July 14, 2024
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YU Roller Hockey Team Rolls On to Division 2

There was great joy and jubilation this summer in Washington Heights when YU’s Roller Hockey team was notified by the Eastern Conference of the National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association (NCRHA) that after one year in the league they would be moving up from Division 4 to Division 2. Their stellar playing led them to a victory in the Division 4 Regionals where they defeated every team in their Division on the East Coast. This season they will compete against formidable Division 2 teams including Penn State, Villanova, Drexel, and Boston University. The season will begin at the end of October and run through March at which point they will compete in the Regional Tournament. Winners of the Regional Tournament go on to compete in the National Tournament to be held this year in Ft. Myers, Florida. Teams whose performance was admirable all season can be voted into play in the Nationals even if they do not win the Regionals.

The Macabees have high hopes for this coming season. But there are hurdles to overcome throughout. Some have already presented themselves to the team. The pre-season game is scheduled for Columbus Day, October 10, which happens to be two days before Yom Kippur, which would prevent the team from returning in a timely manner. The first game is scheduled for Sukkot and the second for Hoshana Rabba. “Fortunately for us,” said Amir Gavarin, team captain, “we proved ourselves last year so that the Eastern Conference of Roller Hockey Association (ECRHA) is accommodating our religious needs. I feel that this is truly a kiddush hashem.”

The theme of “kiddush hashem” was an overarching one throughout the first season, which makes the team’s 14 players very proud. Team Manager Eli Schwartz, Captain Gavarin and the members of the team ranging from sophomores to seniors, are all serious YU students. They all spent their gap year in yeshivot in Israel and are all currently learning in either RIETS or BMP, the highest Judaic tracks. They are all avid roller hockey players and enjoy their weekly practice sessions as well as competitions. But the weekly practices are a distance away in North Arlington, New Jersey, which cuts into their study time. However, even more challenging, last season’s 18 games were originally scheduled for Friday nights and Saturdays. Again, through persistence, accommodations were made so that their games were re-scheduled for Saturday nights and Sundays.

“We travel to rural towns on the Eastern Seaboard for competitions with a deep sense of Jewish pride. We know that for many of the players, their families and communities, we are the first real Jews that they have ever met. We take this responsibility seriously and are always on our best behavior,” Gavarin shared. “When we won the Regional Tournament last season, our team was gathered for a winning photograph to be disseminated to the press. We were asked to remove our hats for the picture as is the protocol. We politely but insistently refused to be photographed unless we were able to wear our kippot. Our request was granted. Talk about kiddush hashem!”

In addition to playing to their optimum, the team members are responsible for the financing of their expenses including uniforms, travel and lodging expenses and rent for their practice rink.

“We would like to share our story with Jewish communities in our area and across the country that we are spreading a positive message for all of us of physical prowess combined with the highest levels of principles and morality. We would greatly appreciate your coming out to cheer us on when we compete in your communities. We would also not turn away any financial help that you can offer us,” Gavarin explained.

Bergen County boasts of three talented team players. The Teaneck community can be proud of team members Benji Shulman, Judah Max Dobrinsky, and Elan Bardash, as Fair Lawn can be of Yosef Robin.

To follow the games live as well as to see schedules and locations, log on to ecrha.net. To contact the team directly, email [email protected].

By Pearl Markovitz

 

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