Monday, July 04, 2022

Thanks for publishing this retrospective on ball hockey (“Common Goals: How Ball Hockey Has Flourished in the Jewish Community,” December 30, 2021). I wanted to share two corrections and two comments about the Cliftons, a team of yeshiva high school alums I founded that have been playing together for 20 years, which was mentioned several times throughout the article.

The article states that the team was originally known as the “Yeshiva All Stars,” when in fact we were known as the “Ya’ll Stars” in our earliest iteration in Rexplex in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 2001.

In addition, the article states “with a lot of the players being around the Clifton area… the team name gradually changed to the Cliftons”—when joining the league at ISCA in 2007, we wanted a more humble name/identity, so we chose the Cliftons moniker, as the core of the team played in a weekly pickup game at the Clifton YMCA

Much has been written recently about the success of the Yeshiva University men’s basketball team. Notwithstanding their 50 game winning streak being broken last week, I’d like to contend that the Cliftons are the most successful tri-state Jewish sports team. While the Maccabees endure 6 a.m. practices and a dual curriculum, the Cliftons have to balance out stressful jobs as doctors & lawyers, commutes, (and for the most part) wives, children, and most dauntingly, yeshiva day school tuition. One of the Cliftons’ longest tenured players is even the principal of a prestigious local yeshiva high school, while another has five kids under the age of 5 in addition to joining the national US ball hockey team!

Lastly, a little known fact/memory—in between the Ya’ll Stars and the Cliftons, 4 of us bridged the gap as members of another team known as the Mother Puckers. Between two rinks and three to four seasons annually, the MPs hadn’t won a championship in 40+ seasons. Predictably, in our second season with them, we won the championship game 3-2 on the shoulders of a hat trick from a current Cliftons star who, at the time, was studying to be a doctor. As our teammates detailed to us the wild party they planned in celebration of this milestone and we declined to attend for various nerdy reasons, I recall telling the good doctor that this may be the greatest Kiddush Hashem of his life.

Eric Distenfeld
Modi’in, Israel
MTA Hockey ‘97
Cliftons Hockey #28
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