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Thursday, May 7, 2015

A New Direction for Boys Basketball at Flatbush

On a day with weather more suited to the football season than the baseball season, the Boys Basketball program took its first step into a new future when the new coaching staff for the 2015-16 season was introduced to the Flatbush basketball community. Michael Gurock and Augusto Kennedy met with the returning members of the boys basketball teams to share with the student-athletes their vision for the short-term and long-term future of the program, and to answer any questions they had about that vision and how the coaching staff plans to implement it.

Coach Gurock will take over as Head Coach of the Boys Basketball program, a position held for the past two seasons by Avi Borenstein. While the Flatbush Athletic and High School Administration is most appreciative of the work done by Coach Borenstein in advancing the program from what was in place prior to his arrival, it was felt that it was the right time to build on that success with a turn in a different direction. With that in mind, the returning players were introduced to Coach Gurock. Coach Gurock comes to Flatbush with a wealth of experience both in the day-to-day operations of Yeshiva League athletics as well as a history of working with yeshiva students in the summer camp setting.
Gurock, a graduate of the George Washington University (BA, 2005) and Northwestern University (MSA, 2011), developed his love for coaching basketball very early on as he saw his father serve as an assistant on the staff of long-time famed an respected Yeshiva University Head Men’s basketball Coach Johnny Halpert. Gurock continues to draw on his father’s experience and support as a source of strength and encouragement in his own development as a coach and mentor.

Gurock got his start in coaching under the tutelage of two past Flatbush Basketball coaches – both well-respected in their own right, Irv Bader and Mike Gelber, while at Camp Seneca Lake. After graduation from GWU, Gurock joined the athletic staff at Yeshiva University where he served as an assistant to the Athletic Director. While at YU, he helped to coordinate the day-to-day operations of all the school’s varsity athletic teams as well as oversight of the operation of the school’s prestigious Saracheck Tournament.

After working at YU, Gurock moved to Israel, where he volunteered at Bet Elazraki Children’s Home, both coaching and counselling the Home’s at-risk youth. Upon returning to the US, Gurock settled in Chicago, where he worked for the MLS’s Chicago Fire Soccer Club as part of their marketing and events team while completing his Master’s Degree at Northwestern.

Gurock now lives in New York, where he has been working at the Columbia/Barnard Hillel and at Covenant House At-Risk Homeless Shelter while completing work on another Master’s Degree (he will graduate this summer with a Masters in Social Work – MSW – from the Wurzewiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University). At the same time, Gurock has been a valued member of Head Coach Randy Dulny’s staff at Ramaz, where as a student he played basketball for all four years, serving as both Captain of the JV and later the Varsity squads. In addition to assisting Dulny with the Varsity, Gurock has been the lead coach for Ramaz’s JV, where he has steered the team to the MYHSAL playoffs the past two seasons.

Having spent many years with Michael Gurock, Ramaz Head Basketball Coach Randy Dulny had this to share about his protégé. “I have known Michael for a very long time,” noted Dulny. “He is a great young man; he played for me and he coached for me, and he is very passionate about what he does. He is like a son to me, and as much as he was a very hard worker as a player, he works even harder as a coach. While I am sad to see him leave Ramaz, I am very happy for him. You will not find a nicer or more dedicated person than Michael. Flatbush is getting a real mensch!”

Equally significant to his appointment as the new leader of the Boys Basketball program is Gurock’s appointment as the new Boys High School Physical Education teacher for the 2015-16 school year. He replaces long-time teacher Norman Sanders, who retired this past January after many years of devoted service to the students of the Yeshivah of Flatbush. Gurock will work alongside returning Physical Education teacher Mike Gelber, who has done an outstanding job this past year in implementing the new curriculum that stresses the academic aspect of physical training and performance. As noted previously, the two have worked together in the past as staff members at Seneca Lake.
Coaching alongside Gurock will be Augusto Kennedy. Coach Kennedy has served as an assistant to Coach Borenstein at Flatbush for the last two seasons, while also serving as the Head Coach for the Middle Division Falcons 6th Grade team (with former Falcon guard Joey Dayon as his assistant this past season, Coach Kennedy led this year’s 6th graders to a playoff berth, where they made a strong run, losing in the finals to a very powerful North Shore squad). He also apprenticed under the strong guidance of Flatbush’s 8th Grade Boys Head Coach Mike Gelber, serving as Gelber’s assistant during the 2013-14 season. Coach Kennedy will serve as the Assistant Coach for the Varsity, and he will step up and serve as the lead Coach for the Flatbush JV Boys team (Coach Gurock will assist on this level). Prior to coming to Flatbush, Coach Kennedy earned a wealth of experience as a member of talented and experienced collegiate coach Ronnie Ganulin’s staff at St. Francis College of Brooklyn. Kennedy, too, has also garnered knowledge while under the tutelage and guidance of former Falcon Head Coach Irv Bader for many summers as a member of his staff at Seneca Lake Camp.
“I am very excited about this new step for our Boys Basketball program,” noted Flatbush Athletic Director Eric Amkraut. “Coach Gurock brings a wealth of knowledge and a youthful exuberance to the position that I believe will inject our program with renewed energy. I am equally excited about the fact that as a member of our teaching staff, he will have contact with our basketball student-athletes on a daily basis, insuring that they are not only on target athletically, but also academically – which is even more important. With the coaching team of Michael Gurock and Gus Kennedy in place, I envision great things for the future of Flatbush Falcons Basketball!”

Nest Notes:
Though no longer with Flatbush, Avi Borenstein will still be on the sidelines in the MYHSAL, as he has been appointed to the position of Director of Basketball Operations for JEC in Elizabeth, NJ, where he will also serve as the program’s Head Coach. The Flatbush Athletic Staff wishes him only the best as he takes his talents back home to New Jersey (except, of course, when they face the Falcons on the court!).

Coaches Gurock and Kennedy have already begun open workouts for returning and hopeful players for the 2015-16 edition of the Flatbush Falcons High School Basketball teams. Please check with the Athletic Office or with the coaches for specific dates, sites and times for these sessions. Attendance is not mandatory, and it is only in preparation for tryouts slated for this coming August/September at the start of the 2015-16 school year.