Barrack Hebrew Academy soccer relishes in successful fall campaign

Bryn Mawr >> The fall athletic season at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy invokes unique challenges no other school faces. In addition to saying farewell to its graduating seniors, coaches must also find a way to replace its junior class that has the option to study abroad in Israel.
According to the school website, Barrack offers a unique opportunity for students in their junior year to study abroad for one trimester in Israel and Eastern Europe. The goal of this program is to offer core studies experientially, consistent with the school’s mission statement (commitment to Israel, understanding Jewish history). Students report this as a life-changing experience with a whole new level of appreciation for their Jewish roots.
Approximately 3/4 of our junior class avail themselves of this wonderful program. Housed in dormitories on the Muss campus in Hod Hashron (a suburb of Tel Aviv), students cover a general studies curriculum that parallels Barrack’s first trimester syllabi in Math, History, English, and World Language. Through the Muss “Core” program, students learn the history of the State of Israel in classes in conjunction with extensive tiyulim (trips) to those very historical sites.
“Barrack students who attend our trimester abroad program in junior year at The Alexander Muss High School in Israel report that it is one of the most influential and life-changing experiences they have ever had,” said Dr. Darin Katz, Academic Dean at Barrack. “The Muss program provides our students with incredible opportunities to internalize their own Judaism, to gain a better awareness and appreciation of the history of the Jewish people, and to form a stronger and deeper connection to the State of Israel.”
“Every year is a new challenge,” said girl’s soccer coach Kim Gillio. “Due to the junior year abroad we have to make some position changes and we have to spend time each year making sure each one of the girls know how to play every position. That’s what makes it exciting.”
A couple of prime examples Gillio was referring to was losing starting keeper Sarah Nelson this season and then Talia Koltun Fromm next year with each player deciding to spend the first half of their junior year studying in Israel.
With Nelson in Israel this year, Gillio was fortunate to have Tali Glickman step up and volunteer to play goalie. Although she has never played the position before, Glick worked hard to try and fill the void.
“Tali had never played goalie but she is the pitcher on the softball team so she is used to the pressure,” Gillio said. “She reached out to Sarah for advice and put in the time and did a great job.”
“This was my first year playing goalie so I was incredibly nervous,” said Tali Glickman, who was selected to play in the Tri-County League All-Star game. “An incredible goalie was in Israel so I knew there was a lot to live up to. From the moment I volunteered my teammates and coaches only gave me encouragement. For the first few games every time the ball came at me I panicked a little bit but once I settled into my routine I knew I was going to be okay because I had an amazing defense in front of me. For most of our games I touched the ball maybe seven times and most of them were very easy saves. The four defenders in front of me were incredible and gave me the confidence I needed to succeed in net.”
Despite the challenges, both programs had their most successful season in recent memory with both teams advancing to the Tri-County League championship match.
On October 21, the girls’ soccer team won its first Tri-County title in three years defeating Delaware Valley Friends, who advanced to the final with a thrilling win over Perkiomen.
“This title is most special for me because I am a senior,” said Sarah Levin, who has been a member of the varsity team since 7th grade. “It has been disappointing getting to the championship game and losing. Winning the title is an amazing feeling.”
“Each year is a challenge,” said Koltun Fromm, a sophomore. “It’s not good to lose a group of key players but then we get to experience new players who we bond with and create a new family.”
On October 29, the boys’ squad tried to complete the sweep but Phelps School had other plans defeating the Cougars ending a magical league season one shy win of its goal.
Faced with the same challenges as the girls’ team, second year boy’s coach Aaron Silver said, “I realize coaching here you have to think differently. You have to prepare the younger kids to take on leadership roles earlier.”
One of those kids forced into a leadership role earlier in his career than most kids experience was Oren Gabbay. During his freshman year Gabbay learned from the upperclassmen what he needed to do to be an effective leader.
“I looked up to the upperclassmen when I was young and saw the different ways they led,” said Gabbay, who spent the first trimester of his junior year in Israel “I always wanted to be one of those players who helped younger players and I knew this year was my final chance. I am so glad we had a memorable season.”

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