From “The Desert” at Tabor Rd. and Garland Sts in Philadelphia, Pa to
the Negev in Israel
From Tehiyah to Tel Aviv….
On July 13, 2013 more than 7,000 athletes and their coaches from all
over the world will walk the floor of Teddy Stadium in Tel Aviv,
Israel resplendent in the colors of their respective country to
celebrate and initiate the 19th Maccabiah.
In a sequence of events that has its roots at a playground deemed
“The Desert” and further manifested themselves at Tehiyah Day School
(a small private Hebrew Day School in El Cerrito, CA) I’m incredibly
humbled and honored to say that two of those walking that day…with
the letters USA across their chest will be my wife Marcie and I.
My love and passion for the game of basketball took a toe-hold in the
countless hours on that asphalt court at The Desert where not only did
I come to appreciate the game itself but many of the lessons contained
within…not the least of which was “Share The Ball“. (This phrase is
now the title page of my personal blog but that’s another story)
To be 100% honest I was far better as a passer than any other part of
the game. I rebounded well for a guy my size, was a decent defender
and ball-handler but struggled to score ….unable to finish around
Philly was known for its “guards” back then and many of them had the
ability to score far beyond my own plus many were bigger, stronger and
equally as quick if not quicker…
My future as a player was murky at best and then the “murk” became
crystal clear; while chasing down a guy who had a break away lay-up I
tore the medial meniscus and ACL in my left leg…whatever slim hopes
I had of playing at a higher level torn as well on that day.
What wasn’t torn was my complete obsession for the game, it’s beauty
…and it’s lessons!
Not only did Philly have a reputation for tremendous guards but also
for an incredible array of coaches.
Dr. Jack Ramsey
Chuck Daly…the list can and does go on and on.
I studied their methods, their methodology and their message(s)
however possible as it all spoke volumes to me about the point of it
all…share the ball!
A quick rewind then a fast forward…
A few summers before shredding my knee I was working at a carpet
installation store and saw an ad in the Inquirer that ultimately would
change my life forever
Counselor wanted for an overnight camp in Kintnersville , PA!
I got the job, took the job and spent the next three summers working
at this wonderful place where I forged many friendships that I still
have today…43 years later!
“Uncle Barry”, teach me to play basketball!
I was 19 at the time and as mentioned would spend every waking hour on
the court…being a counselor at Camp Nock-A-Mixon afforded the
opportunity for a reasonable amount of time and facilities to practice
One day this adorable, precocious 12 year old camper came over to what
was know as the “Lower Court” and asked me to teach her to play…
To be honest I don’t remember that what skills were taught went to any
great depth but the bond formed back then with this “little girl” was
so profound that it remains to this day except stronger, more
profound, more mature and overall just incredibly “cooler”
The “little girl” Donna Chait went on to become an All-American at
Queens College, played professionally in an early iteration of the
WNBA, later in life became President of the WNBA and all along
remained attached to her roots in the game, the camp where she
“learned” it and many of the people from those times.
Donna is younger than I and as such after a number of summers at
“Camp” we lost track of one and other…for more than 30 years!!!
As I write those numbers it seems impossible considering our
relationship today and the fashion in which it resumed but for the
sake of time let’s just say the 30+ year lapse seemingly never
We first corresponded via email then phone, each catching the other up
on our lives, families etc. Ultimately Donna (Orender) came to
California on a business trip for her job at the PGA Tour (she was at
the time an Executive V/P) and when we saw one and other it was 1971
all over again…
The hugs were real, the depth of conversation even moreso as we
attempted to cram all of those years into a two hour lunch. We did not
but it didn’t matter as the conversations, meetings, work and play
continued, grew and stand today as a true testament to the game we
both love…the game that seeded this amazing story and friendship!
There’s much more to this story but I’ll spare you further details
except the one that brings me to telling it here in this forum…
I’ve coached in the JCC Maccabi Games for 9 years now. Its an activity
that I love and have gotten far more from than the time I give.
During the Summer of 2011 our (Contra Costa) team was playing in
Springfield, Mass. as was a team from Jacksonville, FLA that included
twin boys with the last name of Orender…
I cannot begin to tell you just how surreal it was for me to watch
these fabulous twin boys play the game that spawned the friendship of
But wait…there’s more!
In March of this year (2012) I received a letter from Maccabi USA
recommending my appointment to Head Coach, Junior Boys Basketball for
a team traveling to Israel in July 2013.
I started playing at “The Desert”,
I began coaching at Tehiyah, a private Hebrew Day School in El Cerrito, CA and now, through all that’s wonderful about people I’ve had the opportunity to get to know there now exists the opportunity to go from…
“The Desert” to the Negev…
From Tehiyah to Tel Aviv…
Transported by the game I love, the lessons it continues to provide, and the friendships it continues to solidify.
Share the Ball everybody!
Thanks to all who have shared it with me!