Tuesday, July 07, 2020

For many kids, the prospect of becoming a professional athlete is, for the most part, unrealistic. However, with a certain combination of skill and determination, such seemingly far-fetched dreams can instantly materialize. Take Shoshana Lofstock, a 13-year-old girl from Yavneh Academy who has excelled in competitive ice hockey.

Throughout her years of playing, Lofstock has accomplished a great deal, meeting the rigorous standards of high-caliber teams and being invited to various clinics. Notably, she has made the USA Hockey’s Atlantic District for the second straight year. This is a week-long camp run by USA Hockey, which chooses only the most qualified girls from the Atlantic District. Last season she played on the U12 Montclair Blues Boys AA Peewee team, and in the coming season she will play for the U14 Ironbound Elite Team, which is based in Newark. While this squad is mostly composed of 14-year-old girls, Lofstock was one of three 13-year-olds to make the team. The Ironbound ice hockey team is a national-bound Tier 1 team that participates in tournaments all over the country. In the upcoming season, games will be held at Ohio State and Yale, as well as in St. Louis, Boston, Philadelphia, Canada and many other places. Making this team will be very advantageous to her because the new league will allow her to showcase her skills on a national level.

“We will get to...compete against some of the best 14U players in the country. The competition on this wider scale is amazing. It’s a level of hockey that you just don’t see in this area often,” said Shoshana’s father, John Lofstock.

In addition to making these teams, Lofstock has recently been one of 36 forwards and 64 overall players from the U.S. to be invited to join the Harvard University Girls Ice Hockey Combine. She stayed in Harvard for a week, participating in ice hockey clinics with Harvard staff. Importantly, during this special week, Katey Stone, famed Harvard women’s head coach, spent three days mentoring and inspiring the girls on and off the ice.

As one would imagine, it is not easy to amass so many accomplishments. This athletic proficiency necessitates constant training and practice. “She is on the ice a minimum of three to four days a week every week of the year. Then training at home with shooting and stick-handling in the garage an hour or two a day almost every day. Some days I have to push her; most other days she just does it on her own,” said John.

Lofstock’s hard work has really paid off: her skills have been noticeably improving over her years of playing. According to her father, “For Shoshana, progression was organic. At a very young age she displayed excellent skating skills. She stood out among boys and girls almost immediately. She also practiced and played on boys teams and, over time, coaches would notice her and inquire about whether she would be interested in playing on a girls team.”

In addition to physical ability, this level of success also requires a certain capacity of character. According to Lofstock, “I am inspired by my motivation to excel at hockey and be the best that I can be at my sport. I love to play and to be able to accomplish what I set my mind to.”

However, the skills don’t come to her easily. She said that at such a high level of play, it is difficult to keep up with some of the other players; instead of considering that a setback, the challenge invigorates her, giving her, as she put it, “something to work for.” Lofstock has said that while she may be able to enjoy the rewards of her talent by visiting cool places and seeing important people, she always maintained “the determination and intensity to learn more and get better and stronger.” Her endeavor to perpetually improve has not only given her enjoyment but has also unlocked countless athletic opportunities.

Shoshana is likely one of just a couple of frum girls in the country who plays with such a high caliber of talent. For the most part, being Jewish has not been much of a hindrance to her. However, Shoshana said that “it’s hard having to miss practices and games because of holidays or Shabbat. My teammates have been very understanding and they often ask me about Judaism and keeping kosher.” Shoshana is determined to constantly boost her athletic skill set and has been aspiring to be the best player she can be. Her Judaism and other responsibilities are, in reality, the fuel with which her passion and pride subsists.

As she put it, “I’m proud that I can stay committed to being Jewish and play hockey at the same time.”

Josh Gindi is a rising senior at Rae Kushner Yeshiva HighSchool in Livingston and is interning at The Jewish Link.

By Josh Gindi