April 12, 2024
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April 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

“You know the garbage man?” Teenaged Mo Fuchs was amazed that his father knew the guy who collected the trash.

His father responded, and the young man learned a lesson he would never forget. “You never disrespect the garbage man or anyone else. If he didn’t do his job, the streets would be a mess. Everyone is needed.” When Fuch’s father died, the mailman, garbage men, and the auto mechanic all came to visit the family and offer condolences. Mo recognized that his father, who was just a “regular guy,” was in fact a great ambassador for the Jewish people. He appreciated that one person can make a difference.

Coach Mo Fuchs, TABC’s beloved and respected hockey coach, recently reached a milestone as he has coached his teams to 200 regular season wins. His win total is the most in the history of the MYHSAL league. His TABC teams have won four varsity championships.

While Mo is proud of his team’s accomplishments, he wants one thing from his teams. “I want my team to be the best it can be, and if that’s 0-14, so be it.” The coach of 21 years has his eyes on a bigger prize. He recognized what his goals should be early on in his career.

It was 1994 and Mo’s first day as coach of TABC’s hockey team (he played high school hockey at Hebrew Academy of Nassau County and had coached for three years at other high schools). He had reluctantly accepted the TABC job as he thought that part of his life was over. Mo came to his first practice at TABC in a suit, figuring this would gain the student’s respect.

Sixty players came to the tryout including five who wanted to be a goalie. At the end of the practice, Mo dismissed everyone except the goalies. He grabbed a stick figuring he would shoot on the goalies to determine which of them would make the team. Not one player left. In fact, one player called out to Mo, “Can you hit the top corner?” Mo replied, “Glove side or stick side?” Mo regretted the comment instantly. He wasn’t sure if his skills were what they once were and if he could back up his talk. “Glove side,” was the player’s reply. Mo snapped a shot and the puck ended up lodged in the top corner of the net, glove side.

The next day, Friday, Mo bumped into one of TABC’s rabaaim at shul. He told Mo about a student who had refused to do something. The rabbi said to the student, “If the hockey coach asked, would you refuse?” The student’s reply was, “If you can hit the glove side, then I’ll listen to you.”

“From that day forward, I viewed things differently. I knew I needed to act a certain way.” Mo has always viewed himself as a teacher and not just a coach. He often tells his team, “When winning becomes more important than what’s right, you lose.” So, what is important to Mo? Well, many things actually. However, the most important thing to Mo is the players themselves. He loves the kids and believes every kid has the ability to be awesome. His primary role is to help them to be awesome.

Yaakov Apfelbaum played under Mo in 2001 and is currently the assistant coach at TABC. Apfelbaum says that Mo is a mensch first and foremost who lives life the right way. What separates Mo, according to Apfelbaum, is that he takes the teacher aspect of coaching seriously and is always trying to impart life lessons. “The lessons I’ve learned from Mo apply to everything I’ve done in my life.” In terms of his role as an assistant coach, Apfelbaum is happy to be part of the program Mo built and to continue to have the opportunity to learn from him.

Norman Blumenthal is the JV Hockey coach at TABC. He says Mo has great knowledge of the game and a tremendous will to win. He also has priorities. “Whether he wins or loses, it does not change his perspective about high school sports. It’s about character building.” Blumenthal added that, “Mo is able to break through barriers and has a way of reaching kids.” According to Blumethal, Mo also serves as a positive role model to the players through his middos and consistency.

Another former player, Aaron Malitzky, raves about Mo. “He’s not an educator, but he is one of the best educators I ever met.” One of the reasons he is an effective educator is that he “gets kids and genuinely wants to help.” A lesson that Coach Mo imparted to Malitzky stays with him to this day, and it revolves around confidence. “He would say there is a fine line between confidence and cockiness. To this day, I try and keep it in mind. I go into my life prepared but not cocky.”

The man who reluctantly accepted the job as Head Coach at TABC has no intentions of leaving any time soon. Mo is clearly a man who appreciates his job and respects his role. “I love the ability to try and make an impact in their lives.”

When graduation day comes, Mo is ready to send his players off. Yet, this doesn’t mean the relationship ends. “Every year when they graduate I tell kids even if you feel we were not close and years pass and we have not been in touch, if you are looking for advice, and I come to mind, contact me because I’m always there.”

Mo Fuchs is indeed always there and will treat you with respect, offer a lesson, and share some wisdom. A coach, a teacher, a mensch.

By Larry Bernstein

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