The Jewish Link of New Jersey and Gotham Burger would like to recognize Noa Applebaum as this week’s Sportstar of the Week. Two weeks ago, the fifteen year old Applebaum helped her Ma’ayanot Rapids softball team win the championship. The Rapids’ ace pitcher recorded an amazing 40+ strikeouts during the season. Like all great players, Applebaum maximized her game in the playoffs. She did not give up any runs in the playoffs, and no batter reached beyond first base in all three playoff games. The championship game was her sixth shutout of the season. In the championship game alone she struck out 12 batters, and of the few who managed to hit, only two made it to first base; the final playoff opposition batting average was.629. Applebaum was named MVP of the championship game.
When asked about Noa, Rapids manager Yoni Lieber told the JLNJ, “Noa has really stepped up her game, as a pitcher and as a hitter, in the second half of our season this year. She has consistently thrown strikes, and was instrumental in securing our first place finish in the division, and led us to our championship win.”
JLNJ spoke with Noa about her role as a Sportstar:
Noa who would you say is your role model?
Without even realizing it, I model many aspects of my life after my older sister Kayla. She, like myself, played softball as a small child and continues to do so today, and is even an assistant coach for my school’s softball team. She is an unbelievable player, coach and person who inspires me in many more ways than one. She helps me improve my skills by working with me in softball, as well as many other activities. Without her support and commitment to me, and my team, I would not have been able to achieve so many of the things she helped me with. (Thanks Kay!)
Who’s your favorite professional athlete?
My favorite athlete is Mo’ne Davis. Mo’ne is a 13-year-old girl baseball pitcher on an all-boys team. She proves that gender does not matter in the sense of “how great of a player you are.” The only thing that is remotely relevant is your overall skill. As a girl, there’s always the stereotype that you are not as good as every other boy, but Mo’ne proves that that is not the case.
Do you have a pregame ritual?
Before every game I warm up with the rest of my team and practice pitching with my catcher, Sarah Berman. Also, I always wear the same headband to every game. I have become a little superstitious about wearing it, to the extent that I cannot play without it. Before each inning when I am pitching, Sarah Hiller hands me the ball after rubbing it on her shirt. This has also become a superstitious ritual.
What is your earliest sports memory?
One of my earliest memories of softball was when I was about five or six years old. I was playing in TBO and it was one of the first games of the season. I was up to bat and next thing I know I hit a grand-slam! Granted it was little league, but it was still all the excitement and adrenaline that made me think that I could actually be a good player in the future. From that point on my love for softball only grew.
Do you have a favorite Sports memory?
This year, we played against Hillel. At this game I was not pitching because I was not doing so well that night. I felt a little upset at myself for this and so when I got up to bat, I took out all that frustration on the ball. I hit a home run, sending two others home! It was an awesome feeling because it was my first real home run (little league does not count). My other teammates greeted me at home screaming, cheering and giving me high fives. We ended up winning by over 10 runs that night.
What do you like to do, when you are not playing for the Rapids?
When I’m not playing softball I love to hang out with my friends and family. I also enjoy dancing. I took dance lessons for eight years in ballet, pointe and tap, however I had to stop last year because it became too hard to juggle everything with all my school work as I entered high school. Although I cut back on my lessons entering high school, I have been able to incorporate what I’ve learned into choreographing the annual [Ma’ayanot] Heartbeats dance for the past two years.
What is the best thing about being a Sportstar?
The best part about being a Sportstar is being able to be on an incredible team with so many talented and amazing players, as well as awesome coaches.
The Gotham Burger Sportstar of the Week will receive a $10 gift certificate to Gotham Burger. Please send nominees for next week’s Gotham Burger Sportstar of the Week to [email protected]ф