SALEM– NFL Players’ Association Certified Agent Sean Stellato’s newest endeavor brings him to Football Magic: Buddy’s New Beginning, a children’s book series.
Stellato co-authored the book along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who courageously battles juvenile arthritis and lupus.
“We asked ourselves, ‘what can we do to bring awareness to this?'” Stellato, a Salem native, said. “She said, ‘let’s write a kids book.’ We put our minds together and started writing.
“Growing up, reading was something I wasn’t very good at,” Stellato said. “I also didn’t think that the books could relate to many kids from different situations. I think that kids’ perceptions are lot different than adults. They appreciate the small things.”
The 10-month project started last fall. The book hits shelves next weekend, with Stellato celebrating its completion at an official release gala Friday (5) at Salem’s Hawthorne Hotel. Tickets for the event, as well as pre-orders for the book, can be purchased by visiting Stellato’s website, seanstellato.com. Stellato also plans on holding book signings at area bookstores throughout the summer.
The book was published by Mascot Books in Virginia. Those who’ve endorsed it include Patriots coach Bill Belichick, former Boston College and NFL quarterback Doug Flutie and NFL Hall of Fame receiver Andre Reed.
“The publishing house did a remarkable job on the illustration,” Stellato said. “I wanted a cover that gives the feeling of something special there. This is more than just a kids book. This is a tutorial for kids and adults who might not understand football. The illustration is so beautifully created and really brings the story to life.”
A former quarterback at Salem High, Stellato revisited his playing days in writing the book. He pays homage to his upbringing, his former coaches, including his older brother, Mike, and the local rivalries that brought the best of him as a competitor. Gianna mixed in her passion for ballet.
“All the things I learned as a football player, all the core values and virtues of fighting for a common goal are involved in this book,” Stellato said. “Gianna intertwined the ballet component. It’s part of how football players train to keep their balance. There’s a hidden path of Salem that parlays into the story nicely.
“I was able to intertwine my experiences,” he said. “The book’s 70 percent fictional with a 30 percent non-fiction component to it. I had the rivalries between Salem, Lynn and Beverly get a few shoutouts because I had such great experiences playing in those cities.”
The book’s main character, Buddy, moves to Salem with his father, a single parent and college football coach. At first, Buddy struggles to make new friends in a new school. One day he stumbles upon a football in a glass case. He accidentally knocks it over and learns it’s a magical football, leading Buddy and his best friend, Gianna, on a journey in search of a spellbook.
“I wanted to create something that resonates with everybody,” Stellato said. “I’m very passionate about kids. I have four kids of my own. We started writing and we came up with the narration we wanted.”
Stellato will bring his 12th annual All-American Football Fundamental Showcase to Manning Field Sunday, July 21. The showcase is hosted by Super Bowl 53 champion Obi Melifonwu of the Patriots, along with Washington Redskins linebacker Marquis Flowers, Philadelphia Eagles special teamer Bryan Braman and Andre Reed. More information and a link for registration can be found on Stellato’s website. The camp, open to participants ages 6-18, offers a 50 percent discount for Lynn residents.