Playing a sport at Hillel is an experience like no other. We don’t have cheerleaders screaming our names from the sidelines and don’t always walk onto the field expecting a huge victory, but instead are focused on results much more meaningful than a scoreboard filled with numbers. More than that, when we walk onto the field, we aren’t just teenagers playing a sport; we are representing the entire Jewish population. For many of our opponents, we are some of the only Jewish people they will encounter in their lifetime, so athletes have to find the balance between playing aggressively and leaving opponents with an overall positive impression of Jewish people.
Throughout different seasons, Scheck Hillel provides the opportunity for students to participate in a variety of sports, including golf, soccer, football, tennis, basketball, and volleyball. Beginning in lower school, students can enhance their athletic abilities and communication skills, while developing close bonds with players who they may never have been friends with otherwise.
At Hillel, the primary focus isn’t triumphant victory; however, we always try our hardest to leave everything on the court or field (even if it’s a big challenge). Sophomore Anna Freiman, who has been playing a variety of Hillel sports since third grade, states, “sometimes we are substantially smaller and weaker than the girls on the other teams, and it can be really terrifying when I walk onto the court and see that the person I’m supposed to guard is two heads taller and one-hundred pounds heavier than me. But, this makes me have to work harder and play smarter, as the only way to win is through strategic plays that utilize every player on the court.” The huge size gap is more than evident, but the athletes always try their best to make up for this gap by being as aggressive as possible and by playing strategically.
Although we don’t have cheerleaders, crowds of fellow students and parents can be seen filling up the benches, cheering on the Lions with posters and powerful chants at our home games. Even at away games, such as the state final in Melbourne back in 2016, there are always Lions in the crowd ready to cheer the teams to victory. Our school unites under two things: Judaism and athletics. “When we put in the hard work, it definitely pays off. It is really fun, especially when you play in front of the Hillel crowd,” says senior Jorge Batievsky.
Another differentiating factor for Hillel sports teams is the Jewish side of the experience. Our school unites under two things: Judaism and athletics. In several games, the athletes pray as a group for a safe and successful game. Also, in a few tournaments, the “Hatikvah” is played before the game commences, in addition to the traditional “Star Spangled Banner.” Along with the already strong friendships, the Jewish bond between the athletes brings them even closer together as a team. Thus, they are all connected on a much higher level than a standard high school team.
Overall, playing a sport on a Hillel team is different than playing at any other school. Although we don’t have the highest stats or the most victories, we have other things to make up for it. Our bond as a team is unbreakable, and the spirit Hillel students bring, whether watching or playing in the game, is unlike anywhere else. Afterall, “as students we soar, as lions we roar!”