Sports have become big business. In particular, basketball The game that gave us Air Jordan sneakers, bad-boy Dennis Rodman’s autobiography, and "The LeBrons" commercials is half Park Avenue and half parquet.
And on March ‘5, Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck will honor the man who has literally come to embody the business end of basketball at its school, its varsity and junior varsity basketball coach, "Bobby" Kaplan, who also happens to teach a senior-year elective business class.
"Coming to Torah Academy has allowed me to continue coaching," said Bobby, who coached at The Adolph Schreiber Hebrew Academy of Rockland (ASHAR) and at The Frisch School in Paramus before coming to Torah Academy.
"But," he continued, "I also got to teach, which was new to me."
In 35 years, Bobby has coached in more than 1,000 games, has won eight championships, and has compiled a .700 career winning percentage. And his business class is also a big success, as it remains one of the most popular choices with Torah Academy’s upperclassmen.
But Bobby’s work at the school does not portray just how busy his schedule is.
At the same time that he came to Torah Academy, Bobby founded the IBA IHA, a summer camp for Orthodox Jewish kids ages 9-17 that specializes in basketball and hockey. He works for the camp year-round, and his summers are hectic.
Bobby also coaches the Frisch girls’ varsity basketball team, where he’s won three championships. Though his day-planner is brimming with appointments, Bobby takes delight in his work.
Plus, he said, "Coaches are nuts, anyway."
So maybe it’s not all that strange that Bobby’s dogs have become synonymous with Torah Academy’s team. His first dog, "Storm," was the inspiration for the name, and even the slouch-faced logo, of Torah Academy athletics. The Storm (the team, not the dog) was devastated when, a few years ago, Storm (the dog not the team) passed away.
Bobby’s solution? He brought Samson a younger, fleet-footed version of Storm into the fold, and the puppy continued The Storm legacy. As for Bobby:
"I’ll retire when I no longer get ‘butterflies’ before each and every game," said Bobby.-"Thank God the butterflies continue to flap their wings, and basketball still remains the love of my life."