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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

While the students of TABC were away for the summer, there was still a lot of energy and excitement in the building as 90 young men filled the gyms for the TABC Alumni Sports League, playing basketball and hockey games every week during the summer. It all started with a biannual TABC alumni hockey game that takes place every Chol Hamoed Sukkot and Pesach. Alumni returned to their high school to reconnect with former classmates and enjoy some competitive hockey. When the idea came up to expand this game to an entire summer league, TABC alumnus, Mikey Levy ‘12, decided to take on the project. Starting from scratch, he began to reach out to people to see if he could generate enough interest in a potential league. He had to coordinate finding players, making teams and getting jerseys. With the support and funding from the school, he was able to launch the league. Last summer, the league’s first year, over 40 players joined the league, which had hockey games every week. The league was a big success, and the players enjoyed having the chance to play hockey just like when they were back in high school. This year, Levy expanded the league to basketball as well, and it now fills up both gyms with competitive spirit and nostalgia.

The inaugural basketball season was action packed and led up to a thrilling playoffs and championship. Team 2 cruised through the regular season, with captain Isaac Mirwis leading his team to an undefeated 6-0 record, winning all but one game by more than 15 points. They entered the playoffs as the clear favorite to go all the way. In the semifinals, the second seed, Team 5, led by co-commissioner Rami Polinsky, whose only regular season loss was a nail biter against the undefeated Team 2, took on captain Dan Poleyeff and the TABC Rebbe Team. The three seeded Rebbe Team played hard and upset their opponents in a close game. Waiting for them in the finals was Team 2, who continued their easy run through the playoffs. Team 2 entered the finals as the heavily favored team, but the Rebbe Team kept it close with the lead going back and forth, and no team was able to pull away. The game was tied with one minute on the clock, but a clutch shot from Mirwis gave his team the lead with 30 seconds remaining. Team 2 was able to hold on for the win and complete their perfect season. In the hockey league, Team 2 was the team to beat going into the playoffs, with captain Joe Miller and Rabbi Raphi Mandelstam leading their team to a 5-1 regular season record. The playoffs were very competitive, with many close games. In the first round, Team 4, led by Yehoshua Lerer, advanced to the semifinals after a win over the six seed, Team 1, led by Yoni Stone. Meanwhile, it was a battle of the brothers in the other first round game, with Jacob Levy and Team 6 taking on commissioner Mikey Levy and Team 3. It was a close game, but Team 6 emerged with the victory. The semi finals featured two rivalries that had been brewing all season long. The first place Team 2 faced off against Team 6, the four seed, who split their two regular season matchups, and handed Team 2 their only loss of the season. In another tight game, Team 2 emerged victorious to avenge their loss and advance to the finals. Team 4 took on the second seeded Team 5, which featured TABC JV goalie Charles Gibber. These two teams also faced off twice in the regular season, winning one apiece as well. Stellar goaltending by Mordy Dubin helped Team 4 secure the shutout and the second spot in the championships. Dubin was the star again in the finals, playing spectacularly
in net, while two goals by Ari Drazin and one by Noam Safier gave their team the championship victory. Along with the fun aura of competitiveness and enjoyment, was a feeling of nostalgia. Many of the players were graduates of TABC, and though the school might have changed a lot since they graduated, they got to reconnect with old classmates, but also meet new people. “What makes this league special,” Mikey Levy explains, “is that it isn’t just a way to exercise or play sports with friends, but a great outlet to meet other alumni. Last year, a few players who were currently in college, became friends with some of their teammates a couple of years further down the road as them, and have used those relationships to network for a job or to decide on a career path.”

Some TABC rebbeim also compete in the league. Rabbis Scott Friedman and Michael Hoenig are both on the same team, as well as Head of School Rabbi Asher Yablok. Since Rabbi Yablok came to TABC after most of the alumni had already graduated, participating gives him the chance to connect with some of them that he may not have otherwise had. The TABC Alumni League is much more than just a great opportunity for alumni to play sports and have fun. The 90 men who came to TABC every week to play sports enjoyed the opportunity to connect with old friends, make new ones and strengthen relationships with each other and their alma mater.

By Eli Rifkind