When Aliza Hiller was first featured in this column, her three-sport stardom at Teaneck’s Ma’aynot Yeshiva High School for Girls was almost overshadowed by her preternatural obsession with her number 6′ jersey. One year later, Aliza is a Ma’ayanot graduate, and headed to study in Jerusalem for a year before starting Queens College. Fittingly, when Hiller got her diploma, she took her number with her: Ma’ayanot retired "6’" the only number retirement in the school’s history.
Aliza and some of her fellow hockey players.
Aliza didn’t know that her number was being retired until May 31, when it was announced at Ma’ayanot’s annual sports dinner. "I started crying when I heard, it was so crazy," said Aliza from her house in Fair Lawn. "I’m obsessed with 6′, and my coach always joked about retiring it, but I didn’t think she was serious."
The aspiring physical education teacher capped her spectacular career with a hat trick (three goals) in a 4-1 hockey championship victory over HAFTR. The title was Ma’ayanot’s second in a row, and capped an undefeated season. Aliza’s performance typified her successes in high school, where she starred in hockey, softball, and basketball. Her three teams enjoyed various levels of success during her four-year career, as the hockey team won two championships and was the runner-up for the other two, while the softball team made it to the championship last year. And even though she said the basketball team "stunk," she added that some of her closest friendships were forged on the hardwood.
"Our team got into a huge fight this year, and then, before a game against Bruriah (Elizabeth), we huddled up and bonded, and won by 15 points," Aliza said. "And even if we were losing like crazy, we made sure we were laughing and bonding on the court."
As much as she will be missed on the playing field, Aliza’s absence will be felt just as sorely in the Ma’ayanot teacher’s lounge. For her senior-year internship, Aliza spent half her day coaching at her school, and tightened the already super-glue-close relationships she had with her teachers.
"Ma’ayanot said they’d hire me to be the athletic director," said Aliza, who will bring a softball mitt and ball to Jerusalem to keep up her skills. "I’m very close with the athletic director now, and we joke that she’ll retire when I’m out of school in five years."