The JCC Maccabi Sports Camp Blog

Commemorating Moments

Posted by December 17, 2019 • Share:

Sometimes I close my eyes when I’m at camp and just listen. I love it. The squeaking sneakers on the gym floor, laughter of all types, a whistle blowing, it’s all music to my ears. And to me, 

Playing Guitar Singing Campfire Jewish Camping Bay Area

that is always what it has been about – the music.

***

I recently had the honor of being named JCC Maccabi Sports Camp’s newest Camp Director, the second in our young history. It is a tremendous honor and responsibility that has been both humbling and prideful. (Camp’s founder and long-time Camp Director, Josh Steinharter, is still very much with camp and has been promoted to the position of Senior Director). I have been looking for a way to mark this occasion.

When I finished grad school I got an iPhone (it was a BIG deal at the time). When the Cub’s won the world series I made a pilgrimage to Wrigley Field. I even jumped out of an airplane to mark my 30th birthday, but this occasion is different. An occasion worthy of being marked with something meaningful, not just to me, but to my experience at camp.

I considered a new baseball glove. A former competitive baseball player, when I have free time at camp you can often find me on the diamond. One of my fondest memories as a child was going with my father, a Rabbi and former pitcher at the University of Chicago, to buy my first catcher’s mitt. The smell of new leather always brings me back to that moment. But a new glove would easily spend six months a year in the back of my closet.

I thought about a watch. I have always been a collector of interesting timepieces. A watch is something I could use every day and is certainly fitting to mark professional growth. But a watch is almost too personal. I would never really be able to share it with anyone. The same way a glove is meant to be used for playing baseball, I wanted something that could be used at camp.

I closed my eyes and tried to listen to camp. I heard the crack of a bat, a ball being spiked, high fives and silly cheers, and I knew what I wanted.

***

There is nothing more meaningful to me than playing music. I have been playing a variety of instruments (“playing” may be a bit of a stretch for many of them) for most of my life. But to me, the neck of a guitar has always made more sense than just about anything else in the world. My best moments have been spent shared with people I love, by the campfire, guitar in hand. When I have been at my lowest, and disconnected from others, music has brought me back. Thoughts become clear to me as verses unfold into a chorus and I’m not sure I even know how to drive anymore without singing along to something.

One of the reasons I love camp is because my love of music is combined with the beauty of community. The sound of my guitar starts and ends our day, gets us pounding on tables, and welcomes in Shabbat. Around the campfire my guitar is amplified by the sound of our voices, and I can be the truest and best version of myself.

After over two decades of camp, the guitar that has always been with me will be staying home this summer. While I know she still has a long life ahead of her, the physical trauma that a serious-camp-song-session has on a guitar has caught up with her. She needs to be retired from camp, and I need a new companion. A guitar worthy of leading our Kehilla Kedosha (sacred community) and standing in for a dear friend.

***

I would like to introduce everyone to Bessie. The very first thing we did was sing “Fly” together. You will all get to meet this summer.

 

About the Author

Eytan Graubart – Camp Director eytan@maccabisportscamp.org or 415-997-8844 x2

Eytan has been involved in Jewish camping since he was very young. Before joining the JCC Maccabi Sports Camp team, he served as the Director of Camp BB-Riback in Calgray, Alberta.

Eytan grew up in Chicago, IL, and spent his summers at Camp Young Judaea Midwest in Waupaca, WI.

Staff Spotlight: Coach Emily Horner

Posted by May 8, 2019 • Share:

Welcome Back, Volleyball Head Coach Emily Horner!

We’re thrilled to announce Coach Emily’s return for her 2nd season as the leader of our volleyball program, the fastest growing core sport in our community.

California Volleyball Native

Emily wasSan Francisco Volleyball Coach born in Mission Viejo, CA which is about six hours south of camp. She started playing volleyball in seventh grade and grew up playing on the beach and indoor. She made the decision to take her collegiate career as an indoor volleyball player at the University of Pittsburgh. Emily is currently continuing her career playing beach volleyball at UC Davis while she pursues a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education.

