Here’s the ultimate gift of day school — Maimonides School won the Super Bowl last month. 

created at: 2010-12-05Well, not literally, of course. No matter what sports championship you’re talking about, Maimonides is unlikely to prevail. First of all, there are days when teams just can’t practice. Classes continue until 6:00, sometimes later, Monday through Thursday, and nothing short of saving a life can compromise Shabbat. Those parameters also mean it’s virtually impossible to participate in a league.

Then there are the facilities. True, our Fox Gymnasium is one of the most popular sports venues in Brookline, in use as much as 18 hours a day, six day a week. However, the baseball and softball fields are in different cities, and our soccer “home” games take place as far away as East Boston. 

All these limitations don’t mean that our baseball, basketball, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball teams are not competitive. On the contrary, the student-athletes are intense and tenacious. They take their responsibilities seriously, sacrificing leisure time and sleep to polish their skills and teamwork. 

So how did we win the Super Bowl? Well, obviously, that’s a metaphor for reaching the heights of athletic achievement. Here’s why. 

Each year the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, governing body of school sports, presents Sportsmanship Awards in seven geographic districts as well as to the statewide parochial high schools. About a month ago, Director of Athletics Hal Borkow was notified by the MIAA that Maimonides had been voted winner of a District Sportsmanship Award. The winners are chosen by vote of district athletic directors, men and women who have witnessed not only episodes of sportsmanship but also a consistent demeanor, a reputation built over many years.

This was unprecedented. Over the last five years, our volleyball and softball teams had combined for three divisional sportsmanship awards. These were significant and much appreciated. But to be recognized by one’s peers as tops in sportsmanship for an entire season – well, as they say, it doesn’t get any better than that. 

Indeed, the Sportsmanship Award is nothing less than a validation of the Torah teachings that envelop our students every day. 

Maimonides School likes to call itself a halachic community. Our students and teachers don’t just study Jewish law. They live it, through not only a range of religious obligations but also a level of behavior and character that elevates and motivates. In other words – derech eretz. Sportsmanship.

That doesn’t mean we don’t dive for loose balls or slide hard into home plate or battle for position in the goal mouth. But it does mean that we respect our opponents and game officials, appreciate the importance of the rules, respond to victory with joy and defeat with disappointment, but always with grace and humility. It means wearing kippot and modest uniforms with pride and appreciation. The name “Maimonides” on the uniform jersey is emblematic of the highest standards on and off the field and the court. 

Day school has given our student-athletes the experience of competitive athletics that they’ll always remember. It also has given them the religious basis for participating at a level that reflects our cherished Tradition.

 

By Mike Rosenberg, director of alumni and community relations at Maimonides School in Brookline, where he has been on the staff since 1987.

This post is the latest in a series on “A Gift That Lasts a Lifetime” — eight days of posts about Day School for Chanukah 2010. Read them all.

The photograph in the above article features Maimonides School student-athletes posing with Robert Kraft, New England Patriots owner, after accepting their school’s MIAA District Sportsmanship Award during ceremonies at Gillette Stadium.From left, Aaron Zwiebach, Betzalel Kosowsky-Sachs, Akiva Katz, Mr. Kraft, Tifara Ramelson and Dalya Lerner, along with Maimonides Executive Director Nathan Katz.