A Tribute to The Alumni Athletes Who Made Yeshiva Great
He stands at the foul line, cradling the ball, eleven seconds on the clock, his “Macs 44” jersey drenched in sweat. He’s made two free throws; if he makes the third… He doesn’t think about that. Instead, he dips, then rises, launching a smooth arc that hits nothing but net.
The Yeshiva crowd roars its appreciation as Shelby Rosenberg scores his 1000th career point in the last home game of his collegiate career, the 28th YU athlete to do so in over 80 years of YU basketball history.
In the past, Rosenberg would have left the court with his memories, some photos and videos and the congratulations of many. But now, thanks to the creation of The Maccabees Hall of Fame, he may one day have his achievements enshrined for future University generations to see and admire.
The Hall of Fame is a welcome and necessary addition to an athletics program that has produced an impressive list of championships and is well-respected among NCAA Division III teams. It will honor alumni who have demonstrated exceptional athletic ability, personal integrity and high standards of character, exemplars of the ideals and philosophy of Yeshiva University.
YU takes pride in its athletic record, and rightly so. In just the past three years alone, the men’s tennis team has made back-to-back NCAA National Tournament appearances, advancing to the second round in 2015.
In addition to the men’s tennis team’s outstanding achievement as the current two-time consecutive defending Skyline Conference Champions, YU teams have produced champions in the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as well. The men’s volleyball team accomplished a “threepeat” (2013, 2014, 2015), the men’s cross-country team won back-to-back championships (2013, 2014) and the women’s cross-country attained their first-ever championship (2013).
Many YU players have achieved statistical championships throughout the history of the school, and the past few years are no different. Rebecca Yoshor ’14S (women’s basketball) achieved a double-double in 11 consecutive games during the 2012-2013 season (ranking her 15th all-time), and in 2014 she averaged 16 rebounds a game leading the nation that season. Stephanie Greenberg ’15S (women’s basketball) averaged 4.3 steals per game in 2014 which ranked her #1 in the NCAA that season as well. It was the first time two YU women were both ranked top in the country during the same season.
Note that achievements like these are accomplished while the individuals are engaged in very full academic lives. In a 2003 article in The Commentator, Steve Martinek ’04SB describes putting in a full day of classes, going to practice from 7-10 p.m. two days a week, and often staying up well past midnight to catch up on his work. While Yoshor was racking up her impressive stats in 2014, she was also maintaining a 3.92 GPA as an English major.
Stories like these can be multiplied many times: it is the journey of being an athlete at YU, what Jeffrey Gurock in his book, Judaism’s Encounter With American Sports, calls learning to “pray and play.”
The Hall of Fame will now be a place where people can go to applaud that dedication and commitment, what Director of Athletics Joe Bednarsh calls “a great opportunity to connect the past and present so that we never forget the sacrifices that enable our student-athletes to play at the level they do today.” President Richard M. Joel celebrates YU Athletics as “a full expression of the values of Torah Umadda, the integrated life based on Torah,” and Daniel Gordon, his chief of staff, sees YU athletics as “one of the many ways our students wave the banner of the Jewish people with pride to the world.”
Senior Vice President Josh Joseph added that the Hall of Fame is a way to thank our alumni “for their dedication, perspiration and inspiration.”
The Hall of Fame will pay a long-due tribute to the athletic alumni who have been so important in promoting the reputation of Yeshiva University as a well-rounded educational and religious institution. Once established, induction into the Hall of Fame can easily turn into an anticipated community event where YU gives alumni an opportunity to commemorate their accomplishments while introducing current student-athletes to those who came before them.
Inaugural nominations will be accepted online until May 31, 2016. Selection of the first round of inductees will start in June 2016, and inductees will be notified in July 2016. The inaugural class induction ceremony will be held in May 2017.