From Where I Sit – The Boys and Girls of Summer

From Where I Sit – The Boys and Girls of Summer

Dave Schechter

Dave Schechter is a veteran journalist whose career includes writing and producing reports from Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Our youngest is now a couple of weeks into his junior year in high school.

Dave Schechter
Dave Schechter

His month began in Dallas, playing soccer in 102-degree heat, representing Team Atlanta at the JCC Maccabi Games.

The past four years, the JCC games have been his final summer activity before school resumed. This year was his last, as he has completed his eligibility (ages 13-16).

Our daughter and two sons played soccer at JCC games in Houston, San Diego, Austin, Memphis, Boca Raton and Dallas.

This year, Atlanta sent 90 teenagers to Dallas and 22 to Milwaukee, winning numerous medals and plaudits for their sportsmanship.

Through the JCC games we learned about Maccabi USA, which sent our older son to play in international competitions in Israel, Argentina and Brazil.

At the JCC games, our children competed against and socialized with Jewish teens from throughout the United States and from other countries.

We sent them because in their daily lives being Jewish is a minority religion and culture.

We sent them because we felt it was an opportunity worth the financial cost.

We thank the host families who drove them, fed them, entertained them, cheered for them and even did their laundry.

We thank the coaches and delegation heads who acted in loco parentis, making sure that Atlanta was represented well during and outside competition.

Looking back several years, we thank Jack Vangrofsky, Howie Rosenberg, Kenny Silverboard, Art Seiden, Stacie Graff, Libby Hertz, Mike Wolff, Robert Meyer, Roey Shoshan and Anthony Katzef.

Turning to another Jewish athletic endeavor, our softball team ended its season in the men’s congregation league on something of a high note.

We play in the C division, the lowest, against teams representing larger congregations and on average fielding younger players.

We may remember ourselves as the boys of summer, but more than a few of us can see autumn on the horizon.

Spectators are few: the occasional wife or girlfriend offering moral support or the child who sits in the dugout asking, “When will this be over?”

The banter between opposing players is friendly enough (sympathy for muscle strains), though nerves can fray when playing a doubleheader in 90-degree heat.

If we get through a game with no one pulling (as opposed to just tweaking) a hamstring, even a loss is considered a success.

More players turned up for a bar mitzvah aliyah than most of our games.

We are the only team without uniforms or identifying shirts. Our first baseman wears a jersey bearing the number 1 and “Who” on the back (for those who get the joke).

Our pitcher and manager, whose knowledge of the strike zone and the rulebook is nonpareil, is a member of the Hall of Fame of the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance.

My skills have declined steadily since a college intramural championship victory against the faculty team back in the era of vinyl, cassettes and eight-track tapes.

I have moved from playing second base to right field, where picking up the flight of the ball while wearing progressive lenses can be a challenge (and forget about hitting the cutoff man). In baseball parlance, if I once was good field, I remain no hit.

This year we won our first playoff game. I will not name the temple whose team we defeated in a come-from-behind victory, only to be eliminated ourselves in a slaughter-rule defeat by another congregation in the next game.

There’s always next year, but, guys, we have got to recruit some younger players.

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