Club, High School & College Volleyball

Emily graduated from the University of Pittsburgh where she was a member of the NCAA Division 1 Volleyball Team. Her junior and senior year, the team captured ACC Championship as well as qualifying for the NCAA tournament, making it to the second round both years. The team ranked top 10 in Division 1 volleyball for 3 weeks for the first time in program history. Prior to college, she competed at varsity for her high school for three years and set records in both hitting and service aces in a single year. She also played travel for T-street Volleyball club, where she helped her team win 18 Open at Nationals, proving to be the top team in the nation.

Volleyball Coaching Experience

Emily began her coaching career directly after graduating high school where she assisted in coaching the high school team at her Alma Mater that summer. After that, the summer of her college years were spent coaching at the Dan Fisher (University of Pittsburgh) Volleyball camps with potential recruits for the University of Pittsburgh as well as players from ages 8-17. She continues coaching currently by giving private lessons to those learning and continue to grow in their volleyball skill. Although she wants to pursue education, she knows that coaching will be present in her future one way or another!

Multi-Sport & Multi-dimensional

Off the court, Emily loves being active by running, hiking, or just involving herself in other sports (despite her skill level). She also loves listening to music and attending concerts. When she’s not hanging out with friends, she usually is supporting her local sports teams (whether it to be high-school, college, or the fan base of the area).

This Summer at Camp

Emily is looking forward to teaching volleyball basics & advanced skills. She’s also looking forward to seeing players grow on and off the court. Her main focus points as a coach are that her players give full effort, value communication, and most importantly bring energy to the court. If her players follow these with their best foot forward, they will prove to be successful and grow in the sport. She also loves that volleyball is a team sport and looks forward to the group of girls becoming cohesive and learning the importance of playing cooperatively with each other as well as playing for each other.

Staff Spotlight: Coach Stuart Katz

Posted by April 12, 2019 • Share:

Welcome Soccer Head Coach Stu Katz!

College & ODP Soccer Coaching

Stu Katz joins the JCC Maccabi Sports Camp for his first summer to share his love and knowledge of soccer. A graduate of Florida State, Coach Stu has over 35 years of experience coaching both men and women of all ages and levels. Currently Coach Stu is on the staff of the University of North Carolina – Greensboro. Coach Stu helped lead the Spartans to back-to-back SoCon Conference Championships and NCAA tournament appearances. In addition to his role at UNCG, Coach Stu currently serves as a staff coach for the North Carolina Olympic Developmental Program.

High School Soccer Coaching

Prior to UNCG, Coach Stu led the Northern Guilford men’s program to its best season in school history while breaking every team defending record in the process. The Nighthawks led the entire state of North Carolina in least amount of goals allowed in the year (13). For his work, he was honored as conference and region coach of the year as well as a finalist for North Carolina Coach of the Year. As a high school coach in both Florida and North Carolina, Coach Stu has won over 300 games. The majority of his High School career was spent coaching the boys and then the girls at Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Fl.

Coaching Maccabi & Maccabiah Games

He also served as the US Maccabiah Men’s Masters Coach at the Pan Am Games in Bueno Aires, Argentina. Coach Stu Played in the Maccabiah Games in Israel helping his team earn a Silver Medal. In addition, Coach Stu has coached both girls and boys in seven JCC Maccabi Games around the country earning two Golds, three Silvers, and a Bronze.

Competitive Youth Soccer Administration

Coach Stu served as a Coach, Trainer, and Administrator for Team Boca for 17 years. Over the years Katz has worked with countless college student-athletes, current and former professional players and players that have represented their countries in the Olympics and World Cup. He has mentored numerous former players who have gone on to coach at the club, high school and college levels.

Off the Pitch (Soccer Field)

He is a Social Studies teacher at Northern Guilford High School and lives in Greensboro with his wife, two children, a third is in Medical School in Israel, and two dogs.

