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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Falcon's Nest Notes: A Week to Grow On

Rose Mishaan driving through HAFTR Defense
Maybe you have heard the saying that losing builds character, that losing makes you a better player. Losing does not build character. Then again, neither does winning build character. Building character is a result of what we do, how we conduct ourselves in a given situation. When faced with a challenge, do we rise up to the task and bring our “A” game, or do we shrink under the pressure of the situation; do we do everything possible in striving for a positive result even in the face of overwhelming odds; do we exhibit respect for our opponents, or do we rub our rivals noses in it when they are defeated? We hope that as a result of our experiences – both on and off the playing field – we develop “good” character. But there is no doubt that facing the challenge of competition, and coming up short on the scoring end creates settings ripe for the development of character.

This past week has been one of opportunity for character development for the Flatbush Falcons, as Falcon teams across the fall sports landscape battled hard but came up on the short end. Boys Varsity and JV Hockey dropped their last decisions on the floor 7-0 to Kushner and 2-0 to Rambam respectively; Girls Basketball dropped both ends of a double-header by 7 to physical HAFTR squads; Girls Volleyball went on the road with both the JV and Varsity falling to SKA (JV lost by a score of 2-0 while the Varsity lost a heartbreaker 3 games to 2 after a valiant comeback to force a fifth and deciding game in which they fell just short of the upset, losing the decisive game by a score of 21-19); Boys Basketball fell to a powerful Heschel team, ranked 6th overall nationally, in the Varsity home opener in front of a raucous and intense crowd and in a game which came on the heels of the JV’s first loss of the season in an exhibition matchup with Heschel’s JV. But the scores only tell a part of the story – a very small part.

Character is often defined as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” At times it can be hard to quantify what is “good character,” but there is no doubt that we can recognize it when we see it. And saw it, we did!

Character is Danielle Shalam exhorting her teammates to victory after falling behind 2-1 on the road and ready to pack it in against a team that beat them soundly less than a week earlier. Character is Becky Waldman stepping up and putting Danielle Shalam’s words into action, rallying the team in a fifth game, nearly upsetting the host team.
Danielle Shalam serving up in a previous game
Character is Moshe Illouz standing on his proverbial goalie head turning away shot after shot peppered on him by the Rambam Ravens, only to have the game-winner squeak through the 5-hole. Character is also every one of his teammates who patted him on the back and made a point of noting his impressive performance, even though the team lost the game.
Moshe Illouz stands tall in goal for Flatbush JV's
Character is the play of the Varsity Girls Basketball team who, faced with the prospect of taking on HAFTR without leading scorer Lauren Berkowits (slightly torn ligament), had to then absorb the loss of point guard Victoria Gindi early in the first quarter (elbow to the forehead) and force players to take on new roles and step outside their comfort zone. And, they did not back down from the challenge. Character is that same Victoria Gindi stepping back on the court late in the fourth quarter (after showing the EMT she had no signs of concussion) to try to spark a comeback that fell short.
Victoria Gindi gets fouled on the way to the basket
Rachel Linfield fills the void at point guard
Victoria Gindi breaks the press
Character is Morris Bijou pressing his coach to address the issues that contributed to a 7-0 pasting at the hands of Kushner’s Varsity Hockey team, not because he wanted to challenge him, but because he wanted to start immediately examining what went wrong so the team could get started on fixing things and getting back on track. Character is Moe Maleh, in the face of that same deficit, continually trying to get back on the floor because he believed that he could still bring his teammates back!
Morris Bijou and his teammates walks off the hockey floor
Character is Michael Shalom, standing on the sidelines the entire first half of his fist home game of the season, charging every one of his bench-mates to be vocal, to encourage and support his teammates. Character is also Michael Shalom finally stepping off that bench late in the second half at guard for fellow co-captain Nathan Haddad, helping settle the offense and demonstrating how much he has learned from past experience in making good on-court decisions. Character is that same Nathan Haddad, replaced late in the game, showing as much effort and intensity in stoking his teammates on and the fans to get loud, to play hard, urging the team to victory.
Michael Shalom infuses the team with controlled offense
Michael Shalom puts forward some pressure defense
And, character is Joey Dayon, who when down by 8 with under a minute to play, at a point in the game where many would just step back and call it a day, dove from behind making an impossible steal which led to a basket cutting the lead to 6, bringing the fans to their feet and living the Yogi Berra truism, “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
Joey Dayon gets excited after forcing a turnover late in the game
In each case, the Falcons did not win on this day, but the lessons learned - and the character demonstrated - will assuredly lead to success down the road. This is truly what interscholastic athletics is all about.  GO FALCONS!

Nest Notes: In a light week of action, Girls Basketball took on Central Monday, 11/18, at home; Varsity Hockey was also back in action on Monday, 11/19, at HAFTR and again on Thursday at home against North Shore; JV returns to the floor on Saturday night at Westchester. This week marks the start of the Middle School fall athletic schedule with the hockey team in action Tuesday hosting Magen David and the 7th & 8th grade girls basketball team welcoming The Brandeis School on Wednesday.