By Arielle Gurin
Thirty-four teams from across the country joined this university to participate in the nation’s largest Jewish collegiate basketball tournament last month.
Sponsored by Hillel, the tournament was part of a weekend full of activities including a communal Shabbat dinner at Ritchie Coliseum, a Shabbat lunch with sports reporter Andy Pollin and plenty of basketball.
Visitors — coming from places as far as Syracuse and Washington University in St. Louis — spent Saturday afternoon relaxing on the Washington Quad or using the open court time at the Armory to get in a few extra minutes of practice.
And then on Saturday night and Sunday, the teams took to the courts for the games.
John Jay took home the gold in the men’s tournament after defeating team Potash, one of the six teams from this university. As for the women’s side, team Miller — one of this university’s three female teams — defeated tournament favorite Stern College’s Yoshor team in the finals.
Michael Shrager, a junior psychology major, plans to take over as head of the tournament next year after senior tournament co-chair Eliana Geller graduates.
The tournament takes months of planning, Shrager said. It starts with finding the right date, then assembling a board and various committees. Then, the recruitment and advertising phases begin.
And while it’s exhausting, he added, the result is worth it.
“I really do have fun,” said Shrager, who’s been involved with the tournament since his freshman year. “It’s a really unique event and I have tremendous pride in it and it’s a pleasure to work with Eli [Geller]. She is teaching me to take over after she graduates.”
The tournament costs $1000 per team to enter, which covers the costs of food, insurance, jerseys, and referees.
Rebecca Yoshor, a junior English literature major at Stern College, is a starter for her college’s Division III basketball team and a recent Capital One All-America team recipient. She played at this year’s tournament on one of Stern’s two teams.
“It’s been really great, I came last year and this year and it’s a really fun weekend,” said Yoshor. “I would love to come back and play again next year.”
Talya Lerner, a sophomore communications major and former tournament board member, said she enjoyed just playing in the tournament this year.
“I’m having a great time,” said Lerner. “Being on the board last year was a little stressful, but this year I get to just enjoy playing. I really look forward to this tournament every year. It’s really for anyone who loves basketball, or just loves to see over a thousand Jews from colleges all over the country come together for a Shabbat.”