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Monday, March 24, 2014

Falcon's Nest Notes: Harbingers of Spring

It has been an uncharacteristically cold and snowy - and icy - winter. But the Yeshivah of Flatbush sub-basement has been echoing with the sounds of baseballs, softballs and soccer balls – sure signs that Spring is just around the corner.
Asst. Coaches Shrem and Maleh (center) put the would-be JV Soccer Falcons through their paces
For a few weeks now, returning and would-be Flatbush Falcons have begun knocking the rust off their throwing, batting and kicking skills, showing the coaching staffs of the Spring Sports that they deserve a coveted place on a team roster. The first out of the gate were the girls suiting up for Varsity and JV Indoor Soccer. With new assistants Emily Shrem and Stephanie Maleh, former players for Head Coach Evelyn Shterenzer now on her staff with the Varsity and JV teams respectively, the coaches put the players through the paces, with some new drills in place to aid in the evaluation process. The infusion of energy and added direction from the new coaches was welcomed by returning Senior team leader Celia Tawil. Tawil remarked, “the new coaches will really help to advance the team’s skills. Having played for Flatbush, they understand the demands on the players both in the classroom and on the court, and their input will help strengthen each line. We will be more unified as a team; we are looking to have fun, but also do as well as we can!”
The boys show why they should be awarded a spot on the Varsity Soccer roster for 2014
The boys soccer players were equally eager to take to the court. With new goals on order, the boys employed the old metal pipes for a final time with the returning players working out the winter kinks and the newbies looking to impress Head Coach Mark Medetsky and new Assistant Coach David Nachmany (another returning former Falcon looking to bolster the program of which he was so recently a contributing member). With leadership provided by returning seniors Ovadia Fetieh, Jesse Keren and Ilay Fachima, the Flatbush boys looked to impress with drills designed to show off their dribbling and passing skills as well as their shooting ability. The coaches also put those interested in taking over goalie duties through their paces, as the team graduated its goalie from last year’s playoff team and will need a new man to step up and fill the void.
Under the watchful eyes of Coaches Mizrahi and Dweck, the girls warm up before the first Girls Softball tryout at Flatbush in years
Next up in the gym were the Varsity Girls Softball try-outs. Looking to revive a dormant program, the girls gathered in the HS gym to show the coaches they have what it takes to bring softball back to the pantheon of Flatbush Athletic programs. Coaches Rozan Mizrahi and Renee Dweck, both veteran players in the Jersey Shore Women’s Softball League in Monmouth County, NJ, put the girls through the paces, first evaluating their ability to throw and catch the ball, then putting them through basic fielding drills. The next week saw the girls show off their hitting ability. Senior Renee Sutton looked to be a potentially big hitter for the Falcons, making solid contact from the first pitch. But, the top slugging performance was put on by Sophomore rookie Rose Mishaan. Stepping up with her usual look of grit and determination, Mishaan laced the ball into the nearby stairwell, and then followed that up with line drives back at Coach Dweck (who was tossing in the pitches). With a talented group in place, the biggest challenge facing this group looks to come from the uncooperative weather and the parks department, with which the school is in discussion for securing field space for practice and home games this season.
Rose Mishaan rips the ball during the second day of softball tryouts.
Baseball held its tryouts under the watchful eyes of veteran coaches Eric Hall and Brett Beard in a facility across the Verrazano Bridge in the distant recesses of Staten Island. In all seriousness though, while the team is returning every member from its 2013 MYHSAL Championship team, the majority of the 2014 roster looks to be made up of seniors. Additionally, it is rumored that the incoming group of freshman baseball players is exceedingly talented. This would be the first opportunity for the High School coaches to evaluate the talent of Flatbush’s future on the baseball diamond. With a heavy load of seniors, evaluating the newcomers will be key in keeping the cupboard full as the program moves forward. The indoor facility would give the players the space to show how well they can field the ball, while also providing both mounds for pitchers to throw to catchers and cages for all to show what they can do with the bat. Returning MYHSAL Pitcher-of-the-Year Senior Ralph Navarro was very excited to put on his glove and toss the ball with his teammates. “I can’t wait to get back out on the field! We are ready to defend our title, and are really looking forward to competing with teams from outside the Yeshiva League for the first time.” Navarro is referring to the team’s entrance into the Columbus Baseball Invitational, the biggest Yeshiva baseball tournament in the country hosted by Columbus Torah Acedemy of Columbus, Ohio. The League schedule is a work in progress, but the team will again play against Ramaz at Richmond County Bank Park, home of the Staten Island Yankees and one of the premier baseball facilities in the metropolitan area.

Boys Softball is also underway, with former JV leader Howie Fleischman stepping up to take over the leadership of the Varsity program as well, in the absence of former coach Joe Sciallo. With new Assistant Coach Ray Chehova at his side, Coach Fleishman – no longer in need of crutches for mobility! – was on hand to register all the interested players (of which there are many) and to begin sifting through the group to select the best and most committed to continue the tradition of Boys Softball success at Flatbush. The Boys softball team would also be the first of the Flatbush Spring sports to get outside and play on the fields of Brooklyn. With the ice finally receding, the would-be softballers now had only the frigid air to contend with. But working the boys out on the fields of Marine Park, Coaches Fleishman and Chehova would get the opportunity to see the players not only throw and catch (which they did in the YoF HS gym), but also see how they field fly balls – a skill in need of the open air. The coaches are now busily at work assembling the schedule for the 2014 season.
Joshua Sitt (shown here in competition at last year's MYHSAL Boys Tennis Finals at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY) will compete for a top spot on this year's team
Lastly, the Boys and Girls Tennis teams assembled at MatchPoint NYC in Brooklyn to battle under the watchful eyes of Coach Christine Johnson, Volunteer Coach Elliot Greenberg and veteran Head Coach Michael Gelber (Gelber also doubles as the chair of the MYHSAL Tennis season). With only seven scoring spots per team per match, the competition for roster spots for Girls and Boys tennis is perhaps the most intense in the school. The boys return top performer Senior Joey Dweck, who will look to solidify the top spot on the team at 1st Singles. The girls also bring back their top player from last year in Senior Eileen Sutton who also is expected to secure the 1st singles position. The remaining positions on both squads are clearly up for grabs, and the competition for roster spots for the boys has been so intense that an additional session of tryouts needed to be added to the schedule. The teams have lofty goals for the season, with the girls looking to challenge for the League championship and the boys looking to improve on their League runner-up status from 2013 and this year climb the final hill and bring home a tennis championship to Flatbush!

Nest Notes:
The other Spring team sport, Boys Volleyball, had their try-outs in the fall and have been practicing late Tuesday nights since October. Boys Volleyball will open the season on Tuesday, April 1 as they host North Shore. Game time is 8:00 pm. The new Track Team debuted with a strong showing at the HODS 5K Race in Central Park at the start of the month, and will take on Yeshiva League opponents twice this Spring in meets hosted by Kushner Academy in Livingston, NJ on Sunday , April 27 and Sunday, May 11. Both meets will begin at 10:00 am.

To view all team schedules, please go to the Flatbush Athletic website at the following link: (, and click on the link for our school athletic schedules.