On Thursday night (5/18), the Flatbush HS Athletic Community gathered in the Yeshivah of Flatbush’s Khezrie Auditorium to celebrate and reminisce on the 2016-17 athletic season just about to be completed, with student-athletes and coaches on hand to reflect on the wins and loses, the personal and team achievements, the championships won and the quests that fell short of their ultimate goals; all the while recognizing that while everyone strives to win that ultimate contest it is all about the path to that goal that is most valued.
The 2016-17 Falcon student-athletes and coaches were welcomed by a pre-program reception with traditional Mizrachi foods as they gathered in the Bet Midrash, shmoozing with classmates and teammates, coaches and administrators in advance of the Night of the Falcon festivities.
With those on hand having soon migrated to the Khezrie Auditorium, Athletic Director Eric Amkraut stepped to the podium to welcome everyone to the evening of reflection and celebration. With the program serving as a reflection of both the recent season as well as a culminating event for those Seniors having reached the end of their one- to four-year careers as Flatbush Falcons, Mr. Amkraut provided similar perspective as like the members of the Senior Class, he entered Flatbush four years ago as well. In that vein, he recounted a number of the new ventures and accomplishments the seniors and their younger classmates have been a part of over the past four seasons, including: international competition with teams from places like Australia, Canada and Israel: installation of new interscholastic teams such as Cross-Country, Track & Field, Gymnastics, Wrestling and Girls Hockey; advancing team competition in the natural settings for soccer (outdoors) and hockey (on ice); competing at local professional venues like MCU Park (home of the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball team) and Barclays Center (home of the Brooklyn Nets and NY Islanders); taking teams outside of the NY Metropolitan area for interscholastic competition – including locales such as Memphis, Tennessee; Miami Beach, Florida; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Columbus, Ohio and the newest destination – Boston, Massachusetts (where our girls took home the Championship trophy!); and creation of a state-of-the-art website just for Flatbush Athletics!
Next, it was time for reflection, with Senior student-athletes Samantha Chabot and Abie Rosow sharing their experiences as 4-year members of Falcon teams. Chabot, a captain of the Girls Basketball team as well as a key player on the Girls Soccer team addressed her classmates and coaches first. (the content of her speech is attached at the end of this article). Chabot truly captured the spirit of what it means to be a student-athlete – and a Flatbush one at that! From the relationships with her teammates, both older and younger, to those with the coaches of the respective teams for which she played, Sam conveyed what is at the heart of the student-athlete experience, and it goes way beyond what the scoreboards show.
Rosow, a star member of the Boys Basketball team who will be adding his talents to the squad that will represent the United States at the upcoming Maccabiah Games this summer in Israel, shared his words next. He, too, noted how proud he was to be a Falcon and what a great experience he had – learning the game from a number of coaches over his four years as a Falcon hoopster, sharing the ups and downs that are a part of competition and growing as a player and as a teammate through the experiences in competing both at home and as a team travelling to compete across the country.
With both Chabot and Rosow having shared their personal experiences, Mr. Amkraut then returned to the podium to lend focus to the achievements of each and every one of Flatbush’s 23 varsity and junior varsity programs – in alphabetical order from Baseball to Wrestling, with programs both long-established (such as basketball and soccer) and fledgling (like cross-country and girls hockey) included along the way. With each team, he noted the individual coaches who guided each team and the captains that served as their respective extensions among their student-athletes. Amkraut also shared a few words about each program, highlighting the overall performance and achievements of each specific team before announcing the respective award winners for each individual program (coaches recognized individual achievement on their teams through the following awards: Most Improved Player, Sportsmanship Award, Coach’s Award and Most Outstanding Player).
Next, the attendees all viewed a video photo montage with pictures from all the different teams sports and contests Flatbush’s student-athletes took to the court, field, track or mat in athletic competition.
The event then reached its conclusion with the presentation of the final two awards – Most Outstanding Senior Student-Athlete for the 2016-17 season. This year, the winners both demonstrated a combination of high level skill on the field of competition as well as strong leadership off it. Both understood that being great meant more than performing well on game day, it meant performing well everyday – in practice, in the classroom, in planning, in communicating; setting an example for excellence in every facet of scholastic competition. Both served as team captains for multiple sports during their times as Falcons, with both advancing to the Varsity when their class peers competed at the Junior Varsity level. Each in their own way fully embodies what it means to be a Flatbush Falcon. The winners if these awards for 2016-17 are Sarah Horowitz (Basketball and Softball) and Sam Laniado (Hockey, Soccer and Baseball). Their imprint on the teams they have been a part of for four seasons and the teammates they leave behind is immeasurable!
It was a wonderful night, full of spirit and emotion. It was a Night for all Flatbush Falcons!
NEST NOTES: Special thanks go to Jonathan Baum for his assistance in setting the photos of the 2016-17 Athletic Season to music in the special photo montage.
(The following is the actual content of the words delivered by graduating senior student-athlete Samantha Chabot:
The best decision of my high school career was joining the basketball and soccer team.
The relationships I made with my teammates of all ages are stronger than handcuffs. I still speak with my former teammates who are in college. And when I see my younger teammates in school I run and give them a huge hug.
Being a Flatbush Falcon, you learn a lot about being a team – “individually we are one drop, but together we are an ocean” also “when you score a goal, or hit a three you don’t do it for yourself, you do it for the team because the name in the front of the shirt is more important than the one on the back.”
You also learn a lot about yourself – your strengths and weaknesses, you lean that whenever there is a challenge or obstacle you never give up. It’s all in your mind and confidence level, and whatever you put your mind to you will accomplish.
The basketball team has been through so much together. Having to wear funky goggles in practice, being blindfolded, suicides, freezing in Boston, tanning in Florida, bus rides, the handbook, who’s sitting next to who on the train to Boston, the Long Island tournament, our dances in Florida (especially my dancing), laughs, winning, losing, push-ups, bear crawls, newbies – Frida, the huddle screaming “F-L-A-T bush-bush-bush,” 502 quotes later making it to the championship – although we fell short in the end, we accomplished so much this season and should be so proud (let’s not forget we won the tournament) … and best of all – We had a baby together in our 9 month season!
Rozan and Jon and who can forget coach (Syl that is). I remember also in freshman year on the first day I went up to Jon and shook his hand and said “Hi, I’m Sam. Our relationship grew from there. I also remember when Jon told us there is no such thing as can’t – if you say that word you do five push-ups. If you look in the word can’t it says can. Rozan gave birth this past year to the cutest baby girl, but really she was our mother all along. We are truly a family!! “a good coach can change a game, a great coach can change a life.”
Also the soccer team!! What a year!!! Rita’s… Renee playing offense…. us scoring a million goals…. laughs…teamwork…. friendship… suicides… game every day of the week… what jersey….small gym…. big gym…playoffs.. Edie and Senora, thank you for an amazing season.
Also I would like to thank Eric Amkraut – what would we do without his fabulous articles and pictures. All in all, my life wouldn’t be the same if I weren’t a Flatbush Falcon.