It seems that every sports movie has the scene, where in an hour of crisis, a coach or a player inspires the team to victory with a rousing speech during halftime, as a crescendo of music builds in the background. So many real-life sports figures have been romanticized in these Hollywood tales, it’s tough to say if Knute Rockne ever really asked his team to "win one for the Gipper" or if it was just Ronald Reagan. However, sometimes life imitates art, as the Frisch Cougars Junior Varsity girls’ basketball team recently found out.
Life imitated art for the Cougars, who won the JV championship of the MYH basketball league.
At halftime in the championship game of the MYH basketball league on March ‘5, the Cougars held a tenuous two-point lead over rivals North Shore Academy. And with star point guard and co-captain Shayna Emrani in foul trouble, the team found itself doubting whether they had what it takes. Coaches Stephanie and Assi Amos knew that the team had the talent and passion to go all the way. They had won the championship last year, going undefeated in the process. They had lost only a single game this year, but redeemed the loss by beating the same team in the semi-finals of the playoffs. But, most important, the team had come together as a family, overcoming the tragic death of a player’s father, who also was one of the team’s biggest supporters. Shayna Emrani knew this as well, and decided that if she couldn’t help the team on the court, at least she could inspire them so that her absence wouldn’t matter.
And so, at the first ever JV girls’ game held during the ballyhooed Championship Week, Emrani shared a Hebrew saying she had heard from a teacher. The coaches credit the saying, which roughly translates as, "Whatever path a person wants to take, they will get help going in that direction," for turning the dormant Cougars into their usual dominating form. The rejuvenated team, with the thoughts of what they went through together, blew up. The two-point lead quickly ballooned into an 18-point lead, with co-captain Talia Schlussle scoring ‘4 points in the game.
With only three of their 15 players returning next year, the Cougars face an uphill battle to win their third straight championship. But, given what they accomplished this year, one shouldn’t bet against them.