Tell anyone on the basketball team at the Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls that Eileen Schwartz used to coach their games, and they will hardly reward you for your grasp of the obvious.
After all, Schwartz has coached basketball and other sports at the Teaneck school for nine years, and is a fixture in its physical education department.
But see what happens when you mention that Schwartz used to coach the players even when she wasn’t coaching the team.
"When I took a year off from coaching basketball a couple of years ago, I’d go to the games and coach the kids from the sidelines," said Schwartz, who lives in Fair Lawn.
"Once a coach, always a coach," said Schwartz, "and it’s in the blood. You always have something to say."
The only time Schwartz may be at a loss for words is this Saturday night, when she will be honored at the annual Ma’ayanot dinner with the "teacher of the year" award. Schwartz, in addition to coaching, teaches health, phys. ed., and a senior elective on health, fitness, and nutrition.
But don’t think that she’ll tell the crowd all about it.
"I will only speak very briefly, maybe for five minutes" at the dinner, she said, explaining that "nobody wants to listen to speeches anyway. Nobody’s interested."
Schwartz’s honor comes at a time of growth for Ma’ayanot athletics. The school’s volleyball team — which Schwartz began coaching midway through this season — will participate in its league’s playoffs for the first time, and its basketball team was in a 3-way tie as of Sunday for a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the newly created swim team is navigating a slew of meets, and the softball and hockey teams are regularly excellent.
Schwartz was born in Fair Lawn, and attended the Yavneh Academy in Paramus for elementary school. That was before Yavneh had a girls’ basketball team, so, along with one other girl, she played for the boys’ club.
She went on to play basketball at Bruriah High School for Girls in Elizabeth before making — but not joining, because of Shabbat restrictions — the tennis and softball teams at William Patterson University.
Since coming to Ma’aynot, Schwartz has learned how to use her words to inspire her players.
"I think the kids that I have coached know that it’s all about playing with your heart," said Schwartz. "You do your best, work hard, try hard, and enjoy it."