facility in America."

Dr. Sander referred to many national, regional and local scribes whose beat was track & field as his allies to promote the sport he loved. He embraced every opportunity to speak with journalists about the venerable facility on 168th Street and Fort Washington Avenue and how it was both a true track & field venue for athletes and an educational space where youth could continue their dreams thanks to the successful Armory College Prep program he founded.

"Norb was a constant presence at the weekly meetings of the New York Track Writers Association, informing reporters of upcoming events at The Armory, and he always made himself available to them for any follow-up questions," said track & field journalist Walt Murphy, the 2011 Stan Saplin Award winner.

No one enjoyed telling a story, especially ones about The Armory, like Dr. Norbert Sander Jr. He was quoted by most New York City newspapers and on television and radio stations. He authored many an Op-ed and letters to the editor on behalf of track & field.

"He wrote letters to the editors all the time," Rita Finkel mentioned.

Each Stan Saplin winner understands firsthand Dr. Sander's devotion to The Armory. Most, if not all, have written or talked about it.

Dr. Sander put his heart and soul transforming the once homeless shelter for 2,000 men in the 1980s into a world class indoor track & field center visited not only each year by Olympians but most importantly by hundreds of thousands of New York metropolitan kids. He gave them a place to excel and participate in the sport he embraced when he first started running at The Armory as a freshman for Fordham Prep.

Said Frank Litsky, winner of the first Stan Saplin Award (2007) about Dr. Sander: "Norb Sander was a great believer. He believed in the beauty of track and field and wanted everyone to see how that sport could do so much more for the athlete than run fast or throw long. He sold those beliefs to a media that was forgetting how great this sport is. His educational program changed the lives of youngsters who otherwise might have lived less rewarding and less productive lives. By definition, the Stan Saplin Media Award had always been given to a member of the media whose work, intentional or not, had told the public of the glories of track and field. Who had done this better than Norb Sander?"

Said Bill Moore, winner of the 2009 Stan Saplin Award about Dr. Sander: "It's more than an honor to be a Stan Saplin Award winner and to be the first photographer honored. It was all because of Dr. Norbert Sander. For that I will be forever grateful."

Said Peter Gambaccini, winner of the 2014 Stan Saplin Award about Dr. Sander: "There's consolation in knowing that the kid who ran for Fordham Prep at The Armory when he was barely a teen had the satisfaction of going on, in titanic and almost miraculous fashion, to spearhead The Armory's revival into the most important track and field facility in the Northeast and perhaps in the country. His energy and vision are legendary and his love for the sport and its young practitioners were boundless.

"Like so many others, I feel privileged to have been able to watch the joy on Norb's face as action at The Armory went so smoothly and well - although I can only guess at the scope and complexity of the operation he handled. Norb was open and available to journalists in a way that made our jobs a pleasure, and a conversation with Norb could range far afield from running and then come back again.

"Being a past Stan Saplin Media Award recipient means infinitely more now that Norb Sander has changed our ranks."

Said Nancy Haggerty, winner of the 2016 Stan Saplin Award about Dr. Sander: "Dr. Sander wanted to be called `Norb.' There was no pretention. No sense of elevated worth. He was humble. But driven. As hard as everyone from small children to high school and college kids, to Olympians, professionals and masters athletes ran, threw, jumped and vaulted at The Armory Track & Field Center he created, he worked doubly hard making sure they could thrive at The Armory and their experience there would be memorable.

"When I encountered him, he always had a smile on his face and plans for improving things on his lips. He loved track & field - loved the atmosphere, loved the folks who competed.

Dr. Sander - Norb - only talked about winning the New York City Marathon when asked. That would lead most people's resumes and obituaries. For him, it was a footnote. He did so much more, elevating a sport and, in turn, elevating people.

"The Stan Saplin Award would not exist without him. Nor would The Armory track and all the national and world records that have been set there, and the College Prep program he created, not to help the most gifted athletes but to help kids who have little economically find out they themselves are worth a lot. Dr. Sander - Norb - created all of this. He richly deserves the Stan Saplin Award, as well as the thanks of everyone who loves track & field."

Past Stan Saplin Media Award winners from 2007- 2017 include Frank Litsky (The New York Times), William J. Miller (The New York Times), Bill Moore (Amsterdam News), Ed Grant (New Jersey Track), Walt Murphy (Eastern Track), Elliott Denman (Asbury Park Press),Marc Bloom (The Runner Magazine and The New York Times), Peter Gambaccini (Runner's World), Derek Alvez (Staten Island Advance) and George Kochman (Staten Island Advance), Nancy Haggerty (The Journal News) and Paul Schwartz (The Record).

To view NBC's video honoring Dr. Norbert Sander Jr., please click HERE.

Follow The Armory on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @armorynyc or go to or Armory.NYC.

About The Armory Foundation

The Armory is a New York City non-profit institution, with the mission of "Keeping Kids on Track." Each season The Armory -- the proud home of the NYRR Millrose Games -- hosts more than 100 track & field meets and welcomes more than 180,000 athlete visits. Among its many youth sports and educational programs, including the acclaimed Armory College Prep program, The Armory runs the largest collegiate indoor track meet with the Dr. Sander Invitational, and hosts the largest high school indoor track meets with the U.S. Army Hispanic Games, The New Balance Games, and the New Balance Nationals Indoors. The Armory also runs The Armory NYC Indoor Marathon Presented by New York Road Runners, which is the world's largest indoor marathon relay. The Armory is also the home to the National Track & Field Hall of Fame and dozens of very large education-focused events. For more: Please visit Armory.NYC and

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