April 22, 2024
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April 22, 2024
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Gotham Burger Sportstar of the Week Shayna Schwartz

The Jewish Link of New Jersey and Gotham Burger would like to recognize 18-year-old Bruriah High School starting center Shayna Schwartz as this week’s Sportstar of the Week. Shayna is one of the driving forces behind the Bruriah Girls Varsity B Basketball team’s impressive 6-3 record, going into the break. Coach Susan Rifkin told the JLNJ, “Shayna is a coach’s dream: even-tempered, enthusiastic, always ready to know how she can improve, positive role model on and off the court, willing and able captain and starting center.

JLNJ had a conversation with Shayna about her basketball career.

Who is your greatest role model?

I would say that my mother is my role model. She has this idea rooted in her heart that we can do anything. Everyday my mother takes it upon herself to learn something new, it might be a setting on her camera or how to design a billboard. She teaches me to take every day by the hand and do something amazing with it.

What is you pregame routine?

Like most teams we have our usual stretching routine and lay up lines. Something special that we do before every game is that we sit in a circle and my co-captain and I read from a book. It’s called Word Watch, it’s a book all about not speaking lashon hara. It’s a good way to keep our minds in the right perspective, and to remember that we play for the love of the sport.

What is your earliest sports memory?

I have four older brothers and to them I was always the little sister. In seventh grade, when I first joined my elementary schools (JFS) basketball team, I no longer was defined as little. I was the tallest girl on the team. At first I joined the team because, that’s what everyone else was doing. Then I realized that it was so much more than an after school activity. It was a second family and an option for me to express myself in a way that I could not before. My brothers would take me in the backyard to practice, and pushed me to be better. Those practices were the starting point of my love for basketball.

What is your funniest sports memory?

My funniest basketball memory did not start out so funny. I was in ninth grade when we had a home game against Ilan. I went up for a rebound but came down with an elbow. A girl had tried to take the ball from me and elbowed me in the eye. I kept playing but I suddenly realized that my mom and coach were running towards me. Apparently as I ran, I was bleeding all down the court. I got driven to the ER, and had six stitches right under my eye. The doctor said that if I would have been hit any higher I would have had to become a pirate. Sadly I did not have to get an eye patch, but I was left with a beautiful black eye! You don’t typically see many girls in Bruriah with black eyes, but they all think I got it from a fight with a grizzly bear!

What is your favorite sports memory?

When I first came to Bruriah, it was an entirely different playing field. I joined the BB1 Varsity team and have stayed there for all four years working hard and becoming captain in eleventh grade. By far my favorite memory was my first game in ninth grade. We were playing Magen David, and we were in over time. I was on a roll, I had hit 8 shots more that I had ever typically done. I did not make the winning shot but I made the winning assist. I was so proud, not of my own effort, but of our team’s ability to work together under pressure and get our passes across. This was the moment that I truly understood that there’s no other option than working together. From basketball to regular life, you have the ability to surround yourself with the right kind of people, and make yourself, your own right kind of person.

What do you enjoy doing when not playing basketball?

Outside of playing ball, my favorite thing to do is draw. I love to make cartoon characters come to life, and one day I hope I can incorporate my creativity into my job. Just like basketball, drawing takes me into a different world where I can express myself in a positive way.

What is the best thing about being a Sports Star?

By being a Sports Star of the Week, all my hard work gets exposed. It’s nice to get recognition, but I feel that I did not get where I am now without my coach. Coach Rifkin is the one who pushes me daily to be my best, whether it’s in class or on the court. The last thing I would want to do is let her down because that would be letting myself down. She teaches me courage and the power to pursue my dream. It’s been a pleasure to be chosen to be Sports Star of the Week.

The Gotham Burger Sportstar of the Week will receive a $10 gift certificate to Gotham Burger. Please send nominees for next week’s Gotham Burger Sportstar of the Week to [email protected].

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