June 22, 2024
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June 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Teaneck Girls Basketball League Teaches Skills On and off the Court

Like many parents of elementary school kids, I was scouring the internet and Facebook groups for a sports league that my daughter could join in the winter season. Trying to reduce cost, I signed her up for the Teaneck Girls Basketball League. From the start, coaches Janelle Taylor, Yazmin Quezada and Angel Richardson were leading the charge, inspiring young girls to strive for excellence both on and off the court. At the first practice, they spoke about dedication to hard work and each player’s responsibility to the team. The participating families were of various racial, socio-economic and religious backgrounds; My daughter learned very quickly what it was like to be one of two Jewish kids in a room, and the challenges and opportunities that come along with that.

Each week, the team would meet on Wednesday evenings for practices with their coaches, honing their skills in passing, dribbling and shooting. I would notice the girls chatting at times, sharing stories about school or what they did on the weekend. Sundays were dedicated to games against other teams in the league. The tone was light-hearted and refreshing, as parents cheered on the teams and the players focused on fun and applying the skills they learned.

When my daughter was informed about an end-of-the-season banquet at the Rodda Center, I prepared her for the inevitable: kosher food wouldn’t be provided. I explained to her that this is a reality of life, one that many Orthodox Jews face at places of work, community events and sometimes even family gatherings. To my surprise, one of the coaches approached us and said that kosher pizza and snacks would be served to the Jewish children in the league. I let the coach know that for families in the community who follow kosher dietary laws, this gesture was deeply appreciated and helped them feel included in the celebration.

This past Sunday, the Teaneck Basketball League banquet was a beautiful showing of inclusivity, promoting teamwork and dedication to their team. My daughter excitedly ate pizza with her newfound friend Nava Frazer, along with the other players on their team. The looks of pure joy on their faces exemplified the impact of inclusion and sensitivity to others’ backgrounds, all due to a kosher pie of pizza.

As the league continues to grow and thrive, it’s clear that the coaches and players are setting an example for others to follow. By teaching discipline, hard work and respect for others, the coaches are helping these young girls develop into strong, confident, and compassionate individuals. They are showing that basketball can be much more than just a game—it can be a vehicle for positivity and acceptance in the community.

By Maya Joyandeh

 

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