This Summer at Camp

Stu is excited about his first summer at JMSC. He is looking forward to meeting all of the campers and enjoying the California sunshine.

 

Staff Spotlight: Coach Nate Wymer

Posted by April 12, 2019 • Share:

Welcome Back, Head Baseball Coach Nate!

Baseball players and our whole camp community is thrilled to welcome Nate Wymer back for his 2nd summer at JCC Maccabi Sports Camp!

Coach Nate hails from Papillion, Nebraska. Currently a Graduate Assistant Baseball Coach for Midland University, he is also working on a Master of Science in Adult and Organizational Learning.

Coaching Experience

After graduating from Upper Iowa University with a double major of Business Administration and Marketing, he moved to the Bay Area. There he joined SF Giants Camps as a division leader and site director from 2014-2017. Nate has also coached at Grace University in Omaha, Nebraska and University of Minnesota Duluth.

Off the Diamond

When he’s not busy coaching and doing schoolwork, Nate enjoys playing video games, reading, listening to music and podcasts, and weight lifting.

At Camp

Coach Nate is excited to return to JMSC, a place he was proud to call home in 2019. While at camp, he looks forward to spreading the joy and life lessons taught through sports.

“Baseball and my family taught me so much on how to be a good person that I wanted to pursue a career of coaching and passing those lessons down to generations after me.” – Coach Nate

 

 

Staff Spotlight: Jason Sinkoff

Posted by April 10, 2019 • Share:

Welcome Back Jason Sinkoff – Tennis Head Coach and Athletic Director!

Jewish Tennis Coach Bay Area

Jason Sinkoff is excited to return to Camp for his 6th summer as Head Tennis Coach and his 2nd as our Athletic Director. Welcome back Jason!

Coaching Tennis in College

Tennis Head Coach Jason Sinkoff is in his third season as the Assistant Men’s Tennis Coach at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.  In his first year they finished with the 3rd most wins in program history going 16-7.  Under his leadership, the program was completely turned around and became a serious contender for the conference title. In his second season they moved up to the #3 seed in their conference tournament for the first time in the program’s history.

Prior to his time at James Madison, Jason was the Head Men’s Tennis coach at Wagner College where he also received an MBA with in Management, finishing #1 in his class.

In addition to coaching at the collegiate level, Jason has coached youth at summer camps in the San Diego area and worked as the Tennis instructor at a residential camp in Wisconsin.  In 2009 he served as the Assistant Coach for the boy’s tennis team at Torrey Pines High School.  That team won their conference title as well as the San Diego CIF Div 1 Title and sent graduates to compete at the collegiate level at UC Santa Barbara, Princeton, University of Arizona, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, UC San Diego, and Pomona College.

 

Playing Tennis in San Diego

Before he became a coach, Jason played tennis at Torrey Pines High School (San Diego, CA), Palomar College, and Hofstra University and was a Team Captain on his high school and college teams.

At Torrey Pines, Jason was named a two-time San Diego Union Tribune Scholar Athlete, and named to the All-City and All-Palomar League 1st Teams during his senior year.  At Palomar College he played #1 Singles and Doubles and was voted Team Captain and Freshman MVP while obtaining a 4.0 GPA.  He then transferred to Hofstra University to play Division 1 Men’s Tennis, was elected Team Captain for 3 years, Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar-Athlete, CAA Commissioner’s Academic Award recipient, and Senior MVP. Jason graduated in 2012 with a BBA in Marketing and a Minor in Management.

Tennis at the JCC Maccabi Games

He competed at the JCC Maccabi Games three times, 2002 Montreal, 2003 Houston, TX (Silver Medal in Doubles), and 2004 Boston, MA (Gold Medal in Doubles). In 2010 he competed in the Men’s Open Division representing Team USA at the Maccabi Australia Games and won a Bronze medal in Doubles.

This Summer at JCC Maccabi Sports Camp

Jason is extremely excited to be back at JCC Maccabi Sports Camp. He’s eager to see many returning faces and to help develop confidence on and off the court.