June 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

YU’s Pransky Coaches USA Under-16 Team at Pan American Maccabi Games

Yeshiva University men’s soccer head coach Josh Pransky just returned from Santiago, Chile, where he coached the Maccabi United States under-16 soccer team. Put simply, he had a great experience.

“Coaching for Maccabi was a unique and humbling experience,” Pransky said. “I got to coach some of the best Jewish soccer players from around the country. Regardless of in-game results, working with these players was so rewarding because at 15 and 16 years old, they are in their impressionable prime. These players are already on a high skill level, and I was honored to be able to help hone their skills in small ways, while also helping them work through challenge and adversity.

The team had to persevere through some uncanny challenges. The first challenge was significant: approximately half of the team missed the training session before the first game due to flight cancellations and delays. “Some of these players almost literally stepped off a ten-hour flight and onto the field,” Pransky explained. “Additionally, the style of play in South America is slightly different than in North America; the referees allow certain elements of the game that get a whistle up here; it was around 90 degrees for a lot of our games; and we played five games in five days. All in all, this was an extremely intense soccer environment and I was unequivocally impressed with the mental fortitude of my players. Despite the challenges, we were in every single game. No result was guaranteed. We lost to Mexico on an absolute beauty of a free kick, tied with Brazil and lost to Argentina on a goal that shocked everyone on the field, including the player who kicked the ball! Our players though were steady throughout and were able to stay positive through the tough results.”

For Pransky, coming from an environment at Yeshiva where he already coaches some of the best Jewish soccer talent from around the world, the Maccabi Pan American Games were bigger than just the experience inside the lines.

“The experience with Maccabi was incredible and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity,” he said. “There were so many experiences that cannot be replicated. For example, at Shabbat dinner on Friday night, the man sitting next to me was on the Mexican over-45 tennis team. It turns out he is the CEO of an energy company in Mexico. It was a thrill to get to know him and we have already exchanged emails now that we are both home. Only at Maccabi would something like that happen!”

In terms of connecting Yeshiva University with the global Jewish athletics community, there was much to talk about.

“Many people were shocked to learn about how successful our teams are becoming, while a surprising amount already knew about our successes! It was fascinating to meet so many non-YU alumni who asked me to sign them up for our athletics newsletters. Meeting after meeting I got the sense that coaching at YU transcends our local community and impacts the worldwide community. It was humbling to learn that outside of the Tri-state area, there are many fans following us.”

There were some self-reflective moments as well.

“There was an incredible experience at the opening ceremony which was held at a professional soccer stadium, Club Universidad de Chile, where I assume between 10,000-15,000 people packed the stadium. Jews from around the world filled the seats, and cheered as all the teams walked in. Maccabi then put on an extremely moving show that at one point touched on some of the anti-Semitic atrocities in Germany, Argentina and around the world. The massive screens brought to life some of these chilling events. One of the younger players asked why they had to show those images and it was amazing to explain to him that despite all those attempts to squash our faith, the stadium was filled with people celebrating it.”

When asked if he would want to repeat the experience with Maccabi USA, Pransky’s answer was not surprising. “This was my first experience with Maccabi USA and I am hooked. It is an experience I would feel blessed to enjoy again.”

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles